Batman: Arkham City

When Rocksteady released Batman Arkham Asylum, the gaming world was taken by storm mainly because the game was unlike any other ‘comic book’ port that people had seen before. Most games that had been adapted from comic book heroes were just abysmal. They were lacking in any serious gameplay and seemed more like an afterthought by a group of executives at Marvel who wanted to squeeze… every last dollar out of their ‘characters’. This time, things were different. Arkham Asylum became instantaneously popular with Batman fans and others due to the masterful creation that Rocksteady had put forth. Yet, there was always room for improvement. Meet Batman Arkham City, the long awaited sequel to one of the best ‘comic-book’ adaptations ever. This time, Rocksteady had really outdone themselves. Whether you look at the graphics, gameplay mechanics, extra content, or dare we say even the storyline, Arkham City was head and shoulders (not the shampoo!) above the rest of the pack. This was a game to be relished by any gamer out there; from the most casual “Farmvillian” to the most hardcore gamer, Arkham City is a game that is FTW for everyone! As always, we at Thirty Inch Reviews unabashedly admit that the game is best played on the PC; especially on systems that have some serious hardware to take advantage of some of the most awesome features of the game.





Batman Arkham City, or BAC for short, is a singleplayer game through and through. Although some people, including us at Thirty Inch Reviews, felt that a multiplayer component would have added some spice to the game, the singlepalyer campaign in no way leaves anything to be desired. It really is that good of a game!

The story picks up eighteen months after the events of Arkham Asylum. With its huge cast of characters spanning several decades of Batman comics, Arkham City is truly a unique experience that puts you, the gamer, in the driver’s seat. Taking the reigns of one of the most vaunted crime-fighting, ass-kicking superheroes of all time, you get to, quite literally, fly around Arkham City like there’s no tomorrow. Rocksteady’s use of Unreal Engine 3 is the “stuff” under the hood; it’s multifarious capabilities allow the gamer to have a rich, exciting, and at times, riveting experience while showcasing some of the most impressive graphical technologies to date. The player gets to control Batman for much of the game but there are some incredible moments where you get to ‘handle’ Catwoman, who is generally much quicker than the burly Batman. With a wide assortment of special moves that can be unlocked to the sometimes annoying-to-get Riddler trophies. Batman Arkham City is an adventure that is not to be missed by any gamer with more than sawdust in his skull!


One of the best attributes of the game is the combat system. While flying around the rooftops of Arkham City is exhilarating at first, the real excitement is the brawl between you and five or more thugs dispatched by the nefarious characters of the city. A lot of bone-crunching moves, coupled with mid-range ‘batarangs’ and an assortment of other weapons, help you take down even the toughest of foes. The only thing that was missing in the game in the combat department is gore. Yes, yes, we know. Batman is a comic book hero. Yet, with the way Rocksteady has presented this game in such superb fashion, what’s the harm in adding a few gallons of red mist along with some compound fractures? Rating the game ‘T’ for “Teen” (13+) didn’t help in this regard.


The reception of the game on the PC was not as fanciful as the game itself. Although the game was scheduled to be released as a DX11 title, it eventually launched on November 22, 2011 on the PC to much anticipation fraught with issues regarding DX11 performance. The fans were not happy and demanded that Rocksteady fix this ‘mess’. Soon enough, Rocksteady did release a patch for the game using Games for Windows Live (GFWL), one of the most hated pieces of software on the planet. The patch assuaged most of the concerns gamers had about the performance issues that dogged the game. However, one of the most irksome ‘issues’ that many people had with Arkham City on the PC was the corruption of savegames. People who had spent tens of hours on the game found themselves at the start of the game because somehow, magically, the savegame disappeared and instead showed the dreaded “EMPTY” in the slot where the savegame was supposed to be! However, Rocksteady has redeemed itself by patching the game in March, 2012. Now, Games for Windows Live does not check the savegame to see if it’s connected to a particular user. This is great in many ways. First, you can now use someone else’s savegame! So, if you’re just starting your adventure in Arkham City and don’t have enough hours in the day to complete the game and complete all the challenges and obtain all the Ridder trophies, worry not! Just download an almost-complete savegame online (use discretion) and enjoy the game with everything unlocked! Anyhow, we at Thirty Inch Reviews suggest you first play through the game on your own and then, if you weren’t able to unlock everything, use someone else’s savegame.


With DLC that was offered by Rocksteady towards the end of 2011 enabled players to use Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing with several different costumes for Batman. If only we could play the main single-player campaign with these characters! Anyhow, the challenge maps give you plenty of opportunity to hone your combos and special moves and dare we say, some of them are slightly challenging! Check out some of these challenge maps in action in full nVidia Surround @ 8100×1600 below!



On a single 30″ monitor, Batman Arkham City is a fantastic looking game. Especially with the DX11 features such as MVSS, HBAO, and of course, tessellation! For those who are uninitiated in the jargon of awesomeness, a quickie for y’all. ‘MVSS’ is Multi-View Soft Shadows. Here’s a little excerpt on MVSS:

“The Multi-View Soft Shadows (MVSS) algorithm renders contact-hardening shadows by averaging hard shadows from multiple point lights evenly distributed on an area light. This is similar to accumulation-buffer rendering [Haeberli and Akeley 90], the main difference being that with MVSS the scene is rendered a single time from the eye’s point of view. First, the scene geometry is rasterized into multiple shadow maps with one shadow map per point light. Second, soft shadows are rendered by averaging the hard shadows from each shadow map in a pixel shader.-Louis Bavoil (nVidia)

So in layman terms, MVSS just makes the shadows look awesome! ‘HBAO’ stand for Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion. In games such as Batman Arkham City or Battlefield 3, HBAO makes a world of difference and is most definitely worth it if your system can handle it. With all these features turned on and the Anti-Aliasing set to 32xCSAA, Batman Arkham City is simply jaw-dropping. At 1600P, the game just is crystal clear, sharp, and incredibly beautiful. Flying around Arkham City as Batman is something we at least want to experience but since that is impossible in reality, the game provides a great alternative.


Although the game had several issues at launch, subsequent patches and fixes from Rocksteady have made Arkham City one of the best games of 2011. Until the next Batman games comes out, Arkham City is a must-play for every gaming fan. With the DLC packs released by Rocksteady, you are able to play as Robin and Nightwing, unlock additional costumes for Batman and Catwoman as well as several Challenge Maps where you can hone your combos and special moves.

For a sneak peek at the DLC content, watch this video of the Animated Nightwing take on the goons of Arkham City in the ‘Rooftop Rumble’ Challenge Map.




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