Batman: Arkham City

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Batman: Arkham City
Batman Arkham City Game Cover.jpg
Developer(s) Rocksteady Studios
Publisher(s) Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Director(s) Sefton Hill
Writer(s)
Composer(s) Nick Arundel
Ron Fish
Series Batman: Arkham
Engine Unreal Engine 3
Platform(s)
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Optical disc, download

Batman: Arkham City is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it is the sequel to the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum and the second installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide for consoles, beginning in North America on October 18, 2011, with a Microsoft Windows version following on November 22.

Written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini with Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill, Arkham City is based on the franchise's long-running comic book mythos. In the game's main storyline, Batman is incarcerated in Arkham City, a massive new super-prison enclosing the decaying urban slums of fictional Gotham City. He must uncover the secret behind the sinister scheme, "Protocol 10", orchestrated by the facility's warden, Hugo Strange. The game's leading characters are predominantly voiced by actors from the DC Animated Universe, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as Batman and the Joker, respectively. The game is presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on Batman's combat and stealth abilities, detective skills, and gadgets that can be used in both combat and exploration. Arkham City expands Batman's arsenal of gadgets and combat attacks and offers a more open world structure, allowing the player to complete side missions away from the primary storyline.

The game received critical acclaim, particularly for its narrative, character and world designs, and Batman's combat and navigation abilities. It was tied for the highest-rated video game of 2011 according to review aggregator Metacritic, and was the recipient of several awards including: Game of the Year, Best Action Game, Best Action Adventure Game, Best Adventure Game, and Best Original Score from various media outlets. Arkham City was followed by several additional releases: a spin-off mobile game, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, on December 7, 2011; a Game of the Year edition containing all of the game's downloadable content on May 29, 2012; and Wii U and OS X versions in November and December 2012, respectively. A successor, Batman: Arkham Origins, was released in October 2013, and a narrative sequel, Batman: Arkham Knight, is scheduled to be released in 2015.

Gameplay[edit]

Batman defeats an enemy in a demonstration of Arkham City '​s "Freeflow" combat system.

Arkham City is an open world[12] action-adventure game that incorporates elements of stealth game tactics.[13] It is presented from the third-person perspective, showing the playable character on screen and allowing the camera to be freely rotated around them.[14][15] The Arkham City facility is open to the player from the beginning of the game, allowing them to freely travel anywhere within its boundaries.[12] The player can opt to move silently throughout the game, using a combination of gadgets and stealth moves to sneak up on enemies and incapacitate them. Batman can use his cape to glide around the city, diving downward and swooping upwards to extend his flight, and he can use the grapnel gun's retracting rope to attach to out-of-reach ledges.[16] As Batman, the player is able to use "Detective Vision", a visual mode that highlights elements of interest on-screen, such as character status, collectables, and clues; the mode is also used to perform forensic activities such as tracking the source of a sniper rifle round.[17][18] The player has access to an in-game criminal database which includes forensic puzzles, as well as a network for hacking communication frequencies.[16]

Using an improved version of the Freeflow combat system from Arkham Asylum, the player can now counter multiple blows simultaneously, catch hurled projectiles, attack aerially, and administer a succession of consecutive strikes. Many of Batman's gadgets can now be used in combat.[16] Enemies are armed with varying levels of armor and weapons; attacks from basic weapons like baseball bats and lead pipes inflict minor damage and can be countered, while guns deal significant damage. Certain enemies must be disarmed in specific ways before they can be neutralized in combat: enemies with stun batons can only be attacked from behind; enemies with shields require aerial attacks to disarm; and enemies wearing body armor must be stunned with rapid successive strikes before they can be harmed.[19][20] Larger enemies must be tackled with stuns and combo attacks, and can be manipulated to take out their allies.[21] Disputes between gangs allied to rival villains often spark turf wars, which complicate the player's ability to move about Arkham City.[16] Combat, among other actions, rewards the player with experience points that allow the player to periodically level Batman up and purchase upgrades for his Batsuit, gadgets, and combat and stealth skills. Each category contains approximately 15 different upgrades. For instance, an upgraded grapnel gun can be used to remotely disarm enemies, while a combat upgrade makes it easier to activate special attacks.[22][23]

Batman uses a Remote Electrical Charge against TYGER personnel. Batman: Arkham City features an emphasis on the skillful use of gadgetry when facing armed enemies.

Some gadgets obtained in Batman: Arkham Asylum are present at the start of Arkham City, while others become available during play.[24] Most of these have improved or new capabilities; for example, the Cryptographic Sequencer, used for hacking security consoles, can also monitor shortwave radio channels,[13] while the line launcher can now be deployed as a tightrope or alter direction during flight.[25] Other equipment returning from the first game include: a remote-controlled batarang; Explosive Gel that can now be detonated to knock down enemies in combat;[26] and the grapnel gun, which can now be used while gliding to facilitate transportation.[26][27] New equipment in Batman's arsenal include: smoke bombs that disorient opponents and assist with stealth tactics; a Remote Electric Charge (REC) gun that can stun enemies and temporarily power motors;[26] Freeze Blast grenades that encase targets in ice and can be used within water to create makeshift platforms;[24] and the Disruptor, which can remotely disable guns and explosive mines.[26]

The game has approximately 40 hours of gameplay, with the main campaign lasting 25 hours and side missions lasting 15 hours. The side missions, which can be attempted at any time,[28] feature prominent characters from the Batman universe.[29] One such character, the Riddler, provides 440 optional "Riddler challenges"[30] to solve. Most of these challenges consist of collecting trophies hidden throughout the city through the cunning use of gadgets to disable traps and barriers.[29][31] The player can mark Riddler trophies on the in-game map once found if they do not initially have the necessary equipment to complete the puzzle.[25][29][30] Additionally, the player can reveal the locations of Riddler trophies on the map by identifying the Riddler's henchmen with "Detective Vision" and interrogating them, which requires the player to save the henchmen for last in combat among a wave of enemies.[29][31] There are also environmental challenges which require the player to solve riddles by locating a specific item or location (which are rewarded with stories relating to the answer), and to locate question marks painted around the city, some of which can only be viewed in whole from certain vantage points.[22] After completing a select number of challenges, Batman must rescue a civilian hostage held in one of the Riddler's death traps.[25][32]

