Until 2009, no one had been able to transport the legendary heroes of comics in a majestic videogame work packaged with such great skill as that of the English guys of Rockesteady, certainly the flagship software house among those owned by WB Interactive. Arkham Asylum has conquered everyone, revealing itself to be a masterpiece from many points of view, laying the foundations for a series with a sure future and giving a huge sigh of relief to the unfortunate category of tie-ins, which never needed a “Guide” to chase away that cumbersome label of “mediocre titles” that unfortunately had been created with totally insufficient exponents of the genre.

While not deviating much from the narrative style and gameplay mechanics of the previous chapter, Arkham City is a refined title, with countless facets, capable of making us participate in the adventures of the best Detective in the world, and allowing us to thoroughly investigate the soul and the mind of the Dark Knight.

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE …

The adventure in Arkham City (which, like the previous one, takes place over a long winter night) restarts immediately after the events that took place in the Arkham asylum: the structure managed by Quincy Sharp proved to be completely inadequate to counteract the follies of the increasingly bad Joker and naive Harley Quinn. After Batman managed to foil his plans, Sharp took on all the merits of the enterprise and carried away by the enthusiasm of the Gotham population, he even managed to get himself elected mayor. Among the highlights of his election campaign is the creation of a huge prison facility, which stands in the ruins of the oldest and most infamous neighborhood in the city, where to lock up Gotham’s most diabolical criminal minds.

A strategy that succeeds also thanks to the help of friends “from above” and that suggests much more mysterious plans. Among the main antagonists of the story we can find some of the famous rivals of Batman: in addition to the usual Joker, there are Harvey “Two Faces” Dent, Penguin, Deadshot, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane and many others, but above all Hugo Strange, a diabolical man in charge of the newly born Arkham City and aware of the secret of our hero’s true identity. Batman will have to fight with all his might to thwart a huge catastrophe conceived and conceived in all its details by Strange himself: the very secret Protocol 10. Also in this chapter of the series, Paul Dini’s pen manages to amaze with an original script and fascinating, never banal and able to keep glued to the pad for its entire duration with well-conceived twists and pleasant and intriguing dialogues to follow.

A GREAT PRISON

It is clear from the very first moments of the game that Rocksteady’s goal was to create an action-adventure with a strong sandbox component. The game area of ​​Arkham City is in fact much larger than that of the previous chapter, and can be explored in its entirety right away. It is possible to investigate the darkest alleys of the city and fight openly against the criminals of Gotham, or take a much more calm and reasoned approach thanks to the substantial improvement made to the stealth mechanics. With the grapple supplied, Bruce Wa..ehm..Batman is able to cling to any ledge and, using the most advanced technology at his disposal, to plan every detail before acting, such as analyzing the trail of bullets to locate the point. from which the blow started, or follow traces such as blood and footprints to trace their objectives.

The fights have also undergone an excellent refinement thanks to the near-perfect freeflow combat: now Batman can counterattack multiple opponents simultaneously, use many more gadgets during the clashes, and unleash dozens of new attacks and combos. The variety of enemies has also improved: from the usual henchmen of the various antagonists we pass to huge sharks (yes, sharks!), To inmates mutated by the Titan or equipped with shields and electric batons, up to the boss fights, always various and fun to deal with.

Batman’s inventory is also very important, which must be constantly improved after accumulating enough experience points and also reserves pleasant surprises and new additions, such as some gadgets designed by Mr Freeze and many others to be used to solve the most varied riddles of the usual. Edward Nygma or to face the countless the Dark Knight will meet. In addition to the main story, which can be re-addressed in New Game Plus mode with all the gadgets unlocked and with a much greater difficulty, there are also the fun Challenges modes inherited from the previous chapter and which enrich the offer of this title even more.

ANOTHER CAT TO PEEL

A pleasant novelty is represented by the possibility of facing some sections of the game in the role of Catwoman. The kitty is in Arkham City to look after her business, but she will cross Batman’s path several times and her input will prove very useful. The gameplay variants introduced with Selina Kyle are very interesting, and among them the possibility of climbing to the ceiling and reaching otherwise inaccessible points stands out. The iconic black cat of Gotham knows how to juggle very well in combat, thanks to her agility and her (unfortunately few) gadgets available. Also for Catwoman the Riddler has reserved a large number of trophies scattered around the map, and it will be up to the player to find and collect them all.

GOTHAM IS A SHOW

The artistry achieved by Rocksteady is truly mind-boggling: the Arkham City prison neighborhood is fantastic. The boys of the English studio have worked hard to recreate the style of comics to perfection, giving a comic-realistic imprint to the entire scenario. Nothing is left to chance: the Ace Chemicals sign with its bright colors; the museum of Mr Cobblepot aka “the Penguin”; the factories of Roman Sionis; the police station (now Mr Freeze’s laboratory); the imposing Wonder Tower: everything is studied in detail and equipped with truly exceptional high-definition textures.

The polygonal modeling of the characters is amazing and even the simple henchmen, while not making a miracle cry for the number of models, are characterized in the smallest details and almost sorry to beat them, such is the accuracy of the Rocksteady artists. The version we tested is the PC version, where the game gives its best with a frame rate significantly higher than that of the console versions, which oscillates between 60 and 100 fps with medium-high-end PCs and with lighting effects. and particles of a completely different level.

The animations of Batman and his enemies convince and shine for variety and spectacular: seeing the Dark Knight destroy a huge amount of enemies with his stratospheric combos never tires. The dubbing, completely in Italian, and the sound effects are also excellent. Separate mention for the soundtrack, which contains all the epicness to which this series has now accustomed us. What perhaps does not exalt is the AI ​​of the enemies, often impassive even when we sneak under their noses to knock out their accomplices, but nothing that can affect the indisputable qualities of the title.

AUTHOR’S COMMENT The latest work by the Rocksteady wizards is one that can rarely be forgotten. Featuring a fascinating storyline with an exceptional ending that leaves many doubts and questions, Arkham City has proved to be one of the best titles of this generation of consoles. The large amount of things to do (more than 40 hours of gameplay between main story and additional content) make this action-adventure a point of reference for all titles of this genre and a game that you will hardly abandon. The grandeur of the technical and sound sector enchants, and only a few defects in the AI ​​of the enemies prevent us from assigning full excellence to this masterpiece.

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