Batman: Arkham City is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios. It is the sequel to the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game was released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The game was officially announced during the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards and was released worldwide for consoles, beginning in North America on October 18, 2011, with the PC version scheduled for November but canceled shortly after. A Wii U version, called Arkham City: Armored Edition, was released in September 2012.
Arkham City was scripted by veteran comic book author Paul Dini, who also scripted Arkham Asylum. It features a main plot and side-missions that develop their own sub-plots. The main storyline revolves around Batman's imprisonment in Arkham City, a sprawling new super-prison five times bigger than the original asylum and enclosing a wide variety of industrial districts, iconic locations and Gotham City landmarks. He must now stop mishaps occurring around this chaotic enclosure, mainly caused by his arch-nemesis, the Joker. The game has received universal critical acclaim, making it one of the highest rated video games released in 2011.
Arkham City is an open world action video game that incorporates elements of stealth and predator tactics. All of the gadgets previously obtained in the first game are present at the start of Arkham City (with the exception of the Line Launcher and the Ultra Batclaw, which is replaced with the regular Batclaw and Sonic Batarangs). Most of them have improved or have new capabilities; for example, the Cryptographic Sequencer can also track signals, the line launcher now can be deployed as a tightrope and has a feature that allows Batman to flip over and launch another zipline, switching directions. The remote control Batarang now has a built in brake and boost, and the grappling gun can now be used while gliding to boost Batman further up into the air. Three additional gadgets have been revealed: smoke pellets to confuse armed enemies when spotted by them, the Remote Electrical Charge which is a sniper-like taser gun used to power generators and shock enemies, and ice grenades used to freeze enemies and make pathways through water. The game incorporates more puzzle elements; the use of Batman's "Detective Mode", which highlights elements such as enemy skeletons and clues on-screen, is used to perform forensic activities such as tracing the origin of a sniper round.
The player also has access to a criminal database that tracks several investigations across the city and the forensic puzzles much like the first game, as well as an extensive communications interception and tracing network. However, Rocksteady's art director David Hego described the new detective mode as an "augmented reality mode", and game director Sefton Hill has also stated that although enemies and evidence can be seen more clearly, the navigational part is toned down as they found that some players completed Arkham Asylum using detective mode almost throughout the entire game. Optional challenges from the Riddler to collect hidden trophies placed around the city are also present, but require additional effort to locate, such as interrogation of men loyal to the Riddler, and the use of nearly all of Batman's gadgets to disable "traps" and barriers placed around them. After a certain number of trophies are found, Batman must go rescue a hostage that the Riddler has captured, which requires him to disable death traps set by the Riddler.
The player controls Batman, making his way around Arkham City to complete mission objectives. In addition to the primary mission, the game introduces various secondary missions, which are not required, featuring a number of key characters and their stories. The player can opt to move silently, avoiding inmates and other enemies using a combination of gadgets to sneak up on enemies to incapacitate them. Batman's gliding ability has also been upgraded, allowing players to dive downward and pull themselves back up, making it much faster to move through the air. At other times, the player may be forced to fight inmates using an improved version of the Freeflow combat system from Arkham Asylum, allowing for multiple simultaneous counters, the ability to counter thrown objects, jump attacks, powerful multi-strike beat-downs, upgraded Batarang and Batclaw attacks, and the ability to use gadgets such as the Explosive Gel and line launcher in freeflow. Movement about the city is made difficult due to the formation of gangs and territory between rival villains, such as Two-Face, The Penguin, and the Joker, that causes in-fighting that Batman has the option of avoiding.
Catwoman is also a playable character with her own heist-focused storyline at specific points in the game. Her combat is more acrobatics-oriented and features her claws, whip, and bolas. She has her own version of Detective Mode called "Thief Vision" to locate items for stealing. Dax Ginn recently revealed at Gamescom that the game has about 40 hours of gameplay with the main campaign lasting 25 hours and 15 hours for the side missions. The game also contains 436 Riddler challenges, which make up one of the multiple side missions that players can embark on at any given point in the game. Rather than rely on maps, the player can mark riddler puzzles as they are found, if the player does not have the necessary equipment to complete them. A portion of the puzzles are also specific to Catwoman, and can only be completed by her.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Arkham City include a stereoscopic 3D mode for 3D HDTVs and for 2D HDTVs via Inficolor 3D glasses. It uses TriOviz for Games Technology, which is integrated with Unreal Engine 3. All Arkham City gameplay and cinematics have S3D support.
