Tuesday 23 July 2013

My PS3 Highlights #3: Batman - Arkham City

"So how do you keep a secret from the World's Greatest Detective? Well, do you know? You stick it right under him. Right up under his long pointy nose, and wait" - The Joker

With the fourth incarnation of the PlayStation due to hit stores this holiday season, I thought it was a good time to reflect upon some of my own most cherished and memorable gaming experiences with the PlayStation 3

Each entry into this brand new column will give you my thoughts on some of my favourite PS3 games and the enjoyable and grabbing gaming experiences they have brought me. 

After focusing on Uncharted 2 and L.A. Noire in Parts #1 and #2, Part #3 is all about the highly-acclaimed Rocksteady superhero-caper, Batman: Arkham City.

"Now kiss and make-up"
Hard to believe, but before 2009's Arkham Asylum, Batman was a character devoid of a highly-successful gaming title - sure, numerous titles and film-tie ins had tried to strike gold, but the Caped Crusader wasn't a character high-quality gaming was associated with.

Arkham Asylum changed all of this; a dark, authentic and loyal game that finally did the Dark Knight justice, Asylum reaped numerous 'Game of the Year' awards. Then, only two years later, Arkham City changed it all again - by building upon the solid foundation that was Asylum, developer Rocksteady was able to fine-tune and enhance the franchise into a game that is near-enough perfect.

No other game gives you such an authentic and enjoyable experience of becoming a superhero. In Arkham City, the player is made to work and think like Batman would, making their way across a room of villains and ensuring they all live. The game forces you to think inventively, ensuring you make use of every tool on that iconic utility belt to work your way across a room full of gun-toting thugs.

There is something oddly satisfying about never revealing yourself to the enemies in the room below and slowly terrorising them with smoke grenades, batarangs and freeze bombs. As the goons heart-rate begin to sky-rocket they become increasingly twitchy and jumpy until you finally swoop in a knock them to the ground. Satisfying stuff right there I tell 'ya.

Arkham City also gives players the chance to
play as everyone's favourite anti-hero, Catwoman
Another element that makes this game a really memorable one is the combat. The Freeflow combat model that allows players to string together numerous combos is immensely satisfying and simple to pick up - if a complete idiot like myself can bring down a group of 15 thugs and not get pummelled, surely anyone can. That's the beauty of Rocksteady's Arkham series; they're seriously easy to get into without needing to understand a huge, long string of buttons and combinations.

The scope of the game is also staggering; Arkham City completely dwarfs Asylum with a fully-realised section of Gotham City for the Batman to patrol. The sheer attention to detail afforded to each and every building has to be seen to be believed, from the snow-covered rooftops of Park Row to the sneaky little Easter egg and posters dotted across walls in Amusement Mile.

One of the game's most memorable moments comes very early on; having donned the Batsuit for the first time, you make your way to the highest rooftop in Arkham that you can find and look out across the skyline for a massive "wow" moment. The game let's you go anywhere right away, not confining you to one part of the map for the majority of the story - and this is where the side-missions come in.

With tons of side missions and literally HUNDREDS of Riddler challenges dotted across the city, Arkham City is a game that has hours of added game-play once the central narrative wraps up. From mysterious killings in dark alleyways to a dangerous assassin on the loose, Arkham City keeps you interested with dozens of little stories that run concurrently with the central story.

The Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC adds an extra
hour or three to the already impressive runtime
For me, the most chilling and memorable side-story is the one that revolves around Hush; the gruesome killings aren't easy to discover and the way in which the storyline is left unresolved makes the tension that little bit more tantalising.

In terms of villains, Arkham City brings them in force. From Mark Hamill's last performance as the maniacal Joker to Mr. Freeze, Ra al Ghul, Hush, Two-Face and the Penguin, all sorts of DC characters are crammed into the chock-a-block storyline. Rocksteady didn't hold back in making the story as jam-packed and gripping as possible; all set within the space of one night, the central story really effectively captures that feeling of time being against you. There's also a cracking ending that throws in a massive curve-ball for die-hard fans and casual gamers alike.

Arkham City is simply one of those games I could just keep talking about and play over and over again. With a memorable storyline full of characters and twists and turns, as well as impressive visuals and fun combat, this is a seamless story-driven Batman adventure that sits near the top of my list of best PS3 games. Be sure to get onto now if you haven't already!

What are your thoughts on Batman: Arkham City? What are some of your most memorable PS3 experiences? Are you going to be investing into the PS4 on launch day? Leave me a comment below! Next up in PS3 Highlights: Red Dead Redemption

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