Impressions – Batman: Arkham City

By Alec Meer on October 31st, 2011 at 2:56 pm.

you really should just hit in the balls, Batman. World's greatest detective my arse

Batman! A game so good that Yahoo awarded it 6/5, thus unwittingly demonstrating that review scores are little more than a media pissing contest whose only real beneficiary is publishers’ marketing departments and people who like to shout at other people on forums. Which is exactly why we don’t give scores here. Can Arkham City possibly live up to such drooling superlatives? Well, I can’t yet speak for the PC version – which isn’t out until November 18, though we’re hoping to have code before then – but I did spend far too much of my week off playing the console version (I’m sorry, I just fancied getting a different sort of RSI on top of the one I already have from my mouse and keyboard), thus have a very good sense of the game itself if not its technical aspects and improvements on PC. So, if you must, consider this not a Wot I Think, but an extended preview offering some idea of what to expect in a few weeks.

Arkham City, as well-named a game as any ever was, is a direct evolution of Arkham Asylum, genuinely and impressively pumping up the player abilities, scale and freedom in big, big ways – making it something close to a true sequel, as opposed to the ‘the same, with knobs on’ approach most big gaming franchises tend to pursue these days. With Jim’s eloquent grumpiness about fake freedom in mind, I think BAC approaches its open world in the right way: it doesn’t promise freedom, and in fact goes out of its way to convince you you’re trapped in a huge outdoor prison, so freedom sneaks in organically once you find your feet, rather than is dangled straight at you then never lived up to. I use the small but smart freedom on offer to achieve specific objectives, not to roam willy-nilly, because I’m here for a reason, not a ramble. I might have a city to explore and admire if I wish, but there are people to save, villains to stop and clues to find. I’m the god-damned Batman, not Ian Sinclair.

Arkham City is, in theory, but a fraction of Gotham City, though that said it does seems to contain most of the important bits, like the church and the police station and the docks and the industrial district and the courthouse and the museum, does leave me wondering what’s left to document. Regardless, knowing this urban slice has been sectioned off as a giant prison for dangerous criminals and knowing that my primary purpose in being here was to beat up said criminals means I didn’t face the conceptual disappointment of not being able to reach other areas. Obviously I couldn’t. Plus, this area was in peril, and so was I. Important work must done. Except…

Well, except the game manages to mangle its own tension and drama at critical points, thanks to a bombardment of side-missions and collectibles. It was distracting enough in Arkham Asylum, but here there’s a constant, city-wide scattering of gotta catch ‘em all Riddler trophies, political prisoners about to suffer a beat down, hoop-diving stunts and kidnappings screaming for your attention, even while you’ve apparently only got minutes to live or save Gotham from becoming a smoking hole in the ground. “The Penguin is threatening to execute six policemen any moment now, but I am too busy trying to bat-rope across six skyscrapers in order to collect this green question mark.” Oh Batman, I fear you’ve lost sight of why you first became Batman. Are you not satisfied by all those billions you own as Bruce Wayne? Do you really need all this crap too?

In fairness, there is narrative justification for every aspect of the game, rather than leaving it to the dry desert of achievement-hunting. All the collecting and side-questing ties into defeating the nefarious, usually life-threatening schemes of an impressively large section of Batman’s rogues gallery, culminating in a typically lavish confrontation with one of the many supervillains causing merry hell in Arkham. It isn’t just about the experience points (which unlock new abilities as well as challenge maps and snorrrrrrrrrre concept art), and there is smartly-designed delight in finally getting to the face your assorted arch-nemeses, but it sure does make for a noisy, attention-hungry game that loses a lot of the scriptwriters’ surely intended impetus.

To refer to the ancient RPS descriptor of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City is perhaps not tight. It is excellently entertaining to punch people, to swoop from skyscrapers at high speed and to use a fat array of clever gadgets to access new areas and challenges, it is lovely to look at and it is a sturdy creature of impressive size, but frankly some of that bulk is pure flab.

Yet despite this, I was compelled to pursue every lead, subquest and mildly irritating timing mini-game Arkham City threw at me, and for the first time in my long and easily-distracted gaming career, the idea of attaining the fabled 100% completion seemed appealing. I stopped myself from doing it, quite sensibly telling myself that I had better things to do than desperately make a number slowly increase, but the urge was certainly there. And still is. It was there because Arkham City offers an excellent and slowly-growing toolbox of abilities, with your/my own expertise at the use of these tools improving noticeably over time.

While the pursuit of tiny, gotta catch ‘em all objectives might have been entirely meaningless outside of the most lizardy part of my brain, it was also enormously satisfying, rewarding the deft use of elaborate controls, observation and logic-leveraging. Whether Batman really would waste his time on such things is perhaps a moot point – what’s important is that Batman can achieve such things. I am the god-damned Batman. And it’s my god-damned business if I want to use my incredible abilities and wonderful toys to collect toy question marks instead of saving Gotham from mass-poisoning.

My other gripe is the bulk of the writing and quite a few of the performances. This element of the game simply doesn’t live up the splendour of its look and city and ability toybox, with the enormous exception of Mark Hamill as The Joker. Luke Skywalker turns in what I would say is a career-best performance, and is able to add charisma and menace to even the most turgid of lines – as well as getting all the game’s best ones. He’s a halogen-bright Batsignal flaring up from the darkened buildings of his fellow performers, towering above them. Most of the rest of the cast is merely adequate – nothing to complain about, but they can’t lift the often plodding, humdrum dialogue into something so much more in the way Hamill manages to. (Alfred was good; the guy doing Hugo Strange had a great, sinisterly flat voice but rote evil genius lines; The Riddler was a decent nerd; Batman was solid, not too growly but blandly straight-up heroic).

Then there were the really bad ones. Two-Face as roaring, purely-angry thug who seems to use ‘bitch’ as his every other word, Catwoman as one-note, pantomime-flirt, Nolan North doing an atrocious Dick Van Dyke take on the Penguin, and the array of same-voiced thugs who also didn’t make it past B in their dictionaries of casual misogyny.

I’m not going to say too much about the game’s attitude towards women, as it’s been so well documented elsewhere, but I would agree that Rocksteady haven’t done their best work in that regard. I wouldn’t call it a matter of straight-up contempt for female characters however, but more another reflection of how humdrum some of the writing and acting can be, and how sharply that contrasts with other aspects of the game. But it is mystifying why BAC strives to come up with fresh, clever, inventively freaky takes on its many villains’ personas and appearances, yet settles on the most generic sexy/sassy/double-entendre-y/lowest common denominator-y take on Catwoman, for instance, accompanied by the bulk of the game’s NPCs endlessly bombarding her with the b-word (the sheer repetition is almost as obnoxious as the sentiment). Some characters just haven’t been imagined or treated with anywhere near the same attention to detail and invention as others, and for some reason most of those characters are female. Don’t blame the source material, because while there is certainly a sad history of This Sort Of Thing over the many decades of Batman stories (including the most recent reboot of the Catwoman comic, sadly enough), there have also been many examples of thoughtful, nuanced, grown-up interpretations too. And as for the thugs, they’re just looped-dialogue robots with a miserably limited vocabulary, not convincing criminals using authentically salty language.

Anyway: as I say, I think it’s more to do with the game being so uneven in its realisation of what is a massive, massive cast of characters than anything else. As it elects to squeeze so much in, someone was always going to get the short straw. Another question is whether it needed to squeeze so much in – despite broadly aiming for Nolan-style hi-tech realism, it occasionally chucks up openly fantastical elements, which offer over-neat deus ex machinas as well as improbable boss battles. It does add up to an almighty and unprecedented package of Batmanniness, but I would have preferred a tighter, smaller game.