Cast and CharactersEdit
Arkham City features a large ensemble cast of characters pulled from the history of Batman comics. Returning characters from Arkham Asylum include:
- James Gordon (David Kaye)
Characters marking their debut in the series:
- Harvey Dent / Two-Face (Troy Baker)
- Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (Maurice LaMarche)
- Ra's al Ghul (Dee Bradley Baker)
- Talia al Ghul (Stana Katic)
- Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Grey DeLisle, playable DLC)
- Alfred Pennyworth (Martin Jarvis)
- Dick Grayson / Nightwing (Quinton Flynn, playable DLC)
- Basil Karlo / Clayface (Rick D. Wasserman)
- Jervis Tetch / Mad Hatter (Peter MacNicol)
- Floyd Lawton / Deadshot (Chris Cox)
- Michael Lane / Azrael (Khary Payton)
- Roman Sionis / Black Mask (Nolan North)
- Nora Fries (No Voice)
Minor Characters from Arkham Asylum:
Minor Characters in Arkham City:
- Dr. Stacey Baker (Grey DeLisle)
- M.P.T Anne Bishop (Kimberly Brooks)
- Medic Adam Hamasaki (Eric Bauza)
- Elvis Jones (Joe Holt)
- Sgt. Tom Miller (Jim Meskimen)
- Jon Forrester (Khary Payton)
- Whitman (Johnny Witworth)
- Sanchez (Carlos Alazraqui)
- Strickland (Roger Rose)
- Michaels (Crispin Freeman)
- Crazy Quilt
- The Broker
- The Falcone Crime Family
- Carmine Falcone
- Sal Maroni
- Great White Shark
Henchmen from Arkham Asylum:
Henchmen in Arkham City:
- Joker's Henchmen
- The Penguin's Henchmen
- Two-Face's Gang
- Riddler Thugs
- League of Assassins
- Mr. Hammer
The events of Arkham City take place around eighteen months after Batman: Arkham Asylum. Quincy Sharp, former warden of Arkham Asylum, has taken credit for stopping the Joker's Asylum takeover, and used the notoriety to become mayor of Gotham City. Deeming Arkham and Blackgate Penitentiary no longer suitable to contain the city's criminals, Sharp has both facilities closed and buys out a large section of Gotham's slums, converting them into an immense open-air prison named Arkham City. The facility is placed in the care of genius psychiatrist Hugo Strange — who is secretly manipulating Sharp — and guarded by a squad of heavily-armed mercenaries hired from a rogue private military firm, TYGER Security. The inmates are given free rein as long as they do not attempt to escape. Batman maintains a vigil over the detention city, concerned that the chaotic situation there will get out of hand. Meanwhile, the Joker is stricken with a potentially fatal disease, mutated by his consumption of, and subsequent transformation by, the Titan formula—an unstable steroid serum which has the ability to turn men into maddened monsters.
New Arkham City inmate and rising warlord Two-Face devises a plan to publicly execute fellow prisoner Catwoman after she tries to steal back some of her ill-gotten gains from his hideout. Meanwhile, Gotham City itself has degenerated into a police state managed by Mayor Sharp, where citizens with the slightest trace of a criminal record find themselves shipped to the prison district. Those who dare to challenge Sharp's policies are the target of arranged disappearances, becoming political prisoners trapped behind Arkham's walls. Among these is Bruce Wayne, who holds a rally attacking the proposal of turning half his city into a walled-off reserve for criminally inclined persons. Segregated from society, he argues, they have become responsible for their own survival in an anarchic urban hell which is characterized by bloody gang wars.
Wayne, as the latest focus of Sharp's vendetta, is kidnapped by TYGER Security operatives working for Hugo Strange, who is privy to his dual identity as Batman. Strange intends to unveil new plans for Arkham City before the night is up, an operation codenamed Protocol 10, which will establish himself as supreme ruler of Gotham. Now an inmate, the Dark Knight manages to have Alfred Pennyworth deliver his crimefighting equipment to him directly via an airdrop, and he prepares to save Catwoman from Two-Face for the sake of their past relationship while uncovering the true nature of Protocol 10.
