Become the Caped Crusader again!

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Batman: Arkham City

By Warner Bros. Entertainment, Rocksteady Studios

Genre: Free-roaming, third-person action-adventure

Rating: Teen for Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence

Two years ago around this time, Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, and chronicled the Caped Crusader’s struggle against the Joker, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow and others on the dangerous island filled with psychotic criminals.

Not long afterward in our tale, the Warden of Arkham, Quincy Sharp, took full credit for Batman’s prevention of Joker’s insidious plot against Gotham City, and gained much influence in his campaign for Mayor. When he was elected, he ordered a large section of northern Gotham to be walled off and turned into the stand-in for the Asylum and also Blackgate Prison, which had been gutted by fire before the first game.

It’s into this dark, deadly and dystopian world that Bruce Wayne is suddenly thrust; using the power granted him by Sharp, Dr. Hugo Strange, hand-picked administrator of Arkham City, has Wayne abducted and tossed in among the various factions of criminals who’ve taken over the streets of the city. They are ALL gunning for the winged avenger and would absolutely love to take a piece of him.

The Joker and Harley Quinn are back, along with plump, contemptible aristocrat the Penguin; schizophrenic and scorned ex-District Attorney Two-Face; friendless and frigid scientist Mister Freeze, and many others; they all have their plans for Arkham, and for the Batman; meanwhile, Dr. Strange keeps droning through the City’s emplaced PA system, ostensibly keeping the hardened criminals in line, but never really having control.

You have a much, much wider range of action and exploration than in the first game; while the first did have backtracking and new things to find, compared to this sequel, the first is positively linear! From finding new and devious riddles set by the Riddler (who actually makes a physical (well, sort of) appearance this time!), to locating symbols placed on the rooftops by a mysterious watcher, to helping muscle-bound Latin American bruiser Bane destroy deposits of the performance-enhancing yet deadly Titan serum which figured into the plot of the first game, you’ll never want for things to do in the expansive Arkham City.

The northern reaches of Gotham City are also where various landmarks familiar to Batman aficionados reside: visit Crime Alley and pay your respects to Bruce’s fallen parents, whose murder fueled his transformation into the Dark Knight; knock on the door of the Iceberg Lounge where the corpulent Penguin relaxes after a long day of crime; infiltrate the Sionis Industries Steel Mill, owned by the villainous Black Mask, Roman Sionis; and try not to get shot by TYGER mercenaries guarding the restricted zone of the City in the process.

If you want a wonderful, lengthy and fulfilling idea of what it’s like to be the savior of Gotham City, pop this into your computer or console and get ready to lose yourself in Arkham! Five out of five!