If there’s one superhero that’s really going to be busy this October, it’s Batman. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not just the lovingly large amount of villains that are after his pointy-eared head, but also the countless thugs and punks that lurk in the streets of Arkham City.
The combat of Batman: Arkham Asylum was a key feature to the game’s success; it was easy to get a grip of, fun to use, but a little complex to master. They call it the FreeFlow Combat System, and as its name suggests, it did flow freely, letting Batman sucker-punch and wheel-kick multiple enemies within the space of a couple of seconds.
Batman: Arkham City adapts most of the aspects of the intriguing combat mechanics of its predecessor, but it also enhances it in such ways that make you say “I’m the wind!” and “Who’s your daddy!” a lot more. Of course going ninja on a thug’s ass is going to remain pretty much the same, but the subtle enhancements and sprinkled toppings make it a bigger delight than it was in the prequel.
For starters, those who smugly chuckled at the sight of one thug being pulverized after another will have to re-construct their smugly chuckling habits, as those semi-unclothed low-lives no longer wait for their turn in-line to attack, but come at Batman simultaneously. This means you can actually receive multiple punches in the partially-masked face at once.
This also means that Batman’s dynamics and agility have been greatly increased, to balance out things. Bat-boy has more animations, more combos, and better ability to handle one-versus-twenty scenarios. Seems like the Dark Knight learnt some new moves after his experience in Arkham City.
Speaking of new moves, Batman can use his nifty bat-gadgets in a much more efficient manner doing battles. You no longer have to wonder where your clever grappling hooks and explosive-gel went during combat – or have to go through tedious animations to spray a weird pattern of gel on the ground. While in combat, Batty can use the grappling hook in a much more convenient and quicker manner – you can’t help but yell “Come over here!” when he does so (unless you haven’t played Mortal Kombat).
You can also combine the hook with the green bubbly explosive-gel; grapple and pull; spray some effervescing gel on their bald heads, and enjoy watching it non-lethally explode to knockout the unfortunate victim. Now that’s what you call a few seconds of quality entertainment.
Batman isn’t Neo from The Matrix, so he does get tired and need a bit of assistance when stuck in a place he doesn’t want to be. That’s where the runner-up of Best Ass in Comics comes in. No, I’m not talking about Robin, and if you think I was then you seriously need to get your facts straight. It’s Catwoman that I mention, and she’ll be occasionally assisting his occasional lover and occasional enemy Batman – apart from the fact that you’ll actually be playing as Catwoman in some parts of the game, which opens up a slightly different combat system.
By the way, Robin will also be making an appearance as the side-kick he is (but with much cooler looks), though not much is known about the depth of his involvement. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Bane (yes, the big muscular cylinders-carrying venom freak), who’ll be assisting you as a non-playable character in a particular side-quest.
Batman can also use the new flying ability to crush enemies with your muscular physique. While the wrinkly flying system is primarily designed for some quick sky-diving (closest analogy I could think of) and easily reaching rooftops, it can also be alternatively used for landing on partially unaware thugs, be it accidentally or intentionally. Using this to initiate a fight is a great tactic, as anyone who has been unlucky enough to have a guy land on him will tell you that it hurts enough to cause a hemorrhage. Good luck finding such a guy.
That’s pretty much the sum up of the combat mechanics and system of Arkham City. There is also a new “New Game +” mode that is only unlocked when the game is finished. It allows you to start the game from beginning while keeping all the gadgets and upgrades that you obtained and made, respectively.
The catch with this mode is that enemy punks are much more difficult – they’ll have totally different locations than in normal mode, and the AI will go up a notch. Boss fights won’t just be a lot tougher, but the bosses themselves will have different patterns, more move-sets and more damage output. Batman can expect to get his external-underwear wearing ass kicked more than often, but it’ll also add a lot of replay value to the game.
Batman: Arkham City is definitely a game that I’ve been excited about for quite a while now, and its already prosperous looking gameplay elements, story, and combat is making me wish October was closer than it already is.