Skip to content

Arkham City Day#1: Holy Plot Deluge, Batman!

Day#1 with Arkham City is a breath of fresh air in terms of basic gameplay. It (quite literally) drops you right back into the best parts of RockSteady Batman goodness. Not that all is perfect — the story is particular is a jumbled, overclocked mess and there are some weird set pieces. But you just can’t deny the basic Batman goodness of fighting a crowd of goons or hanging from a rafter to attack an armed thug, and Arkham City is looking to be a really beautiful setting for a game. Spoilers within.

Ok, there are just too many good games coming out to waste time on crap like Deus Ex, so I’m giving up and going on to something I’ve been looking forward to: Batman! Starting it is a bit weird. Good god there are so many updates. Didn’t this game just come out? After about ten minutes of Xbox and game updates, we actually start. It’s got a nice familiar title screen from previous game, Batman on a roof with a grayed world. He jumps when I pick a save slot, and as the game loads and goes through the interface, there’s a nice set of animations between still shots that the camera slowly rotates around. It’s nice that this is a cool effect, because I am waiting FOREVER for the game to save the first save slot. There’s also some very nice orchestrated music, by the way. My god it’s still saving — what the hell?!? I didn’t DO ANYTHING yet. Oh, it’s not saving; it’s just showing me what the save animation looks like and waiting for me (as indicated by a few words in the lower left) to hit the button   to continue. FUCK YOU INTERFACE. I decide to redeem my Catwoman code for some downloadable play later. That loads in the background. I choose to start the game at normal difficulty with no subtitles. So, am I in for some Batman goodness?

We start on white as an unseen man says Mr. Wayne has much to discuss. The scene comes up on Vicky Vale, reporting outside Arkham City. Bruce Wayne shows and walks off stage behind her to see the Arkham City prison.  We’re back in the white and the unseen man says no one is untouchable. It turns out that Arkham City is an out of control, walled off part of Gotham where criminals are basically thrown in and left to their own devices. Wayne takes a podium and says that he wants to close Arkham City down, and suddenly a swat team like group appears and Wayne is captured at the podium. We cut back to the white which fades out to show some doctor who has captured Wayne (because Wayne is easier to catch than Batman, he says). The doctor goes on to say that he has something called Protocol Ten that he’s going to initiate and that Wayne shouldn’t stop him because he knows Wayne’s secret. Umm…didn’t this game just start? How does this guy know that I’m Batman? Anyway, turns out he is Professor Hugo Strange and he is informally in charge of Arkham City. He leaves, and when he does, I’m given an interface cue to  use the left joystick to “escape”. I wiggle the joystick and break the chair I’m handcuffed to. A guard runs in and I counter him by hitting the y button on command to knock him down. I’m then CS knocked around and thrown into the street by another guard. The street is very Half-Life-y with a bunch of fenced in pens and guards corralling prisoners.  I’m told to go to a line and I do while being mocked by other prisoners for being Bruce Wayne. I cross the line after being threatened by a random convict, and when I get to the end of the line, I’m thrown into an elevator with reporter who doesn’t want to listen to me because of my playboy image. Wayne tells him to stay close as we wait for the elevator to open.

The elevator opens and there are a bunch of thugs on the other side waiting to pound us. The reporter runs the second the door opens and gets jumped by a thug, and I have to fight my way through a few guys to rescue him. I start carrying him away, and I’m CS knocked out by guy with pipe. I come to in a new area being brought to the Penguin. He wants to beat Wayne up as revenge for something about his family. He tries to hit me with a pair of brass knuckles, but I counter him and start fighting his horde of about six guards. Ack — I’m kicked out of the game for the stupid downloadable content. Oh Xbox, why would you interrupt my game for that? If I wanted the downloadable stuff so badly, I would have just waited for it. Anyway, I reload to the Penguin fight scene and it’s exactly the kind of awesome Batman brawl I want, where I beat up a room full of guards in a set of strikes and counters. I leave the Penguin behind (umm, why?) to climb to the roof so I can call Alfred. I climb a bit and then CS tell him to drop the package at the Ace Chemical building.  I have to go there next. I continue to climb the tower parkour style, and when I get up there,  I see a jet fly by and drop the Batman suit at the top.  I suit up and then use a key I stole from a guard during the fight to tap into Strange’s radio signal. It’s a little mini activity where I have to hold A down over a circle on my Bat-wrist-computer-display to hear that Dent is holding Catwoman and may kill her. Wait, Two-Face AND Catwoman? How long have I been playing this game? 30 minutes? That’s already FOUR different costumed foes, if Strange counts. How about some focus, RockSteady? At this rate, you’ll use the whole DC pantheon by hour five. Anyway, Dent’s holding her in a courthouse and Batman thinks, for some reason unknown to me, that Catwoman will know what’s going on here. The camera zooms to said courthouse, so I guess that’s my next destination.

I glide over to the courthouse in what is always such a beautiful shot in these games. I land in a crowd of goons and beat up them up, taking more damage than I should as I’m still rusty on the controls. Once they are down, I go into the courthouse. I go in the front door, but the main courtroom door is locked. I climb up to a window to look into the scene in the central room. I see Two-Face holding court and Catwoman tied up and hanging over acid. I take out a gunman on this balcony first, and then climb over the courtroom on a wire on the ceiling. I jump down and beat up the guards in another good fight. At the end,  Dent shoots me and then he turns to shoot Catwoman, but she’s free and cuts him with her claws. He pulls out a second gun to kill her, but Batman CS strings him up. Batman then jumps down to Catwoman and asks her about Protocol Ten. I am feeling a narrative whiplash from how fast this is jerking around. You know, the game is going to be several hours long. You could breathe a little in the storytelling, guys. Catwoman says she doesn’t know what that Protocol is,  but she thinks the Joker is working with Strange. Oh of course, the Joker. I mean, we only had THREE villains in this game so far. We can’t stay THAT simple. And hey, didn’t I relock up Joker in Arkham Asylum at the end of last game? Is there any consistency here? Be glad I like your gameplay, Arkham City, because this story is just silly.

As Batman and Catwoman talk, the  Joker CS is aiming a sniper rifle (although we only see his perspective through a scope) at Catwoman, but Batman sees it and CS saves her from the shot. They talk more and boy her flirting, jokey dialog is getting old already, and this is the very first time I’ve encountered her. She leaves and I use my detective mode (hitting the right shoulder button) to see where the sniper bullet came from. Batman needs to find the Joker to get more information, and I need to follow the bullet trail to the source to do so. I find a way out of the courthouse and when I hit the street, I call it a night.

Posted in Hardcore.

Tagged with .

One Response

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. awkm says

    Word of warning: Do your side quests when you get them. Some will be locked out if you progress too far. Happened to me. That % completed misled me, it also counts your side-quests and Riddler stuff. Thought I had a ton of plot to finish and then I saw the credits roll. Tears.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.