Hacking TYGER communications, Batman overhears a report indicating that Catwoman is being held in the old city courthouse. Making his way there, the Dark Knight comes upon her standing trial before a kangaroo court, with Two-Face as judge and executioner. The mock courtroom is promptly crashed and the villain's gang defeated. Believing that the Joker, as one of Arkham's prominent gangleaders, may know about Protocol 10, Batman then proceeds to track the Clown Prince of Crime to his hideaway within a steelworks mill. Inside, he uncovers a doctor kidnapped to treat his enemy, who claims that Titan’s unstable properties are mutating in Joker's blood, slowly killing him. The latter is subsequently able to capture Batman and perform a blood transfusion, thereby striking him with the same potentially fatal disease. He uses this as leverage against the Caped Crusader, forcing him to find a cure for him or they perish together.
Batman deduces that Mr. Freeze is the only person who has the knowledge to develop this cure, and so hurries to secure his assistance and the necessary elements for the antidote while consistently coming into conflict with Ra's al Ghul, the Penguin, Solomon Grundy, and Freeze himself, who is at best an unwilling ally. To complicate matters, Harley Quinn steals the formula once it has been completed, leading to a head-on battle with the Joker, who wishes to stabilize his own condition while allowing Batman to die.
Hugo Strange, meanwhile, initiates Protocol 10: A scheme to wipe out the entire inmate population of Arkham City and thus, "save" Gotham from its criminal element. TYGER troops, who have been brainwashed to serve only Strange and his insane interests, begin mass executions of political prisoners while launching air strikes on Arkham from attack helicopters. The last hours of Batman's life are ticking away but he decides that saving innocents is more important than his own welfare. When Protocol 10 is finally deactivated, however, the hero has a surprise confrontation with Ra's al Ghul, who mortally wounds Strange for his failures while revealing that he is the mastermind behind Arkham City; Protocol 10 was to be the first stage of a plan to 'cleanse' the Earth by killing undesirable inhabitants. With his dying breath, Strange then activates a self-destruct program for his command center, as Batman and Ra's fall from Wonder Tower Ra's tries to kill Batman by shoving a sword through his body
Batman learns that the Joker is hiding inside Arkham's old Monarch Theatre and enters it searching for the antidote. There are two Jokers present, however, and the real twin explains that his double is Clayface, who has been impersonating him all along. In the struggle that follows the theater is destroyed, although Batman is able to retrieve the formula and save himself. Joker attacks him, causing the remaining antidote to spill. He succumbs to his illness while Batman looks on, maintaining that he would have saved his foe. Soon after, Batman carries Joker's corpse out of Arkham City into a breaking dawn.
The concurrent plot with Batman's role in Arkham involves Catwoman performing heists across the city, the first being an attempt to crack Two-Face's personal safe. After being rescued by Batman, she enlists the reluctant aid of Poison Ivy in retrieving numerous valuables seized upon her arrest (being stored inside Hugo Strange's heavily-guarded vault). Catwoman successfully infiltrates the vault and attempts to escape with the ill-gotten gains, but abandons this plan when she stops to help save Batman from the Joker. Intending to return for her belongings, she goes on to fight a rematch with Two-Face and his henchmen.
Serious development of the game's story and concept started in February 2009, as teams were brought in from Arkham Asylum to Arkham City's development as they completed the work on that game. The concept of expanding the game from the asylum into the city came early on in Arkham Asylum's development; once the team had programmed the Batman to dive and glide between buildings of the asylum, the adaption of this gameplay to the city was considered natural.
Arkham Asylum was completed with the sequel in mind in both story and gameplay; as found by several players, a secret room in Arkham Asylum shows plans for Arkham City, purposely included to help link the story between the two games.
Sefton Hill, Arkham City's director from Rocksteady Studios, stated that a key goal for the game was to deliver the "'Batman in Gotham' feeling." The sequel was described by Kevin Conroy as "really, really dark". While relating the game's dark nature to the animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Conroy also said, "It involves a lot of the villains and it goes to that area – it's that dark."
