5 Things I didn’t like about Batman: Arkham City

Posted: October 30, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials
Tags: , , ,

Taking the road of criticism

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.

Background Chatter

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.

"Should we beat his ass or go get a sweater?" - Decisions of an Arkham City Inmate

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.

What's your deal brah?

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.

Like this, but with side missions, a donkey carriage would've been sweet though

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.

Catwoman

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.

Didn't steal my heart

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).

Silent Takedown in 3...2...1, then repeat

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.

Still play the game, just a few caveats

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.

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Comments
  1. Raymond says:

    I agree with you. I also think Arkham Asylum was the better game as far as story goes. Here’s a couple of plot holes I encountered. SPOILERS!!!

    Why didn’t Hugo Strange reveal Batman’s identity like he said he would in the beginning of the game if Batman interfered?

    Why didn’t Hugo Strange kill the officer at the end of the game that he used to force Batman to stand down?

    Also, why is it that when Batman encountered Hush, he told Oracle “I’ll find him tomorrow”? That’s my reward for finding those hard-to-find bodies?

    I was also disappointed in the reward for finding Azrael for similar reasons. It was like the producers were investing in a sequel.

    I also think the final boss was a HUGE let down, Joker’s ending was weak, Batman letting love get in the way and letting Talia unmask him in front of all those assassins was not Batman-esque, the revelation of Protocol 10 was completely unoriginal, and Ra’s al Ghul’s motivation was STRAIGHT from Batman Begins.

    Other than that, the game was fun to play.

    • Tim Utley says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Protocol 10 was a massive let down (and the other things you mentioned). It was something that I was anticipating the entire game and when its true intentions were finally revealed my anticipation was converted into frustration. Another game is surely in the pipeline over at Rocksteady, I just hope that they don’t repeat the same mistakes that they did with Arkham City.

  2. reed says:

    the Easter eggs alone were the only reason i liked the thugs commentary (you’ll know what im talking about if you listened in). I hated how you could only visit ivy as catwoman. I completely agree with your point about the boss battles were not so epic, but the steel mill mission where you fight joker, mr hammer, mr sickle, and 100,000 thugs with roller coasters everywhere was epic. I didn’t agree with your opinion on the side missions being bad, but I do admit they were a HUGE missed opportunity. 1 there werent enough of them 2 they were too short 3 how come there was no boss fights in them? potocol 10 was retarded and ras being behind it all made it worse. Jokers death made absouloutley NO sense. solomon grundys not even that much of a batman villain, why not use manbat instead? Killer crocs cameo was embarrassingly bad, why not make a boss fight were you actually have to engage croc in combat? it would have been funner to find a way to beat him than it was to beat clayface or ras. why so mr freeze centered? 2 side missions and 2 gadgets plus one of the main characters in the game. that’s to much. bane is supposed to be one of the smartest villains in all of dc, he couldnt have gotten into the batcave and broke batman’s back if he wasnt. so why does he do the exact same attack no matter how many times he fails? a boss fight where bane didnt act retarded would be truely epic. when i found clayface in arkham city i was so exited to see him in ac but he was insanely disappointing. same thing with ras the Easter eggs were SO awsome, and im pretty sure we haven’t even found them all. overall it was still an amazing game. if the next game is 5x the size of ac, if you get to drive/fly batmans vehicles, if manbat and maxie zues appear, if the side missions are fixed, if the boss fights are better and theres more of them then the first 2 games combined, if joker returns and has a boss fight that wasnt as absolutley terrible as the first, and if scarecrow and azrael and hush dont dissapoint, rocksteady will sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money

  3. Nick says:

    I totally agree with your dislikes on this game. I was absolutely annoyed by other things too. Here is what I didn’t like:
    -again DLC (unlockables were so much more fulfilling when you got them) anyway I didn’t miss much for what I read on catwoman.
    -the riddle’s trophies were not challenging but annoying.
    -the boss fights like you said were too easy and the final fight was disappointing compared to all the expectations the game gives away throughout the gameplay. The ending was too good for the plot so that made it a bit better.
    -despite the map in Arkham Asylum having less areas, it felt IMO much bigger than Arkham City.

    The game itself is fun, but like I said annoying.

  4. dregj says:

    lets not forget the stupid plot .joker cured then not cured then not joker stuff. then the cure is found lost stole found but then stolen by someone else and then we have the penguins accent oh dear mary poppins oh dear

    as for the end ?what a lot of toss that was .what ra’s did to himself at the end ,was exactly what I wanted to do after having bought this waste of time

  5. Digital Menace says:

    Batman: Arkham City has a host of issues (several unnecessary gameplay changes, incredibly crappy side missions, too many fucking Riddler trophies), but its biggest problem is the storyline.

    From the get-go, it sets up Hugo Strange as this compelling antagonist, with the mysterious Protocol Ten as an enigma to unveil before its too late, and some minor clues to go on (Catwoman mentions Strange and The Joker working together – this is never brought up again), and then it goes completely off the rails once Joker poisons Batman. From then on, you’re basically the clown’s errand boy, and everything else is dismissed.

    Hugo Strange himself is wasted on a completely disappointing role as Ra’s Al Ghul’s minion (seriously, this is the second time that Paul Dini has screwed up the character – does he have something against Hugo, or what?), a role which makes no sense given any familiarity with both characters (Ra’s already knows Batman’s true identity, and his mission is to wipe out all of humanity, not just the criminal elements like in Batman Begins; and Hugo Strange never works with anyone unless he knows they’re under his control, and considering he already had all the resources he needed from manipulating Gotham’s politicians, why did he even need Ra’s and the League in the first place? He didn’t – they were shoe-horned in at the last moment and it shows), and Protocol Ten’s revelation made me groan.

    Not to mention the way Protocol Ten is treated as just another casual obstacle on Batman’s path to Batman vs. Mistah J. Round 63,184. “Oh, hey, Hugo Strange is enacting this totally evil plot to wipe out everyone in Arkham City? Fine, I guess I could spare fifteen minutes or so to go beat his ass and stop Protocol Ten, but then I really have to go and save Talia from The Joker, OK?”

    And what the hell was up with that twist? Was The Joker just keeping around Clayface all this time so just “for one-night only”, he could stand in for The Joker? And why was this needed, besides to fool Batman, something that Joker had no way to foresee as a neccessity in the future, anyway?

    And there really was a simple way to fix this. Get rid of Ra’s, Talia and The League, make The Joker a secondary antagonist like The Penguin was, and make Hugo Strange the main big bad, and his own man, with his own plan, and not somebody else’s lackey (and they had to pick one of Batman’s most one-dimensional and boring villains for that job…ugh, Ra’s has got to be even more insanely overrated than Hush). Instead of female League assassins, they could replace them with Elite TYGER Guards or something, as a similar enemy type…the Ra’s boss battle could have easily been a Mad Hatter-styled boss battle, or hell, use Firefly or Man-Bat as bosses…and Talia? Basically just and extra pair of tits and ass. She could be dropped entirely with no replacement.

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