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August 13, 2014

Batman Arkham City ReMix Review


Now with 100% less judgment! :D

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Verdict: Caution Advised (For Strong Violence, A Grim Atmosphere and Suggestive Material.)

Release Date: October 2011

Developer: Rocksteady Games

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, OnLive, OS X, Windows

Genre: Action-Adventure

Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Hand to hand combat is portrayed: Batman punches, kicks and stomps on foes with thuds and shockwaves depicted when enemies are knocked down. The game focuses on finishing moves in slow-motion.

Takedown moves can be performed, with Batman punching fallen enemies in the face or crotch, breaking their bones by twisting arms and legs with a loud "crack" being heard. He can also punch bigger foes rapidly, eventually knocking them on the ground.

Batman can grab objects and hit enemies with them, with thuds and knocks being heard. He can twist arms and legs around them to break them with a crack being heard. Another character can shock foes with his tasers, causing the enemies to convulse and cry out in pain. 

Catwoman can also slice enemies with metallic claws, slicing sounds being heard but no blood depicted. She can break enemies' necks with her legs, a crack being heard.

-In several sequences, characters receive beatings. Some of them are struck and fall on the ground, being stomped on and beaten whilst crying out in pain. 

--A man is stabbed through the back with a sword; blood oozes out through the chest area of his clothes, leaving a crimson stain. He lies on the ground and talks for some time before dying. In a similar scene, a man is stabbed in the shoulder with a knife. This is bloodless.

--A man stabs himself through the chest, bloodlessly. He falls and his body hits an object back first, breaking his spine with a loud THUD being heard; we see his shocked expression. Later on, a man is stabbed through the chest, bloodlessly; we see his shocked expression and he falls over forward, the sword sticking out of his back. 

--A big Frankenstein-esque monster is electrocuted five times to wake him up, with smoke raising and electricity coursing through his veins as he groans and finally wakes up. Later on, he is electrocuted again, with his stomach splitting open and exposing his rib cage in detail. The boss fight ends with the monster's gold-coloured heart being punched once, exploding into goo. He falls over, dead.

-In the ensuing fight with the monster, several worms fall from his body and attack the player. They explode into goo when hit.

--During the course of the game, several people are shot, with mists of blood spraying out and cries of pain being heard. In prison, an inmate is shot in the knee and he falls over, crying in pain. 

--A big mud monster is attacked and stabbed several times with a sword, which is impaled in his back and shoulder several times. He is also sliced into pieces after being frozen, this is bloodless and not particularly gory.

-Several mud creatures attack your character; they are sliced apart and in half with a sword. The mud creature eventually freezes with it's jaw falling off in a gruesome fashion. A character jumps inside his stomach and stabs him several times from the inside. The monster screams in pain before finally being sliced in half from the inside out, green goo spraying.

--There are several sequences where explosions go off, destroying buildings with lots of wreckage being shown. Enemies also use several kinds of explosive weapons and projectiles, which explode and knock people back.

-In one sequence, several helicopters fire rockets at a city, blowing several buildings up and causing them collapse with lots of wreckage shown.

--A woman is thrown from a height and hits the floor below, passing out. A man comes over with a giant hammer and gets ready to smash her with it. (It doesn't happen.)

-We hear that two Siamese twins had an argument and decided to "split up" cutting themselves loose from each other. We see them later, both missing adjacent limbs with a huge scar where their arms used to be.

--We hear gruesome threats of violence such as gouging and cutting a man's organs out, references to serial killers who were said to have mutilated women and children and in one scene we hear a police officer screaming as his hand is frozen and smashed into pieces with a hammer.

-A man describes himself slicing the throat out of a man and feeling the blood splatter all over his skin. He describes the euphoria he felt in doing so, and then plunging the knife into his arm.

--If a player fails to save a restrained hostage, he is set on fire. We see him being set alight and screaming, but this is VERY BRIEF. 