For all this, I spent my week with it, I was glad to and I’d have little hesitation in recommending Arkham City. It’s a remarkable piece of interactive superheroism, rich and lavish in detail in most respects, offering just enough freedom alongside fixed goals and the kind of dramatic, high-speed urban outdoorsmanship that puts Assassin’s Creed or Mirror’s Edge to shame (even if they offer far more fleshed-out takes on the narrower sections of city-navigation they offer). It’s not the ‘oh my God, they actually pulled off a good superhero game’ shock of Arkham Asylum, but it’s far meatier, it pulled me in more, it’ll pull me back again and it’s all the proof I needed, in this sad age of cheerless military manshoots, that lavish, expensive, blockbuster singleplayer games are certainly not lost to routine and cynicism. I really can’t wait to see how good it looks and plays on a high-end PC, and to find out if anyone can make a mod that patches out Nolan North.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

102 Comments »

  1. johann tor says:

    I enjoyed the psychogeography call – out, but the console shame remains.

  2. johnpeat says:

    I gave this a thorough whirl on the box-of-X’s and – well – it’s not a BAD game in any way but…

    I was worried when they said ‘open city’ and there were suggestions of ‘sandbox’ that we’d lose the fantastically tight nature of AA – and we surely have lost that – and that’s a BIG loss to me at least.

    There are other things I’m not keen-on too – the combat has been changed and feels looser/easier and generally takes longer (as there are generally more enemies). The ‘arenas’ (the areas which are reused for challenges and multiplayer) aren’t as well thought-out either IMO – it just feels watered-down and stretched thinner.

    Then there’s the game itself – it’s AA but with an endless laundry-list of things to do. You’re not a superhero here, you’re a supergopher who’s being saddled with all the work and it does – frankly – get a bit tedious.

    I’d really hoped they’d have integrated ‘detective mode’ better too – in the original game it was a case of overuse (too easy) or underuse (miss loads of stuff) but that’s still pretty-much the same (and I think it takes a BIT longer to trigger which discourages it even more).

    That’s not to say it’s a bad game – some people will probably prefer the less rigid structure and all the endless “go there do this” missions and puzzles – but there’s evidence of Crackdown 2-style overkill on collectables and other tat – which is a sign of laziness in my book.

    Summary: If you’ve rinsed AA to death (that means playing it at least twice and doing all the challenges etc.) then this is where you go next for sure – just don’t expect anything new.

    If you’ve not done that already – do that first for gods sake…

  3. Outright Villainy says:

    Ah, I’ve been waiting for this review! uh… thing. Glad to see a more honest look at the games flaws, paradoxically I’m more excited for this game now, since I’m not getting that massive glob of hype that comes with every other one I’ve seen. I hugely enjoyed Arkham Asylum, and whilst it wasn’t perfect, it was just such a joy simply to walk around and explore its secrets, and if City is building even more on that, I’ll be busy for quite a while. Plus the combat was ace, so I’m looking forward to going back to that too.

    • Junipe says:

      It has definitely been the case for me as well that a balanced look at the game, instead of what amounts to a press release from Rocksteady/WB, has really gotten me excited about the game. That’s actually one of the reasons I love reading RPS in the first place — most of the writing and reviews sounds like a conversation that I could have with friends on Vent about the game and not some overly glowing review that I’m suspect of.

      I loved AA and just recently went back and completed all the Riddler challenges, which was quite enjoyable. With that in mind, I’ll probably spend more time exploring in AC while doing the main storyline then I did in AA, especially if things aren’t quite as gadget progression gated as they were in AA.

      Also, the idea of a “Dictionary of Misogyny” just struck me as incredibly hilarious. I imagine a book the size of Webster’s Dictionary, with gilded letters and an expensive binding/cover.

  4. johnpeat says:

    I have to pick-up the “Dick van Dyke” comment separately I think.

    Penguin’s full name is Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot – that’s about THE most cliched “should sound English when I don’t know anything about England” in the history of history itself – so perhaps the voice suits the content better than you’re making out.

    Put another way – a lot of stuff in Batman is corny cliched misogynist shite and some of it sticks…

    • Alec Meer says:

      And a lot of it isn’t – the series and characterisation has changed many, many times (as the Arkham games demonstrate in many respects), so there is no call whatsoever to cling to the more unsavoury aspects.

      But also: English studio hires expensive American actor to perform awful English accent for a character that is often treated as American anyway. It doesn’t make *any* sense.

    • johnpeat says:

      I wasn’t condemning Batman as-a-whole but there are always going to be bits of it which jar (true of almost any long-running mythos really??)

      I really didn’t think the Penguin was THAT bad – it’s not Dick van-Dyke bad really – it IS odd that they hired someone who’s not English to do that accent tho.

      If you’re going to change it – choose someone with clout, otherwise just get Bob Hoskyns :)

    • johnpeat says:

      Also – people have talked a lot about the values shown towards women in the game – but the whole thing is crawling along the sharp-edge of it’s 15 Certificate anyway…

      Discussing how it’s “amazing how long someone lasts when you burn their skin off with acid” is – well – it’s pushing your luck on a 15 in my book (I’d say that an 18 should really reflect violence rather than sex but it seems to be the other way around!?)

      The whole tone is different here I think – I realise the success of AA allowed them to be ‘bigger, wider, riskier’ but what we’ve got is “more work, thinner content, more likely to offend someone” and they’re double-edged swords at the best of times…

    • something says:

      So when are we getting a Diagnosis Murder game? Sort of LA Noir meets Theme Hospital, with D.v.D. on roller-skates.

    • siegarettes says:

      I can only agree that ol Bob should have been Penguin. It seems so obvious now.

    • Urthman says:

      I haven’t heard how it sounds in the game, but the idea of The Penguin as American trying to puff himself up by affecting a British accent is spot on characterization.

    • mwoody says:

      He IS an American trying to pretend to be British. His backstory is discussed in-game – he was born in Arkham, then sent to school in London, then came back acting posh and educated despite having dropped out and basically been a street thug for a few years rather than studying.

      Perhaps some of the problem is that the villain’s immediate motives are only revealed when you collect the over 400 (!) riddler trophies, in a collection of taped interviews. It’s sort of a strange decision across the board, with even the timeline between the two games only being doled out in exchange for finding secrets.

    • iucounu says:

      It’s a needless elaboration on the character to have the Penguin go to England at all, I think – I preferred takes on the character where he’s the despised scion of a high-class Gotham clan. A sort of ruined Bruce Wayne. (The name’s more US than UK in my ears.)

      The Penguin voice acting in the game is not Van Dyke awful but if they wanted Cockney, they definitely should have cast a Cockney.

    • Urthman says:

      Unfortunately, in America you don’t have to have actually been to England to decide you want to sound posh by pretending you have a “British accent.” Sometimes while wearing a fedora.

    • Amun says:

      Speaking of the voice acting, you say Kevin Conroy wasn’t up to par? A shame since he’s certainly got the talent.

    • roryok says:

      +1 for a Diagnosis : Murder game

  5. airtekh says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, playing it on a console is not an option for me so I’m holding out for the PC version.

    Arkham Asylum turned out very well on PC I thought, so I’m quietly confident that Rocksteady can do the job a second time.

    • The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

      Console is an option for me, I played the first on xbox, but I was holding out for a theoretically superior experience. If it ends up being no better than the console version I suspect I will never play it.

  6. Radiant says:

    I got that pokemon notion playing through Far Cry 2 right now.

    I had bought everything I needed to commit South African genocide yet if the number of blue diamond dots did not correspond with the number the map said were in that section heaven help me.

    Fuck a jackal I’m trying to get collect shit.

    • Radiant says:

      Also if we’re talking about awful line readings then a special mention must be given to The Jackals heyimsomesseduplookimanarmsdealerandimsoconflictedomnomwombicon stream of babble.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      @Radiant

      Shush, you. It’s called literary and edgy.
      I still can’t understand why so many people praise the writing on that game.

  7. reticulate says:

    To be honest, I’m in it for the snapping dudes in the attempt to run up huge combos. Having a larger environment to engage in said snapping is gravy. It’s a superb combat system, if nothing else. And one that I honestly believe works better with a controller.

    Also Mark Hamill is indeed an all-time-great as Joker. He was head and shoulders above anyone else in Arkham Asylum, too.

