ManaTank Preview: Batman Arkham City

ManaTank Preview: Batman Arkham City

Let us begin with an introduction. Hello everyone, I’m Dan Curtis, Manatank’s resident Batman obsessive. Since childhood I’ve always held a bond with Mr Wayne and co, expanding from playing with the action figures, enjoying the crazy romps of Adam West and Burt Ward to exploring the brilliantly atmospheric hallways of Arkham Asylum in the best Batman game I ever played. Well, thankfully, there’s soon to be a sequel of that game coming out entitled Batman: Arkham City and I, along with a whole host of other Batman obsessives, really can’t wait to get our mitts on it.

The game’s developers, Rocksteady, over the past year or so, have been slowly trickling information out to us about the latest game. Every few weeks there’s a little nugget of info comes out that everyone goes crazy for and starts singing the praises of, but with all this info coming out, it can be hard at times to keep track of what exactly is going down in Batman’s latest romp. Luckily I’m here to wade through the swamp of information, extract everything you could possibly need to know and write it down here for your reading pleasure. Enjoy, and let us begin with the concept of Arkham City.

The Inmate’s Playhouse

As you may have gathered, excessive spoilers probably are contained within this section, as it discusses the plot of the game’s predecessor, Arkham Asylum.  So, if you ain’t played it, I accept no blame if you decide to read on. Got that? Sure you want to continue? Good, lets.

Arkham City takes place approximately one year after the events of Arkham Asylum which involved Batman once more overthrowing a plot by the Joker, stopping along the way to kick the ass of several more supervillains as he went, procuring new gadgets and handy-dandy maneuvers that could destroy even the best of Gotham’s underworld. Alas, due to the extreme antics taken by the joker, the Arkham Asylum institute is in absolutely no fit state to house the criminal scum of Gotham anymore – it is with this in mind that former Arkham Asylum warden Quincy Sharp has used Batman’s defeat of the Joker as a means to be elected as the mayor of Gotham and then proceeded to wall of a section of the city. This is in order to ship all the criminals into what essentially becomes a prison district, hence the earlier trailer taglines of ‘Arkham has Moved’ and now prisoners are given free reign on a stretch of the city, patrolled by relentless guards who may or may not be corrupt.

Suffice to say, Batman isn’t happy about this situation, not happy at all. Since the new Arkham City is packed to bursting point with everything from lowly street thugs to super villains, he’s nervous about the whole situation. No one really knows if Quincy Sharp has some other agenda fencing off this part of the city into a prison district (although those who read the prequel comic might) – his motives will no doubt become clear over the duration of the game’s plot and Batman is keeping a very close eye on the prison district for funny goings on. Indeed, Quincy Sharp’s decision to appoint Hugo Strange, a Batman villain of old, as the warden of the city has got Batman very worried indeed.

Naturally things escalate for the worse as we join Batman in his vigil over Arkham City – he has received word that the inmate Two-Face is plotting a public execution of Catwoman, Batman’s old love interest/enemy/ally and decides that for the sake of stability/his own romantic fantasies he must immediately enter the City and put a stop to Two-Faces’ plot. Of course, things don’t go quite to plan though, and Batman finds himself involved in a city-wide rebellion involving a multitude of his oldest foes; if you thought Arkham Asylum was Batman’s worst nightmare, Arkham City is surely his hell.

With super villains on all sides and their respective gangs making Batman’s life a misery, things aren’t looking great for the caped crusader. Luckily though, Batman’s came prepared for all this nonsense and has a few tricks up his cape to throw massive spanners in the works of the evil machinations of our favourite Batman foes.

Buffed-Up Bats

Thankfully, Rocksteady thought it would be a very, very silly idea to take away all the upgrades Batman received during the events in Arkham Asylum. This means that, as you begin Arkham City, Batman will be armed to the teeth with all of his toys from the first game, some of which have gotten new upgrades and as such do a whole lot more than they used to. For example the cryptographic sequencer or – Bat-toythingthatexplodeselectriclocks – is now capable of being used to lock onto signals around the game world, allowing Batman to track down foes around the highly expanded game world.

