Field Notes, Batman: Arkham City, Page 1

This is the first entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game

Hearing that Batman: Arkham City is one of the greatest video games of all time, not only from critics but from a good friend (the latter carrying more weight), I’ve been looking forward to it.

This expectation of awesome can also be a burden, and I felt it during my first impression of the game. The player (as Bruce Wayne) is thrown into Arkham City without any explanation (or tutorial) and this first segment was off-putting to me initially.

It seemed as if the game expected me to have just finished Batman: Arkham Asylum and know exactly what to do and how to do it, and I struggled early on to get in character and on point with the controls.

In retrospect this may have been a brilliant game play design decision as my player experience mirrored Bruce Wayne’s own confusion with his circumstances, so cheers to Rocksteady if that was the intended goal.

Whatever the studio’s intent, after the first forty-five minutes the “I’m Batman” achievement I had earned for retrieving the batsuit started to feel real. I had the gear, Batman’s stoic and confident “I-can-handle-anything” lines were coming and once I jumped out of the church bell tower to escape Joker’s bomb and glided safely to perch on a nearby billboard I was feeling like the man in black who handled the Arkham Island situation with (relative) ease. I AM the Batman!

Night in the Windy City

It’s great to have the characters acknowledge the events of Arkham Asylum – guards, doctors and the villains themselves (those that were there) all reference what’s come before and that builds a greater sense of story even as City’s is just starting to be told.

That story is already involving some mystery, and I have questions – why was Mr. Wayne thrown into Arkham City in the first place? Who is the patient on the ground floor of the church and medical center, the guy who (supposedly) cut his own face off? I’m sure he’s tied to one of the villains in some way, but how?

The same friend who highly recommended the game said there’s something that happens at the beginning that comes into play huge later – is it what’s in that guy’s box? Is it Hugo Stange’s first conversation with me as the opening credits played? Does it have anything to do with Catwoman’s attempt to steal from Two-Face? All in good time, all in good time.

Batman: Arkham City, after some start-up adjustments, now has me ready for more. Catwoman, Two-Face, the Penguin, Hugo Strange, Harley Quinn, the Joker – all the heavy hitters are ready to go and the operatic score is fantastic.

For Batman this will be another long night. For me, another great game.


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