Back in 2009, Rocksteady gave a special treat to gamers looking for a great blockbuster title in the action/adventure genre. For fans of Batman however, they delivered much more, a gaming masterpiece in the form of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Then after creating the most critically acclaimed superhero game ever released – and receiving a spot in the Guinness World Records for doing so – they took it a step further with the even more successful sequel, Batman: Arkham City, in 2011. However, whilst many cited these games as some of the best releases of the console generation, the announcement that they would arrive on the latest home consoles, fully remastered and with all the DLC included in one neat bundle, wasn’t met with quite the same reception. But now, after months of silence and delays, the release of Batman: Return to Arkham is finally upon us, bringing with it the chance to don the mask of the caped crusader once more.
For those who never experienced two of the last generations greatest titles, let me tell you that the story is quite possibly the perfect example of any superhero classic. Starting off with Batman: Arkham Asylum, the story follows the ‘Worlds Greatest Detective’ away from the mean streets of Gotham over to Arkham Island, in his pursuit of the Joker, as he tries to stop the psychotic super villain in his quest to free the detainees of Arkham Asylum and rain down hell on Gotham City.
Like any superhero movie, comic, game or otherwise, Arkham Asylum features tons of enemies from different tiers; scrubs to well-known and infamous villains such as Poison-Ivy, Bane, The Riddler, Harley Quinn and Scarecrow. Whilst these all pose a serious threat to Batman on his journey to stop the Joker, the real threat throughout is Joker’s use of the terribly adapted scientific formula known as Titan, something which has an effect on the various bosses and the environment of Arkham Island along the way.
Whilst the story offers one of the best superhero tales ever seen, the rest of the game is just as much of a delight. Those that haven’t yet felt the pressures of the cape will be happy to know that the story isn’t the only focus. Fans of collectibles will certainly be over the moon with the challenge on offer with the ridiculously tough, but truly enticing, Riddler trophies hidden all over the island. Whilst many of these are common pickups, others will require completion of increasingly difficult and often confusing challenges to nab them. After both them and the story have fully sunk in, those wishing for a slight change will be happy to see the included Challenge mode available on the main menu. With access to all challenges restricted to the amount of Riddler trophies obtained, those looking to get every ounce out of this fantastic title will certainly need to have their wits about them. If you are just looking for something different, the option to play as Batman or Joker to complete the different challenges is certainly a nice one to have.
As for the gameplay, those who played the original will be happy to know everything runs just as smooth as it did, whilst the graphics – even if only slightly improved – certainly make for a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Sure, the pickiest of players may find the framerate a disappointment, however those like myself who are more focused on whether the gameplay is smooth, will certainly be delighted with what’s on offer.
For those already trying to force the cowl upon their face and become the Batman, read on, there’s still more.
As I previously stated this is of course a two-game bundle, and if the walls of Arkham Asylum don’t provide enough of the freedom you were hoping for, then the inclusion of Batman: Arkham City certainly will.
In Batman: Arkham City, players are returned to the familiar surroundings of Gotham with multiple new threats to overcome. This includes a fresh attack from the Joker, whose ill-health caused by the events on Arkham Island see him infect the Batman with his infected blood, sending him on a crazy hunt for a cure. This in turn causes run-ins with several series icons such as the chilling Mr. Freeze, the returning Harley Quinn, Scarecrow and Penguin amongst others. The biggest challenge however will be the battle to stop the corrupted doctor of Gotham, Dr. Hugo Strange, as he is appointed head of Arkham City, a new prison created in the centre of Gotham, housing the psychotic inmates of the Blackgate and Arkham prisons after the events of Arkham Asylum. Batman is forced on a path to stop the dreaded Protocol 10 to ensure the citizens of Gotham are safe once more, whilst the newly introduced side quests will be enough to keep players occupied.
On top of this, players will once more be on the lookout for the tricky Riddler trophies to unlock more of the Custom and Ranked challenge maps available from the main menu.
Of course, Batman: Arkham City also comes fully loaded with all the previously released DLC which adds a wealth of new content to the game. This includes a bunch of Catwoman specific missions which see players take control of the mischievous kitty, as well as Harley Quinn’s Revenge which puts you into the shoes of the twisted former psychiatrist, to see the world through the darker eyes of the Joker’s psychotic girlfriend.
Overall, and the arrival of two of the greatest superhero games ever created was always certain to be an impressive addition to a great console library. Whilst those who have played through Batman’s adventures first time around may not have anything new to experience other than improved visuals, the amount of content on offer is certainly enough to keep players entertained, and with a price of just £40, this is certainly something to watch out for.