A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, exploration, government
Language & Reading: following directions, reading, using supporting evidence
Science: chemistry, gravity
- Skills: Self-Direction: achieving goals, identifying strengths and weaknesses, work to achieve goals
Responsibility & Ethics: following codes of conduct, honoring the community, learning from consequences
Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, solving puzzles, thinking critically
- Price: $59.99 ($49.99 for PC version)
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Warner Bros. Games
- Release date: October 18, 2011
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.