  8. alundra says:

    Again with the sexism bits?? Why can’t people recognize this is a *game* based on a *comic* and that the target for the insults are *women breaking the law*?? What then would be a politically correct dialogue that would satisfy the feminist masses?? perhaps something like this:

    Batman: Excuse me intelligent and professional villain woman, to comply with my duty as anti hero I will need to beat you up, but before that will you please sign these papers where you clearly state that you were notified in a respectful and loud manner and that any hits we trade are fully consensual between two adults as recognized by the legal precedings??

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s nice that you went to an absolute, absurd extreme. So much debate gets resolved that way.

    • johnpeat says:

      We live in strange times but the fact remains that games are lagging in terms of avoiding stereotypes and other offensive depictions.

      Deus Ex did it – this definately does it – I can’t be bothered with those who try to excuse it anymore, it requires only a little intelligence to avoid insulting people and perpetuating dying attitudes and as someone serving it mainstream and very popular content – Rocksteady should have done better.

      Simple as

    • alundra says:

      @Alec
      The question remains, what kind of citizens are the women being treated in a harsh way??

      @johnpeat
      dying attitudes?? you gotta check outside the fantasy world of games, there’s an ever increasing hostility towards the opposite sex coming from both sides,

      And setting extreme example is a good way to find a middle point, how do you expect The Batman going to treat female criminals then?? maybe for the next game they will go for an all male cast so the poor batman can keep fighting crime as he is used to, with an iron fist, I bet nobody will fell uncomfortable that way.

      One last thing, is this a game targeted for kids or for adults?? adults are already grown enough (some, not all) to know women are not to be treated that way, and kids, where are they parents to teach them how to treat a woman?

    • Alec Meer says:

      OR the thugs could just not shout ‘bitch’ every five seconds. Dr Fixit here to help!

    • johnpeat says:

      Being sexist and racist is the behaviour of the dying generations – it just isn’t acceptable anymore and the ever-decreasing groups who haven’t figured that out yet, will either have to or become ever more stupid-looking.

      I have every suspicious that this game touts it’s misogyny because they THINK it’s what “the kids” want to hear (based on the turgid whiny offensive shite they call popular music) – but they’re wrong in more ways than they can count.

    • Salt says:

      You say “again with the sexism bits” so I assume you’re familiar with the wide spread coverage already. However the points you raise and the manner in which you raise then indicate that you have decided not to engage with that coverage. Therefore evidence suggests that you will similarly fail to understand or engage meaningfully with any further attempts to explain the issue (hint: the problem isn’t that Batman punches women).

      If you did miss it, Film Critic Hulk has a lengthy series of responses to pretty much every imaginable “but it’s not sexist” argument.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Leave the insults out, gents, or comments get deleted wholesale. ONLY WARNING. /flex

    • Cooper says:

      I love the idea of feminist masses. If only I could convince my student that there are, actually, -masses- of us, and not to be ashamed by the term feminist.

      (There are actually masses of us, and when we get together it’s a heck of a lot of fun. But we’re woefully outnumberred by the masses of close-minded, lazy misogynists)

    • Justin Keverne says:

      @alundra What kind of women are being refered to as bitches? In an early mission you are required to rescue a female doctor, who entered Arkham City with the intent of giving medical aid to the inmates. She has been kidnapped by Harley Quinn, who when the Doctor shows she can’t do what is required, throws her into a pit of men who are all shouting and screaming with joy at the thought of doing something to this Doctor. When Harley changes her mind, these thugs are, to a man, disappointed. When you get to rescue the Doctor she is being held by a pair of thugs who threaten her repeatedly one of whom states “I like it when the bitches scream”.

      So this is a game that threatens gang rape, or certainly gang abuse of some form, on a Doctor who’s entered the prision city in order to help them.

    • mjig says:

      Oh good, so then it’s only the horrible people being sexist.

      I would consider myself pretty staunchly against modern day feminism, but even I would be up in arms against say, Batman, being a misogynist ass. Unfortunately it sounds like you’re complaining about nothing. Again. Stay classy, leftists.

    • Salt says:

      “let me guess, I feel different about his issue, therefore I’m wrong because you are right, is that it??”

      That isn’t at all what I said.

      You are offering up an argument that it’s acceptable to repeatedly call a character “bitch” because it’s either being said by comic book villains or being directed at comic book villains, and comic book villains are meant to do bad things.

      What I said is that your argument has been addressed at great length already. For instance in the article that I linked. You imply that you’ve already experienced plenty of coverage of the alleged sexism in the game, so I assumed that you’ve encountered these counter-arguments.

      That your argument has “been addressed” of course doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. But now that critiques of your argument have been raised it means that if you want it to be taken seriously then you need to deal with those critiques.

      As it is you have just presented the base argument again; an argument that has already received extensive analysis. If you just ignore that analysis then we have to start the discussion over sexism in Arkham City from the ground again, which is indeed quite tiresome.

      EDIT: Oops, Alundra’s comment that this is replying to was deleted. Hope this post still makes sense.

    • Urthman says:

      alundra, maybe you could actually read the article and see that Alec didn’t say, “I’m offended by the sexism,” but “The characterization of the women in this game is lame compared with the more interesting stuff done with a lot of the other characters. What a shame.”

      The real problem with the game industry’s cliched treatment of women isn’t so much that it’s offensive as that it tends to be either grating or boring. Or both.

    • evilhippo says:

      “Being sexist and racist is the behaviour of the dying generations – it just isn’t acceptable anymore and the ever-decreasing groups who haven’t figured that out yet, will either have to or become ever more stupid-looking.”

      Hahaha.

      Meanwhile back in the real world outside of the self-referential Guardian/New York Times reading circles some people appear to move in, sexism and racism are alive and well and chatting completely unselfconsciously over a beer in living rooms, basements and bars all across the world

    • El Armonista! says:

      @OP

      Hang on, are you really suggesting that it’s ok to be misogynistic towards women, as long as they’ve broken the law? Because that’s certainly how it read.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      OR the thugs could just not shout ‘bitch’ every five seconds. Dr Fixit here to help!

      OR the thugs could just not shout ‘bitch’ every five seconds.

      the thugs could just not shout ‘bitch’

      the thugs

      The people in the game saying things likes “Man, I’d let that Catwoman do whatever she wanted to me” or “Catwoman and Poison Ivy, man those two are hot” or all the “I can’t wait for Joker to die so I can ride the Harley” comments… these people aren’t shining examples of high-brow culture here. Yeah, sure, they could be saying other unintelligent thugish things as well… oh wait, they do. All the time.

      No complaints about all the lines like “Bruce Wayne is in Arkham City? Man if I could just get five minutes alone with that rich son-of-a-bitch” and about how they “never liked that Quincy Sharp douchebag” and other such things? It’s only offensive when it’s about women?

    • 1R0N_W00K13 says:

      I honestly think it’s mostly laziness. Rather than go for a realistic approach at making the bad guys seem intimidating, Rocksteady seemed to have come to the conclusion that victimizing women makes the thugs come across as ultimate baddies. It’s not just offensive, it’s a really half-arsed method of implementing an evil facet to this game. It can be done much more subtly and much more effectively through other means.

      With regards to Catwoman and co., Rocksteady are just pandering to their target audience. The new Batman film and a large portion of the source material feature Catwoman that way, I’m assuming they decided to run with it and not knock the boat about too much. Again, not to say it’s acceptable, but in this case it’s pretty unreasonable to dump the fault on Rocksteady.

    • iucounu says:

      Played about 30% of it, and every female character so far is a) ridiculously, pornily hypersexualised b) a hostage being threatened with rape or c) both.

      This isn’t amazingly uncommon in comics, sure, but there’s no variation. It’s one-note, lazy, uninspired writing, and it suggests the writers are content to have the female characters there either as sex-related plot points, or objects of sexual jeopardy. Find me a female character in AC whose sexuality isn’t constantly being made an issue, and basically it’s Oracle, right? That’s it so far as I can tell.

    • gwathdring says:

      I really don’t buy the “but the women are criminals” or the “but the speakers are criminals” thing. On a personal level, it’s no better to call a criminal nasty things than a law-abiding citizen. That’s not how ethical treatment works. Of course, in fiction it can be quite interesting when characters do unethical things … but in this case we’re working with a boring and lazy way to characterize both the speakers and the women being spoken about. Not all criminals are thick chauvinistic bastards and not all female antagonists (or questionably ethical protagonists like Catwoman) should be slick, sexy, flirtatious, and deserving of the word “bitch.”

