A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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The game has some swearing, including "ass," "bastard," "damn," "hell," and a female character being called a "bitch" early on in the game.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.