Batman: Arkham City Guide — Everything We Know So Far
It’s been said before, but bears repeating again: Batman: Arkham Asylum was the sleeper hit of 2009, and now that its sequel is almost upon us, everyone is expecting great things. The screenshots have flitted across the Internet. A bevy of character-specific trailers have been released, accompanied by a legion of hands-on previews from gaming tradeshows across the globe.
With the game‘s release almost exactly two months away, we figured it would be valuable to stop and take stock of the wealth of information that’s currently available. Divided into categories and synthesized from past GameFront coverage and external sources, your definitive Arkham City guide awaits below.
Things change…Batman stays the same. Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego is still his all-business self in Batman: Arkham City, though he has a number of new gadgets at his disposal, and an improved “Detective Mode” that involves more than just following scent trail. He’s also learned a variety of new combat moves/animations, described in more detail in the “Combat” section below. One neat touch that’s been widely reported: Batman’s suit will show damage, wear, and tear over the course of the game.
Available only as a Best Buy exclusive character, Robin will be playable in the Arkham City Challenge Mode. Fans of the original game will remember this game type, which tests player skill using arena-type trials. To Rocksteady’s credit, they’ve devised a costume for the Boy Wonder that doesn’t make him look like a total putz.
Catwoman is sort of a liminal case here. Nominally a villain, she appears as a playable character in Arkham Asylum. Players will be able to switch to her at certain points in the game, when they come across a cat on a rooftop that acts as a sort of tag-off point (according to Gamefront’s E3 Preview). Playing Catwoman, as Rocksteady marketing manager Dax Ginn explained to our correspondent during his E3 hands-on, is about seeing how the other half lives: “She offers you the opportunity to explore Arkham City from a criminal perspective…when you’re playing as Catwoman, you get the chance to do the wrong thing. And I think gamers like that opportunity.”
Catwoman has her own distinct fighting style and set of animations. GameFront writer Mitchell Saltzman described them as “quicker, wilder, and more acrobatic.” She can climb along the ceiling and drop down on unsuspecting enemies, incapacitate them with thrown bolas, and use her whip to swing around the city like Spider-man. Her “Thief Vision” acts as the converse of Batman’s Detective Mode, highlighting objects for the light-fingered, bosomy burglar to pocket.The ten-minute gameplay clip that Rocksteady released gives a great sense of the character.
Another character whose morality is in doubt. When Arkham City begins, he has been elected mayor of Gotham City, but it’s not clear exactly what his motives are.
Always one of Batman’s most powerful adversaries, Dr. Strange has a crucial role to play in Arkham City. This resourceful, cunning psychiatrist, who is one of the few people to know Batman’s true identity, has been put in charge as warden of Arkham City.
This trailer shows you all you need to know about the Penguin. Less campy than the DeVito take on the character, but also more uncanny than the comic version, the Arkham City Penguin is voiced by Uncharted alum Nolan North, of Nathan Drake fame.
Also enshrined in video, Mr. Freeze is an intimdating presence — much less fun when deprived of Schwarzeneggerian one-liners.
The insane district attorney features prominently in the ten-minute gameplay clip linked above, narrowly avoiding getting dumped into a vat of acid.
The Riddler, as is his wont, is mostly involved with collectibles. See that section at the end for more details.
He broke Batman’s back in the comics, and he’s the big threat in the new Christopher Nolan movie. Arkham City has him, along with a possible stolen chemical sideplot that’s as-yet unconfirmed.
Not one of Batman’s best-known adveraries, but he’s got a cool name and an intimidating visage. Revealed thanks to the “Black Mask Hideout” DLC map, which comes as part of the Robin pre-order bonus from Best Buy.
Talia Al Ghul
Daughter of Batman’s mentor and eventually the mother of his child (in the comics), it is unclear what role Talia has to play in Arkham City. There’s definitely a screenshot of her virtual likeness though.
Unstable hero/villain Jack Ryder aka the Creeper appears in the above clip, giving Batman a tip on some nearby Riddler trophies. No word on whether he has a bigger role to play.
Though he may not appear on camera, this palindromic psycho has some scheme going on with the city’s payphones.
The Joker/Harley Quinn
What Batman game would be complete without these two? Harley looks as skanky as ever, and Joker’s laughing menace has not dissipated.
Rocksteady are wisely playing its cards pretty close to the vest, but the essential details of the setup are these: After the conclusion of the first game, which saw Batman thwart the Joker’s plans, Arkham warden Quincy Sharp seizes an opportunity to do a little political grandstanding. Downplaying Batman’s involvement in the situation in favor of his own heroism, Sharp rides a wave of approbation into public office, becoming the mayor of Gotham.
Blackgate Prison and Arkham Asylum lie in ruins, however, and Sharp has a serious criminal justice problem on his hands. His dubious solution is to buy up a section of Gotham City and turn it into a gigantic walled prison. He hires a private military contractor called Tyger to provide security — giving them a mandate to shoot any potential escapees on sight — and turns over administration of the teeming penal colony to the enigmatic Dr. Hugo Strange. Its not clear exactly what the pair of them are up to, but there certainly must be ulterior motives of some kind yet to be revealed.
The events of the game kick off with the events of the video embedded above. Two-Face attempts to publicly execute Catwoman — demonstrations of power are key in the factious world of Arkham City — and Batman is forced to intervene. One assumes that things go rapidly downhill for the Caped Crusader from there.