--We see several environments stained with splashes of blood. We see several dead bodies lying in pools of blood as well. In one scene, we see an unconscious man with a bandaged face lying down clutching a box stated to be full of organs. We learn that he went insane and cut his face off.

Context of Violence: Shock Value, Darkly Humourous (The many scenes of implied violence are deeply unsettling and obviously done for shock value. The dark atmosphere is somewhat countered by the moments of dark humour related to the threats of violence.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--The character of Catwoman wears very revealing clothes, exposing lots of cleavage. She poses suggestively and speaks in a hushed, "sexy" tone. She also carries around a whip which she uses as a weapon. (S&M undertones.) 

One of her outfits doesn't expose cleavage, but is very tight and almost shows the entire form of her breasts.

-A female character is shown, dressed only in a shirt covering her breasts and a thong, with her cleavage, abdomen, buttocks and thighs exposed. Another woman is depicted wearing an exposing shirt showing off cleavage and her bare midriff.

--In prison, an inmate says another inmate is going to be his "b***h." (Implying prison rape.) A woman tells a man he should let her go and implies that she would "make up to him" for it. A woman talks about a man not "feeling himself" at the moment. She corrects herself saying that he "was earlier, but that's not what I meant!"

A man remarks that he can read and another man says that "porn don't count." A woman says that after they spent the night together, a man could have just called her afterwards. Several men talk about women being "hot" and we hear about a man "doing it" with a woman.

One woman remarks to another woman who released her from captivity: "No kiss? I'm disappointed."

--We see a neon sign depicting the form of a woman posing suggestively, along with signs such as "Live Nudes" "XXX Club" and so on...

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice (The suggestive material is clearly shown for the titillation of gamers and not out of any narrative necessity.)

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Infrequent Uses of S**t, B**ch, A*s, B**t**d, P**s, C**p, H**l, D**n and Wanker.

--God's name is used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--In an extended sequence, your character takes part in a "demon trial", starting with a disembodied voice giving you instructions and many references to spirits and demons beforehand.

After you drink a potion, your character goes into a dream where he fights against several sand creatures. He fights against a man who levitates in the Lotus position. At one point the man says "We are legion!" referring to the, well, legion of demons who possessed a man in the Bible.

--At the beginning of the game, we see a painting of Cain and Abel, with the former carrying the latter's dead body.

-A portion of the game is set inside a Roman Catholic church. We see several Catholic related statues of Mary and the like, with candles and such. 

-A man talks to Batman and thanks God for saving them. Batman remarks that he should hold off on thanking Him until he answered Batman's questions. A brief reference to Lazarus. A man hallucinates his parents asking him to step into the "light" in order to be with them in the afterlife.

--In one sequence, a character is taken down with a "remote hypnotic suggestion" and taken to a place where we see several hypnotised people wearing bunny masks. The character starts hallucinating fighting bunny masked thugs in a strange world.

The entire sequence denotes hypnosis and mind control, with people who seem to be hypnotised and used as mind controlled slaves.

Context of Spiritual Content: Fantasy, References Only

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A character in the game is shown to be constantly smoking cigars, an inmate asks if his group has anything to smoke, some references to wine and alcohol, we see several neon signs for bars, and so on...

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Atmospheric

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--The character of two face has one side of his body entirely charred, the exposed flesh being seen and his eyeball is shown sticking out in an unsettling fashion.

-Joker's face is shown to be horribly disfigured by a rash, which is shown for quite some time.

--We see hideously deformed people with limbs such as legs, chests and arms bulging out of proportion, eyes wild and their teeth is like that of an animal's.

Scary Stuff:

--The game features a shark in one level which lunges out of the water at your character literally out of NOWHERE.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Player Character: Batman is shown to be morally upright, saving both innocent civilians and criminals from morbid situations and taking out his enemies in a non-lethal but effective fashion. He is also shown to sympathise with some of his enemies, having a deep understanding of them, yet not in a way that compromises his fight for justice.

