Was anyone expecting Batman Arkham City to suck? Really? I won't rhapsodize Arkham Asylum's source material—yep, I'm a surly superhero-hater—but speaking about Rocksteady's accomplishments strictly in gaming terms, Arkham Asylumwas near blameless, and the sequel's supposed to be that folded into an open-world framework.
So Arkham City, the super-deluxe "You're Batman!" sequel, out next Tuesday and already drawing raves from the folks in this biz who play games for a living.
Let's start with the low-scorer on Metacritic, Destructoid's 8.5 out of 10:
Batman: Arkham City tries to do too much and can come off a little heavy-handed, but that doesn't stop it from doing a vast amount of things right. It's a beautifully bleak game that constantly pays tribute to one of the greatest icons in comic book history and provides an experience that one can get lost in for hours. Its biggest problems lie in a combat system that manages to be too simple and too complex in the wrong areas, and this can often exasperate, but the overall product is one of the most absorbing and engrossing ones on the market.
From there, we move up five ticks to Joystiq's "A world of difference" 90 out of 100:
Rocksteady has moved closer to perfection with its second stab at this franchise, but the movement's come in inches. The motives of Arkham City's assemblage of villainous, would-be kingpins -- not to mention the motives of the Dark Knight himself -- never quite come together to form a compelling narrative.
Or how about Gametrailers' "take or leave the Batman part" 95 out of 100:
Arkham City feels like a logical extension of its predecessor, wholly embracing and expanding upon all the elements that made it great. It most certainly is the definitive Batman game, but to leave it there would be to damn it with faint praise. Simply put, if you admire painstakingly-realized worlds rich with secrets and game mechanics that never cease to surprise you, then you it to yourself to experience Arkham City. Your interest in the source material is irrelevant.
And among the perfect scorers—I count four so far—here's Videogamer's take:
It doesn't take the world's greatest detective to spot that this is an expertly crafted adventure, one that maintains a breathtaking pace and invigorating rhythm from beginning to end. Dizzyingly extensive and lovingly detailed, Rocksteady has created an intricate, spirited and unequalled playground worthy of one of the most iconic characters in modern fiction.
And so forth. The accolades continue on the other side of the pond.
It'll be tough to tear away from Dark Souls, the best game I've played since Demon's Souls, but I might for Arkham City. That, and Skyrim, in just a few more weeks.