Batman: Arkham City has been an astounding success. Not only has that and its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, set the bar for what a comic book game should play like, but the game has been critically acclaimed universally, and was one of the greatest selling games last year. It’s not hard to see why; people love to play as Batman, and feel like they’re actually under the cowl of the World’s Greatest Detective. But Nintendo-exclusive owners had to sit by and watch as roughly the entire rest of the gaming community got to experience a true masterpiece of a game.
Well, joke’s on them, because the Armored Edition released for the Wii U is the most full-featured version yet.
First, a note, as with many of our Wii U reviews, this game is a re-release of a game we’ve already reviewed once. I won’t waste your time going over the basics and whatnot since the game has been out for more than a year on other consoles. This review will focus on the additions the Wii U version brings to the table. However, if you need to be refreshed about the base game, I encourage you to read our initial review of the game when it released in Fall of 2011. We were pretty big fans of it.
The Armored Edition of Arkham City is, for better or worse, mostly the same game everyone played last year. You’re playing as the Dark Knight. You have all his tools at your disposal. You’ve been imprisoned in the anarchistic prison-district known as Arkham City. You play as Batman during the longest night of his life as he tries to find a means to escape and stop Joker from another one of his plots. Along the way, however, you’ll meet dozens of other characters from the Batman universe, and have to deal with each one appropriately.
The Armored Edition also includes all of the DLC released for other platforms, including extra characters and their challenge maps, extra costumes and the Harley Quinn expansion that was released earlier this year. It’s everything from the Game of the Year Edition without the horrible accolade-heavy box art.
This should sell you on the game enough if you haven’t had the chance to play it already, but what about those of you that already played the game? What’s here to attract old players back to the fold?
Well for starters, Batman and Catwoman are decked out in new uniforms for the new game. Each of them are sporting new armored suits (hence the name) with a few added features. These suits are capable of storing kinetic energy in order to be released during an opportune moment to deal more damage. As you fight the baddies you’ll have a meter rise on your screen. Once that’s full, click both sticks and you’ll unleash the fury of an even angrier Batman. I didn’t notice too much of a difference in power during the fights I activated the mode, but it could be because I didn’t allow any enemies to get too many hits in on me in the first place.
Also new is Batman’s new on-board Batcomputer mounted on his wrist. This is the part where players get to use the GamePad in order to make leveling up and selecting inventory a whole lot easier. Previously you had to pause the game and switch things around, and stop whatever you were doing. Now you’ll have everything on the screen in your hands, so all it takes is a few quick presses in order to change out equipment or strengthen your abilities. It makes the whole process much more streamlined, but keep in mind that your game is always running now. This means that you should probably find a safe spot in Arkham City in order to switch things around so you don’t get blindsided by a group of thugs.
I personally like this necessity, though. It adds to the immersion. Batman would never be able to pause a fight in order to put a batarang in his hand or to apply a quick upgrade to his explosive gel. It means you always have to be aware of your surroundings, which is one step closer to actually thinking like the Caped Crusader himself.
That’s not all the GamePad can be used for either. When swinging and gliding around the open world, your GamePad becomes a fully-sized interactive map, which means even less cluttering the screen and one less reason to pause the game. The GamePad can also be used in a new Sonar mode, which points out exactly where enemies are in relation to where the player is. Furthermore, it can also be used for scanning evidence on scenes now, requiring the player to physically move the GamePad around in order to get a good look at the area. This part is admittedly a little awkward since it asks you to hold the GamePad up to the screen and then hit both triggers at the same time to “calibrate” where you start off looking, but it’s something that’s easily gotten used to pretty quickly.
I’m very impressed with how the developers put the GamePad to good use. The first time Alfred contacted me in-game via radio and the voice came through my GamePad rather than the TV was a nice touch, and put a big smile on my face.
The only thing I’m somewhat disappointed about are the graphics. While most of the game looks just as good, if not slightly better, than the other console counterparts, some textures are a bit low resolution, and it doesn’t help that Batman is now covered in armor that seems to be required to be shiny. It makes him look more like an action figure and less like he’s supposed to be real.
There’s nothing in the game that breaks the experience. In fact, I’d say that this is probably the best release of any of the Arkham games just because it’s the most immersive and utilizes the Wii U’s hardware very well. However, my point still stands from earlier; there’s no real reason to return to the game if you’ve already completed it elsewhere. The new features are cool, and I love using the GamePad for Batman’s arsenal and the like, but to drop a whole new $60 on what’s roughly the same experience isn’t entirely worth it. But if you’ve just been jealously staring at the video game community as they gush all over Batman: Arkham City, this is the perfect place to quench your thirst.
This review is based on a Wii U copy of the game provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.