After completing the story mode on "normal" or "hard" difficulties, a "New Game Plus" mode is unlocked, enabling the player to replay the game with all of the gadgets, experience, and abilities that they have attained; enemies are tougher and the on-screen icon that warns players of imminent attacks is disabled.[33] Arkham City features a series of challenge maps separate from the game's story mode. The maps focus on the completion of specific goals, such as eliminating successive waves of enemies in combat, subduing patrolling enemies while employing stealth, or traveling to a specific location as efficiently as possible. The methods and variety of abilities used to achieve these goals earn an overall performance score that is ranked online against other players.[34][35]

Catwoman is another playable character available via the Catwoman campaign, which was initially downloadable content (DLC) on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles but was later included with the PC version and Game of the Year editions.[36][37][38] Catwoman's campaign features her own heist-focused storyline that intersects with the main story at specific points in the game. Her combat emphasizes agility and allows for the use of unique weapons such as clawed gauntlets, bolas, and her iconic whip.[39][40][41] A portion of the Riddler challenges are specific to Catwoman and can only be completed by her.[39] Batman's allies Robin[42] and Nightwing are also playable via optional DLC and feature their own combat abilities and gadgets.[43][44] Both characters are available in the challenge maps, while Robin has his own main story narrative.[43][45]

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Arkham City include a stereoscopic 3D (S3D) mode for 3D HDTVs and for 2D HDTVs via Inficolor 3D glasses, while the PC version supports Nvidia 3D Vision on compatible monitors.[46] It uses TriOviz for Games Technology, which is integrated with Unreal Engine 3.[46][47] The Wii U version uses the Wii U's touch screen controller to let the player manage Batman's equipment and upgrades, selectively detonate Explosive Gel placements, and view a map of the city. The Wii U version adds a Sonar mode which highlights points of interest nearby, and the Battle Armored Tech Mode (BAT Mode) that allows Batman to accrue energy during combat and, when activated, inflict increased damage.[8]

Synopsis[edit]

Characters[edit]

Actor Mark Hamill was reluctant to return for the sequel, wanting to leave the Joker role on a "high note", but relented after learning of the involvement of Paul Dini and Kevin Conroy.[48]

Arkham City features a large ensemble cast of characters from the history of Batman comics. Returning characters from Arkham Asylum include Batman (Kevin Conroy),[49] the Joker (Mark Hamill)—in what Hamill stated would be his final time voicing the character[50]—Warden-turned-Mayor Quincy Sharp (Tom Kane), police Commissioner James Gordon (David Kaye),[51] and reporter Jack Ryder (James Horan).[52] Returning villains include the Riddler (Wally Wingert),[53] Victor Zsasz (Danny Jacobs),[43][52] Bane (Fred Tatasciore),[54][55] and Poison Ivy (Tasia Valenza)[55][56] Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn also returns, voiced by Tara Strong, who replaces Arleen Sorkin.[52] Batman's supporting cast introduces Catwoman (Grey DeLisle),[57] Robin (Troy Baker),[42][58] and Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth (Martin Jarvis),[51] who provides radio support alongside the returning Oracle (Kimberly Brooks).[51] Nightwing appears as a playable character outside of the main story via challenge maps.[59]

Other characters marking their debut in the series include the manipulative warden of Arkham City, Hugo Strange (Corey Burton),[60] Two-Face (also voiced by Baker),[58] and the Penguin (Nolan North).[61] Stana Katic lends her voice as Talia al Ghul,[62] while Maurice LaMarche voices both Mr. Freeze[63] and Calendar Man.[51] Other characters include the undead zombie Solomon Grundy (also voiced by Tatasciore), the shapeshifter Clayface (Rick D. Wasserman), the League of Assassins's leader, Ra's al Ghul (Dee Bradley Baker),[51] the mind-controlling Mad Hatter (Peter MacNicol),[51][64] and the assassin Deadshot (Chris Cox), who has infiltrated Arkham City to kill several high-profile character targets.[51][65] The villain Hush (also voiced by Conroy),[51] the mysterious Azrael (Khary Payton),[51] and reporter Vicki Vale (also voiced by DeLisle).[66][67] Black Mask (also voiced by North),[68] Killer Croc (Steven Blum),[55] and Freeze's wife, Nora Fries, make cameo appearances in the game.[69][70]

Setting[edit]

For more details on the setting, see Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City (comic book).

The events of Arkham City are set one year after Batman: Arkham Asylum.[71] Quincy Sharp, the asylum's erstwhile director, has taken sole credit for halting the Joker's armed siege, using this distinction to become mayor of Gotham City. Declaring both the asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary no longer suitable to contain the city's detainees, Sharp's administration orders both facilities closed and he purchases Gotham's most notorious slums, converting them into an immense prison enclosure known as Arkham City. This facility is subsequently placed in the care of psychiatrist Hugo Strange—who is secretly manipulating Sharp—and monitored by a rogue private military firm, TYGER Security.[72] Strange permits inmates to do as they please, provided escape is not attempted. A wary Batman maintains his own vigil over the new project, concerned that the chaotic situation there will get out of hand.[16] Meanwhile, the Joker is suffering from a potentially fatal disease caused by his previous consumption of the Titan formula, an unstable steroid serum which turns men into maddened monsters.[72][73]

Plot[edit]

