Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review – Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition (Wii U)

 “Cut the mask off his need to be gentle”

Although Batman Arkham City is a game that came out a while back for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Nintendo fans are finally getting their hands on it thanks to the Wii U. So how does the Wii U port stack up to the other ports? Does the GamePad add anything to the game? Find out below!

The story starts out with Bruce Wayne getting arrested and thrown into Arkham City, which is a sectioned-off portion of Gotham City. It's essentially a giant prison where criminals get to roam freely. It doesn't take long for many of the villains that Batman has locked away to catch wind that he has been thrown into Arkham City...and now they want revenge. In short, as you work your way around Arkham City and try to figure out its secrets, you will face off against many of Batman's greatest enemies.

The Wii U port is pretty much the same game that was released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 a while back. However, there are some differences. Most notably is the GamePad, which the other systems did not have. This actually adds to the game, and makes it more enjoyable overall. The GamePad acts as a full map that you are able to zoom in and out of, set way points, and even scan for Riddler's Trophies. Having a map displayed constantly without having it blocking the action on your TV is great. I love having the TV freed from all that clutter.

The GamePad can also be used as a sonar radar. This allows you to easily plan your attacks and go for the silent approach. On top of that, all of Batman's gadgets can be assigned to the GamePad. A quick tap on a weapon, and it is instantly equipped without having to break from the action. Some of his gadgets, like the remote controlled Batarang, can be controlled with the GamePad's gyroscope. This is a cool option, but it is worth pointing out that you can still control all of his gadgets traditionally with the control sticks.

Another cool feature the GamePad offers is the ability to check full character bios at any time. You can even use the GamePad to read full mission objectives and set all of your upgrades without ever having to bring up a menu on your TV. Of course, the game also offers full GamePad play, meaning that you can play the whole game on just the GamePad if you want. However, this does mean you miss out on other features, like having your map always displayed, setting weapons quickly with the touch screen, etc.

In the end, it was the “Environmental Audio” coming from the GamePad that I liked the most. While you're swinging around Arkham City, you can hear the conversations of nearby enemies playing right from the speakers on your GamePad. This is also used when you are listening to your scanner or talking to people on your intercom (like when you're talking to Alfred). The voices coming out of the speakers sound clear, and it gives you a true surround sound experience with your TV playing other sounds.

Another feature that is exclusive to the Wii U port is B.A.T. mode. In short, your suit is able to store the kinetic energy from your punches (or getting punched) and then release it to make you more powerful. The feature can come off feeling a bit cheap, but can be helpful in getting past some of the game's more “unfair” fights. That being said, you never have to use this mode if you don't want to. It can be activated by pressing on the left and right control sticks at the same time (when your B.A.T. meter is full of course). Catwoman's suit also has the same feature when you're playing her missions.

Now let's talk about graphics and sound. The voice acting in the game is incredible, and they do a great job pulling you into the story. In fact, the dialog between characters was one of my favorite things about the game. Graphically, the Wii U version looks a bit better than the other ports, with more lighting, textures, etc.

That being said, this does bring me to the my biggest complaint of the game, and that is the frame rate issues. Although it is not a huge problem, some slowdowns are noticed. In a developer's interview with Rocksteady, they said that this had nothing to do with the power of the Wii U itself, but with the simple fact that it was their first time developing for the Wii U. Not only that, but the game had been designed from the ground up with the other consoles in mind.

Last but not least, Armored Edition comes completely bundled with all of the DLC that was released for Arkham City. This does include all of Catwoman's missions, Harley Quinn's Revenge, the costume packs, the challenge maps, etc. This literately adds hours of gameplay and is a great edition for this game.

Despite some very minor frame rate issues, Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition is a fantastic game on the Wii U and one of my favorite launch titles. If you have never had the chance to experience Arkham City, do yourself a favor and play it on the Wii U. The GamePad actually adds a lot to the game, and you can tell that Rocksteady took their time in coming up with different ways to utilize the second screen to its full potential. This is the definitive version of the game, with all of the DLC included, and a must-play for people who never got to experience the game the first time around. (9/10)


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