Platforms: Wii U
Developers: Rocksteady Studios
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive
The sign of a truly great character is one that transcends generations and remains interesting and relevant, no matter the time period. The Bat-Man first appeared back in 1939, debuting to a surging comic-book audience as a crime-fighting detective. While those core character foundations still remain intact today, it’s fair to say the Caped Crusader has become more a ‘Dark Knight’ in 2013.
And man, we couldn’t be happier. It’s not just incredible comics and gripping movies. We also get some pretty epic games. Arkham City, perhaps, being the best of the bunch.
With the arrival of Wii U, Rocksteady have taken the liberty of re-releasing Arkham City for Nintendo’s newbie, but this time dubbing it ‘Armoured Edition’. Amazingly, their work actually makes the game feel fresh and engaging, one year after release. It also makes some of the best use of the Wii U gamepad to date.
Bruce Wayne is going against the ideals of Mayor Sharp who wants to keep all of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals in Arkham City. However, just before he is about to say his piece, Bruce is captured and taken into Arkham City by Mr Freeze and his cronies. Wayne manages to escape, recognising an imminent threat and with the help of Alfred, dons the cape and cowl to take down the most villainous rogue’s gallery you can possibly imagine.
Rocksteady haven’t added any additional content to the game released in 2011, but the functionality via Wii U does enrich the game in new ways. As Batman, players glide and fight through the backstreets of the City, taking down thugs, investigating crime-scenes and claiming Riddler Trophies. As Batman, you must take down enemies rising up within the confines of Arkham City, and put a stop to Hugo Strange’s cryptic Protocol 10.
When Batman is battling, he builds up combos while taking down thugs. This leads us perfectly into one of the first major features Wii U offers Arkham City. With Armoured Edition, Batman is adorned in a brand new B.A.T.S suit, and when building combos in this attire, Batman harnesses energy, which can then be unleashed to melt enemy faces when cornered by a gang. This wasn’t necessary in previous versions of the game, and the same could be said for Wii U. Essentially, whenever the ability is activated, Batman basically demolishes everything without taking a scratch. While the B.A.T.S ability is cool, it’s massively overpowered. Still it’s entirely optional, as is all of the Wii U functionality.
Another gimmicky ability allows players to ‘steer’ batarangs once thrown. This achieves a level of accuracy never before possible with the analog stick. Long-term, however, you’re unlikely to use it over aforementioned analog. The gyroscope in the gamepad can also scan crime-scenes when looking for clues. It’s a cool way to use the gamepad, and a nice way to immerse players into the Arkham experience, but is included for little more than novelty.
Where Armoured Edition really excels is the implementation of the Bat hub via the gamepad screen. While playing on the TV, players can also have access to a constant second screen, which includes a fully interactive map at all times. Not only that, but players can set customisable waypoints, equip Batman’s loadouts, get character bios, check side objectives, and even upgrade abilities. It feels sleeker, and much more user-friendly. It also means that the action doesn’t have to be paused and is hugely convenient. Something, we feel, all Arkham City fans will appreciate.
Armoured Edition also introduces Sonar Radar to the gamepad, making it easier to plan strategies and time attacks. Red dots are identified as enemies through a hazed screen and shown in proximity to Batman.
And finally, yes, you may be able to poop while playing Batman as the game is fully playable on the gamepad. Mightily impressive it looks, too.
The game, that is, not the poop.
Unfortunately, as a port, Arkham City is sluggish. While the HD is rich and bright, vibrant and beautiful, the frame rate is incredibly choppy, and the game suffers for a lot of on-screen activity. If you know your Arkham City, you’ll know that game gets seriously busy, and the Wii U does not like it one bit. All you have to do is listen to the console whirring and chugging along when you’re swinging from rooftop to rooftop. Frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing.
Still, Armoured Edition is a pretty sweet deal. In addition to all the optional gamepad functionality, you’ll also get all DLC released to this point, including characters, challenge maps and, of course, Harley Quinn’s Revenge.
It’s still a great game, and there’s probably no better place to play it than on Wii U. However, it’s difficult to forgive a 2011 title for running so haphazardly on, what’s supposed to be, a system as (if not more) powerful than the systems it originally launched on. Still, those gamepad additions are pretty neat, and, if nothing else, make Arkham City all the more immersive and fun to play, while potentially introducing it to a whole new audience who find bulky, control-heavy, open-world epics a struggle to get to grips with.
- It’s still awesome old Arkham City
- It’s a bargain package, containing all DLC and extras
- Wii U functionality is clever, especially the constant second-screen map and off-TV play
- Sluggish framerate
- Game struggles with lots of activity.
- Most Wii U functionality is just gimmicky and won’t be used much.
The Short Version: It’s great to see Batman appear on Wii U and Armoured Edition makes fine use of the gamepad, however porting issues and gimmicky controls do muddy the waters ever so slightly.