I was a HUGE fan of Batman: Arkham Asylum, with its rich level of detail and inclusion of so many of the classic characters. To me, and many other fans of the Bat, there was just no way to top it. How wrong we were. If there was one fault with the near-perfect Arkham Asylum, it was that there was NO GOTHAM! One of the central parts of Batman is his film-noire, industrial, neon-lit city and the Asylum, for all its lovingly-crafted design, just wasn't Gotham City. Arkham City, however, is. To be exact, the New Arkham is a walled-off section of North Gotham that can hold any super-criminal or other miscreant. Naturally, having a massive hub of the criminal element on your doorstep is not what Batman wants, and so he uses his considerable public presence as billioanre Bruce Wayne to try and have the place shut down. Big Mistake. Before long, Bruce is nabbed by some guards and thrown into the Asylum - which is being run by the nefarious Hugo Strange. A quick Batwing drop-off later, and Batman is ready for action.
Arkham City is like a distilled Gotham City. Flashing neon signs? Check. Industrial factories belching smoke? Check. A giant Bat-Signal on the horizon? You bet! Everything that a Bat-fan could want from a virtual Gotham is in Arkham City, down to Crime Alley (where young Bruce watched his parents gunned down) and the Ace Chemicals Factory (where the Joker was born out of an experimental chemical vat). In fact, anything that a Bat-fan could want in a game, IS HERE! Name a Batman villain, and the odds are - they're in Arkham. I consider myself a Batman devotee and there were some baddies in here that I hadn't even heard of. Let's just say that when I was 20 minutes into the game and I had encountered Strange, Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face and Calendar Man, I knew I was in for a good time.
The gameplay is just as fun as ever, with some subtle changes made to make it flow even better than before and the new Grapple-Boost makes traversing Arkham City easy and fun. The story is, of course, fantastic - the opening is amazing and the finale was truly jaw-dropping (I won't spoil it here, but YOU are in for a shocking treat.
I have nothing but praise for this game. It does everything SO WELL! Any Batman fan should know by now that they MUST BUY THIS GAME! If you're interested but don't really know much about the Dark Knight then buy the graphic novels Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke and then play Batman: Arkham Asylum. I know that's a fairly long reading/playing list just to play one game but I highly recommend doing as I have suggested - newcomers may well be lost in the immersion of Arkham City, but anyone familiar with Batman will simply revel in it. As you can probably tell, I love this game (to the extent that I will probably re-buy Arkham Asylum, which I had eventually traded in, just to get me in the mood to play more Arkham City)! You, as a Gamer, owe it to yourself to buy this game right now!
Note: Some people have complained about the Catwoman missions requiring Xbox Live/PS Network to play. Don't be put off - it doesn't affect the story, and the game really doesn't benefit from them at all.