Batman: Arkham City review
Two years ago, Gotham’s infamous nuthouse was one of the most intimidating, impressive environments on PS3. Cut from deathly Gothic architecture and filled with lunatic henchmen, it was a chilling thrill to explore. Now, though, Arkham Asylum is nothing but a speck in the distance, dwarfed by Batman’s new playground; the awe-inspiring titular towering-prison-complex-cum-mini-metropolis.
Rocksteady’s greatest achievement in its first Dark Knight adventure was utterly nailing that empowering sense of being a heroic badass dressed up as a giant flying rodent. Still, brilliant a feeling as that was, it can’t compete with the sheer joy of exploration and movement that comes from traversing Arkham City.
Sectioned off from the rest of Gotham by fortified walls that make the one in King Kong look like a white picket fence, it’s basically DC’s version of the Bastille. Just filled with the likes of Penguin and Two-Face rather than French political prisoners. It’s not only the game’s undoubted showpiece attraction, but also the most impressive open world I’ve buggered about in on PS3.
That’s right: the Caped Crusader’s now got his own demented sandbox to play in. And by George Clooney’s worryingly stiff Bat-nipples, is it ever glorious fun to spend time in. When his playboy alter-ego is thrown into the criminal city after crossing the diabolical Doctor Hugo Strange, keeping off of streets teeming with thugs quickly becomes a priority.
At five times the size of the original’s Arkham Island, though, not even the campest Adam West-style sprint is up to the task. That’s where the game’s fantastic gliding mechanics come into play.
With a jab of R1, your handy grapnel hook propels you towards almost any elevated surface. Given how vertically stacked the city is, it proves to be Wayne’s handiest invention since the Joker-pasting Batpod. Once you reach lofty enough vantage points, it’s then a case of flinging yourself off roofs and pressing X to unleash your cape.
Combine it with the grapnel boost mid-glide for a further jolt and the dive-bomb – which lets you create momentum by plummeting towards terra firma with R2 before pulling up on the stick – and you can effortlessly remain airborne for minutes at a time.