At a press conference held by Bruce Wayne to declare his opposition to Arkham City, TYGER mercenaries arrest and imprison him in Arkham City. Hugo Strange discloses his knowledge of Wayne's dual identity as Batman before releasing him into the prison's criminal populace.[74][75] While Strange prepares to commence "Protocol 10", Wayne obtains his equipment via airdrop from Alfred Pennyworth, allowing him to become Batman. He first saves Catwoman from being executed by Two-Face, who hopes to gain respect by murdering her.[17] After Joker attempts to assassinate Catwoman, Batman tracks him to his hideout in the Sionis Steelmill, believing Joker may know the truth behind Protocol 10.[18][76]

There, Batman learns that the unstable properties of the Titan formula are mutating in Joker's blood, gradually killing him. Joker captures Batman and performs a blood transfusion on him, infecting him with the same fatal disease.[76][77] Joker also reveals that Gotham hospitals have been poisoned with his infected blood. Desperate to save himself and innocent citizens, Batman seeks out Mr. Freeze, who had been developing a cure but has since been kidnapped by the Penguin.[21][78]

Tracking Penguin to the Cyrus Pinkney National History Institute, Batman defeats his forces, his imprisoned monster Solomon Grundy, and ultimately the Penguin himself, before liberating Mr. Freeze.[21][79] Freeze tells Batman that he has already developed the cure, but its instability renders it useless. Batman deduces that the restorative properties of Ra's al Ghul's blood can complete the cure. Batman tracks one of Ra's al Ghul's assassins to his underground lair, leading Batman into a confrontation with Ra's and his daughter Talia, Batman's former lover.[78][79] With Ra's al Ghul's blood, Freeze is able to develop an antidote, but it is stolen by Harley Quinn before Batman can use it.[80]

When he returns to the Joker, Batman finds him restored to health. While the two fight, Strange activates Protocol 10, which is revealed to be a scheme to wipe out the entire population of Arkham City and destroy the criminal element of Gotham. The TYGER troops begin mass executions, while Strange launches missile strikes from his base in Wonder Tower. A missile hits the steelmill, burying Batman under rubble. Before Joker can take advantage of the situation, Talia arrives and offers him immortality in exchange for sparing Batman's life. After escaping with the help of Catwoman, Batman is convinced by Alfred to end Protocol 10 before pursuing Talia and Joker.[81]

Batman infiltrates Wonder Tower and disables Protocol 10. Ra's al Ghul is revealed to be the true mastermind behind Arkham City and mortally wounds Strange for failing to defeat Batman.[81] With his dying breath, Strange activates "Protocol 11", the self-destruction of Wonder Tower. Batman and Ra's escape, but Ra's commits suicide rather than risk capture. Joker contacts Batman, threatening to kill Talia unless Batman meets him at the Monarch Theater. Once Batman arrives, Joker demands the cure but is stabbed and apparently killed by Talia while distracted. While Talia admits to stealing the cure from Quinn,[82] she is killed by a second Joker, still stricken with the disease.[81][83] The healthy Joker that Talia stabbed then reanimates into the shapeshifting Clayface, who is revealed to have been masquerading as a healthy Joker at the ailing villain's request.[84]

Batman incapacitates Clayface, but Joker blows up the theater floor, sending Batman plummeting into Ra's' lair below. Batman destroys Ra's' rejuvenating Lazarus Pit before the Joker can use it, and drinks a portion of the antidote. Batman debates curing his foe, but before he can act, Joker attacks Batman and inadvertently smashes the antidote vial. Batman admits that in spite of everything Joker had done, he would have saved him. After Joker finally succumbs to his illness and dies, Batman carries his body out of Arkham City. As Commissioner Gordon asks what happened, Batman places Joker's body on the hood of a police car and leaves in silence.[73][83]

Development[edit]

Concept[edit]

Veteran Batman comic book writer Paul Dini, pictured in 2007. After writing Arkham Asylum, Dini reprised his duties for Arkham City.

Rocksteady conceived an idea for a sequel before development of Arkham Asylum had concluded, developing ideas for both the story and setting so the games' narratives could be effectively connected; a secret room was hidden in the asylum warden's office in Arkham Asylum containing hints of how the sequel would progress, including blueprints for the Arkham City prison;[85][86] the blueprints are quite similar to its final layout in Arkham City.[43] The original idea was to take the game out of the asylum setting and onto the streets of Gotham City while retaining the level of design detail put into the asylum. To that end they wanted to include locations from the Batman mythos that were notable and meaningful to the character, instead of a series of generic streets; Rocksteady was initially unsure how technical considerations would limit the scope of this idea.[43]

Serious development of the game's story and concept started in February 2009, as teams were moved from Arkham Asylum to Arkham City '​s development as they completed the work on that game.[87] By the time they had programmed Batman to dive and glide between buildings of the asylum, the adaption of the gameplay to the city was considered natural.[86] Rocksteady decided to not include the Batmobile, because it would be unable to travel on the city's broken terrain, Batman's gliding provided a sufficient means of transportation, and it was considered that putting Batman in any vehicle would make it a completely different game.[43] Sefton Hill, Arkham City '​s director from Rocksteady Studios, stated that a key goal for the game was to deliver the "'Batman in Gotham' feeling."[86] The sequel was described by Conroy as "really, really dark". While relating the game's dark nature to the animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Conroy also said, "It involves a lot of the villains and it goes to that area – it's that dark."[49]

Design[edit]

