(sharon) #1

during the campaign, Batman will
be pulled into a nightmare-esque
world in where you’re forced to guide
him between obstacles undetected.
From a character and mood-setting
standpoint, it nicely sees you swap
roles from predator to prey, however
it’s one of the few elements that feels
like it’s at odds with the otherwise
open-ended power fantasy that
Arkham Asylum excels at
giving you.
Also reinforcing this
fact is the end fight
with Joker, which
continues to feel forced.
It is, at least, somewhat
mitigated by the lasting
story repercussions that
Joker’s decision to inject
himself with the Titan formula
has in future games. And it does lead
in nicely to the second game featured
in this collection: Batman: Arkham City.
As far as sequels go, Arkham
City does everything expected of it:
expanding in scope while having the
confidence to set players loose within
a wider, more detailed world. Yet
again, though, it does so in a way that
pays homage to a Gotham City any DC
aficionado will recognise – albeit one
now painted in a drastically different
light, having had part of it retrofitted
into a super-prison designed to
contain the city’s nastiest bad guys

Batman has ever fought against.
It’s also never looked better than in
Batman: Return To Arkham.

Dark night
The first moments of
the 2012 sequel are
fantastic, attempting
(and almost succeeding)
to one-up Asylum’s
memorable intro
sequence by having
you enter Arkham City as
Bruce Wayne, rather than his
pointy-eared alter ego. In doing this,
Rocksteady allows us to see new
but weirdly familiar characters like
Penguin, Hugo Strange and others
through a different lens. It reaffirms
one of the elements I’ve grown to
appreciate most about Rocksteady’s
Arkham trilogy on this playthrough:
this is an interpretation of the Batman
mythos already steeped in history,
we’re just thrown into it.
It doesn’t take too long until Arkham
City puts you back in the cowl, tooling
you up with a suite of Bat-gadgets
with which to dispatch enemies

across a fully explorable portion of
Gotham City. The result is a Batman
simulator that doesn’t feel quite as
focused as its 2009 predecessor, but
is still a less jarring one to manage in
2019 where it’s now unusual to not
have your game be set in an open
world. Any frustration that would come
from having to travel greater distances
to reach objectives is offset by the
amazing ability to use your zip-wire
to accelerate past a ledge, shoot up
into the night sky and spread your
cape epically before falling into a
smooth glide.
Here, from above, you come to
properly appreciate the rendition
of Gotham Rocksteady has steadily
procured – and that’s something the
Batman: Return To Arkham collection
in general has allowed me to do in
revisiting both games. Arkham Asylum
may have forged a foundation that
every superhero game thereafter could
follow, but Arkham City wholeheartedly
cemented a new standard in such a
way that its effects can be felt in the
trilogy’s finale, and surely in whatever
Rocksteady cooks up next. Q

“The asylum’s interconnected

nature remains one of the game’s

strongest assets”


ABOVE Both games
benefit from
textures and
lighting on Xbox
One, with Arkham
Asylum itself
set-pieces with
Scarecrow remain
a cool idea,
despite the
forced stealth.

A fully remastered
package containing
the first two entries of
Rocksteady’s much-
beloved Batman series:
Arkham Asylum and
Arkham City.

More Xbox news at gamesradar.com/oxm THE OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE 097
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