Batman: Arkham City - Bruce Almighty or a franchise on the Wayne?

Has Rocksteady cooked up 2011's best action game?...

If you think video games fanatics are hard to please, you want to see comic book nuts.

Take a superhero from their precious pages and put him or her on - heaven forbid - a screen, and you'd better know what you're doing. Truth is, even if you think you've found a way to make a man the size of ten Olympians look good in Spandex on the telly, you've probably taken one too many steps away from the source material. This will unwaveringly be met with nothing less that pure fanboy rage.

Batman's is perhaps the comic canon most fiercely defended - and for good reason. We've seen countless attempts at lifting him delicately from those inky frames and every time it's never been quite right; Michael Keaton's too short, Christian Bale can't talk, the suit looks puffy, the suit looks camp, the suit has nipples, that's George Clooney... There's always something that gets in the way of a truly successful punt into mainstream media.


The Warner Bros. animated series probably came the closest to perfection - with the pairing of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Bats and The Joker getting a collective nod from the fanboy community as the closest we've ever had to how the Dark Knight and Clown Prince should be played.

A good move, then, for Rocksteady to pilfer the services and lore of fan favourites in 2009. The developer's smart handling of the franchise didn't stop there though; it seemed able to identify and execute key elements of The Bat that others had either missed or skewed just a little too much in the past: The effortlessly brutal combat, the predatory, cerebral stealth attacks, the look, the feel, the flow of the narrative and the way every vital aspect of every character had made it in the page to screen transition.

Arkham Asylum was incredibly hard to fault - which makes the prospect of Arkham City both exciting and scary. Of course we want more, but what if the second helping doesn't taste as good as the first? We hear your worries: What if the sequel makes the mistake of so many others before it - and pushes too far in the wrong direction, bursting the Bat-bubble altogether?

Well, we can tell you now: your concerns are unfounded. You were wrong to ever doubt Rocksteady. Shame on you.

The beauty of Arkham City hits us instantly as we witness a playthrough, beginning with Batman standing on top of one of Gotham's skyscrapers. In a nice nod to assassin's Assassin's Creed, our Rocksteady rep spins the camera 360 degrees. The view stretches for miles in every direction, with Creed's sun-drenched renaissance scene replaced by the towering darkness of Gotham, illuminated in patches by neon signs burning pinks, blues and purples, offering 'Nudes', pharmaceuticals and beer.


If Rocksteady pulled off Arkham Asylum as a location almost two years ago, it's nailed Gotham City right from the off in 2011.

Alfred (Alfred!) has a few words in Batman's ear. You know the setup by now; Two Face is a new inmate in Arkham City - the open air expansion of the original asylum into the streets of Gotham - and he's about to mess Catwoman up over at the courthouse. He needs to send a message to every other loon in there: if he drops the soap in the shower, you better damn well let him pick it up in peace.

Before nipping to the courthouse to save our feline friend/foe/it's complicated, our Rocksteady man takes us on a short tour around the City. There's be no Batmobile this time around - but Batman's been working on his gliding skills and can nose-dive when he's losing altitude before swooping back up again. This is your main way of navigating the city, along with swinging from the trusty grapple gun.

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