As part of the "Batman in Gotham" design philosophy, Batman's arsenal of moves and actions were expanded. Although the team developed several ideas for new moves, gadgets and abilities, they only went forward with those that they felt would be authentic to Batman.[86] They also chose to have Batman start the game with access to the gadgets unlocked in Arkham Asylum, to convey the impression that Batman is fully prepared for the inevitability of things going wrong in Arkham City.[43] The studio reviewed the play and combat systems used in Arkham Asylum, and built the new moves as natural extensions of the existing system as a means to "add even more depth and gameplay instead of changing them fundamentally".[86] The number of animations were doubled to reflect the larger arsenal of moves at the player's disposal.[86] The X-ray-like "Detective Vision" mode used to highlight certain objects in-game was redeveloped for Arkham City because it was considered to be too useful in Arkham Asylum, resulting in some players using it throughout almost the entire game; the visual effect also obscured the game's design aesthetic.[88] One idea was to introduce a time limit on its use, but it was considered that Batman "wouldn't make a gadget like that".[89] Instead, the mode was designed to be difficult to use in certain situations such as obscuring navigational information, and combat where enemy strikes will blur the screen when "Detective Vision" is active.[76][90] Rocksteady art director David Hego described the new "Detective Vision" as an "augmented reality mode".[88]

Another way the developers wished to enhance the player's Batman experience was through the larger game world. Arkham City has a virtual footprint five times larger than that of Arkham Asylum, and the navigational aspects were improved to offer the player "the freedom and exhilaration of gliding down alleyways and soaring above the skyline".[86] Though the concepts were compared to an open world game, Hill notes that such freeform nature would not be appropriate for a Batman game because it would inhibit the atmosphere they wanted to create, and that Arkham City was designed to challenge the player to think like Batman to survive.[86] To counterbalance the larger game world, the developers also sought to include more challenges and side missions while keeping the player alert as to the primary mission, such that the players constantly are aware of "extreme pressure of the challenges that they face".[86] The Riddler Trophies were designed towards the end of the game's development and were incorporated into every area of the map without overpopulating it, resulting in 440 trophies. Rocksteady aimed to make the player think creatively when collecting trophies by requiring the use of gadgets to solve puzzles, rather than placing the trophies in obscure areas of the map as mere collection items.[30]

With the open game world, Rocksteady included more villains to create challenges for Batman. Hugo Strange was selected as a primary antagonist, as his power and controlling manner help maintain the lockdown on Arkham City once Batman enters. Strange is aware of Batman's true identity, making Batman "vulnerable and exposed in a way that he has never been before", according to Hill. He noted that Strange is a character new to many players but that his backstory and character are detailed throughout the game.[87] Catwoman was also included based on her long history with Batman, though she was given her own agenda running parallel to the events within Arkham City.[91] Catwoman's missions initially ended with her coming to Batman's aide, but late in development, the developers decided to give the player an alternate choice, allowing them to have the morally-grey Catwoman leave the city with her loot; the addition was implemented in two days.[92] Batman's sidekick Robin also appears, featuring a shaved head and contemporary costume design that were intended to move away from his traditional "Boy Wonder" image. Senior concept artist Kan Muftic explained: "Our vision of Robin is the one of a troubled young individual that is calm and introverted at times, but very dangerous and aggressive if provoked. The shaved head is inspired by cage fighters, because we thought that Robin might be doing that in his spare time to keep him on his toes. Still, we kept all the classic trademarks of Robin's appearance, such as the red and yellow colors of his outfit, the cape and the mask."[93] Rocksteady originally did not plan to include Robin in the main story but later decided to as an authentic means of delivering new gadgets to Batman, as well as to introduce their version of the character and his relationship with Batman.[30]

Rocksteady intended for Batman, Catwoman, and Robin to offer three different playing experiences.[43] Other villains from Batman's comic history were selected to show that the prison was a melting pot of people from Gotham. The developers believed that providing a small part of each villain's story rather than focusing on a select few allowed the player to meet many more characters and effectively conveyed the feeling of being in a superprison filled with supervillains.[30] Rocksteady decided early on that the Joker would die in the story, and developed the idea of him poisoning Batman with the same affliction, in order to show how the two diametrically opposed characters would interact in pursuit of a shared goal. Warner Bros. and Dini did not oppose killing off the character as long as it was not done for shock value, and as long as they made it clear that Batman was not at fault, since he would not intentionally kill someone.[92]

The developers had considered adding a multiplayer element to the game, but ultimately decided against it. According to Hill, "If we use all of the energy that is required to create multiplayer and instead focus this on the single player, would that deliver a better overall game?", and decided in the affirmative.[91]

Variety was added to the city itself, as certain areas were designed around the villains that control that particular territory. Dax Ginn, marketing game manager at Rocksteady Games, said, "If you move into Joker's territory, you get a very Joker-ized experience, and all the artwork on the buildings – whether that's graffiti, signage, or whatever it might be – gives you a dense kind of Joker experience. So our art team has really put a lot of effort in making that sort of transition between one turf zone to another – really helping the player feel like they're making a physical transition into another emotional space."[94] The architecture was imbued with 19th century Art Nouveau design, such as Strange's Wonder Tower which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, while characters designs employed a modern Hyperrealism style. To keep the environments interesting, base color schemes such as Mr Freeze's ice-themed area, Joker's fire-themed steel mill, and Poison Ivy's jungle-themed area were populated with contrasting elements: for example, the steel mill uses large, white clown faces to contrast the oranges and reds used throughout.[95] To develop the expanded environment of Arkham City and build a "natural urban environment" for Batman, Rocksteady expanded its workforce from 75 to over 100 people.[96]

Music[edit]

The game's release was accompanied by two albums of music released by WaterTower Music.[97][98] Batman: Arkham City – Original Video Game Score was released on October 18, 2011, and features 19 tracks written for the game by Arkham Asylum composers Nick Arundel and Ron Fish.[97] Batman: Arkham City – The Album was released on October 4, 2011, via CD and digital download. The album contains 11 original songs inspired by the game from mainstream artists including Daughtry, Panic! at the Disco, and Coheed and Cambria. An additional song was made available via the Collector's edition of the album,[98][99] and the Deluxe edition included a portion of Arundel's original score.[100]

Marketing[edit]