      I am, to a point, fine with the “people in fantastic worlds don’t have to be realistic” argument. But most of the time, it amounts to the “people in fantastic worlds can be boring and/or offensive stereotypes of people in this world” argument. Which is crap. That’s not what I want from my fiction or my games. I want to be engaged—especially if I’m going to be provoked by offense. Bored and offended is the worst possible state for my entertainment media to inflict on me and just plain bored isn’t much better.

      As I personally have said quite a lot on the sex and gender side of things, I’d like to approach this from another angle alluded to above.

      It would be nice to see someone take the generic thugs to the sorts of interesting extensions and variations that many of the villains get taken to. Often real-life criminals and thugs are people who end up in a cascade of worse situations and never quite recover. Maybe they take the easier or less legal path becasue they have few options or because they made some mistakes once and figured there was nothing for it but to keep making those mistakes more profitably now that they had already spoiled their perfect ethical record. It would also be nice to see a more delicate take on insanity and mental illness. Not more “politically correct”, but more accurate or at least more subtle and interesting. Batman comics quite often do very interesting things with the psychological interactions between Batman and his nemeses … it wouldn’t be a whole lot more difficult to extend that delicacy to the rest of Gotham. But it would make the world infinitely richer and more immerse.

      I don’t want my fictional worlds to be realistic. I don’t want them to be politically correct. I want them to be interesting, immersing, and believable. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman tend to hit all three points for me, even in their surrealist fantasy worlds (humor and horrorish respectively)–without being in the slightest realistic. Snow Crash is another that comes to mind instantly with all it’s pulpy madness that fits so well with many video game tropes. Harry Potter failed in this for me back when I read it–not for the magic, but for the interactions between people (especially between magical and non-magical people). I don’t understand why it takes so much effort to make it clear this is my/our complaint when I talk about these sorts of issues, and that it has little to do with realism.

      And even if you could, theoretically, convince me that the current state of games and comics and games based on comics wasn’t loaded with sexism … we would need to reach the very cusp of impossibility for you to convince me that these contentious portrayals of female characters and their male antagonists are immersing, interesting, and believable. And for me, if it is not all three things, I see no reason to defend it. Not every little part of the game can be all three … but I simply see no point in actively protecting parts that fail to meet those criteria. Of course, they are subjective criteria which is, I hope, why we are here.

    • aerozol says:

      This, still?
      Honestly, what is it about things being called sexist that makes half the gamer population think they’ve been challenged on a personal level? It makes you look truly pathetic! Realize that someone mentioning that they feel something is sexist, isn’t a violent assault on males everywhere, that nobody should ever do, without you posting a defensive position.
      If someone is uncomfortable with something (or thinks “Some characters just haven’t been imagined or treated with anywhere near the same attention to detail and invention as others, and for some reason most of those characters are female.*”) and it effects their perception of the game, I don’t think they should have to keep their mouths shut, just because you get antsy on the subject. Arrgg

      *A line seemingly specially engineered to not hurt your feelings, but holy shit, you threw yourself in front of that imaginary bullet anyway. Good save!

    • j3w3l says:

      i am no longer offended by such blatantly bad characterisation but i don’t know whether that is a bad or good thing.. should i be challenging the ideals of others or just reveling in mediocre gameplay moments

      On a side note this is why i like rps, a place where honest and thoughtful discussions about games can occur.. although we are definitely not the 99%

    • sweetbro says:

      HEY GUYS HEY GUYS HEY GUYS

      WHAT IF

      INSTEAD OF WOMEN, THEY WERE BLACK PEOPLE

      AND INSTEAD OF “BITCH”, THEY CALLED THEM “NIGGER”

      “OMG YOU POLITICALLY CORRECT LEFTIST IDIOTS! DON’T YOU SEE THEY’RE CRIMINALS?! THAT MAKES IT OKAY!”

  9. Merus says:

    Honestly I quite liked it (on the consoles, at least) – it’s certainly big and messy but I think it manages to capture aspects of the Batman mythos in a way that something a little tighter might have had trouble with. For instance, the shark. Batman’s always been either flirting or totally deep-throating camp, and so despite how needlessly morbid the game can get in places it’s still willing to embrace the camp that Nolan tries and fails to extract from his stories of a man dressing up as a bat and fighting a clown. I appreciate that Batman doesn’t get to have a laser-like focus on the one bad guy ruining Gotham tonight; the relentless obstacles the game’s villains keep throwing in your way gets fatiguing, which I imagine is exactly how Batman would feel waging a one-man war against crime. Similarly, the focus on punching random mooks, which is something most Batman stories kind of skip despite it being the motivation for dressing up as a bat instead of a playboy billionaire who can go toe-to-toe against supervillains. I think it’s fair to say Rocksteady are doing this deliberately; they’ve proved their understanding that their gameplay has narrative implications. They allow Batman, via the UI, to undercut threats from villains on occasion, notably the Riddler’s boasting of deep cover informants immediately undercut by a download dialog for all of Riddler’s known associates.

    But the thing that the game really does best is surprise. People still avoid dissecting the Scarecrow segments from the first game because it was surprising, and it’s not often we get those kind of delightful surprises where we get to participate instead of there being a plot twist scrawled on a wall or played in a cutscene. Arkham City doesn’t spend as much time playing with the fourth wall, but it takes that ‘surprise’ idea and runs with it; there’s at least four or five moments in the game where something completely unexpected happens.

    (I did also like that many of the Riddler trophies in this one were actual puzzles now instead of being green question marks stuffed in vents. There are still a few green question marks stuffed in vents, but the vast majority of the trophies require you to do a little bit of actual gameplay, so I cannot knock it too harshly.)

  10. <]:^D says:

    Why do you feel the need to defend the obvious misogyny? What could possibly be the worst outcome of “satisfying the feminist masses”? Because your example is not going to happen, never will, and if it ever magically did it wouldn’t be as bad as the current state society is in.

  11. Zarunil says:

    Herecy! No doubt thou shall burn in the fiery depths of hell for this betrayal. FIERY DEPTHS, I SAY!

  12. jezcentral says:

    Hopefully, by the time it comes out, I will have worked out how to log into GFWL. After all these years, I’ve finally tried to use it, and last night, I was an unhappy bunny. (I had played the original BAA off-line, as I had no internet, and so it just used a disk-check, with no problem at all). Now, Dead Rising 2: OTR has opened my eyes to Micrsoft’s utter asterisking asterisk.. :(

    I now have DR2:OTR, BAA and BAC, and as it stands now, no way to play them (even after Nov 18th).

    Edit: Oh yeah, and Bioshock 2, too.

  13. DickSocrates says:

    This is the biggest problem with PC delays. The post mortems (the period after the hyped reviews where all the reviewers that gave a game 100/4 look back a few days and say ‘y’know, I actually don’t like that game I just said was the best game ever’) are out before we even get the bloody thing.

    Listening to gaming podcasts like Giant Bomb where they will regularly discuss games that have been out awhile always have these kinds of discussions. Gerstman gave AC 5/5 and then on the last podcast he was just complaining about the game.

    I already know the bad bits about a game I haven’t played and was waiting for for months. Great.

  14. mjig says:

    My only gripe is that they got a new VA for Harley.

    • Icarus says:

      Only because (as I understand things) the original VA declined the role, for whatever unknown reason.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yeah but now she’s voiced by Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle). I’d say thats a lateral movement from amazing to brilliant.

      Nolan North as a mockney Penguin on the other hand? I honestly never thought I’d miss Devito’s version. But I do. Even if it did give me nightmares as a kid.

    • kevmscotland says:

      hmm, Well then the new VA did a good job, cus I barely noticed the difference tbh.

    • pagad says:

      Whaaaaat? But Arleen Sorkin IS Harley Quinn :(

  15. Tyshalle says:

    I enjoyed the game a ton, but I will admit that I didn’t quite realize nothing was actually as time sensitive as the story implied it was, and so I wound up beating the game in a very short period of time, having accomplished very few of the side quests. I think it said that I completed about 49% of the game when I beat it.

