For a guy who has battled the Joker, overpowered Bane, outsmarted the Riddler and fumigated Poison Ivy, I had no idea Batman's greatest challenge would be fighting for attention on his own game box. The Arkham City - Game of the Year Edition proudly announces that it's a "10 out of 10" in a font so large that somebody wouldn't feel stupid for accidentally thinking that's the title. After all, the game's actual logo is dwarfed by four different magazine quotes, three company logos, an ESRB rating, a list of bullet points and the large "Game of the Year" strip at the top. It's hard to know what is busier - the seedy underbelly of Gotham City or this cover art.
If any game can get away with this kind of gaudy box design, it would be Batman: Arkham City. This is a game that masterfully builds onto the greatest superhero game of all time, offering an open world full of bad guys to track down and destructive plans to thwart. I loved this game when I first played it, and my admiration for this sequel hasn't changed much in the last eight months.
In case you missed the game the first time around, Arkham City is the name of a sectioned off part of Gotham. It's behind these fortified walls that Batman's biggest foes (and their followers) are living, hatching up a nefarious plan that could end with the death of a superhero. The word on the street is that the Joker is dying after his last bout with Batman. The Titan formula he pumped into his blood is slowly killing him and he's been searching for a cure. The good news is that he is poisoned and there's a good chance he might die tonight. Unfortunately, the bad news is that he injected our hero with the same poison. It's up to you to track down the cure and save yourself and the city.
Much like Arkham Asylum, this atmospheric sequel finds ways to have Batman interact with a number of Gotham's greatest criminals, including the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Ra's al Ghul, the Riddler and many more. Some of the familiar faces show up for only a few fleeting moments (such as Bane and Two Face), while others play a surprisingly large part in the story (like the Catwoman, who even has her own missions). Even with a dizzying cast, Rocksteady somehow found a way to let every character have their moment.
Batman: Arkham City doesn't deviate far from the Arkham Asylum formula. While there are certainly more villains to battle this time around (including some I have completely forgotten to mention), the story still unfolds in a linear fashion. You are still swooping through the night beating up thugs, sneaking up on armed guards and using all of those wonderful toys. The only real difference is the location, which is significantly larger and more open.
Not only does this Game of the Year Edition comes with the exactly same game I fell in love with almost a year ago, it manages to add in all of the downloadable content and more. This time around Arkham City is a two-disc set, with one disc dedicated to the Catwoman Bundle Pack (which came free with the purchase of a new copy of Arkham City), the Robin Bundle Pack, the Nightwing Bundle Pack, a Challenge Map Pack and the just-released story-based DLC, Harley Quinn's Revenge. Similar to the Borderlands Games of the Year Edition, all of the packs can be installed on as many hard drives as you want and are not locked to any one Xbox Live account.
The most substantial piece of content is Harley Quinn's Revenge, a post-credits coda featuring another hour or so of story-driven gameplay. Harley isn't especially happy with how things turned out in Arkham City (and for good reason), so she devises a scheme to kidnap Batman. That means that the boy wonder himself, Robin, will have to swoop in to save the day. For the most part Robin controls exactly like Batman, with the exception that he's speedy and has a shield.
How good is Batman: Arkham City - Game of the Year Edition? So good that the stellar single-player storyline makes me completely forget about the lackluster additional content on disc 2. This may be the most comprehensive version of last year's must-own comic book game, but that doesn't mean that this two-disc package is better!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!