Arkham City '​s marketing campaign was designed to reach an audience outside of superhero fans and appeal to consumers who are attracted to games like the first-person shooter series Call of Duty. Warner Bros.' marketing team decided that Batman's status as a cultural icon and superhero was unavoidable, so they decided to emphasize other elements of the character that could appeal to fans of first-person shooters and action games. Black and white photographs of iconic personalities like inventor Steve Jobs and actor James Dean served as inspiration and a basis for the final marketing campaign used in advertisements and the game's cover art. The imagery, highlighted with blood and bathed in light was considered to move away from the classic superhero image and refocus on Batman's humanity. The black and white campaign was featured on 120 magazine covers and was targeted towards approximately 15 million consumers across a variety of social media and Warner Bros. products, in addition to a series of viral marketing videos and stunts involving actors in costume attending press-related events. By April 2012, three gameplay trailers had gained approximately 6 million views.[101] The viral segment of the campaign involved several audio recordings between characters from the game including Hugo Strange, Quincy Sharp, Riddler and the Penguin; each recording could be found by solving a puzzle.[102] The entire campaign spent over a year in development, producing artwork, videos, DLC, printed adverts, billboards and events, and was estimated to have cost at least $10 million.[101]

A six-issue, limited monthly comic series, also titled Batman: Arkham City was released on May 11, 2011. The series bridges the plot between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It was written by Paul Dini with art by Carlos D'Anda.[103][104] Warner Bros. also developed toys based on the characters through Mattel, Hallmark cards, batarang-shaped videogame controllers, and a variety of apparel by Converse, Eckō Complex, C Life, New Era, and Briefly Stated.[105]

Toys "R" Us in Times Square New York City, released 500 copies of Batman: Arkham City on Monday, October 17, one day before the game officially hit shelves. The first 100 customers to pre-order a copy through the store's "Personal Shopping Department" had a chance to get their game autographed by DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee, Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, and Arkham City game director Sefton Hill. The remaining 400 copies of Arkham City could be purchased at the event, unautographed.[106]

Release[edit]

Batman: Arkham City was released in North America on October 18, 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3,[2] followed on October 19 in Australia[2] and October 21 in Europe. Australian retailers EB Games and Game broke the official release date two days early, selling the game on October 17.[3] The Windows version had been scheduled for simultaneous release with other versions, but in September 2011, its release was pushed back to November 18 without explanation.[5][7] Alongside its PC launch, the game was also released digitally on the OnLive, Origin, and Steam platforms.[107] A Game of the Year edition was released on May 29, 2012 in the United States and Canada,[108] and on September 7, 2012 in Europe, Australia, and other territories on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360,[37] except the United Kingdom where its scheduled release was pushed back to November 2, 2012.[109]

A spin-off game titled Batman: Arkham City Lockdown was developed by NetherRealm Studios for iOS and was released on December 7, 2011.[110] Taking place before Arkham City, the game sees players using touchscreen controls to fight enemies one-on-one, including villains such as Two-Face, Solomon Grundy, Joker, and the mercenary Deathstroke. Defeating enemies earns points that can be used to upgrade Batman's stats or unlock gadgets or costumes.[110][111]

A Wii U version was released on November 18, 2012 alongside the console's launch in North America. Titled Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, the release contains all of the available content from previous releases, a Battle Armored Tech mode and other additions.[8] The Wii U version was developed by Warner Bros. Studios in Montreal and Burbank.[112] The Game of the Year edition was developed for OS X by Feral Interactive and released on December 13, 2012.[11]

Pre-order bonuses[edit]

Warner Bros. partnered with several retailers and companies globally to provide bonus content as a reward for pre-ordering, including: Best Buy, Amazon.com, GameStop, Game, Gamestation, EB Games, Tesco, and Asda.[113][114] The content was only made available by pre-ordering the game with a specific retailer or purchasing a product, such as a NOS beverage, to obtain an unlockable code.[115]

A variety of alternate outfits for Batman were revealed in August 2011, including suit designs worn by the character in The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Earth One, the Bronze Age of Comics, Batman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond.[116] The Batman: The Animated Series skin was initially only available to GameStop customers in the U.S. with a Power-Up Rewards Membership.[117] A PlayStation 3-exclusive Sinestro Corps outfit was revealed in August 2011 that initially was only unlockable via a unique code obtained by purchasing the extended cut edition of the Warner Bros. film, Green Lantern on Blu-ray Disc.[118][119]

Batman's sidekick Robin (Tim Drake)[42] was made available as a playable character for use in challenge maps, with his own set of combat moves and gadgets. Additional Robin skins were also released, including his appearance from Batman: The Animated Series and the Red Robin outfit.[120][121] The character came with two exclusive challenge maps: "Black Mask Hideout" and "Freight Train Escape".[42] Additionally, the "Joker's Carnival" challenge map was made available; it set within the Joker's Sionis Steel Mill base where the player is faced with multiple waves of opponents.[122] The pre-order content was considered an "early access opportunity" for customers,[123] with Ginn confirming that all of the content would be made available for download after the game's release date.[37][123] Pre-orders for Arkham City increased by over 200% over Arkham Asylum.[101]

Retail editions[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the Robin Edition was announced, available exclusively through retailers Game and Gamestation, containing the game and all of the Robin pre-order content including the playable character, skins and challenge maps.[124] A series of "Steelbook Edition" versions of the game were also made available, featuring the standard game with a metallic case. The Joker-themed Steelbook includes the "Joker's Carnival" challenge map, the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood on DVD (Blu-ray for PlayStation 3), and the Bronze Age Batman skin DLC.[125] Three other villain-themed steelbook cases were also offered, featuring the likenesses of Two-Face and the Penguin.[113] A fourth steelbook featuring Catwoman was released, containing the Batman: Earth One alternative skin for Batman.[126]