As part of the "Batman in Gotham" design philosophy, the arsenal of moves and actions that the player could use as Batman was expanded. Although the team developed several ideas for new moves, gadgets, and abilities to be included, they only went forward with those that they felt would be authentic to Batman. The studio also reviewed the play and combat systems used in Arkham Asylum, and built the new moves as natural extensions of the existing system as a means to "add even more depth and gameplay instead of changing them fundamentally". The number of animations has been doubled to reflect the larger arsenal of moves at the player's disposal.
Another means of giving the player the Batman experience was through the larger game world. Arkham City has a virtual footprint five times larger than that of Arkham Asylum, and the navigational aspects have been improved to give the player the experience of "the freedom and exhilaration of gliding down alleyways and soaring above the skyline". Though the concepts have been compared to an open-world game, Hill notes that such freeform nature would not be appropriate for a Batman game, and have designed Arkham City to challenge the player to think like Batman to survive in the game. To counterbalance the larger game world, the developers also sought to include more challenges and side missions, while keeping the player alert as to the primary story mission, such that the players constantly are aware of "extreme pressure of the challenges that they face".
With the open game world, Rocksteady included more villains not simply to populate the city, but purposely selected those that would create challenges for the player in the role of Batman. Hugo Strange was selected as a primary antagonist as his power and control help to maintain the lockdown on Arkham City when Batman enters it. Strange is further aware of Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne, making Batman "vulnerable and exposed in a way that he has never been before", according to Hill. Hill also notes that Strange is a character many players may have not seen in relation to the Batman mythos, but that Strange's backstory and character are fleshed out over the course of the game. Catwoman was also included due to the long history between Batman and her, although she brings her own agenda to the events within Arkham City.
The presence of multiplayer had been rumored shortly after the game's official announcement, but has since been denied by Rocksteady Studios. The developers had considered adding a multiplayer element to the game, but ultimately decided against this. According to Hill, they asked themselves "If we use all of the energy that is required to create multiplayer and instead focus this on the single player, would that deliver a better overall game?", and felt that they could not succeed in this, instead using their efforts to strengthen the single player game.
Developers at Rocksteady have also assured players that they can experience variety as each part of the city has been taken over by a certain villain and each territory is villain-specific. Dax Ginn, Marketing Game Manager at Rocksteady Games has said, "If you move into Joker's territory, you get a very Joker-ized experience, and all the artwork on the buildings – whether that's graffiti, signage, or whatever it might be – gives you a dense kind of Joker experience. So our art team has really put a lot of effort in making that sort of transition between one turf zone to another – really helping the player feel like they're making a physical transition into another emotional space." To develop the expanded environment of Arkham City and build a "natural urban environment" for Batman, Rocksteady expanded its workforce from 75 to over 100 people.
A limited series five-issue monthly comic series, also titled Batman: Arkham City was released on May 11, 2011. The series bridges the plot between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It is written by Paul Dini with art by Carlos D'Anda.
On August 24, 2011 Arkham City's Facebook and Twitter accounts were "taken over" by the Riddler in a marketing campaign. Cryptic messages were created and signed "#EN" for Edward Nigma, the Riddler's alter ego. A special Xbox 360 console was eventually revealed.
Warner Bros. partnered with several retailers and companies globally to provide bonus content as a reward for pre-ordering the game, including: Best Buy, Amazon.com, Gamestop, Game, Gamestation, EB Games, Tesco, and Asda. The content was only made available by pre-ordering the game with a specific retailer or purchasing a product such as a NOS beverage to obtain an unlockable code.
Toys "R" Us in New York City, Time Square released 500 copies of Batman: Arkham City on Monday, October 17, a full day before the game officially hit shelves. Only 500 copies of the game was available at the event, and the first 100 customers who pre-order a copy through the store's "Personal Shopping Department" had a chance to get their game autographed by DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee, Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, and Arkham City game director Sefton Hill. The latter remaining 400 copies of Arkham City could be purchased at the event, although the player is unable to be entered into the contest.
