Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to one of the greatest superhero games of all time, Batman: Arkham Asylum. Arkham City expands on everything that made Arkham Asylum great and adds an amazing open-world game environment to the mix. The Batman series under Rocksteady is known for its secrets and Metroidvania-esque exploration elements, so Arkham City requires a great guide with plenty of depth. BradyGames’ Batman: Arkham City strategy guide is that guide for the most part, but does have a few noteworthy trouble spots.
On one hand, the guide does cover plenty of content in Arkham City well. It gives a good walkthrough and most times offers great strategies on how to beat the game, offering advice that gamers of most any skill level can follow. The guide is also well designed and easy to navigate, with clear (as in, not cluttered) white pages and some really well designed call-out boxes. The combat sections have a nice degree of detail and provide some tips about combat in Arkham games that may otherwise take some gamers a bit of time and experience to uncover.
Something else the guide does well–and this is difficult to explain–is teach gamers how to think about approaching a section in Arkham City, maybe akin to a survival guide. The guide points out instances where Batman’s gadgets or a combat technique can be used. When the gamer recognizes that situation happening again, they’ll have learned that technique and know how to use it. Batman: Arkham City is a game that’s easy to learn and play but sort of difficult to master (because gadgets and techniques have straightforward uses and somewhat different instances of use for combat or Riddler Trophy collecting), so the guide gives gamers a kind of “skill arsenal” to use to their advantage.
The Riddler Trophies section is also quite good, providing precise solutions on how gamers can grab every single one in the game. Each map for the Trophies section matches the in-game map and is numbered, so that gamers can find where they are on the map and then find the number in the guide to get the Trophy–a vital tool for the 400 (or more for gamers who have the Catwoman DLC) Trophies in the game. Also, on the issue of collecting, the guide points out a number of objects that can be destroyed or collected for XP or count as Riddler Trophies that just aren’t made evident in the game itself.
On the other hand, though, the guide has a few shortcomings. Every once in a while, there’s an odd moment where it doesn’t explain itself well or is missing a tiny step. In one instance, for example, the guide said: “…grapple above the Joker’s group. For an easy victory, detonate the ceiling above the goons…” However, the guide does not mention that the Line Launcher must be used to get Batman in the correct area so that he can grapple up into the room and use the Explosive Gel there. The guide has a few of those moments throughout the main walkthrough, where the next step isn’t as clear as it could be or offers some really general advice on how to progress. Please note, though, that this problem wasn’t found with the boss fight sections at all.
The guide did have a different kind of trouble spot with one of the trickier areas in the Story mode, which requires careful use of the dive bomb technique. The guide provided advice that I couldn’t get to work for at least two of the sections. The repeated requests to dive had a tendency to leave Batman too low to complete the objectives. Often, getting Batman a solid dive at the beginning, followed by an upward glide and then gliding or diving downward only when necessary was the best overall technique (albeit with somewhat minor variations for particular instances) for this section in the game.
The guide also did not mention Catwoman’s final “loot” mission in the game or provide any advice on how to use Catwoman for the Riddler’s Revenge section at all, with the exception of medals and combo score tables for the Combat Challenge Rooms. Now, Catwoman is technically DLC and while the guide can’t be faulted for not listing techniques for Robin and Nightwing, her content is different because it’s offered free to every single person who purchases the game new. The Predator section says that much of the same advice offered for Batman can be used for other characters, which usually is not true for Catwoman. She has lower HP than Batman, completely different gadgets, and can’t instantly grapple up to gargoyles.
A note on the game’s story: the biography section in the front of the guide spoils every Batman character cameo in the game, major or minor, main mission or side mission. The final boss battle has a surprise cameo which is somewhat spoiled by the character’s inclusion in the main Biography section. The decision to include that particular cameo there is confusing, especially when the Biography information is listed again in call-out boxes in the Story mode and side mission sections.
The bonuses that come with the Limited Edition guide are nice, but not must-own for anyone except hardcore Batman fans. The guide has six nice lithographs and a pin-up poster with suggestive poses for Harley Quinn and Catwoman, but Quinn’s pose is the exact same as her lithograph pose. The guide has a sneak peak at the Arkham City graphic novel as well (the sneak peak may or may not be available in the regular edition), which is nice, but also not must-own. The two available covers to choose from, the hardcover for the guide, and great page quality are all bonuses that gamers picking up the guide may want to consider picking up the Limited Edition for, though.
The Batman: Arkham City strategy guide from BradyGames is a more than solid guide and a good purchase for gamers new to Arkham City or gamers trying to collect all 400 (or more) Riddler Trophies. Otherwise, because Batman: Arkham City is a fairly straightforward game, anyone who has beaten Arkham Asylum or isn’t having difficulty playing the game won’t really need the guide to progress. The guide provides gamers with some much-needed tips in some areas like Riddler Trophies and Batman’s Riddler’s Revenge mode, but without the need for that, anyone playing through the game won’t really need the guide for much.
SGR Rating: 3.5/5