What is it like to be Batman? Sneaking up on unsuspecting foes and dispatching them with a single bone crunching knee to the spine. Dropping from rooftops in the middle of a gang of murderous thugs, and unleashing years of martial arts training -- smashing faces and putting the fear of a black-winged god into them.
Matching wits with twisted geniuses and escaping ingenious death traps using reflexes and even more ingenious devices... There are a great many facets to the Dark Knight, and developer Rocksteady balances them perfectly while building one of the best Batman experiences.
The starring role in this sequel to the fan-favourite Arkham Asylum goes to Gotham City, or rather a part of it that's converted into a high-security prison camp called Arkham City, by the new Mayor and the villainous Hugo Strange. Batman is locked into the facility with these malcontents and his quest to get to unravel the mystery brings him face-to-face with the who's who of his rogue's gallery a la 'Hush' and The Long Halloween.
This transition to an open world, though initially disorienting, works very well. The city is beautiful, decrepit and detailed -- every rooftop and alley offers secrets and adventure. Traversing this large neon-gothic world is Batman -- easy and awesome. You glide from rooftops and rappel up radio towers, always tempted to swoop down on unwary enemies walking the streets below. The excellent stealth and melee mechanics remain largely unchanged from the first game. Foes are tougher -- but additional moves, devices and combos even out the odds.
The controls are perhaps the best I have played in any game; Batman does amazing things and yet it never feels like you are the viewer of a quicktime event film. The gamer is at the forefront here. Multiple sidequests starring known faces supplement a strong main campaign. A special mention must be made of the Riddler puzzles. There are over 400 of them spread out in the city and I spent countless hours trying to beat them.
There are also over 150 challenge rooms where you can take on enemies in different scenarios. First time buyers also get to play as Catwoman -- who has her own unique campaign and Riddler trophies. The visuals are excellent from the technical and design standpoint. Voice acting is another highlight, with Batman regulars Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill lending their voices for Batman and the Joker respectively. A great soundtrack further adds to the immersion.
This is the best superhero game ever.
Worth it: YES!
Final Rating: 5 on 5