    I’m happy enough to play through it again, but admittedly this is a bad month, with BF3, SR3, MW3, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, and a bunch of others coming out basically simultaneously.

  16. Bhazor says:

    Is it really flab if you enjoy it and its well done? It seems like complaining your cookie has too many chocolate chips in.

    • Tyshalle says:

      It’s flab. The story isn’t very good, it tries to do way too many things, and the momentum of the main story is completely out of whack with how much of an open world this is. For instance, over half this game is side quests, completely irrelevant to the main plot, which is fine. But almost every mission in the main story ends with you feeling like you’ve got a ticking time bomb you need to go rush out and stop before time runs out. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but imagine finishing a mission and being told: “You need to get to the museum RIGHT NOW because Two-Face has a bomb and he’s going to use it to kill your best friend!” And so, if you care at all about the story, you feel compelled to rush right over there. If you do this, you’re going to miss all of the side quests, because almost all of the missions end with this feeling that you need to get to the next one as soon as possible. If you don’t do the side quests though, then you’re gonna blow through the whole game in like 15 hours or less, be told that you missed more than half the content, and feel very unsatisfied.

    • mwoody says:

      You can’t “miss” ANY content. The sidequests and collect-a-thon – and perhaps this is the problem, that they’ve not conveyed their nature – are intended to be done after the game is complete. I base this assumption on my somewhat frustrating discovery, being an early-completionist, that it’s nigh-impossible to finish many of the challenges until you’ve collected all of your tools (which only happens in the game’s eleventh hour). If you want to follow the plot, do so; you will miss nothing you can’t come back to later, and it will prevent you from throwing your head against a wall that will be easy when the next bat-gadget shows up. The game has a very nice, fits-in-the-plot post-story free roam mode that even lets you switch between the bat and the cat.

      Well, actually, I should add a footnote there; there’s one thing you can sort-of miss. The atmosphere. Batman can, for those who haven’t played yet, zoom in with his bat-ears on any spoken word within several blocks. So as you’re swinging around, you’ll hear a ton of incidental discussion amongst the inmates, and Rocksteady has done an incredible job of making sure it’s appropriate for what’s occurring in the city at that point in time. The myriad thugs will comment on what you’re doing, what you’ve just done, and what their respective bosses are planning, in addition to miscellaneous (and often hilarious) banter like how dynamite isn’t allowed in ro-sham-bo and how much the ending to Lost sucked.

      You’ll also, if you pay close attention, notice that the allegiances of certain thugs alter as the mini-war between the villains plays out, with some goons even altering their costumes to match the current big bad (like penguin’s cockney thugs spray-painting half their suits black when Twoface rolls in, for example). It makes the sting of needing to repeat certain zones to get Riddler trophies (now that you have the right toys) MUCH diminished when you show up to find the enemies in an area not only changed, but discussing what weirdness they’ve found and what happened to the previous occupants.

    • Bhazor says:

      Blow through it? 12 hours? Those phrases don’t go together. Not in modern gaming.

      Also (I haven’t played much of it yet) is there anything stopping you from rushing off to the next story mission straight away? Is there any grinding required to progress the story or earn an essential power? If not then is it really fair blaming the game for having too much content? Is it fair to blame the game for the players OCD and pack rat trophy hunting?

      If the sidemissions ruin the story or pacing for you then why not just ignore them. Certainly it seems strange in the age of 6 hour campaigns to be complaining about being given too much high quality content.

    • Tyshalle says:

      You asked if it’s really flab. Unless you’re a completionist you might find, as I do, that it’s very difficult to just roam around Arkham City after the story is over and there’s no longer anything driving you forward. Numerous games let you dick around after the story has wrapped up, but I’d wager that a good percentage of people never bother. At anyrate, if you don’t mind missing out on half the content and you think that 12 hours is more than enough gameplay, or you’re more than happy to run around trying to discover incidental missions after the story has completed, then I really doubt you’ll have any issues with the gameplay.

      But your idea that if content is good then it can’t be flab is pretty archaic in its logic. I can name numerous good movies that chose to cut out great scenes with excellent acting because it didn’t serve the story. Leaving it in, even though it was great, would ultimately be called flab because it can ruin the tightness of the rest of the story.

      And to avoid the inevitable bullshit responses of: “Well this is a videogame so your movie example doesn’t apply!” I’ll give you an extremely relevant example: Arkham Asylum. It was an extremely tightly paced game. And the story was so beautifully woven that even by following the fairly linear storyline and mission sequence, by the time you finish it, you will have seen probably 90% of the content, not felt like you’ve missed anything, and really the only stuff you’ll have missed is Riddler trophies and a couple of other things that only a completionist would really care about.

      Arkham Asylum was an extremely well paced game. Arkham City is terribly paced by comparison. It’s still a very amazing game, and one you will not regret buying at full price, but its pacing doesn’t just leave out a ton of content, but it’s also fairly incoherent. When you play most good games, such as Half-Life 2, or Arkham Asylum, you can fairly well guess at what point in the story you’re currently in. In Arkham City, I frequently felt like I had no clue what was going on. There’s an area you know right from the getgo pretty much has to be the End of Game level, but you wind up getting to it so quickly that you’re like: “Err, wait, so I guess this isn’t the epic final showdown, is it? Oh. I guess it is. Wait — What?”

      That’s all I was trying to say. The pacing is very badly handled in this game. It’s still amazing, and in six months after I’ve finished playing a dozen other great games coming out this year, I expect I’ll replay the campaign on the New Game Plus mode, or whatever it’s called. Except next time I’ll keep it in the back of my head to dick around a whole lot more.

    • gwathdring says:

      “When you play most good games, such as Half-Life 2, or Arkham Asylum, you can fairly well guess at what point in the story you’re currently in. In Arkham City, I frequently felt like I had no clue what was going on. There’s an area you know right from the getgo pretty much has to be the End of Game level, but you wind up getting to it so quickly that you’re like: “Err, wait, so I guess this isn’t the epic final showdown, is it? Oh. I guess it is. Wait — What?””

      Hmm. It sounds like you mean the plot was convoluted in a bad way rather than pleasantly surprising and unpredictable. But that paragraph makes the unpredictability sound appealing to me. I’m not overly fond of the suggestion that predictable linearity is an important part of “most good games,” though I do think it’s easier to make a solid-feeling linear narrative than a branching narrative–something Bioware is constantly trying to fight around.

      I personally wouldn’t point to Half Life 2 as a champion of linear gaming narrative either, preferring instead games like Sands of Time that add interesting touches like the Prince insisting he told the story wrong every time you die. Half Life 2 had a lot of accomplishments, but it’s story was quite simple and prescribed to me. I always felt tangent not only to interesting characters but to any sort of moving plot. I happened across as story and a world after or before interesting things happened and other characters explained what I missed whenever I got back from shooting things. I quite enjoyed the shooting, to be fair, but I don’t think the shooting had any narrative to it worthy of mention. This is not to say that a game’s narrative has to be tied to it’s overarching plot (more on that in a moment), but rather that Half Life 2′s narrative has no other focus. The game is well paced and loaded with fine detail, but the player is simultaneously asked to seek intimacy and distance from both the world and the characters–you are a deeply invested individual and a magnetic figure with no voice, no emotion and only a casual relationship with story-related events. The narrative contradictions simply don’t hold up in gameplay. The opening sequence was quite promising, though.

      Arkham Asylum is a decent example, however. It’s a rather poor story on paper, but while I was playing the game it wasn’t bad most of the time and at points was quite engaging and interesting. This is largely becasue the narrative in Arkham Asylum isn’t coming from the plot nearly so much as it is coming from the mythos. Rocksteady made the gameplay feel authentic and engaged with the pervasive sense of Batman-ness that comes from the character’s long history. Arkham Asylum gave you a character that felt fully realized and pitted you into a world full of similarly realized characters. The pacing was tight, the gritted pulp of the story matched the gritted pulp of the action. The gameplay and narrative didn’t really take turns as explicitly as happens in most game, either, which is important to me. There were cutscenes, but they didn’t feel any more heavy handed or expository than in-game moments (something I can’t say for Half Life 2, despite it not having traditional cutscenes).

