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Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition for Mac review

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Genre: Third-person action/adventure
Format: Digital download or DVD
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Mac Publisher: Feral Interactive
Minimum System Requirements: OS X v10.7.4, 2Ghz Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 16GB hard disk space, 256MB vido card (ATI X1xxx series, NVIDIA 9400, NVIDIA 7xxx series, Intel GMA series, Intel HD3000, NVIDIA 7xxx series, NVIDIA 8xxx series, NVIDIA 9400 and NVIDIA 320M cards not supported), DVD drive for boxed version
Review Computer: 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, 4GB RAM, 512MB Radeon HD5670 graphics card
Network Feature: No
Price: $40.00
Rating: T (alcohol reference, blood, mild language, suggestive themes, use of tobacco, violence)
Availability: Out now

It’s pretty much become a foregone conclusion that Batman games—just like the movies—are going to be pretty damn great these days. I’m not really a fan of superheroes or superhero movies, but Batman works. Why, I can’t really say, and probably am not qualified to bother trying.

I can offer a couple thoughts on superhero games, however. First, pretty much every video game involves superheroes of some sort. Mario is a superhero. Link is a superhero. Sonic is a superhero…although one that always makes me side with the villains. They all use super abilities to defeat the bad guy and save the kingdom. As such, it’s easier to accept that world with video games.

More importantly, the developer that currently holds the Batman license is Rocksteady, and good Lord, do they know how to make a video game. I led off my review of Batman: Arkham Asylum stating it was “… the most satisfying Macintosh game experience I’ve had in a long, long time.” And much like with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Rocksteady’s sequel has outdone the original.

Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the controls and combat system of Arkham City. They’re largely the same as in Arkham Asylum, in that you use a combination of stealth attacks and straight up brawling to take out your enemies. How you play the game is up to you, and there’s no real right or wrong between swooping down to take out a thug unseen or charging him head on as he calls his friends. Whatever’s more fun for you, do it…most of the time, anyway. There will be points where you’ll want to keep your natural instincts in check.

Rather, I want to focus on the scope of the game, which is massive. Arkham Asylum was largely confined to buildings and catacombs of the infamous prison, and felt somewhat claustrophobic. The benefit to that is you pretty much always knew where to go and how to get there. Arkham City, on the other hand, is open and expansive. When you need to get from one location to the other, you can run down streets or jump across rooftops. A lot of the thugs have nothing to do with the story, so it’s entirely up to you whether you want to bother with them. In my case, the decision was largely based on how well the story was moving at that point.

Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition

Speaking of story, it’s kind of an Escape from New York sort of thing. The slums of Gotham have been turned into a heavily fortified open air prison, full the of many brilliant villains who have already proven themselves capable doing something like building a helicopter to get out of an open air prison, but whatever. Bruce Wayne has been sentenced to serve time here (it’s explained early) and finds himself caught up in a massive plot by Hugo Strange that only Batman can end before it’s too late.

Well, Batman and Catwoman, anyway. She plays a large role in the game, and you’ll be controlling her for a good deal of time. Although the controls are basically the same, combat of course feels much different between Batman and Catwoman, which keeps things from getting too monotonous.

Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition

Other elements help out too, such as acquiring the Riddler’s trophies, which has been expanded quite a bit from Arkham Asylum, requiring more thought, more skill, and more gadgets.

The Game of the Year Edition comes with plenty of bonus material which doesn’t add a whole lot to the story, but will be fun for those who didn’t get enough after the first run-through. Harley Quinn’s Revenge follows up the story (you knew she’d be trouble after Batman Arkham Asylum, right?), but pales in comparison to the main adventure and therefore seems a bit of a letdown.

Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition

Robin and Nightwing also get some time via DLC, but only as characters you can play in the challenge maps; they don’t factor into the story or get sidequests of their own.

But even without the bonus content, Batman: Arkham City would be well worth the price of admission. It’s a massive game with a fast-paced story that leaves plenty open for additional exploration after you’ve completed it…or during the first playthrough. At numerous points I wanted to set it aside and pick up the Wii U version just so I could sit in a more comfortable chair for the prolonged gaming sessions I was giving it. Rather, I brought home a better chair from the office.

In short, you don’t have to be a Batman fan or even a superhero fan to love Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year edition, you just have to be a gamer.

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Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition review
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