I want to preface this editorial by saying that I didn’t hate Batman: Arkham City or that I didn’t enjoy certain aspects of the game, but Rocksteady’s sophomore effort with Batman has been receiving much praise and not a whole lot of criticism. The game’s being touted as Arkham Asylum’s superior whereas I feel very differently. The game did some things right and others wrong (like most games), but for the sake of this article I will focus on the wrong because most of you have already heard what the game has accomplished oh so well. So without further introduction I give you 5 Things I didn’t like about Batman: Arkham City.
All throughout the game you hear this annoying omnipresent chatter that feels like it wasn’t scripted by adults, but rather by a one-dimensional angry group of teenagers. I don’t care how hungry or how cold the inmates of Arkham City are, you are a prisoner in supposedly the most dangerous prison on the planet, I think having a sweater should be the least of your concerns.
I also don’t care about the awful things they would do to Batman if they saw him or which gang is tougher. It is 99% nonsensical banter that lacks almost any variety in terms of conversational topics. Since when did not using background music become a preferred design choice (ah, where is Hans Zimmer when you need him).
Everyone is a Dick (not Grayson)
You expect your cast of characters to express some polarity in terms of their personalities. Nope not in Arkham City, everyone is a dick. The villains (which is expected), but even Alfred and Batman don’t really care for pleasant dialogue. In Batman’s case the most gleaming example is when Robin comes to your aid during an attack and all Batman can say is “What are you doing here, go back to Gotham, I could have done that myself, you are a bastard for saving me” somewhat typical of the Dark Knight, but come on already. He shows zero gratitude for the boy wonder’s saving grace and sends him packing looking like a huge chump.
Alfred Pennyworth in most Batman continuities plays a support role and offers guidance to Batman/Bruce Wayne, but has also been known to express sarcasm on occasion, but in Arkham City Alfred isn’t pleasant at all. I visualize Alfred sitting in the bat cave with an expensive glass of brandy and smoking a cigar and every attempt that Batman makes to establish contact proves to be an inconvenience to Alfred. He makes Batman’s dialogue sound like John Madden’s commentary (always stating the obvious) and just doesn’t show very much concern at all. This portrays Alfred in a very sullen light.
Side Mission Overload
Traversing Arkham City should be an enjoyable experience, but with what I call Side Mission Overload you the player become inundated with so much shit to do it tarnishes the experience. Some gamers enjoy having a ton of side missions because it fleshes out the experience, gives your more bang for your buck (which I agree to a certain degree), but in what is supposed to be a heavily story driven game, having side missions that don’t supplement the story hurt the game.
Traveling from point A to point B you would be assaulted with political prisoners to save, ringing telephones, Riddler trophies to ascertain, Riddler Puzzles to solve, bullet fragments to scan, cryptic messages to decipher and so on and so forth. Do I think these should have been removed from the game, no, do I think they should have been apart from the main story and even been an additional game mode, absolutely. These side missions took the wind out of Arkham City’s sails whenever the story’s momentum started to build and it was very disappointing.
Ah yes, Ms. Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman, a favorite in the Batman universe. I would have rather cleaned up cat vomit than played her utterly useless portions of the game. Her portions were so incredibly frustrating and offered little in the way of progressing the story (she filled a mad lib role if you will). Do I care about you stealing stuff from within Arkham City? The answer is not at all.
Catwoman’s role/involvment in Arkham City was hyped to the utmost degree, but failed short in my eye’s to deliver anything other than another distraction to the story (yes, distraction, not supplement). My last gripe with Catwoman is in her movements. From my understanding of Catwoman (correct me if I am wrong) she exhibits the agility, dexterity, fortitude, and the multi-life attributes of a feline. When did she become Spiderman? I didn’t know cats could crawl on ceilings, my cats sure didn’t. It may sound petty, but it bothered the hell out of me so I will rant about it.
Under-whelming Boss Fights
The boss fights (without dishing out spoilers) were not satisfying what so ever and delivered little to no challenge. Boss fights are supposed to be epic encounters, but almost every boss fight failed to be even remotely epic in design. Aside from being epic, a certain brand of intensity should accompany a boss fight; the player shouldn’t feel relaxed, but more so overly engaged as to what is happening on screen. I didn’t get that with Arkham City boss battles, but I did with Arkham Asylum (a la the Killer Croc sewer boss fight).
Some might think that I am being too critical of these encounters, but If I’m not who will be. Boss fights are a cornerstone of gaming and in some cases are compiled to make an entire game (Shadow of the Colossus). Arkham City fell short of capturing and recreating epic encounters between Bats and his entourage of villainous cast members.
It is very obvious that I had some gripes with Batman: Arkham City, but like I said at the beginning of this article I didn’t hate Arkham City. I also don’t want to dissuade you from playing this game; I just want you to know what you are getting when you purchase it. Batman: Arkham City is a solid experience, I just believe all the hype and anticipation of the game elevated my expectations too high and was not met with like results. So if you can look past my problems with the game you will find a game worthy of being played (maybe the DLC will pull me back in). I fully expect to catch heat for this article so please comment on what you thought of Batman: Arkham City and whether or not my problems were problems for you. As always follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.