This is my game review for Batman: Arkham City as played on the Xbox 360!

  • (4 points)A brief description of the game. You may include images or even video clips to help give readers a better idea of the game.
    • Batman: Arkham City (BAC) starts off where Batman: Arkham Asylum left off. This fact does not mean you need to play the original (like me) because the game is still a stand alone. The beginning of the game is a long cut scene showing that Arkham Asylum is now a city - specifically the slums of Gotham have been walled off with security watching over as the criminals of Arkham run free around this section of the Gotham City. Bruce Wayne (alter ego of Batman for those unfamiliar) gives a press conference about Arkham City and it's potential hazards to Gotham. During this press conference Bruce is knocked unconscious and taken captive by the minions of a rogue doctor of Arkham, Hugo Strange, and held as a prisoner of Arkham City. You wake up only to be trapped inside the Asylum walls. Led by guards through the processing line, you are left with 2 other inmates. Soon you see a door open up where your only option is to proceed forward, into the city. Immediately you must fight off 4 inmates as you are handcuffed. no problem for the Batman. Shortly thereafter the Penguin appears and knocks you unconscious...again. After Penguin wakes you up, defending yourself from his and his 4 goons' attacks are important. Once defeated, you are prompted to get to higher ground.

    • From here you are on your own to get to your Batgear that Alfred has dropped off for you. Once you make your way to the Batsuit, you have pretty much taken down the first level. After this, the game proceeds through the story of Batman trying to discover what Protocol 10 is and why it is important to Dr. Strange. He is warmly greeted by all of Arkham's finest: Two Face, Catwoman, Penguin, Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Dr. Freeze, Clayface, Killer Croc, Riddler, Bane, Calendar Man, Victor Zsasz, Ra's Al Ghul, and Talia Al Ghul, not to mention his regular allies Commissioner Gordon, Oracle (formerly Batgirl and daughter of Commissioner Gordon), Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson, 1st Robin), and Alfred Pennyworth.
  • (5 points) The kinds of learning involved (i.e. What specifically did you learn from playing the game?). Think about the game tasks, objectives, terminology, etc. What skills did you need to learn to be successful at the game?
The game was very good at teaching me how to play, even when I wasn't aware of it. In the opening sequence I have to escape my shackles and it prompts me to move my body with the LS, left stick. This let's me know I move with the left and look with the right. When I attempt to retrieve my gear, the game shows me what buttons to press to attack and defend myself to get to the gear. It even prompts me what button to press when I get to a ledge in order to jump across to the other side. It continues doing this until I get my Batsuit! After this, the game teaches me Batman related terminology and then how to use my gear. When jumping off a building I can either press X to glide with my cape or RB, right bumper, to use my Batgrapple to latch onto buildings and fly up to the grapple point. As the easy to navigate map shows me where to go, I am able to try new techniques for getting around Arkham City. The game continues helping me with special icons telling me where to go or what buttons to press during a fight to use different Bat-items until I have mastered all the different tasks. This lasts at least half way through the game so there is plenty of time for practice before being set off on my own. Though there are Batman specific characters and items, there is need for a basic understanding of these things to be successful. My wife tried it out and all she knows is who Bruce Wayne/Batman is. She did just fine and learned exactly what to do easily. After learning how to do things, there was a steep learning curve on timing for the blocks, counters, and attacks during a fight. I died a few times before figuring out how to combo a block, counter, and attack together to knock a guy out in one easy motion. Button mashing doesn't work, it takes actual strategy like a real life fight would.
  • (5 points) The kinds of teaching involved (i.e. How did the game teach you?). Think about the kinds of feedback, rewards, guidance, and information the game gave you, and how it paced and structured your learning. Which Principles of Learning did the game utilize?
There are a couple learning Principles in this game. The first is multiple routes. This isn't used the entire time because the game has a linear storyline. However, after briefly defeating Two-Face and stopping Joker's men, you are able to meet Bane if you so desire. He starts off the ability to do side quests such as finding more of his Venom in exchange for protection, getting rid of competing Venom products, and even doing other side quests for other Arkham City inhabitants or for yourself. These quests give more experience points used for leveling up and upgrading your Wayne Tech Bat-items! The second learning principle is Psychosocial Moratorium principle. At many times inline I thought it would be cool to be Batman, which it would. But in the game I am able to glide, be a martial arts master, and use really cool gadgets. In real life, I cannot use a cape to glide, I don't have access to these real gadgets, and most importantly, I am no martial arts master with infinite lives. Though I would like to have multiple lives, I can't just start off at a checkpoint and start over. There are very real aspects in the fight scenes, even bringing a knife to a gun fight, and at the end of the day I can turn it off and sleep happily even though I just died 3 times from jumping off a building or taking a gunshot wound. Being that this is a single player game, all things I do effect only me and there are no harmful mishaps to others. Because of a somewhat linear story, if I go off exploring, the game continues to repeat the instructions for what I'm supposed to do until I do them. This keeps me on track without forcing me to turn around. As to rewards system, it rewards me for using combos in fights to get more experience and better upgrades. This actually forces me to find fights to be in to get experience for leveling up even if I didn't want to. As the game progresses, the battles are tougher and require upgrades. Therefore I need to fight and get good at it early to be successful later.
  • (3 points)A brief description of the kinds (and quantity) of online sites, forums, wikis, etc. devoted to the game. What game activities (e.g. walk-thoughs/guides, databases, cheats, theorycrafting, modding, etc.) are most-commonly discussed?
    • As with all video games, there are video game sites dedicated to anything from a specific game to that of video gaming as a whole. Sites like IGN, Gamespot, and Joystiq all have sites dedicated to BAC. There are even wiki sites like Wikipedia and the Batman Wiki that delve into the world of BAC and gives the reader some background to the game, it's history, development, reception by gamers, etc. However, there is one site of interest that is dedicated to BAC - The Official Batman: Arkham City Community. This site has general game information, trailers, news, and a forum for players and enthusiasts to discuss more about this awesome game.
  • (3 points) Your overall reflections on playing the game.
This game was awesome. I'm a comic fan to say the least and Batman is near the top. The fact that I can also download my favorite Bat-family character, Nightwing, for playing was a huge plus. The graphics and score is really good and the timing of eerie music makes tense situations more tense. The way the game helps me in the beginning was very well thought out to help me gain the skills I need quickly to make the game more enjoyable. The way the fights are presented where it is 1 vs. 5 at least at a time means I have to make quick, critical thoughts about who my target is and if I should block, counter, strike, or a combo of those. I find this the most rewarding part of the game because thinking quick on my feet is a great skill and being a student of martial arts already, I find the experience invaluable for learning what a real life situation would look like and how to prioritize targets. All in all a fantastic game and I recommend it to any game fan, not just Batman fans. It is very easy to learn and fun around every dark corner!