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Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition (Wii U) Review

Review for Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Truly great superhero games were once few and far between, with even the most famous comic book stars such as Spider-Man and Superman being restricted by hardware limitations and developer focus. Batman's gaming adventures in particular had a strong start with the Sunsoft-developed effort on the Nintendo Entertainment System that, for his two-dimensional titles at least, resulting in the tie-in to the animated series on Super Nintendo. Games based on the Caped Crusader after that were nothing to write home about, even with the Batman Begins adaptation being fairly decent. It wasn't until developer Rocksteady got its mitts on the franchise that Bruce Wayne's alter-ego would truly shine, with the excellent Batman: Arkham Asylum. A sequel was soon made to an even greater scale, and now Warner Bros. has given it a controller boost for the Wii U launch. Has Batman's arsenal of gadgetry made it over intact, or will the Bat Shark-Repellent be needed?

Unfortunately, there is no Wii or Wii U version of Arkham Asylum for Nintendo-only gamers to call upon and whilst usually with direct sequels like this new players could get lost within the intricacies of the plotline, thankfully Arkham City is so far removed from its predecessor in regards to game basis and location that it isn't much of an issue; story recaps and constant references to previous events during the game help fill in the blanks, too. Arkham City picks up shortly where Asylum finished, with Gotham City's biggest prison out of action and the new mayor shutting off a large part of the city to act as a dumping ground for the insane and dangerous. While campaigning to end this super-sized prison and restore the city to its full glory, Bruce Wayne is captured and thrown inside himself. Gamers must take control of Wayne as he fights to don the cowl and save other innocents also trapped in the new asylum.

The plotline and presentation of Arkham City is easily one of the game's biggest strengths, boasting an enormous free-roaming city to explore and fight through, rendered in a gritty realistic style not unlike the Christopher Nolan movies. Key locations made famous by the comics and movies are recreated here in all their glory, like Crime Alley where the Batman was born, and Ace Chemicals where the Joker's madness began. Players will be able to notice all the finer details in the environments, all the references to famous Batman villains and characters, and all the activity in the world happening through events as if it were a living breathing one. The epic music score only adds to this feel, resembling that of the recent films with a surreal take, letting you hear and flinch at every solid punch and kick, and letting each explosion or debris collision hit home. The voice work on play is of true top quality, recasting the actors who played Batman and the Joker in the animated series and making use of excellent actors for the rest of the cast. The Bat Cape's gliding function provides the main mode of transport through the asylum, and much like the cape of Super Mario World, learning to master its extended flight tricks is simply a joy.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Arkham games can be most likened to the Metroid series, when considering that both require trekking through isolated and atmospheric locations, taking out foes that hinder your path and progress, and gaining weaponry that boosts freedom and available paths over the course of the story. Arkham City plays things a little differently, allowing for exploration of the remote part of Gotham to get to these isolated places, where usually a super villain is waiting at the end and there are hired thugs to beat up and hostages or innocent bystanders to save. Rocksteady introduced a vast amount of variety to stop this formula from ever growing stale, usually requiring the use of a recently acquired gadget or a delicate situation to defuse by acting stealthily, for example. The game succeeds in making players feel like they are in the battle-clad tights of the Dark Knight, with situations that often require the avoidance of a direct gunfight, holding up his no-killing ideals but letting them be flexible in how they approach a scenario.

One tool at Mr Wayne's disposal that greatly helps with choices is the 'Detective Mode' vision that can be toggled on and off with one press of a button and acts as an X-Ray/thermal vision device and envelops the world around in a surreal glow. This highlights structural weaknesses, enemies with or without automatic weapons, and otherwise hidden items of interest, and is an enormous help in becoming aware of the surroundings.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The fighting system is another of the game's greatest strengths, taking on gangs of thugs at once and being able to wipe the floor with their faces, provided movements are timed right. The game makes use of context-sensitive punching and kicking, whilst adding in more advanced techniques gradually to encompass new gadgetry and engage more challenging foes that use weapons and shields. Being able to build up a chain of uninterrupted attacks builds up the score meter, which when full grants an unlockable enhancement of personal choice -- be it an armour upgrade or new tool function. Story events and secrets finding help build up this meter, too, and it encourages the exploration of what can be done with what is currently at hand. Finding secrets, in particular, is a game all on its own, with renowned trickster mastermind The Riddler involved.