However, a large percentage of all preorders didn't get a working preorder bonus code, or most of the rest of their goodies.
Batman: Arkham City was first officially released in North America on October 18, 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, followed on October 19 by Australia and October 21 by Europe. Australian retailers EB Games and Game broke the official release date two days early, selling the game on October 17. The Windows version had been scheduled for simultaneous release with other versions but in September, 2011 its release was pushed back to November 18 with no explanation given.
A variety of alternative suits for Batman were revealed on August 1, 2011 including suit designs the character has worn in The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Earth One, the Bronze Age of Comics, Batman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond.
The Batman: The Animated Series skin is to be initially only available to Gamestop customers in the US with a Power-Up Rewards Membership. A PS3-exclusive Sinestro Corps outfit was revealed in August 2011, that can initially only be unlocked via a unique code obtained with the purchase of the extended cut edition of the Warner Bros. film Green Lantern on Blu-ray from Best Buy.
Batman's sidekick Robin (Tim Drake) was announced as a playable character, with his own set of moves and gadgets, allowing him to be used in challenge maps. Additional skins were also made available, including Robin's appearance as seen in Batman: The Animated Series and the Red Robin outfit. The character also comes with two exclusive challenge maps: "Black Mask Hideout" and "Freight Train Escape". Additionally, the "Joker's Carnival" challenge map was announced, set within the Joker's Sionis Steel Mill base where the player is faced with multiple waves of enemies. The pre-order content was considered an "early access opportunity" for purchasers, with Ginn confirming that all of the content would be made available for download after the the game's release date.
In the United Kingdom, the Robin Edition was announced for sale exclusively through the retailers Game and Gamestation, containing the game and all of the Robin pre-order content including the playable character, skins and challenge maps. A series of "Steelbook Edition" versions of the game were also made available, featuring the standard game with a metallic case. The Joker-themed Steelbook includes the "Joker's Carnival" challenge map, the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood on DVD (Blu-ray for PS3), and the Silver Age Batman skin DLC. Three other villain-themed steelbook cases were also offered, featuring the likeness' of Two-Face and the Penguin. A fourth steelbook featuring Catwoman was released, containing the Batman: Earth Onealternative skin for Batman.
The Collector's Edition contains a Batman statue by Kotobukiya, a collectible art book, Batman: Arkham City – The Album from WaterTower Music, the animated film Batman: Gotham Knight, the The Dark Knight Returns skin and the Penguin-themed "Iceberg Lounge" challenge map. In July 2011, the Microsoft Windows version of the game was revealed to use Games for Windows – Live (GFWL) to access online services. Confusion concerning the use of GFWL was raised when a distributor was told by Warner Bros. that the title did not use the Live system, but the use of GFWL was confirmed in late August.
On October 25, 2011, a Batman themed Xbox 360 console bundle was released, containing the game, a DVD of Batman: Gotham Knight, a DVD of the Green Lantern film, the Green Lantern video game tie-in Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, and a 250GB Xbox 360 console. Additionally, a bundle containing these items and a Kinect controller was also released.
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is the WiiU version of the game that launches November 18, 2012. The edition features the exclusive Battle Armored Tech (B.A.T.) Mode for Batman and Catwoman. It also moves control of Batman's detective abilities and Batarang control to the WiiU Tablet.
Downloadable Content (DLC)Edit
New purchases of the game are provided with a unique code that unlocks the Catwoman downloadable content (DLC) that enables a series of missions in the story campaign that can be played as Catwoman, with weapons and moves unique to the character. Although the missions were presented as part of the main game, on October 13, 2011, Warner Bros. announced that it would be restricted to new purchases. Users can also purchase the content separately. It was later announced that pre-owned copies purchased from GameStop would also contain the necessary unlock code. A Warner Bros. rep confirmed that playing as Catwoman would not be required to complete the game. The Catwoman DLC also contains two alternate skins for the character: her appearances from The Animated Series and Batman: The Long Halloween.
Additional DLC packs are also available or scheduled for release. The Nightwing pack, released on November 1, 2011, includes Batman's ally Nightwing as a playable character for the game's challenge maps, an Animated Series alternative skin for the character, and two additional challenge maps: "Wayne Manor" and "Main Hall". The second pack is set to support the Catwoman story campaign by adding four new story-missions.
