If Arkham Asylum is a love letter to Batman fans then Arkham City is a sonnet. The game’s developer, Rocksteady Studios, improved upon the original in every way and gives you one of the most satisfying endings I have ever played in a video game.
Luckily for us, Batman Arkham City for Mac was handled by Feral Interactive too, ensuring the transition to macOS was as flawless as Arkham Asylum’s. Batman Arkham City is not only a solid-port but one of the best action games out there. Period. It’s so good, many other action games have copied it’s fighting formula with various degrees of success. Shadow of Mordor is a good example.
Enter Batman: Arkham City
The game takes place six months after the events Arkham Asylum. Since the events at Arkham Asylum, Major Sharp has built a super prison. This super prison is meant to home Gotham’s biggest and worst super criminals in one place, but behind the walls of Arkham City, it is far from a prison. All the major criminals have taken territories all over the city in a bid to become the most powerful crime boss. The three most prominent bosses on the streets are Two-Face, Penguin, and Joker.
Behind every leader is a man pulling the strings, and in this case, it’s Hugo Strange. Not a lot is known about this Hugo character, but he knows a lot about Batman and Bruce Wayne specifically. In fact, he knows the greatest riddle of them all, that Bruce Wayne is Batman. This forces Batman to act quickly and find out exactly what his grand plan (Protocol 10) for Gotham is and what it involves but not before being thrown in Arkham City by Strange and his elite Tyger guards.
Rocksteady has fine-tuned the combat making it more free-flowing, effectively making Batman more nimble whilst adding more focus and facilitating the use of gadgets in combat. The improved gliding is brilliant. Dive bombing and then pulling to gain more altitude is a fantastic feature, as is the use of the grapple claw which can now be used to give you a speed boost in these gliding segments. For the most part, the gameplay stays true to Arkham Asylum’s roots, adopting the philosophy ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’.
Each of the three factions Penguin, Two-Face and Joker play completely differently. Penguin’s men rely on technology and are better armed than either of the two other gangs. They rely heavily on Penguin’s influence to smuggle weapons and stay technologically more advanced than the other gangs.
Two-Face’s gang is more brawlers roaming the streets on foot like packs of dogs. Try to take on to many and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed. They are also more resourceful, picking up objects within the environment to attack you with such as bottles and bats.
Finally, Jokers gang… Well, as you would expect they kind of just do what they want. They’re a mixed bunch, to say the least. This can be attributed to being led by Harley Quinn due to the Jokers poor health. If you’re a Batman fan you know Harley is kind of an oddball and doesn’t strike you as an authority figure. She is only after pleasing her Pudding at the expense of annoying him.
Due to the Joker’s health issues following the events of the first game, the Penguin is definitely the aggressor in the turf war taking over the city block by block.
The boss battles in this game are a total triumph after the miserable attempts at Arkham Asylum. They force you to think and react quickly. Special mention here goes to the Mr. Freeze battle where you constantly have to change your tactics as Mr. Freeze can’t be caught out twice with the same maneuver. These boss battles are all about timings.
At certain sections in the game, you will be required to play as Catwoman, and she is sexy as hell (meow), strutting her stuff around the screen. She plays completely differently to the big bad Bat though. She is very agile and lightning quick with her attacks. She cannot take as much damage as Batman though but this can be upgraded should you chose to spend skill points on her. She has a lot fewer gadgets to use than Batman, but you never feel overwhelmed as Ms. Kyle (Catwoman).
By the way, guess who’s back? Yes, you guessed it The Riddler and he is back with a vengeance this time over 440 riddles for Batman and Catwoman.
Finally, there are plenty of side missions to embroil yourself in. You can’t go more than five minutes without someone else wanting your attention whilst gliding around the City. It can feel a little overwhelming but adds hours of fun.
With most open world games you see a lack of detail within the environments but Arkham City suffers from none of that. It’s dark, gritty and in total disrepair. Not exactly what you’d call a summer vacation. Rocksteady has drawn heavily from the comics for inspiration here, and it shows. All around, there is a lot more detail here than in Arkham Asylum. Even the character models look more detailed, Two-Face particularly looks jaw-droppingly good.
The voice acting again is exquisite and really pushes the narrative and makes the story come alive. Mark Hamill’s Joker once again is the star of the show but Conroy as Batman and Nolan North as the Penguin followed him closely. The rest of the voice acting is spot on too, no one puts in a bad performance here.
I love games like this where the voice acting is so good. It just draws you in and for me, it can be the difference between a good game and an epic game.
The port is excellent as you would expect from Feral with a few small exceptions. It does not offer a great range of graphical options in the pre-load menu (before the game launches). However, once the game is loaded you will find a Testing Suite to try the settings you manually input. It is certainly a very nice touch of Feral.
Unfortunately, I did experience a few frame rate drops while playing, specifically when entering and exiting buildings but this is a minor issue and doesn’t affect your overall experience. I have been assured that more powerful machines than mine will not have this issue and will be able to play the game at its maximum settings (I was playing at medium).
Minimum System Requirements:
- OS: 10.7.4
- CPU: 2.0 GHz
- GPU: 256MB
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 16GB
My Mid 2011 iMac:
- OS: 10.8.3
- CPU: Intel i5 2.5GHz
- GPU: AMD Radeon 6750M 512MB
- RAM: 12GB
- Amazing story and atmosphere
- Makes you feel like Batman
- Improved gameplay
- Some characters feel unfocused and shallow
If you are eager to be immersed in the world of Gotham City then look no further. Arkham City does the source material justice once again. If however, you are not particularly a fan, you will still find a highly enjoyable game with a great story and game mechanics. You owe it to yourself to play this game. This game took me over the 35 hours to complete the first time. Once completed, you can unlock a new game mode which ups the ante, making combat even more difficult. Then there’s the Harley Quinn DLC, where you get to play as Robin and on top of that, you get challenge maps. So yes, there’s also plenty of bang for your buck here.
Batman Arkham City is a must buy. A few minor technical hitches cannot take away from this experience.