Written by Chris Boots-Faubert for SuperCheats.com Introduction and Synopsis
The sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum will continue the tradition of the stealth-based and gadget-rich superhero play that established Arkham Asylum as the most realistic opportunity to play Batman ever, and will include the villains we have come to love from the comics and animated TV shows.
The Butterfly Effect is a metaphor in chaos theory that is used to describe how a small event can have far-reaching and unforeseen consequences on a much larger scale -- a butterfly flaps its wings in China and that small amount of thrust effects the vector of a light breeze, that in turn changes the direction slightly of a stronger wind, and two days later a tornado in Kansas takes a different course than it might have done and wipes out a town, all because of a butterfly in China.
In Gotham City the Caped Crusader stepped in to put down a riot at Arkham Asylum that was ultimately engineered by The Joker with the aid of The Riddler and other villains, and as a result of his success the warden at Arkham Asylum, Quincy Sharp, having directed a great deal of the credit for that success onto himself, manages to use the resulting popularity to get himself elected as Mayor. Among his first decisions in office is to wall-off a large section of slums in Gotham and convert the area into a new prison. His next decision is to close both Blackgate Prison and Arkham Asylum, and transfer all of the prisoners from both to this "new" facility.
The new prison, called Arkham City, is a working example of Lord of the Flies -- its staff consists almost completely of paid mercenaries who guard the perimeter -- while the inmates quite literally run the asylum. There is only one rule: do not try to escape. The punishment for violating that rule is death, delivered quickly and without trial or appeal by the trigger-happy mercenaries.
Into this swirling cauldron of violence steps a mysterious psychiatrist, a Doctor Hugo Strange, who has been hired by Sharp to oversee the new facility. Rumor has it that Dr. Strange has been running some very brutal experiments on the prisoners, but as the facility is completely censored and news only flows in, not out, there is no proof of this, nor any solid information -- just rumor.
An imbalance of power -- and the recent transportation of the super villain Two-Face -- creates a threat that is solid enough for Batman to justify intervening, a measure that he hopes will allow him to better understand what has been going on at Arkham City and, if his suspicions are correct, provide him with the evidence that he needs to shut it down. So begins the next chapter in the Batman Saga.
In the past two decades there have been plenty of games that tried to deliver the experience of being a superhero to gamers, but only Arkham Asylum managed to do it -- and the sequel is built using the same engine and approach, which means that once again we can throw on cowl and cape and embrace the superhero inside of us. Game Play
Taking your place as Batman -- Caped Crusader, Dark Knight, Protector of Gotham City -- you set out to unravel a mystery that at once leaves you outraged and scratching your head in wonder at the short-sighted and corrupt local government and its willingness to tolerate the inhumane just to save a few dollars and sweep a problem under the carpet.
You have had your eye on Arkham City ever since Mayor Sharp began the political process of creating it; you did not think much of his original idea, and you still do not think much of the end results, but without compelling evidence or a solid reason to intervene, there is little that you can do about it... Until now.
Rumor has it that all of the gadgets that were unlocked in the previous game, Arkham Asylum, will be available to the player in Arkham City, as well as two new gadgets -- smoke bombs, and a signal broadcast tracer -- giving the Caped Crusader the ability to make a strategic retreat and track down the location that the bad guys are broadcasting from! Another enhancement to the game is the Criminal Database upgrade to the Bat Computer, that will record and store the information that we beat out of... err... that we obtain in the process of interrogating henchmen and other baddies.
The game will feature an expanded clue system, as well as the return of Detective Mode and a collections system, though details on this have not been made public at press time. In addition to the primary missions that make up the bulk of the story line of the game, a set of deep secondary missions has been incorporated into the game that will allow the player to explore the side-stories of the various characters more fully, rather than be restricted to just the flat biography segments that they uncover as part of the clue system.
While stealth-based play was encouraged in the previous game, it is key to player success in the sequel, where the Caped Crusader can face large groups of enemy who were they to become aware of him, would likely transform him into superhero paste. That may sound like it runs counter to the macho take-on-all-comers reputation of the Dark Knight, but this is a very different world we are in.
The narrow-rail that we followed in Arkham Asylum has been replaced by a very large and open-architecture world in which no two game play experiences are quite alike. Sure, the objectives are the same, but how you reach and solve them will depend on the path that you choose and the decisions that you make. Clues are an integral part of the game, but some can be missed, and while the objective gets solved some key pieces of information that may have shed light on later events are not in the database...
Despite the fact that this is a larger and more open world, it is packed with a lot of detail and action, and the potential for random encounters and fights has been greatly increased so that a lot can go wrong very quickly. The demo that was provided to the media for its first-look and taste fully illustrated this, and demonstrated that the overall feel and effect of being Batman has been seriously tweaked.
Batman: Arkham City is set for a Fall 2011 release for Microsoft Windows, XBox 360, and Sony's Play Station 3 gaming system.
Street Date: Fall 2011
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Focus: Single-Player Story
Platforms: XBox 360 / PS3 / Windows PC
Official Content Ratings: ESRB Rating: T BBFC: 15