Batman: Arkham City

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Batman: Arkham City Game Poster Image
While dark and violent, this superhero game is intriguing.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 147 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about responsibility by playing as the noble Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), who vows to clean up the city to protect the innocent and stop criminal masterminds. Players practice different movements within the game, such as remaining stealthy to avoid trouble. In Detective mode, they use deduction, logic, and critical thinking to solve puzzles. Throughout Batman: Arkham City, players read about their goals and then work toward achieving them. Kids' learning is limited to puzzle-solving and sleuthing as they play superhero.

Positive Messages

Fighting against evil is inherently positive, but this game focuses heavily -- though not primarily -- on combat against thugs and tougher villains. There is also a Detective mode that concentrates on forensics. Therefore, the game gives both a positive and negative message, depending on how you look at it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman offer a positive role model to kids, for the most part. He vows to protect the innocent and rid the city of violent criminals. But, when he goes about defeating evil, as it's mostly combat-based.

Ease of Play

This game starts off fairly easy, with simple controls and on-screen instructions, but over time will layer on Batman's skills, gadgets, moves, and so on -- including ones that are purchased as an upgrade. Newcomers might need a little help if they're unfamiliar with the past game, however, and there is no paper manual included. Along with the lengthy single-player game, you’ll also find (and unlock) some additional modes to indulge in, including the tougher Game Plus mode, an improved Detective forensics mode than what was offered Arkham Asylum, and other goodies.

Violence

While the game is rated "Teen" instead of "Mature," there is a lot of combat action here. This includes up-close-and-personal melee attacks -- kicks to the head, punches, acrobatic moves from above -- as well as ranged attacks with weapons and gadgets. Some of these attacks are in slow motion to create a dramatic effect. Along with violence, there is some blood in the game -- and Batman's fist on the cover of the game has blood on it.

 

Sex

There are some sexual references and imagery in this game. For one, there is some dialogue, spoken primarily between criminals you can overhear, that talks of "going for some porn right now" and easing "sexual tension." Second, most of the female characters, including Catwoman and Harley Quinn, reveals large amounts of cleavage and have tight, form-fitting outfits. Third, other imagery includes a neon sign that flashes "Live Nudes" with a silhouette of a naked woman.

Language

The game has some swearing, including "ass," "bastard," "damn," "hell," and a female character being called a "bitch" early on in the game.

Consumerism

The game is based on a DC Comics universe -- including familiar characters, gadgets, enemies, and locations -- but instead of a manual in the game's box, there is a catalog of merchandise you can order, such as posters, action figures, and graphic novels.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are various references to alcohol, such as a story about someone getting drunk and killing her classmates and some dialogue about wanting a beer. A couple of characters are seen smoking, including Penguin, who has a cigar in his mouth.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY is a dark, action-heavy adventure that isn't ideal for young kids. A lot of a player's time will be spent fighting against enemies -- resulting in blood and slow-motion finishing moves for dramatic effect -- which includes melee combat and ranged attacks. The dialogue between the criminals in North Gotham contains (mild) profanity, as well as sexual and alcohol references. Female characters are dressed suggestively in this game, with ample cleavage and tight outfits.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byreal game reviews November 19, 2011

Great game, but some concerns... 13 and up

Batman: Arkham City is one of the best games out there. It has amazing graphics and a great dialogue. I, for one, used to love the comic book series when I was... Continue reading
Adult Written byNavyVet December 23, 2011

Surprisingly bad language in common use.

I bought this game because of the ESRB rating. What a mistake that was. Don't get me wrong: gameplay is exceptional and this game merits every bit of the e... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byOverNinjaX October 22, 2011

AMAZING GAME, with mature content

The best game out there, but it has plenty mature content. Definitely for TEENS.
Kid, 11 years old October 19, 2011

Best. Game. Ever.

THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's it about?

As you’ll see in the slickly produced introductory movie, part of Gotham City is now sealed off and used as a maximum security prison for all of Arkham City’s criminal masterminds and other no-good thugs. From the moment Bruce Wayne dons the Batman mask on a snowy rooftop at the start of the game, you’ll venture out in this huge and open-ended city to foil the scheming plots of supervillains, protect the innocent, and attempt to bring some order to the chaos. Expect to see familiar baddies including The Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and others. And Catwoman is a playable character, too; but you’ll need to download these extra missions via a code in the box. (This means those who rent the game won’t likely get this extra content unless they opt to pay a few bucks to download it.)

Played from a third-person perspective, BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY fuses multiple gameplay elements into one, including stealth (lurk in the shadows to remain undetected); freeform combat (now with twice the number of attacks and animations than the last game); gadgets to use (beginning with your Bat Grappler); exploration (with many places to climb and soar to); and areas that require some puzzle-solving. For curious types, there are also many secrets to find and side-missions to accept.

Is it any good?

Without question, Batman: Arkham City is one of the most enjoyable video games of 2011 –- even if you’re not a major fan of the DC Comics hero. Between its wealth of stealth and action, well-written story, memorable characters, and extraordinary production values, this game is definitely worth "clawing" onto. While Batman walks a little stiff, the brawls are fast and fluid as you master combinations and takedowns with some practice. You can get away with some “button mashing” at the start of the game, but taking down tougher enemies and bosses later on will require some savvy melee or ranged attacks, use of gadgets, acrobatic dodges, and other tactics. For example, some enemies can only be taken down with certain moves or with a specific approach (such as from above or behind).

But the game is a lot more than a series of skirmishes. It’s a thrill to navigate through the dark city streets, soar with your outspread cape between skyscrapers, or scale tall buildings. You’ll also traipse through creepy indoor levels, including a subterranean subway terminal, an old museum, and an abandoned courthouse, to name a few. Along with the exceptional atmosphere -- complemented by the game’s high-definition details and smart architecture, great use of lightning, and Hollywood-quality sound and voice acting -- the game’s action has purpose as you uncover more of the plot, master and upgrade gadgets, and take on many missions all tied to the tale.

Note: All three versions of the game are the same.
 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Batman has gone "darker" in recent movies and games, unlike the somewhat light and innocent television series from the '70s. Movies like The Dark Knight and games like Batman: Arkham Asylum are not for younger kids -- though children might be compelled to watch because it's a superhero.

  • What is it about superhero games that makes you want to play them?

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