  17. Matt_W says:

    I don’t know why, but no review of this game has mentioned that the plot is totally nonsensical. I was disappointed with the smallness of the environment and shortness of the main story, but could have overlooked that in favor of the great riddler challenges and just the fun of swinging around the prison, but it’s sort of unforgivable that the plot makes no sense. Major plot twists fall and you’re left wondering either why the characters don’t seem to care, or what the hell just happened anyway and why? It could have had great emotional heft, but the generally leaden performances, ridiculous moral conundrums, and utter incomprehensibility of the story cut it off at the knees.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’m sorta-addressing that with the stuff about the fantastical elements and deus ex machinas; don’t think the plot’s terribly bad as action game stories go, but it does certainly bite off more than it can chew.

    • Matt_W says:

      I still had many many questions after the game ended. It’s hard to discuss without spoilers, but there’s a big reveal near the end, with Usual-Suspects-like flashback and ominous music. But what was the point of that villain’s whole scheme? It seemed to me very similar to sea-bass with lasers on their heads, but with tongue nowhere near cheek. A scene takes place immediately after the reveal that should have had some emotional impact on Batman, but he is resolute as a brick. And what was the point at all of the overarching Protocol 10 plot? The very last scene in the game hints at the gravitas the game could have had, but it felt to me like it was profoundly unearned. I actually don’t mind a little deus ex machina, particularly in a comic book super-hero adaptation, but I do mind characters doing things with no discernible motivation, major plot-lines built entirely of swiss-cheese shaped MacGuffins, and the pretentiousness of anguished morality (thou-shalt-not-kill) from a character who has no problem with beating, torture, limb breaking, intimidation, and, worst of all, total humorlessness.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Really? See, I got the impression this game has its tongue firmly in its cheek from the outset.

      Also, anyone complaining that a comic book plot doesn’t make any sense is clearly missing twenty two kinds of fucking points.

    • Matt_W says:

      1) Maybe I missed it, but tongue-in-cheek camp is supposed to be humorous. This game never made me laugh, even ironically.
      2) A storytelling medium that can’t tell a story is broken by definition. I happen to think that comic books are an extremely effective medium for telling stories. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic book which plot made no sense inside its own narrative arc unless it was deliberately trying to be obtuse. B:AC neither asks for, nor deserves such credit.
      3) I enjoyed the game; I just think the hype continues to be way overblown. Arkham Asylum was better in every way.

  18. 3lbFlax says:

    My main problem so far with AC is that there’s too much busy work that requires no skill and very little thought. Cracking security systems, for example, is very similar to Oblivion’s lock-picking minigane, but manages to rob it of any interest. Scanning crime scenes for clues is pointless and tiresome (but doesn’t happen that often, to be fair). Dialogue is often a windy, turgid drag (but can be skipped, except when it’s part of the action, as with the Mr Freeze battle – which has the worst dialogue, but some of the best gameplay). Occasionally there are glass windows that serve no other purpose but to remind you that you occasionally have to jump through glass windows. It all adds up and makes the game feel like a slog at times, which is a great shame because when you’re gliding, swinging and fighting it all flows wonderfully.

    As such my favourite feature is the challenge mode, where the best elements of the game can be enjoyed without any exposition or fiddle-faddle. I’ll definitely be playing those for some time, i.e. until (and probably after) Skyrim.

  19. Iskariot says:

    An honest, critical review that nevertheless convinced me that I have to get this game.
    I also enjoyed the first one immensely so I think I can safely bet that I will enjoy this one too.
    And who knows, Rocksteady might take the criticism to heart and make an even better third Batman game, because I believe with a solid high quality IP like this, this can surely not be the last in the series.

  20. DarkMinister says:

    I haven’t played the game. I just want to comment on the whole woman insult bit. To that I submit this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JA4EPRbWhQ&feature=related

    I am pretty sure if a female was running around the game and saying how batman is a chauvinistic a-hole after he punched her a couple times, no one would have batted an eyelash. I am pretty sure a woman could have told Batman she would chop his dick off and still no one would have batted an eyelash. They might even have praised it as realistic and great characterization.

    Seriously, I agree they didn’t have to do it, but calling someone bitch seems pretty tame compared to trying to beat her up with crowbars… does that mean no female should be in a game ever because she might get beat up by fictional male characters because that could teach kids to beat on women ????

    It seems to me you can’t pick and choose when it comes to this argument. If the female character is in, she has to be in some kind of danger. She will get beat up and in the process might even die, yes die (sounds to me worse than being called a bitch) and have a couple insults thrown at her along with those molotov cocktails. Seems to me like the molotov cocktail is what she should be worried about.

    Or you just don’t have female characters. If this was a movie, would we be all up in arms because a bad guy told Angelina Jolie she is a bitch about 1000 times before she killed him in a bullet-bending fashion of some kind?

    Remember, you can’t pick and choose when it comes to this type of thing. Seems to me like catwoman has enough self-confidence not to let a weak insult like that get to her, now if she broke down in tears every time someone called her a bitch and go into foetal position, THAT would be wrong and bad characterization for a superhero, instead, she kicks their sorry ass to the curb. Hell I am pretty sure she would do the same if the bad person calling her a bitch is a woman…

    Get the point yet ?

    • theblazeuk says:

      This.

    • Mark Schaal says:

      There is a big difference between a game saying “men and women get beat up” and “men and women get beat up, and women are a lesser class of people deserving only mockery and disrespect”.

    • theleif says:

      And you don’t think the fact that women get mutilated, beaten, raped and murdered by their husbands on a daily basis, while the opposite is something of a sensationalist story has any weight?

      Edit: This comment is really more directed at the speaker in the video than you.

    • Muzman says:

      Man, you made me watch a second of that friggin Amazing Atheist toolbox and his moronic equivocations. Label that and save us all the pain. What would be amazing is if his argument made any sense or had any relevance to this debate

    • Thants says:

      Yes, if every enemy said something sexist to Batman people would be complaining. And if it was a movie and bad guy told Angelina Jolie she is a bitch about 1000 times, people would also be complaining.

      Did you even read the article? If this were some well thought-out, examination of sexism people wouldn’t have a problem. But blunt, repetitive sexism gets old.

  21. Pointless Puppies says:

    Probably one of the biggest reasons why I’m not nearly as excited for Arkham City as I was for Akrham Asylum. Aside from the fact that AA had that “first superhero game in a long time that is actually GOOD” element that isn’t nearly as novel the second time around, they’ve gone and seemingly destroyed one the biggest reasons why I liked the first so much: its focus.

    One of the most annoying trends for me in games these days is the “MUST HAVE EVERYTHING AND THE KITCHEN SINK” mentality. Open world, illusions of freedom, “epic” expansive story, the works. Modern games are all about the macro detail with absolutely no qualms about sacrificing the micro detail. Arkham Asylum completely reversed this notion by giving a weighty story that gave off a great sense of urgency in a relatively small plot of land. 99% of superhero games are about bigass open worlds, so let’s instead make an adventure game on one prime location and develop the hell out of it. The result was a highly focused, highly developed setting that oozed character that definitely carried weight.

    Arkham City seems to take these same ideas from AA and tries to blow them up for the sake of saying “Bigger! Better!” Arkham Asylum’s chief element was the idea of putting all of the Batman Universe’s crazies and most dangerous in one prime location and pluck the Bat himself right into the whole shebang. The idea of a quarantined mental institution where all of its patients and psychos have been set loose with Batman punching his way through the chaotic anarchy to try to restore order in some fashion was punctuated by the fact that the cage of crazies that Batman was thrown in was a particularly tiny one, at least by video game standards.

    I look at Arkham City and see that exact same concept, except in a “quarantined part of the city”. It’s the same thing, except without the deliciously claustrophobic setting. Batman is still in a Cage of Crazies, except the cage is the size of a parking lot. It loses the novelty of the concept that Arkham Asylum brought, and instead falls back on the more generic schools of thought that most game devs subscribe to.