Of course, Batman is going to need all of his tricks to get around Arkham City, which is said to be a hell of a lot bigger than the Asylum ever was. It’s also much more open-world, although Rocksteady has said not all of the city will be accessible at any given moment in order to contain the story and ensure it is every bit as good as the original Arkham Asylum tale. That said, you’re going to have a massive playground to explore, as Batman, thanks to the use of his trusty grapple-gun, is never limited to just wandering around on the ground. Instead Batman can take to the rooftops, the skies and everywhere else in between, even going so far as to cling to helicopters. By utilising his cape, Batman can also essentially fly around the city, and also has access to a brand new swooping dive which is perfect for getting the drop on unsuspecting criminal scum who happen to be milling around underneath you.

Batman’s also been harnessing his fighting skills between games, and now has access to a wide variety of enviromental and general ass-kicking manouvers that include multiple enemy take-downs, bashing goons’ heads off the immediate environment and using tools such as the explosive gel from Asylum in order to knock over your foes ready for a bashing. With all these new moves, however, comes upgrades to the enemy AI, as they will now attack, not one at a time, but often will attack at the same time, meaning Batman can takedown more than one enemy at once and thus increasing the pace of the overall combat.

The Caped Crusader is also, as he was in the game’s predecessor, capable of gaining a wide variety of upgrades as the game progresses, meaning you’re highly unlikely to get bored with the tools Batman has anytime soon. The particularly exciting thing is using the gadgets from the first game – given that Arkham City is designed to be much more explorable, I’m intrigued to see exactly how using things such as the line-launcher or cryptographic sequencer differs from how they worked in the original title.

Rockteady is also boasting that the title offers up to 60 hours of gameplay, with a round 20hours of storytime filled up with over 40 hours of additional challenges and content. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds absolutely excellent to me – it’ll be great to have a game so full of content keeping me going until the ridiculous amount of games coming out this holiday season finally lands.

Super-Villain Extravaganza

There’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of Batman villains in Arkham City – Rocksteady has really went all out to bring new and nasty versions of classic Batman foes into the fray and the best part is we probably don’t know who they all are yet. However, let me tell you a bit more about the one’s we do know about, starting with this man.

He may look like a clown, but the Joker is not a man to be messed with. Still voiced by the eternally brilliant Mark Hamill who also voiced the character in Batman the Animated Series and also played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, the Joker is now a shell of his former self. Fans of the comic leading up the events of Arkham City will know that the Joker is very ill indeed – the poor guy is suffering from the ill effects of taking the mutated Titan Virus/Batman handing his ass to him at the end of the last game and has been told by many doctors that he does not have very long left to live at all.

This doesn’t make him any less dangerous though – still flanked by his lovelorn girlfriend Harley Quinn, the Joker is still capable of maniacal schemes and is still out to become the de facto leader of Arkham City. His role in the overall plot of the story remains a mystery, but its not hard to imagine the Joker having a profound effect on the experience for Batman, who’s had more run-ins with Joker than you’ve had hot dinners. I do have it on good authority however that the Joker has a combat-ready supply of the Titan formula which makes big and beefy foes, so he’s bound to have an army of super soldiers at some point who’re out to destroy Batman. Is it even possible that Bane may make a return and be working for the Joker in return for a supply of Titan? We know Bane’s in the game already, so it is more than possible.

This young lady is Harley Quinn. Sporting a new outfit, Miss Quinn is the Joker’s most devoted servant and takes place in nearly every single one of his evil schemes. Despite the Joker never showing much love to her, the former Arkham Asylum doctor turned insane clown princess shows a ridiculous amount of devotion to Joker, whom she refers to as Mr J.

A highly talented acrobat, Miss Quinn was nevertheless defeated quite easily by Batman in the original game – whether she has more of an impact this time around remains to be seen.

