Batman Arkham City: An animation milestone

Batman Arkham City is a 2011 game released for the Playstation 3 and X-box 360. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Studios. The game uses computer generated graphics as most video games nowadays do. The environments are very vibrant and detailed, the characters look very realistic. Every now and then the game is interrupted for a cutscene, there is almost no difference between them, and the cutscenes are up to date and well rendered, a true testament to this game’s graphics.

As with the source material, the graphics are stylized with a very gothic and dark atmosphere. The city is designed to give the feeling of a dangerous slum where the inmates run the asylum, where no one but yourself is to be trusted and survival is only achievable by the most capable and dangerous individuals. Even though it’s a huge environment you still get the feeling that you’re isolated, that it’s quiet and anything can happen within a heartbeat.

When you fight enemies, you use a Freeflow combat system where the player’s attacks gravitate towards the nearest opponent. You can also use the triangle button to counter your enemy’s attacks, the way you counter the enemies depends on your character’s position as well as the enemy’s method of attack. I bring it up because I find it impressive that they animated so many different attacks with nearly every predicament taken into account.

While playing you’ll notice little details on your character like little bits of Batman’s cape ripped off as you progress. I find it to be a nice touch because it makes the game more realistic and cinematic, it shows all the struggles the player has endured and how critical the situation is.

If you look closely at the characters you’ll notice the attention to detail as you’ll see wounds, sweat, dirt and other blemishes which supports the games nitty gritty feel.

The game’s setting of Arkham City is much larger than Arkham Asylum in the game’s predecessor, it’s been said that it is about five virtual footprints bigger than Arkham Island. The city is large and shelters many villains from Batman’s rogues gallery, because of this areas in the games are design according to the character’s theme and motif, for example in Joker’s turf, you’ll see graffiti on the buildings that fits with Joker’s persona with bright & clownish yet violent and haunting art. The enemies themselves are also very varied, every group wears clothing coordinated with their affiliations; Joker’s henchmen go around wearing face paint and colorful wigs and Dr. Hugo Strange’s underlings would include guards in traditional riot squad/military type uniforms. Even within the ranks of groups, the enemies are varied. They come in all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, attire and minor aesthetics like tattoos, hair and face paint.

The characters are animated in a very realistic manner; the characters movements and mannerisms mirror that of how humans would behave in real life when they have conversations and engagement in combat, though of course no human being possesses the dexterity of Batman or Nightwing.

Overall the graphics and animation is top notch, in my opinion it can give Pixar Animated Studios a run for its money. The design is provides an excellent atmosphere that accomplishes all the goals of trying to bring the Batman universe to life. There is so much attention to detail in the environment, the characters and in the combat. Video games are considered and art form, and games like this validate the statement.

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