    The fact that Arkham City has lost micro detail in favor of macro detail and a bigger world with more shit to do (based on what I’ve read from this highly informative preview) doesn’t strike me as particularly surprising, but I do find it highly disappointing (especially the villain count. I audibly said “oh god” (and not in a good way) when they kept announcing new villains. I loved Arkham City’s focus on just a few major villains rather than throwing in a bunch of random ones and feared the higher villain count in AC would lead to more but worse villains. Based on the preview, I was right). No, I wouldn’t have enjoyed Arkham Asylum nearly as much had the game been the same except set in a city instead of the Asylum. And sadly, that seems to be exactly what has happened with Arkham City. I’m sure that I’ll enjoy the game when I get around to playing it, mostly because I still think the content that’s in there will most likely be good, but I’m sad to learn that Rocksteady fell into the same trap that most other superhero game devs fall into (albeit not nearly as hard).

    /longass rant over

    • DickSocrates says:

      I think if you stick to the story and don’t go too far out of your way on side missions or take too long with them, the focus is still there. Granted, in AA, the size of the world was so small you couldn’t really get lost on a side quest marathon and it was more about ‘thoroughly investiage the buidling you’re in and find the couple of hidden things in it’ while now there’s this giant map to cover.

      Open world always suffer from this apparent lack of focus, but the focus is still there if you – the player – keep focused. GTAIV’s story is best enjoy by going from mission to mission, rather than mission, 2 hour sandpit, another mission. Although GTAIV’s plot went all over the place too and lost focus in itself, but that’s bad story telling on top of open world distraction. From what I’ve read about Rocksteady’s intention for AC, they did their best to keep the story moving along properly. But it’s up to you to follow it. It may be valid to criticise this type of game construction when AA didn’t do this.

      Still, I’d happily trade the ability to lose focus for the ability to *be* Batman. But I know now to not spend too much time on side stuff until I’ve beaten the game once. Apparently all the side stuff carries over to New Game Plus to where you’d collected up to on the first run, and now you’ll have all your gadgets, so it is possibly best to leave it all till then.

  22. chabuhi says:

    Nothing you say, or don’t say, or think, or even … taste can keep me from this game. It could be the biggest steaming pile of shite ever and still I will embrace it so long that the game will start to feel awkward and embarrassed by my excessive affection. And then I will go take a shower because I’ve been hugging shite, after all.

    I love you Batman Arkham City – I want to change gender so that I can have your babies.

  23. d00d3n says:

    Spot on with the “true sequel” analysis. The two latest assassins creed games have also been true sequels, so I have high hopes for revelations next month. Other than these I guess skyward sword will probably be a true sequel. Skyrim could probably also be considered a true sequel.

  24. theblazeuk says:

    Chivalry must be dead if you cant find it in a locked-off prison-city filled with murderers and psychopaths.

    You are being insulted by bad men. Solution? Hit them! It’s in character.

    I recognise the issue thats being raised but no one has actually proposed a solution for writing the mysogynistic, horrible characters that make up every single bad guy in this game. The only justification for all this moaning I see is that “it’s a fanciful game, so I immediately disregard the realism excuse” which boils down to disregarding characterisation.

    Perhaps if we had more gender-neutral insults…perhaps if people didn’t overreact so much when said insults are applied to women….perhaps if the logic of an insult being insulting wasn’t too much to grasp….what a world that would be!

  25. Burning Man says:

    Just like I understood both sides of the Blizzard argument when I watched the relevant video, I guess I will see both sides of the argument when I play the game for myself. I think anybody who hasn’t played the game should not bother arguing about the larger picture (is sexism okay, etc.) because the frame of reference is different, but feel free to disagree and do so anyway.

  26. Baconator says:

    How is this game trying to achieve a Nolan style realism? This is as comic book realistic as it gets, not Dark “No Fun Allowed” Knight.

    • Gundrea says:

      Indeed Nolan “realism” is highly suspect since the realism in Batman Begins and Dark Knight was superficial at best. Take the Joker who displays strategic thinking and forethought on the level of someone who’s read the script. Take Rassy Ghoul and his army of ninjas running the world from the mountains. Nolan’s movies were not so much realistic as they excelled at making you suspend disbelief until after the movie was done.

  27. triclops41 says:

    it is fair to point out that those spitting out the mysogynistic venom are supposed to be dirtbags, and one of the ways devs can tell us these guys deserve a beating is hearing them talk that way.

    i think the devs were trying to provide some “locker room” talk, and did a mediocre job.

    the good guys don’t say stuff like that, the bad guys do. that is part of the way we tell them apart in video games. it is more effective than the ” i am a political prisoner because i am in a parka and teh bullies are gonna hurt me!”

    jumping to the immediate conclusion that something is “racist!” or “sexist!” makes accusers feel superior, but relaxing and taking a modicum of perspective (sometimes) leads to coming up with less generalized but more intelligent conclusions. that is not always the case, but i think it is here.

    I find it far easier to believe RS wanted to make the street thugs searchable by the dirtbag things they say (notice the radio snooping that batman does when you are standing still? it is to lead you to the nearest group of baddies to hurt), and included mysogyny so that every comment wasn’t just about wanting to kick batman’s a**, than thinking that RS are a bunch or (witting or unwitting) sexist misthanthropes who just like objectifying women.

    I would agree with this argument much more if it stuck to picking at the idea that all women must be sexy in video games. That part is silly, but again, silly =/= sexist.

    • theleif says:

      I would actually have been more ok with it, if the bad guys did growl nigger to batman and threatened to rape him. You know, if they sounded like interns taken right out of the OZ series.
      But I doubt rape threats to a man would get teen approved, whereas threatening to rape a girl apparently is.

    • theleif says:

      I wonder how much of the blame for the state of maturity in games can be but on the ESRB. In the end it is they who decides what is deemed appropriate for a teenager. and the developers must follow suit, if they don’t want to be slapped with a 18 rating. Calling a girl bitch is apparently appropriate, whereas saying fuck (or, god forbid, showing consenting sex) is not.

  28. Polysynchronicity says:

    If that man has only one arm, how does he work out both sides of his chest?

    PLOT HOLE.

  29. El Armonista! says:

    The thing thing that annoyed* me the most when I played through this came at the end of the Catwoman missions. I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free, but if you don’t want to take the risk you can just skip to the asterisk bit at the bottom if you like.

    [POSSIBLE SPOILERS!]
    So, you’re presented with a choice. The path I chose led out of Arkham and into Gotham and then the end credits. I was actually really impressed that Ricksteady had let me finish the game in this fashion. Except, they hadn’t. The credits finish and then… everything is rewound to the point where you were presented with a choice, and this time, you aren’t allowed to choose the same path as the first time. I must admit, I was less than chuffed to be told, in essence “Ha! You’re not actually allowed to choose that, we just put it in to mess with you, sucker!” Why even bother putting it in then? RAAAAGGGGEEE!
    [END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS!]

    * The misogyny didn’t annoy me so much as disgust AND annoy me. Yep.

  30. apophenia says:

    My reaction to this game is that this was the worst made good game I’ve played since Vampire Bloodlines.

    Because for at least some portion of the audience (including me), the efforts to make portions of the game into DLC as a way to hurt the secondhand market resulted in a bunch of near-game-breaking bugs. Discs that don’t read at all until the 15th time you’ve opened and closed your disc tray. “Damaged downloadable content” error messages that boot you back to the dashboard when it does read – regardless of whether you’ve ever downloaded any content, or in fact ever connected to the internet.

    Add to that Rocksteady first denying any problem, then briefly claiming it was the fault of both Sony and Microsoft’s console networks (which it obviously wasn’t), before finally falling completely silent on the issue and taking no action apart from deleting the thread about it on their messageboard, once it was linked to on a couple of gaming sites.

    Really bush league stuff there.

    On the other hand, it says something about the quality of a game that you’re still willing to open and close the disc tray over and over again for 20 minutes every time you want to play it.

  31. sinelnic says:

    The Mad Hatter’s interview recordings are well, well above standard in gaming voice acting and a very nice and pleasant pseudo easter egg in the game.

