Top 100 Games of All-Time: #88

Batman: Arkham City

Release Date: October 18, 2011

Platform Played On: XBox 360

2018 Placement: #93 (+5)


What It Is:

Hot off the success of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City just simply gives you more of that game. Expanding the prison to include entire districts of Gotham, the world you have to explore as Batman is much larger. There’s more enemies, more Bat gadgets, more plot twists, more villains from the Rogues Gallery, and most importantly: more Riddler trophies. (This is a joke. Don’t kill me.)

It’s one of those solid sequels that expands on everything the first game did and makes it better. It listens to fan feedback from the first and changes up the formula (the boss fights are actually interesting now!) and also makes a bunch of quality-of-life adjustments. While Telltale’s Batman did a great original story and felt like a new take on the hero, Arkham City makes you feel like the Batman in an action-sense: it’s by far the best adaptation of kicking ass as the Caped Crusader, in my opinion.

Why It’s Important To Me:

I liked Arkham Asylum a lot, and while its claustrophobic, small island setting was intentional it still felt a little too small for me. When I want to be Batman, I want to be able to glide through Gotham and take out thugs after diving off a tall building. I want to have sidequests and random shit happening underneath the surface of the main plot. The constraints of the Asylum setting gave some neat set pieces but I wanted more.

Arkham City expands it to the perfect size and feels just right. (Arkham Knight goes too far with the Batmobile, unfortunately.) I got to explore Gotham and find random clues to side stories of the Batman mythos – and when the pieces clicked and I figured out who was behind one caper, there’d be another caper to pull me in. There’s enough gadgets and moves in combat to make fighting thugs fun but not too complex that it gets frustrating. And the story itself is awesome – the way everything comes together in the final act and for the final boss is just absolute perfection.) Enemy Within was a great take on Batman, but Arkham City still reigns king as my favorite Batman video game adaptation due to its combination of story and action-oriented gameplay.

My Strongest Memory:

Not including the final boss/ending (which I won’t spoil in case somebody hasn’t seen it yet) it has to be the Mr. Freeze boss fight, of course. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this particular fight is one of the best boss fights of all time due to the setting, the mechanics, and your opponent. Even though Mr. Freeze isn’t the main antagonist of the game, he throws a significant wrench into plans towards the middle of the game, which culminates in a spectacular throwdown that encapsulates everything a Batman boss fight should be.

If you’re not familiar with the game or the fight, there are multiple ways to damage Mr. Freeze as he stalks you through the battle arena. But each time you use one of your advantages, he adapts to your attack and you can’t use that gadget/trick/whatever against him for the rest of the fight. It’s a battle that makes you use your brain as well as every trick in your arsenal, and makes it that much more satisfying when you finally take him down.

Why It’s #88:

This is one of the few games in this area of the list that was on my list in 2018 and actually moved up in placements. The more I thought about this game the more I realized how much I appreciated the story and the mechanics of the overall game. Yeah, there are a few too many Riddler trophies in this one, but beyond that it’s probably the best rendition of Batman in a video game – even if it sets up storylines for the final game that Arkham Knight ends up bumbling. Still, everyone must appreciate the majesty of the combat and all the wonderful depictions of Batman rogues gallery in this game.