The Robin pack, is scheduled for November 22, 2011, and contains the Robin pre-order content: the playable character, alternate appearance skins and challenge maps. A Skins pack containing all of the alternate Batman pre-order skins is scheduled for release on December 6, 2011. A story DLC entitled "Harley Quinn's Revenge" showcasing what happens a few months after the events of Arkham City was released on May 29th. A Game of the Year edition of Arkham City was also released for PS3 and Xbox360 on the same day, and contains all of the DLC's including Harley Quinn's Revenge.
On October 23, 2011, an official map app was made available to purchase on the iOS App Store that contains maps for all areas of the game, the locations of in-game collectibles, and the solutions to the Riddler's riddles.
During the launch week, issues were found to exist in the code-restricted content supplied with new purchases, with some customers discovering the code to be missing from their game, preventing them from obtaining the Catwoman story missions. The problem was reported by customers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Warner Bros. issued a statement claiming that the missing codes had affected less than 0.5% of the total units sold, and provided a process for users to prove their game was purchased new in order to receive a replacement code. Upon release in the United Kingdom, a technical issue rendered the game unplayable for some players, booting them from the game with an error message that the "downloadable content is corrupt." Rocksteady European community manager Sarah Wellock claimed that the fault lay with the Playstation Network and Xbox Live online systems.
Batman: Arkham City received universal acclaim by critics and, as of October 29, is the best-reviewed game of 2011 according to review aggregator Metacritic. Metacritic provides an average score of 96 out of 100 for the PS3 version, based on 35 reviews, and 95 out of 100 for the Xbox 360 version, based on 73 reviews. Fellow aggregator GameRankings provides an average score of 96.7% for the PS3 version, based on 24 reviews, and 94.8% for the Xbox 360 version, based on 48 reviews.
The Australian Official PlayStation Magazine awarded a perfect score of 10 stating that the game "is not only the best superhero game ever made, it’s one of the best games ever made...it brings the caped crusader’s world to life better than any comic, movie or television show before it.". Game Informer also gave a perfect 10 score, labeling it ""the best licensed video game ever made" and stating "Arkham City not only lives up to the standards set by Arkham Asylum, it bests its predecessor." Play3 (Germany) awarded a score of 92%, calling it "the best superhero game ever made". Games Master awarded a score of 97%, calling it "one of the greatest games ever conceived." Joystiq awarded it 4.5 out of 5, crediting the developers for "breathing life into a staggeringly beautiful world; one which hums not only with opportunity, but ambition", but criticized the dialog as clichéd. Eurogamer awarded a score of 9 out of 10, lamenting that it lacks the same "surprise" as its predecessor, but praising the detailed world, the wide cast, and the variety of activities and missions.
Worldwide, the game sold 2 million units in its first week of approximately 4.6 million shipped units, compared to Arkham Asylum which sold 4.3 million units in its entire release. This made Arkham City one of the fastest selling games ever.
During the first week of sales in the United Kingdom, Batman: Arkham City became the number 1 selling game on all available formats, topping the all-format, PS3 and Xbox 360 charts, replacing FIFA 12. It became the fourth biggest launch of 2011 after FIFA 12, Gears of War 3 and L.A. Noire, and Warner Bros. biggest UK game launch ever, doubling the first week sales of Arkham Asylum.
- Arkham City has some references to the ABC TV show "Lost". Mark Hamill is a huge fan of the show. Joker references the show during his "return to health" speech "How come it all ended in a church?". Some thugs also sometime say "I forget, do they ever explain what the island was?"
- Metropolis and Keystone City are mentioned by Talia and Hugo Strange. Metropolis is also the keyword to open a carriage in Gotham monorail. Some thugs also mention Blüdhaven.
- The Cheshire Cat heads scattered through Arkham City reference Max Shreck's Department Stores from Batman Returns. They also reference Mad Hatter. A large yellow duck vehicle can be seen inside the Boiler Room of the Steel Mill.
- Batman: Arkham City Wikipedia
- Batman Arkham City Challenge Official Warner Bros. Benelux pre-launch game