    So far very very satisfied with Batman Arkham City. I watched the Nolan movies after finishing it found myself liking them much, much more.

  32. MeestaNob says:

    I love RPS, but I’m finding the crusade against sexism etc and penchant for politically correct flag waving almost tiring.

    Enough please, it’s a game. They’re really bad guys, they say unkind – possibly sexist! – things. The good guys are often stereotypes or over the top. Get over it.

    Also, the unlock/collecting subgame beyond the story is there if you want it to be. You don’t have to participate in any of it. You make the game fun in the way you want to.

    For me, unnecessary negativity hurt this review.

    • Dapper Dan says:

      It’s not “political correctness”, to not be a mysoginistic fuckwit. It’s common fucking decency.
      Also, even if it were, so what?
      Political correctness has had far more of a positive impact on society than it has a negative one. I could get into a long-winded rant, but instead I’m just gonna link Stewart Lee instead.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IYx4Bc6_eE

    • Thants says:

      The article was talking about how he was annoyed by the blunt, repetitive sexism in the game, not that he was shocked that anyone dare say a bad word. This campaign against anyone ever mentioning sexism is far more annoying.

    • Asuron says:

      Yes sexism is bad. We get that
      But I do not see how bad guys saying the word bitch at a woman, people who typically don’t give two hoots about respecting others, would mean the game is misogynistic. Its an accurate portrayal of criminals, its not sexist views of the developer showing through and honestly Alec, I would expect someone intelligent like yourself to understand that.

      Quite frankly saying so is stupid. I don’t expect an inmate to sit me down and give me a cup of tea.
      Its just…enough alright. I don’t come here for political soapboxes, I don’t come here for your views on whether you think something is offensive.
      I come here to find about your opinions on games, I don’t need one more site telling me about their political views. I hear it enough from everywhere else. I don’t need this type of crap to enter what is supposed to be a relaxing hobby
      Highlighting these issues is fine every so often, but christ don’t do it as much as you recently have, it gets old quick

    • Dapper Dan says:

      Asuron – In response to your argument, I’m going to quote film critic hulk (Excuse the caps-lock, it’s just how he is). I recommend reading the whole thing though, it’s a good read. http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/hulk-vs-arkham-city-round-2-bitches-be-trippin/

      “THE QUESTION HULK GOT OVER AND OVER AGAIN WITH THIS ARGUMENT: “WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE RATHER HAVE HAD THEM SAY?” HULK SAYS TURN TO NOLAN. THERE’S A MILLION WAYS TO CONVEY MALEVOLENCE. THE IDEA THAT CALLING A GIRL A BITCH IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT CLEAR SOMEONE HATES WOMEN IS ABSURD. IN FACT, SOMEONE WHO WRITES CHARACTERS LIKE THAT MAKES HULK THINK THEIR SEXIST. HENCE HULK’S ENTIRE REACTION IN THE FIRST PLACE.

      PEOPLE ALSO ASKED “SHOULD THEY MAKE THE BAD GUYS CHIVALROUS INSTEAD?” OF COURSE NOT. AGAIN, LOOK TO NOLAN.

      NOW, AS TO CRUX THIS ARGUMENT, YES, WITHIN THE SINGULAR LOGIC OF CHARACTER IT WOULD MAKE TOTAL SENSE FOR A FELON TO CALL SOMEONE A BITCH. OF COURSE IT WOULD! IN NO WAY IS HULK EVER SAYING THAT IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. BUT JUST BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE DOESN’T MEAN IT IS THEREFORE A GOOD CHOICE. WHAT HULK IS SPEAKING TO IS THE FACT THAT TOSSING ARE AROUND THE WORD BITCH IS ALL THEY SEEM TO BE ABLE TO DO. CONSTANTLY. AND WITH CAVALIER QUALITY THAT IS UNBECOMING. IT DOESN’T COME OFF AS SCARY. OR INDICATIVE OF PERSONALITY. IN SOME CASES IT’S CLEARLY MEANT TO BE FUNNY. HULK HAPPY TO LOOK OVER A CASE HERE OR THERE, BUT WHEN IT IS AS RAMPANT AS IT IS IN THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF THIS GAME, THEN YES, IT COMES OFF WEIRD AND SEXIST. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.”

    • Alec Meer says:

      It is very disappointing that a small subset of readers will not tolerate a mention of disliking a game’s treatment of women, refuse to consider in the slightest what has actually been argued and instead leap straight to Clarkson-esque absolutes about political correctness gone mad.

    • Beva says:

      It is equally disappointing that such a huge number of this small subset enjoys ignoring the entire argument (BOTH sides of it) up until now and recycling arguments already adressed many times. “They are bad guys”, “it’s a game”, “it’s based on a comic”, seriously, at least try to keep up. What is the point of going around in circles like this.

      @ Asuron: I’m going to be frank with you, nobody apart from yourself cares even a tiny bit about why YOU come to this site. Either find a site that suits your needs better, accept the site for what it is or ignore the parts that you find annoying and tiresome. Unlike you, I feel that there are far more gaming sites (in fact, I find it absurd that you would imply otherwise in the first place, but whatever) that avoid “political soapboxes” and I’m sure there is at least one site out there on the internet that you would like, one that treats games as relaxing hobbies. I mean, surely there MUST be at least one.

    • alundra says:

      @Alec

      I can’t speak for others, the issue for me comes from the context the word bitch is being used, furthermore, between which kind of characters is the word being exchanged. I haven’t played the game myself, from what I can gather from all the ruckus this has caused, catwoman (and possibly other women) is being called a bitch by thugs, in game, for adults.

      While I can respect your position, and agree to it to some extent, because you have the decency to come forward and defend your point of view without resorting to all kinds of personal attacks and/or insults, take a look at the way the other people act and think if that’s not the average response people get for refusing to adhere to a politically correct line of thought.

      And as much as some would like to live in a world of denial and state that this is not about being politically correct, I can club prostitutes, and other women walking the street, to death, in any gta or saints row game, and I don’t remember seeing anyone raising a brow over it and turning into a feminism correctedness issue.

      Yet, all of this over the use of a word some criminals spew towards another criminal/outlaw, really, I don’t see anyone making a fuss when/if batman is called a dick or an ass or a jerk off.

      Correction
      the game is being rated T, this opens the question for parental guidance, which is pretty much non existent in many cases.

    • Alec Meer says:

      He isn’t. Ever. That’s part of the problem. But – to reiterate for those who conflate the use of a word with the constant repetition of it – the game shouts ‘bitch’ again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and it’s just so badly and unimaginatively written as well as the other issue that some folk won’t abide a mention of. I don’t understand why anyone would so passionately defend something that genuinely harms the mood of the game, even aside from any gender issues.

    • Beva says:

      You know there is a reason you have to write: “if” Batman was called something or other nobody would care. Name me one game, just one where a straight male protagonist is being rediculed for being straight or male, or if not that, at least one where he is threatened by rape. Because, if we are going to use sweeping generalisations about thugs in prisons, and the percived realism of their portrayal there is one about male on male rape that is quite well known. Surely, at least one of the thugs would get turned on by Batman, what with all that leather and muscles and all.

  33. flib says:

    Really? Kevin Conroy is THE Batman voice.

    I found that the voice for Two-Face harkened back to the Animated Series voice, which is always a good thing.
    Same thing with Catwoman. I knew as soon as heard her one line in one of the trailers that Grey DeLisle would be a great Catwoman. She sounds much like the TAS Catwoman, but she injects a bit more energy into the character.

    Also, the Freeze voice is just perfect.

  34. DickSocrates says:

    Portraying a bunch of scumbags as misogynistic does not make the developers misogynistic. Get a group of blokes together and you are going to hear some ripe things. Get a bunch of convicted murderers together I’m sure you’re going to hear some VERY ripe things.

    In the more general sense of how women are portrayed, watch Batman the Animated series or just look up opinions about Catwoman to see it is largely agreed there wasn’t a single good Catwoman episode. She was nearly always passive and being rescued by Batman (though in one she rescues him). And Paul Dini, the assumed genius behind Batman isn’t as great as he’s portrayed. I’ve watched many episodes of the series penned by him that were rubbish.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>