It’s hard to believe it, but it has been over a year since I reviewed Arkham City on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Still considered one of the best games of 2011, Arkham City now returns for a second round on Nintendo’s new Wii U console. We still have the original intact, but Rocksteady have added some new features, and included all the DLC for what ends up being the ultimate version of the game. Again, much like a lot of the Wii U launch lineup though, it’s really only for those that have not already partaken in Bruce Wayne’s latest outing.
The new subtitle is not just to differentiate it from the other versions; it actually serves a purpose. Both Batman and Catwoman now have new armored suits that build up energy as you land attacks, this is known as the B.A.T. System. Fill the meter up, tap on the touch screen, and you can unleash a flurry of attacks with increased attack power, and quicker reflexes. It is a pretty neat addition to an already outstanding combat system.
The Wii U version also implements touch screen mechanics; a lot of touch screen mechanics. Every single menu in the game is handled on the touch screen. From selecting weapons to upgrading abilities, you have to do it all on the Gamepad. This might not sound obtrusive, but it is. You see, no one plays console games with a stylus out, and the Wii U Gamepad screen is, like the 3DS, fickle when it comes to finger touches. Cycling through menus is a pain, and upgrading is a chore thanks to this. I really wish they had made it a bit more intuitive with the screen, or at least given us the option to use the standard menu system.
The touch screen controls don’t end there, though. The gadgets also get in on the fun this time around. Things like the hacking system have completely new mini-games, none of which are as intuitive, and almost feel gimmicky at times. I really don’t need to trace lines on a screen to hack. That part of the game worked because it was simple and non-intrusive to begin with; now it is just a nuisance. The detective modes also use the screen by having you put it up to the TV to scan the environment. Again, it’s good in theory, but in practice, it just makes things more cumbersome than they need to be.
Rocksteady also felt the need to add motion controls to the game for your Batarang and Batclaw. Again like the other gadgets, this is an unnecessary evil. Tilting the Gamepad to weave Batarangs around the electrical currents was already challenging, with motion controls it can be downright frustrating. Thankfully, the devs still let you use the right analog stick to aim, but you can’t shut off the motion, meaning you better hold still while tossing those Batarangs around, lest you become even more frustrated. Lord forbid you if you sneeze.
Of course, the main game is still fantastic in every facet. The story is expertly penned, and the combat is silky smooth. Nintendo fans that have never played one of these titles is in for a treat. In addition to the lengthy main game, Rocksteady has also tossed in all of the additional DLC released for the game in the past year. Harley Quinn’s Revenge and the new Robin pack are both included, as well as the host of outfits and such. Like any game in the Wii U’s launch lineup, it is packed with content that the other system owners had to wait for.
Of course not all is glorious in the land of Arkham. Armored Edition comes packed with some weird glitches and issues. Audio tends to drop in and out at random, and there are some weird visual effects that just feel off. The game also has a weird look to it. Not a bad look, but it just feels off for some reason.
This is still the same great Arkham City we played last year, but the new gimmicks, weird visual issues and glitches make it truly an inferior version when compared to the others. I really wish they had put more thought into how to implement the touch screen into the mix, because as it stands, it is more hindrance than help. Still, for those that have never played the game, a lot of this can be glossed over. This is still one of the best games of last year, and if you can deal with its attempts to separate it, instead of simply being a straight port, you will find plenty to love.
To read our original review of Batman: Arkham City for 360 and PS3, click here.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.