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Review roundup: ‘Arkham City’ expands in-game world

A man dressed as Batman for the Avalancha Convention in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday Aug. 13, 2011. The event hosts hundred of comic, magna, anime and video game fans. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) (Ariana Cubillos)

Untie the bedsheet cape and take off the homemade mask — you don’t need them to feel like a superhero anymore. Instead, you can fire up “Batman: Arkham City” and put yourself in Batman’s boots.

The gameplay in Rocksteady’s latest sequel to its 2009 hit “Batman: Arkham Asylum” expands the setting offered up in that game and takes it outside. That means more opportunities to swoop, perch and brood atop Gotham City’s iconic skyline. The new game takes place in a Gotham City where the mayor has decided to cede the slums over to criminals and wall off several city blocks as a high-security prison.

The game has earned a Metacritic rating of 96 out of 100, putting it contention for many gamers’ favorite title of the year — so far, anyway.

There’s been high praise for the gameplay, story and atmosphere of the game, though some reviewers, such as IGN’s Greg Miller, have noted that the studio may have put too many villains in the pot.

But a more open format lets you eavesdrop on the radio chatter in Arkham City, making it easy to pursue — or not pursue — sidequests and other extra challenges. “[The] prisoner-run district may not be the largest open world ever explored in a game,” wrote Joystiq’s Griffin McElroy, “but with an ecosystem of sidequests, challenges and secrets that blanket every square inch of the region, it might just be the densest.”

Game Informer reviewer Andrew Reiner gave the title a 10 out of 10, saying that the game has great replay value not only because it’s so packed with content but also because it offers up a “game plus” mode that takes you through the story again on hard mode — this time with all your equipment.

Alert gamers will note (for extra geek cred) that “Batman: The Animated Series” voice actor Kevin Conroy returns as chief protagonist and Mark Hamill (Yes, that Mark Hamill) is back for another turn as the Joker. The game even offered up an Animated Series Batman skin for those who pre-ordered as a nod to ’90s after-school nostalgia.

The game is out for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, though the PC version has hit delays. It will be out on Nov. 15 in the U.S.

Related stories:

Mojang, Bethesda are going to court over similarly named games

Minecraft user recreates Zelda in amazing tribute

E3 2011: Elder Scrolls Skyrim, Call of Duty 3, Gears of War 3 and more

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