Conventional wisdom dictates that all video games coming from pre-existing pop-culture franchises must suck the suck of a thousand sucks. This rule was cemented into place with 1982’s “E.T.” for the Atari 2600 and held for decades. In 2009, however, a costumed crimefighter with a gravely voice tried his hand at digital entertainment. The result was the critical and commercial hit “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” Now, Bruce Wayne is back to prove that there is room in gaming for familiar faces.
To players of the first one simply wondering if it rules: Don’t worry. It rules. To everyone else wondering what all the fuss is about, “Batman: Arkham City” is a stellar action/adventure game that takes the exploration element of Nintendo’s “Zelda” and “Metroid” titles and molds it over the Batman license. It is that, though, and so much more.
Batman’s arsenal of moves has multiplied, and you’ll likely never tire of taking out Gotham City’s many petty thugs. The map offers an entire city to explore, which boasts hundreds of secret items to find.
The game is, of course, filled to the brim with memorable villains. Just about every notable bad guy makes an appearance here. If there’s any one complaint that can be volleyed against “Arkham City,” it’s that some of these classic baddies aren’t given enough narrative thrust. But if that’s the major complaint, you know this is a great game.