No real spoilers

So I've been mostly out of it this week. Since Arkham City came out on Tuesday I've been playing almost non-stop. That really wasn't even a conscious choice for the most part. It's just such a good game that it kind of sucked me in. Wednesday, for instance, I got up at like 8 or 8:30 and started playing almost immediately. I didn't stop for a while, no food or drink or bathroom breaks, and just when I thought maybe I should think about getting some breakfast or lunch or something, I looked at my phone and it was 5 PM. Just like that, poof, day eaten by the motha fuckin' Batman. It's been a good while since I enjoyed a game that much. Red Dead Redemption was kind of like that. Time would just vanish. The weekend after Kingdom Hearts 2 came out I played for almost 20 hours straight without stopping for anything. Damn they need to make another console KH game, but I've gotten off the mark.

Here's the thing, Arkham City takes everything about Arkham Asylum and improves on it. At the same time, there is no doubt that this is a sequel to the first game. The gameplay is almost exactly the same, just with little bits added on, more gadgets, more flavors of baddie, more freeflowing map design, etc. The story has its roots deep deep into the first game while at the same time branching off into fun, though not completely surprising, directions. It's Arkham Asylum but more, bigger, deeper, and I feel like that's what a sequel is supposed to be.

I haven't read any reviews, but I suspect that it will get a lot of love but not quite as much as the first one. Because, of course, the first one almost came out of nowhere. Just all of a sudden here was the Batman game gamers has been waiting their whole lives for. So AC can't have quite the same impact, and I'm sure it'll take some hits for not being innovative enough. Like I said, it doesn't change much from the first game, it just tweaks and adds a bit here and there, like seasoning. But why on Earth would anyone want them to mess with the winning formula of the first game by "innovating" a lot? But whatever, fuck what other people think, the game was awesome.

There are so many side missions, the assassin, the cold call killer, the identity thief (who kills people and cuts their faces off), helping Bane out, stopping random people from getting the shit kicked out of them, that if you try to do them while playing the game (like I did), it can feel like Batman is having some ADD issues. It's like, I'm on this important mission to save thousands of lives, but excuse me while I answer this pay phone that keeps ringing. And it's not easy to just ignore them and get on with things. The game has a way of shoving them in your face. I was in the middle of paying a moment's silent respect to Batman's dead parents in crime alley (it's an achievement, but the amazing music and the way the game sets the scene with the camera movements and stuff made it worth seeing in and of itself), but it was hard to appreciate fully because a block over some poor sap was getting beat up for not finding enough food for a tougher thug. His constant weeping and cries of, "Oh, God, no! Someone please help me! I'm sorry!" kind of spoiled the moment. Stopping these random acts of violence is one of the side missions, and stuff like that makes them kind of hard to ignore.

That and the fact that the game is downright sadistic when it comes to a few of the Riddler trophies are really the only things I can find to complain about. The thing is just stellar from beginning to end. It makes you feel like Batman. Complaints from the first game about Batman's bulky movement (looking at you Poet)? Almost forgotten, not that they really changed the way he walks or anything, but who needs to walk? They made moving around the city by gliding and sweeping from building to building so easy and quick and organic that I barely ever touched the ground when I was out and about. And of course the very sexy way that Catwoman (and crawls and does just about everything) totally balances it out.

On that note, the Catwoman stuff is a must have. If you were planning on waiting to buy the game used or borrow someone else's or something, don't do it! The Catwoman stuff comes free with new games, and you just have to have her. Playing her is kind of a nice occasional change of pace from being Batman, and she's so much fucking fun. Of course, going from Batman with a dozen different gadgets and tools to Catwoman who has 3 (and whose "thief vision" ain't got shit on detective vision) can feel like a bit of a downgrade when you're scrapping with 10 dudes, but the girl has some serious skills, and her caltrops are a life-saver. If Batman had something like that to pull out of his belt, the bad guys would never get close.

Ok, I always start rambling when I'm shooting from the hip and free-writing something instead of trying to do a real review. The point: The game is awesome. Play it. Love it. Do the Dew. Be the bat. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. If you didn't like the first one, the fuck is wrong with you?

PS. Now that I've beaten the game after a week of non-stop playing I need a new entertainment to take up my free time. I just put in the first disc of my Farscape the complete series box set. Here I go down the rabbit hole again.