The Collector's Edition contains a Batman statue by Kotobukiya, a collectible art book, Batman: Arkham City – The Album from WaterTower Music, the animated film Batman: Gotham Knight, the The Dark Knight Returns skin and the Penguin-themed "Iceberg Lounge" challenge map.[127][128] In July 2011, the Microsoft Windows version of the game was revealed to use Games for Windows – Live (GFWL) to access online services.[129] Confusion concerning the use of GFWL was raised when a distributor was told by Warner Bros. that the title did not use the Live system, but the use of GFWL was confirmed in late August.[130][131]

On October 25, 2011, a Batman themed Xbox 360 console bundle was released, containing the game, a DVD of Batman: Gotham Knight, a DVD of the Green Lantern film, the Green Lantern video game tie-in Rise of the Manhunters, and a 250GB Xbox 360 console. Additionally, a bundle containing these items and a Kinect controller was also released.[132]

A Game of the Year edition was announced on April 23, 2012, containing the game and all of the released downloadable content (DLC). A free download of the animated movie Batman: Year One was also included with versions released in the United States and Canada.[37][108]

Downloadable content[edit]

Actress Tara Strong replaced Arleen Sorkin in Batman: Arkham City as the voice of Harley Quinn, and reprised the role for the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" downloadable content.

New purchases of the game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are provided with a unique code that unlocks the Catwoman DLC, enabling a series of missions for Catwoman, with unique weapons and moves.[38][133] Although the missions were presented as part of the main game, on October 13, 2011, Warner Bros. announced that it would be restricted to new purchases.[36][133] Users can also purchase the content separately. It was later announced that pre-owned copies purchased from GameStop would contain the necessary unlock code.[134] A Warner Bros. rep confirmed that playing as Catwoman would not be required to complete the game.[135] The Catwoman DLC also contains two alternate skins for the character: her appearances from The Animated Series and Batman: The Long Halloween.[136] The PC version of the game includes the DLC, requiring no downloads or additional installs to access.[38]

Additional DLC packs were later released. The Nightwing pack, released on November 1, 2011, includes Batman's ally Nightwing as a playable character for the game's challenge maps, an Animated Series alternative skin for the character,[44] and two additional challenge maps: "Wayne Manor" and "Main Hall".[137] The Robin pack was released on November 22, 2011, and contains the Robin pre-order content.[138] A Skins pack containing all of the alternate Batman pre-order skins was released on December 6, 2011.[139] Another pack was announced for release on December 20, 2011, containing the pre-order "Iceberg Lounge" and "Joker's Carnival" challenge maps, and a completely new challenge map: "Batcave".[140] On December 19, 2011, a new Batman skin was released—based on the character's outfit from Batman Incorporated—to download for free on all platforms.[141]

On October 23, 2011, an official map app was made available to purchase on the iOS App Store that contains maps for Arkham City, the locations of in-game collectibles, and the solutions to the Riddler's riddles.[142]

"Harley Quinn's Revenge", a story based campaign expansion, was released on May 29, 2012, for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, with a PC version coming out a week later. The campaign features a new story, new areas, new enemies, and both Batman and Robin as playable characters. The story takes place two weeks after the events of Arkham City. The mega prison has since been evacuated, but Quinn returns and sets up in Joker's former base.[45] The game follows Robin's search for Batman, who has gone missing while hunting Quinn;[37][45] Batman has been acting differently following the end of the main game story, concerning his allies.[143] On the same day, it was announced that all of the released DLC, including "Harley Quinn's Revenge", would be made available as part of the Arkham City Game of the Year edition.[37][108]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 96% (PS3)[144]
94% (X360)[145]
91% (PC)[146]
85% (WU)[147]
Metacritic 96/100 (PS3)[148]
94/100 (X360)[149]
91/100 (PC)[150]
85/100 (WU)[151]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A[152]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 10/10[153]
Eurogamer 9/10[154]
Game Informer 10/10[156]
GamePro 5/5 stars[159]
GameSpot 9/10[155]
IGN 9.5/10[157]
Official PlayStation Magazine (UK) 10/10[160]
Official Xbox Magazine 10/10[161]
X-Play 5/5 stars[158]
Joystiq 4.5/5 stars[162]

Batman: Arkham City received critical acclaim. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively, gave the PlayStation 3 version 96% and 96/100,[144][148] the Xbox 360 version 94% and 94/100,[145][149] and the PC version 90% and 91/100.[146][150]

Game Informer '​s Andrew Reiner awarded the game a perfect 10 score, labeling it "the best licensed video game ever made". Reiner said that the game could be the biggest and "most enjoyable timesink" of 2011, and concluded that the game surpassed every standard set by Batman: Arkham Asylum "in every way and stands tall as one of Batman's greatest moments."[156] Joystiq's Griffin McElroy praised the attention to detail, and mechanical excellence of the game environment, crediting Rocksteady for "breathing life into a staggeringly beautiful world; one which hums not only with opportunity, but ambition". However, McElroy criticized the game narrative as a series of excuses to encounter villains that were "one-dimensional punching [bags]", and that the character dialogue was clichéd. McElroy was also critical of the Riddler challenges, stating that they were "frustrating" when the player lacks the necessary items to complete them.[162]

Eurogamer's Christian Donlan considered that the game lacked the same "surprise" as its predecessor, but praised the overall improvement of bosses, animations and the scope of activities available. Donlan said that the game environment was intricate and very detailed, and the abilities provided for its traversal made it "hard not to feel like the world's greatest detective, on patrol".[154] IGN's Greg Miller said "the voice acting, the challenges, the amazing opening, the unbelievable ending and the feeling of being the Dark Knight—these are the things that standout". Miller said that the Catwoman missions were a fun change of pace from the main gameplay, and that he "adored" the option to replay the game with unlocked abilities and more difficult enemies.[157]