Batman: Arkham City gained a lot of exposure during the Wii U's coming-out party at E3 earlier this year and while the legacy and highly positive reception of the game is nothing to sniff at, looking at the finished product might leave players wondering why it got so much screen time. The porting staff have took the Wii U GamePad to heart and tried to rebuild Arkham City around it to somewhat mixed results. A second screen with a map is one of the oldest developer conventions since the dual format was first introduced, and yet with games like this that would otherwise require frequent screen swaps, it is somewhat of a blessing. Swapping items to assigned D-Pad allocations is far easier now, as is upgrading tools or scanning the information on characters and extended plotlines in the game -- all doable with simply touching the screen. The GamePad speakers being used for radio calls and transmissions is a nice touch, too. Sadly, there are revamped parts that feel somewhat tacked on, such as breaking into control panels now requires guiding a cursor around the touch screen instead of simply doing the same with two analogue sticks, or the second screen showing an identical image of the currently aimed weapon that really doesn't add anything. Even the tilting motion control that lets you guide Batman when gliding or his remote-guided gadgets when in action is more 'jittery' than needed, though this can thankfully be turned off.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Armoured Edition part of the title refers to Batman and Catwoman's shiny new suits that give access to higher strength techniques when charging enough kinetic energy in battle, done so by building up a steady rhythm of punches, dodges and counters, plus a new radar mode that scans the adjacent area and shows up all points of interest on the map. In a sense, both of these new additions make the game's difficulty curve uneven, as both the battle system and discovery system in the original build were finely balanced to reward the player with persisting in both. As a useful addition to help newcomers to the games, and a way to differentiate this version from the rest, however, it does the job - and all of the Game of the Year content included. That means that Catwoman's playable story segments, all the extra challenges and secrets, the two extra useable characters and Batman's full range of suit skins, as well as the Harley's Revenge campaign are here in full, adding an immense amount of value and replay worth to the game.

As with all new hardware, nitpicking observations are made between machines of comparable visual ability and similar titles, and Armoured Edition is no exception, though thankfully through screenshots it is relatively identical to the other platforms. In motion, however, it will be difficult not to notice the chuggier frame-rate for the game that makes itself known most of all in cut-scenes. Luckily, it never makes the interactive sections of the game unplayable or causes unwanted deaths, but for a game that received a longer development time and more exposure than the original build, it is inexcusable, as are some issues with general resonance should the Wii U be set to Surround Sound. If anything though, the game seems to run best on the GamePad fully, which as most Wii U owners can now attest to, is a luxury you never knew you wanted before.

Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition's value is, to be quite frank, immense, not only offering a huge story mode that spans a vast landscape filled with colourful characters and side missions, but all of the aforementioned Game of the Year content together with challenge maps that will take an age to master. The game's single-player focus cements it as a personal enjoyment, but performance hiccoughs and average GamePad integration aside, Armoured Edition is a fine way to visit Batman's crime-infested world for the first time.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Solid, fun fight and flight mechanics with clever gadget use and a variety of scenarios to venture through. Wii U GamePad incorporation is balanced out by both advantages and drawbacks, leading to Off-TV play being the platform purchase decider here.

Graphics

Highly detailed and striking to behold, with a vast amount of historical references and secrets to uncover. Frame-rate can stutter at times but never to a game breaking degree.

Sound

Atmospheric and memorable background melodies, together with bone-crunching punch collisions and superb voice work lend considerably more grunt to Gotham's seedy underbelly.

Value

Strictly for solo adventurers, but the sheer grunt of content on offer here will keep that player glued to the GamePad for weeks to come, offering extended challenges, hidden secrets, comprehensive story details, and even more after the plotline has concluded.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Although a year later than its brethren, Batman: Arkham City - Armoured Edition manages to differentiate itself as a subtly enhanced version with all the bells and quirks of the extra content added on top. The GamePad additions will split opinion on what works and what doesn't, but for one of the better launch titles -- if maybe not the best running one -- this is a considerable option.

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09.12.2012

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Also known as

Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition

Developer

Rocksteady

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sad to admit that I have both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City...but just not had chance to play them yet! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Love this game. Of the four I own, this game probably features my favorite use of the GamePad so far (NintendoLand a close second).

Haven't experienced any frame rate issues.

Staff Member

Sonic_13 said:
Love this game. Of the four I own, this game probably features my favorite use of the GamePad so far (NintendoLand a close second).

Haven't experienced any frame rate issues.

It's not so much issues exactly. As said it never made the game unplayable, but look at Armoured Edition in motion and compare it to this;


 

 

This is much smoother.


Phoenom said:
Sonic_13 said:
Love this game. Of the four I own, this game probably features my favorite use of the GamePad so far (NintendoLand a close second).

Haven't experienced any frame rate issues.

It's not so much issues exactly. As said it never made the game unplayable, but look at Armoured Edition in motion and compare it to this;

This is much smoother.

When I say frame rate issues, I don't necessarily mean anything that would make the game unplayable.
What are you showing me in the video?

( Edited 09.12.2012 20:51 by Sonic_13 )

Staff Member

The other versions are far more consistant with the framerate than the Wii U version. It happens the most in cutscenes, but for those who have grown accustomed to Armoured Edition like this it can be difficult to notice. Personally it doesn't bother me at all really.


Great review Shane. It pointed out all the things rightly and the frame rate can be a pain sometimes, but like you said, nothing game breaking. I have both versions of the game and there is a noticeable difference. The D-pad used to change gadgets is a bliss to use, so well done on reviewing this game.



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