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This week, Zero Punctuation returns to the black tights of everyone's favorite caped crusader.

Transcript Edit

I've been a little busy working at the junkyard crushing cars between my muscles to read comic books, but some of my nerdy friends tell me that DC Comics have been making some controversial moves lately. First they reboot their entire universe, which kind of makes sense to me, because if comic continuity was a person, then you would never be able to ostracize them fast enough. But then apparently they also turned all their strong female characters into big fat nympho cockslobberers who wave their tits around like maracas, because there isn't quite enough popular culture being aimed exclusively at teenage boys just yet.

But perhaps some hearts and minds could yet be won back with Arkham City, a sequel to the excellent Batman Arkham Asylum, and the DC universe can get back to what it's really about: hordes of impressionable poverty-stricken young people having all their arms and legs broken by an extremely rich businessman in his pants!

While Arkham Asylum was my game of the year that year, I had a sinking feeling about Arkham City that I could only put down to professional intuition. The concept felt a bit too sequelly - does that make sense? No, obviously not. Well, you know how Super Mario went from Land to World to Galaxy and now they've sort of written themselves into a corner? I can't help thinking this franchise is taking a similar path, and once they get to Arkham Universe you can't rely on suspension of disbelief to explain how the Joker can pay for a space program.

Even Arkham City is pushing it a bit. Evil neck beard Hugo Strange persuades the authorities to put a big wall around a large section of Gotham City's slums and call it an internment camp, where all the major villains can fight it out for control and the Riddler can run around with a team of contractors, grappling hooks, and spelunking equipment leaving question marks everywhere because it will in some way prove that he's smarter than an emotionally retarded bloke in a pointy hat. And then when Bruce Wayne suggests that this might not be the smartest way to rehabilitate people, he gets arrested and thrown in there without trial. What I'm saying is that unless Hugo Strange has also been crowned king of the human race, I don't see how he can swing all this without provoking a few letters to the editor.

So it's Arkham Asylum with more a sandbox setup, but like whipped cream on an angry dog, the sandbox doesn't necessarily make a game better. Bigger, certainly. But Arkham Asylum was about a core group of villains linearly taking it in turns to give Batman a solid Bat Teabagging and was generally more coherent, while Arkham City has rather splurged all over the place. When your starting point is a game as solid as Arkham Asylum, represented here by a kickass motorbike, all a sequel can do is pack on colorful stickers and amusing tassels and replace the wheels with ones from a monster truck, and I start to feel the motorbike people are trying too hard to impress me. The sheer number of villains lining up for fisties mean they have to bunch up and sacrifice screen time a bit, and there's no room for anything so wonderfully indulgent as the Scarecrow bits from last time. Even the city map itself seems a bit too cluttered, like someone tried to eat an entire central heating system and puked it all up onto a half-finished LEGO project. I keep getting caught up on terrain. "Oh, look! The silent avenger of the night oversteered and is spazzing out on someone's TV aerial."

Don't get me wrong - it's still good. Everything I liked about Asylum is still here. The stealthing and fighting are still very well implemented, and now you can counter multiple twats at once, so you can beat Attacker A into submission with Attacker B's leg. But they also didn't fix the few problems I did have with the first game. I still think we're crying out for an autorun option, because in hectic moments I keep forgetting to hold down A, so Batman saunters casually around the battlefield trying to remember what the button combination for the quick hookshot was. And again, you might as well leave Detective Vision on all the time, so the game turns into Batman and the Argonauts. I find this rather galling. I had to work very hard to find those nitpicks, Rocksteady - the least you can do is validate me.

The only problem area that I can say has improved is the boss fights. They're not quite as crap now. And no, I guess I don't expect that line to be quoted on the box of the special edition re-release, but they aren't. There are still a lot of villains who'll just pit you against their entire entourage because they themselves don't have much going for them besides a sharp suit and assorted personality disorders, but the superpower battles are now more sophisticated then endlessly tricking the local brick shithouse into endlessly banging their head against a wall.

And if you bought new rather than pre-owned - which of course you did, because you're a good boy or girl or intermediate who supports game developers! - then you also get to play as Catwoman, Batman's sexy frenemy who paid for an entire jumpsuit but isn't getting her money's worth on the zipper, if you see what I mean. Mainly she plays like Batman making use of a few pole dancing lessons in her own combat and stealth sections, although she can cling to ceilings as well, just like real cat (that's been bitten by a radioactive spider). She's also a lot less fun to explore the city with, because instead of glidy wings and hookshots her method of getting around is to whip onto the tops of buildings and then smash straight into a wall. Then she has to hop her way up the wall in a sort of "no, really, I meant to do that" kind of way, leaving another bloody imprint of her increasingly two-dimensional face to congeal on the brickwork. She also has her own Riddler trophies to gather, so I guess the Riddler feels he has to prove that he's smarter than her, too. But if the Riddler is sitting with his feet up watching the security cameras with a question mark-themed mug of milky tea while Catwoman is out headbutting masonry and picking up his litter, I think it's pretty self-evident who's smarter.

Arkham City isn't getting out of here without a recommendation, but it's worth remembering that when you go straight sandbox you lose control of a certain amount of structure. A word of warning: if you're like me - handsome, talented, and secretly longing for death - you'll want to finish the main story first and do the side missions in post-ending fuckabouts, because you'll need all the gadgets to find all the secrets. And then, like me, you end up flapping back and forth like a confused magpie at the aluminium foil tennis championships trying to trigger the side missions that your quest log says you haven't found yet. And like me, you'll eventually look it up and discover that some, but not all, of the side missions get locked off if you don't finish them by the story end. And then, like me, you'll probably make a noise that's somewhere between a sigh and gnash. And then, like me, you'll say "How does that make any donkey-boffing sense!?" And like me, you'll maybe jump up and down a few times. And like me, you should probably stop padding this video out.

AddendaEdit

  • Riddle me this: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • And for the record the box art is slightly better than a squirt of male spunk on a ceramic tile this time around
  • Batman doesn't buy pre-owned and neither should you


ScreenshotsEdit

Arkham City 1

Arkham Asylum was about a core group of villains linearly taking it in turns to give Batman a solid Bat Teabagging

Arkham City 3

Now you can counter multiple twats at once, so you can beat Attacker A into submission with Attacker B's leg

Arkham City 2

Some, but not all, of the side missions get locked off if you don't finish them by the story end

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017

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