The Daily Telegraph '​s Tom Hoggins praised the game's sense of progress in discovering and mastering the character abilities, and the "show-stopping brutality" of the improved combat system. Hoggins highlighted the Catwoman campaign as a "delight" and fitting lithe contrast to Batman's strength, but lamented the campaign's short length.[27] The Guardian '​s Nick Cowen labeled it the best Batman game of all time, praising the variety of side missions and content, the large cast of iconic characters, and the satisfying challenge of the Riddler missions.[163] The Australian Official PlayStation Magazine awarded a perfect score of 10 stating that the game "is not only the best superhero game ever made, it's one of the best games ever made ... it brings the Caped Crusader's world to life better than any comic, movie or television show before it".[164] Play3 (Germany) awarded a score of 92%, calling it "the best superhero game ever made".[165] Games Master awarded a score of 97%, saying it is "the gold standard by which all future videogames should be judged".[166]

Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition for Wii U received a mixed reception. GameRankings provided a score of 85%, and Metacritic provided a score of 85/100.[147][151] Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter was critical of technical performance including issues with visual quality and inconsistent framerate.[167] EGM '​s Ray Carsillo said that the optional B.A.T. system made certain battles too easy. Carsillo also said it was the "clearly inferior version" of the game due to glitches and "tacked on gimmicks".[168] Nintendo World Report's Patrick Barnett wrote that certain uses of the Wii U controller made it "the best way to experience Arkham City", but that some new features were a "nuisance". Barnett added that it was "on par, if not better, visually", than its counterparts.[169] Joystiq's JC Fletcher opined that the persistent map screen and touch screen interface were appreciated, and complimented the use of augmented reality to explore crime scenes.[170] Game Revolution's Blake Peterson praised the real-time management of information, upgrades and equipment that he considered made Batman more vulnerable,[171] although Barnett included this as a point of criticism.[169]

For the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC, IGN's Greg Miller scored the content 9 out of 10 and gave it an Editor's Choice designation. Miller said that it "is what downloadable content should be", but criticized the lack of variety in the missions and the lack of conclusion to some plot threads.[143] Eurogamer's Christian Donlan gave the DLC a score of 7 out of 10, and said that Harley Quinn worked as well as the Joker as a narrative focus. Donlan said that Robin was "enormous fun to play", but criticized the DLC for not offering anything not present in the main game.[172] Kotaku's Stephen Totilo was critical of the DLC, saying that it diminished his desire to replay the main game and describing it as "delicious a dessert as a poison-filled Joker pie to the face". Totilo said it presented an emotionless, inconclusive journey, composed of unused material from the main game.[173]

Sales[edit]

Worldwide, the game sold two million units in its first week of approximately 4.6 million shipped units, compared to Arkham Asylum which sold 4.3 million units in its entire release. This made Arkham City one of the fastest selling games ever.[174] On February 8, 2012, it was announced that over six million units of the game had been shipped since release.[175]

During the first week of sales in the United Kingdom, Batman: Arkham City became the number one selling game on all available formats, topping the all-format,[176] PlayStation 3[177] and Xbox 360 charts,[178] replacing FIFA 12. It became the fourth biggest launch of 2011 after FIFA 12, Gears of War 3 and L.A. Noire, and Warner Bros. biggest UK game launch ever, doubling the first week sales of Arkham Asylum.[179] It was the tenth-best-selling game of 2011 with approximately ten weeks in release, and the 34th-best-selling game of 2012.[180][181]

According to NPD Group, Batman: Arkham City was the second-best-selling game in the United States for October 2011, selling 1.5 million copies across available formats, the tenth-best-selling in November,[182][183] and the seventh-best-selling game overall in 2011.[175] Additionally, game-rental service GameFly announced that it was the most requested game of 2011, beating out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.[175]

Accolades[edit]

Batman: Arkham City won multiple awards at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards including: Character of the Year (Joker), Best Xbox 360 Game, Best Action Adventure Game, and Best Adapted Video Game; and received nominations for: Best Original Score, Best Graphics, Best Performance by a Human Female (Tara Strong), Best Performance by a Human Male (Mark Hamill), Trailer of the Year (Hugo Strange Reveal Trailer), Studio of the Year (Rocksteady), and Game of the Year.[184][185] As part of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) 2011 awards, the game was named Adventure Game of the Year,[186] and received nominations for: Outstanding Achievement in Animation; Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction; Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering; Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction; and Game of the Year.[187][188] The 2012 British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) awards saw the game win two awards for Performer (Mark Hamill) and Action game,[189] and receive nominations for: Artistic Achievement; Audio Achievement; Best Game; Design; Original Music; Story; and the publicly voted GAME Award of 2011.[190] Paul Crocker, Paul Dini, and Sefton Hill were nominated for the Video Game Writing award by the Writers Guild of America,[191][192] and Crocker won the Best Videogame Script award from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.[193]

The Daily Telegraph awarded the game Best Original Score (Nick Arundel) and Game of the Year, with a statement that said: "as a video game, it's a magnificent piece of work, but it also shines as a unique, lovingly-crafted slice of Batman fiction."[194] The newspaper also nominated the game for: Best Director (Sefton Hill); Best Acting Performance (Mark Hamill and Nolan North); and Best Developer (Rocksteady Studios).[194] The game was nominated for Game of the Year and Best Game Design at the Game Developers Choice Awards,[175] and Game Audio Network Guild award's for Music of the Year, Best Soundtrack Album, Best Audio Mix, and Best Original Vocal – Choral for the track "Main Theme".[195] The game was named the Best Action/Adventure Game and Best Overall Game of 2011 as part of the 2011 Yahoo! Games Game of the Year awards.[196][197] Batman: Arkham City received several honors from GameTrailers.com, including Best Xbox 360 Game of the Year, Best PC Game of 2011, as well as Best Action/Adventure game.[198] It also won the Best Action-Adventure Game award at the 2012 Golden Joystick Awards, and was nominated for Top Gaming Moment for the game's ending, Best DLC for "Harley Quinn's Revenge", and the overall Ultimate Game of the Year.[199][200] It was nominated for Game of the Decade at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.[201]