Victor Fries or ‘Mr Freeze’ is the very latest of the deadly villain line-up to be announced. In fact, we’ve got the trailer right here, should you be so inclined to see him in action. Looking extremely dashing in a very futuristic cryo-suit, Mr Freeze is seen to be very angry with Batman for some reason, presumably for some reason involving Victor’s cryogenically frozen wife, Nora.

He’s armed with all sorts of high-tech gadgetry including his trademark ice cannon (which freezes the environment in beautifully rendered detail) and also has many tricks up his sleeve including a Batman-repellent shield. One thing’s for sure, Batman’s in for a frosty reception! (HAHAHAHA…I’ll let myself out).

Another returning villain from the original game, E.Nigma, AKA the Riddler, is actually seen in this title. In fact, he’s back in absolutely top form with much more tricky riddler trophies, a whole host of new traps and is out to prove once and for all that he’s much cleverer than Batman. Ready to prove him wrong? Be warned, Arkham City’s version of the Riddler is no Jim Carrey version – this one looks like he has a much closer resemblance to Jigsaw from SAW. He has a particularly fondness for traps, judging by some of the early images.

What’s this I see? Bane, teaming up with Batman? An unlikely alliance to be sure, and one that probably isn’t destined to last. It looks like Bane has been locked up in Arkham City judging by his trousers, which appear to be of Arkham descent.  Notice how he also seems to have some form of chain around his leg though? As I said previously, is it too hard to imagine Joker using Bane for his schemes, locking the brute away? We’ll have to wait and see how everything pans out, but I really can’t imagine Bane working with Batman for the rest of the game.

Penguin arrives into the Arkham universe, and he’s voiced by none other than Nolan North, who you may recognise as being the voice of practically every game character in a game lately. Expect fishy antics, one-armed goons and a visit to the penguins Iceberg Lounge at some point in the duration of the game. A spokesperson from Rocksteady has said the following about the character: “” The way that penguin has always been portrayed is as quite an aristocratic, well-spoken gentleman who’s got these twisted delusions of grandeur” he says. “So we’ve made him a really horrible, nasty piece of work – but still with the delusion of grandeur. He dresses well, but in a poor taste, and we’ve made him this brutish, brutal guy but also key into collection fascination that he’s had through out the years.”

He’s obsessed with duality, formerly known as Harvey Dent and has a meanstreak longer than several miles. He’s Two-Face, one of Batman’s oldest and maddest foes. He decides practically everything by the flip of a coin, and it is with Two-Face that Arkham City begins – the crazed lunatic has strung Catwoman above a bath of acid and it is up to Batman to rescue her from the deadly and highly grisly fate that awaits her.

This man is Hugo Strange, a crazed doctor who is also the warden of Arkham City. His role remains unclear in the proceedings, but we do know that Mr Strange actually knows Batman’s real identity, which is a real pain in the backside for any aspiring masked vigilante. Rumour has it that strange is even pulling the strings of Quincy Sharp, the mayor of Gotham City.

As well as these villains, there’s set to be several others including Poison Ivy (rumoured), Talia Al Ghul, Victor Zsasz and even Calendar Man. There’s also rumoured appearances from Black Mask.

Bat, Cat and Bird

As you may have already heard, as well as Batman having his own lengthy campaign we’re also going to get to control Catwoman herself for a nice lengthy side-campaign during Arkham City. Much more agile and a lot faster than Batman, Catwoman plays very differently and has her own agenda, array of gadgets and completely different fighting moves. She isn’t just a tacked on bonus character either, Selina Kyle is instead out to impress with her own unique storyline and narrative twists.

If you’re so inclined there’s also the option to play as Batman’s trusty sidekick Robin through use of special pre-order codes. While he’ll probably have his own style, Robin remains only playable on the game’s challenge maps, which make a return from the first title.

Well dear Batmaniacs, that concludes my preview of Arkham City. Be sure to check Manatank regularly for more detail on this game ahead of the official October release, as you can be damn sure I’ll be reporting it.

 

 

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