Batman: Arkham Asylum And Arkham City or All Hail The Riddler

Admittedly, Rabidgames is rather late to the party. A couple of years back, he started playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, but gave up after 2 hours. Why? Good question! Maybe a slap to the own face is due.

A trip to the Asylum

This time around, Arkham Asylum was loved. And it was a great party for sure! To make it plain and easy, Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the few action adventures where there is action AND adventure to be found. Alright, Rabidgames confesses: The action part is alright, but the adventure is where Arkham Asylum really shines! While it is fun to sneak around, eliminating goons silently (or getting spotted and getting away quickly), the melee system which is admittedly deeper as it looks like might be considered great, but to Rabidgames, it has become boring after the tenth fight: Yes, you can experiment, and yes, the gadgets are cool, but at the end of Arkham Asylum’s long dark night, it’s still doing your favourite actions over and over again, a tad too often.

Thankfully, this repetitive fighting is only a minor part of Arkham Asylum. The adventure part is where the fun’s at. Trying to find your way through rooms with the help of all your gadgets, using detective mode to find clues (it’s rudimentary, true, but a welcome change nonetheless), and then, the pinnacle of the Batman games: The many riddles of the Riddler. It is painful to see a riddler trophy you can’t access until later in the game, because you simply want them all. Finding a way to the trophies is fun, but even better are the proper riddles where you have to either align your sight to make a question mark visible, or you have to decipher a proper riddle and ‘photograph’ said image, sculpture or whatever it is. In those instances, Arkham Asylum makes you feel there is more need for great adventure games, a genre almost extinct these days. Plus, it might just be a small bonus, you have to think! Properly think, not just think “should I waste that Alien/Arab/beast/cop/gangsta/monster/pirate/terrorist with my shotgun or my plasma rifle”? And undoubtedly, the best part of Arkham Asylum is when you have collected all but one piece of the story of Arkham’s dark history, and the last piece to finally solve the puzzle is a search where you have to find the solution yourself.

Well, yeah, there’s a story too, but it’s rather a backdrop for your actions and adventures. As a Batman fan, you might enjoy all the hints, appearances and cameos of several characters. Rabidgames is not really a fan – in fact, Batman was just another ridiculous superhero to Rabidgames until the latest Batman movies. But even if you don’t give a riddle’s solution about the Batman universe, Arkham Asylum is still a blast if you like video games!

Welcome to the concrete jungle

Batman: Arkham City follows the events of Arkham Asylum, and as such, story, characters and gameplay follow closely. Unfortunately, Arkham City has become an ACTION adventure for some stupid reason. You’ll spend way more time fighting baddies over and over again, and while there is a wider variety of goons, melee battles are still boring, even a chore at times. Mind you, fighting enemies with guns is even more fun since they can now scan the area for Batman, and there are even more takedowns, more places to hide and more ways to trick your enemies.

The greatest weakness of Arkham City are the boss battles: Usually, there is the area boss and ten or even twenty goons. You just fight them seemingly forever, and then you beat down the boss, sometimes, you just beat him conventionally. Honestly, it’s motherfucking boring! There are only two amazing and great boss fights to be found in Arkham City; the one is as Catwoman against Two-Face and some of his armed companions, the other is Batman against Mr. Freeze. Both rely on stealth and cunning, not on mashing the same buttons all the time (and by the way, evading is the solution to everything). It’s just a shame Rocksteady has wasted quite some potential there.

Another thing is the buildup to the ending – in the last hour, half of the cast of Arkham City appears and dies, some characters just appear for seconds and for no apparent reason … It just seems the writers had to end the game quickly and therefore just packed a shitload of plot into the last hour. Speaking of the ending – the rather unlikely final boss in Arkham City  means you do the same rather stupid thing two times, and then a third time once more, only that the whole screen is full of enemies. Really? Come on, that’s really lame!

And then there’s that goddamn annoying bug where the screen stays black and Arkham City never loads. This appears roughly 3 out of 10 times, and it is fucking annoying to have to restart your Xbox 360 via a hard reset. Worst of all, this bug has been spotted by gamers as early as January 2012 (look it up over at gamefaqs). Mind you, Rabidgames bought the GOTY edition of Arkham City – and guess what, that fucking rancid fella of a bug is still in there. Seriously, Rocksteady, you need to do your homework!

Rabidgames has just realised you all must have the impression he did not enjoy Batman: Arkham City. That’s wrong. The detective work, the stealth, the gadgets, the ingenious riddles, it’s all still in there. So yes, Rabidgames really did enjoy Arkham City. Furthermore, the GOTY edition comes with tons of extras; you can play as Catowoman (she has her own way of moving and fighting), there is a new game + mode with tougher enemies, and then there’s the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC which still has not been played. It’s just … Arkham Asylum was simply more to Rabidgames’ tastes. It was the perfect mix of action and adventure, while Arkham City has delved to deep into action land. And still, both games are a welcome diversion from all the shooters ands fantasy RPGs, a welcome change from the usual brainless mashing of buttons and triggers. We need more games like these, where the focal point is the gameplay itself.

By the way, both games come packed with challenges where you can match your skills with hose of your friends. Yet somehow, Rabidgames doesn’t give a rat’s ass about such online competition stuff where your only rewards are achievement and the knowledge you are better than 1.901.355 other people who have tried it at least once.

Rabidgames riddles: What will come next? Arkham Valley? Arkham World? Arkham Universe? We’ll see. If Rocksteady returns to the Arkham Asylum formula, it’s a day one purchase. Hell, it’ll be a GOTY purchase in any case anyway! Just do it.

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