According to Metacritic, the PlayStation 3 version of the game was the highest-rated game of 2011, and over all formats the game was tied with the role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as the highest-rated game of 2011.[202] This also tied Arkham City for the sixth-highest-rated game ever.[203]

Batman: Arkham City appeared on several lists of the top video games of 2011, including being placed: number 1 by E! Online,[204][205] and CNET;[206] number 2 by Gamasutra;[207] number 3 by Digital Spy,[208] Joystiq,[209] VentureBeat,[210] and Wired;[211] number 5 by the Associated Press,[212] and Time;[213] and number 10 by the Daily Mirror.[214]

GameSpot labeled it the Best Action/Adventure Game as part of its Best of 2011 series,[215] Game Informer named it their Best Action/Adventure game of 2011 in their February 2012 issue, and highlighted specific points of the game including placing Batman number 1 on their list of the Top Ten Heroes, and the Mr. Freeze boss fight number 4 on their list of Top Ten Video Games Moments.[216] Playstation Official Magazine UK placed Batman: Arkham City as their number 2 Game Of the Year.[217] IGN labeled it the Best PC Action Game of 2011.[218] 1UP.com placed the games main theme song as number 6 on its "Top 10 Theme Songs of 2011".[219] In January 2012, Eurogamer listed it as the third best game of 2012.[220] In November 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time and said, "It's hard to imagine a better superhero game than Batman: Arkham City. It's also hard to imagine a better video game in general."[221] Also in November, Entertainment Weekly named it one of the ten best games of the past decade (2002–2012) and said, "this is the definitive superhero adventure of the decade."[222][223] In 2013, Game Informer named it the best superhero game of all time.[224] In 2014, Empire placed it as number 12 on its list of the 100 Greatest Video Games of All Time, ahead of Arkham Asylum at number 28,[225] and IGN named it the twenty-fourth best PC game of the preceding decade.[226]

List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2011 Spike Video Game Awards Best Action Adventure Game Batman: Arkham City Won [184]
[185]
Best Adapted Video Game Batman: Arkham City Won
Best Graphics Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Best Original Score Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Best Performance by a Human Female Tara Strong (for Harley Quinn) Nominated
Best Performance by a Human Male Mark Hamill (for Joker) Nominated
Studio of the Year Rocksteady Studios Nominated
Best Xbox 360 Game Batman: Arkham City Won
Character of the Year Joker Won
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Trailer of the Year Hugo Strange Reveal Trailer Nominated
Telegraph Video Game Awards 2011 Best Acting Performance Mark Hamill (for Joker) and Nolan North (for Penguin) Nominated [194]
Best Developer Rocksteady Studios Nominated
Best Director Sefton Hill Nominated
Best Original Score Nick Arundel Won
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Won
2012 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Adventure Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Won [187]
[188]
[186]
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Animation Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Writers Guild of America Video Game Writing Paul Crocker (Lead Narrative Designer); Paul Dini, Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill (Story) Nominated [191]
[192]
Game Developers Choice Awards Best Game Design Batman: Arkham City Nominated [175]
Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Game Audio Network Guild Best Audio Mix Batman: Arkham City Nominated [195]
Best Original Vocal – Choral "Main Theme" Nominated
Best Soundtrack Album Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Music of the Year Batman: Arkham City Nominated
British Academy of Film and Television Action game Batman: Arkham City Won [190]
[189]
Artistic Achievement Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Audio Achievement Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Best Game Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Design Batman: Arkham City Nominated
GAME Award of 2011 Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Original Music Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Performer Mark Hamill (for Joker) Won
Story Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Golden Joystick Award Best Action-Adventure Batman: Arkham City Won [199]
[200]
Best DLC Batman: Arkham City for "Harley Quinn's Revenge" (Third Place) Nominated
The Golden Joystick Ultimate Game of the Year Batman: Arkham City Nominated
Top Gaming Moment Batman: Arkham City for The Ending Nominated
Spike Video Game Awards Game of the Decade Batman: Arkham City Nominated [201]
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Best Videogame Script Paul Crocker Won [193]

Technical issues[edit]

During launch week, issues were found to exist in the code-restricted content. Some customers discovered the code to be missing from their copy, preventing them from obtaining the Catwoman story missions. The problem was reported by customers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Warner Bros. issued a statement claiming that the missing codes had affected less than 0.5% of customers.[227] Upon release in the United Kingdom, a technical issue rendered the game unplayable for some players, booting them from the game with an error message that the "downloadable content is corrupt." Rocksteady European community manager Sarah Wellock claimed that the fault lay with the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live online systems.[228]

In early November 2011, Rocksteady confirmed that it was investigating reports by numerous users that save files for the Xbox 360 version of the game were being erased without prompting, resulting in players losing their progress and being unable to complete the game.[229][230] On launch, performance issues arose for the PC version when DirectX 11 features were enabled; the developer acknowledged the inconvenience and recommended to run the game with DirectX 9 while a title update was released to address this matter.[231][232]

Legacy[edit]

Batman: Arkham Origins, the successor to Arkham City, was announced in April 2013. The game is developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U, and was released on October 25, 2013. Set several years before the events of Arkham Asylum, Arkham Origins follows a younger and less experienced Batman on Christmas Eve on the streets of Gotham City as he faces off against eight deadly assassins. A separate title, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, was developed for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita by Armature Studios, and was released on the same day.[233][234] Dini stated that he would not be involved in writing a sequel. He had not been included in writing for any of Arkham City '​s DLC, including the story-based "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC, and said that Warner Bros. and Rocksteady suggested that he take work elsewhere if offered.[235]

Batman: Arkham Knight, the successor to Arkham Origins, was announced in March 2014. Developed by Rocksteady for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows, the game is scheduled for release in 2015. Arkham Knight is set one year after the events of Arkham City and serves as the concluding chapter of the Rocksteady Arkham games.[236][237]

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