-Catwoman is another playable character with a slightly less upright profession as a cat burglar. (Hurr hurr, very punny.) She sometimes kills her enemies and is shown to be greedy and snide.

-Batman's enemies are shown to cruel, vengeful and downright evil, throwing around very gruesome threats of violence and laughing about it, injuring several innocent people like it's nothing and making very strange fashion statements like its....fashionable.

Morality Type: Black and White (While Batman may be complex and shows a very subtle form of sympathy towards his enemies, the line between good and evil is very clear.)

Review of Game:

The caped crusader returns with the follow-up to 2009's surprise hit Batman Arkham Asylum with the acclaimed sequel, Arkham City. Seriously, it's acclaimed. Take a look at the Game of the Year Edition box art...

Yep.

But in any case, does Batman Arkham City do justice to the long running character? Let's find out:

Straight off the bat, we got the eponymous city. Rocksteady wastes absolutely no time in setting up the city and world wherein gamers will spend hours and hours in. And what a world it is.

While it's not the biggest open world game, the developers managed to squeeze as much content as possible into what there is. Side quests, hidden references, and the over-abundant Riddler trophies give us plenty to chew on when the main story is over.

Speaking of which, the narrative suffers from a bit too much...STUFF. It's great to have so many characters in a single Batman story, but due to the short length of said story the character arcs suffer as a result.

That's not to say that the story is bad. Not at all. The story of Arkham City is thrilling, intriguing and very compelling, making the most of old and new Batman villains to tell it's gritty story.

It's not the most original story but it still manages to the most important thing any story should do; entertain us. There's plenty of fun boss fights, tense situations and the like to keep you going until the story reaches it's grim conclusion.

Some may not like the ending of Arkham City, but on my second experience with it, I've come to respect it more and more. It doesn't just shock, it ties up the story threads in a satisfying way.

Well, not all of them. Batman's alliance with a secondary villain is a bit "weird" for lack of a better term. They start off resentful but begrudgingly agree to help each other, the villain then betrays Batman and tries to KILL HIM, Batman smacks him a few times and then they're alright again.

Huh? And then there's the way the game just "offs" major characters in its second half like a bunch of rabid dogs being dropped.

But thankfully, the story's other strengths and excellent gameplay are more than enough to make up for these weaknesses. Speaking of gameplay:

The combat system is just as solid as it was in Arkham Asylum, being both fluid and challenging to make for an unpredictable but rewarding combat experience. Believe me, racking up a 75x combo is always gratifying!


Quality Verdict: Amazing (A)

Batman Arkham City is the pinnacle of the three-quarter-century old character, creating a sprawling, epic story with well realised villains, great gameplay and a suitably grim conclusion...even if the huge scope makes it lose some of its depth.

Conclusion:

Now that we have the review out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty details: Straight off the bat (hehe, pun), this game is very grim and brooding. While it does have some light moments and the world stops short of being unpleasant to explore in, the atmosphere is still very morbid.

The characters are all disturbed and the violence is actually pretty mild, but the implications of said violence are far more disturbing. The most affecting part of the game is what you don't see; the many acts of crime committed within the world you now explore.

When it comes to the suggestive material, I have no justification for it and it doesn't serve any purpose in the overall narrative. I guess you can say it add something "sensual" to the characters, but it only manages to distract from the grim atmosphere.

Spiritually, the game features references to meditation and shows a few characters sitting in the Lotus position. It also features a fake "Demon Trial" which is eventually revealed to be a hallucination.

All in all, this game is too strong for me to give it a Teenage Gamers, but it's not that bad. Batman was always a very downbeat, "mature" character and this game reflects that in full. 

I give it a Caution Advised.

Verdict: 16+
For Strong Violence, A Grim Atmosphere and Suggestive Material.

Outro:

How's that for a ReMix Review? Shorter and much sweeter, more focused and far less judgmental. Heck, even I shook my head when having another read through the original Batman Arkham City Review.

What do you guys think? How was the review for you? And the game too, of course?

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