We’ve already seen a number of comic book heroes hit the video game scene this year, but let’s be honest: movie-to-game adaptations don’t really count. Sure, they can be enjoyable in small doses, but usually these cash-ins don’t elicit a play-through from die-hard comic book fans. Of course, after 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, the DC brand’s resident detective is on plenty of gamers’ radar. Batman: Arkham City looks to deliver a thrilling follow-up to a stellar action game, and from what we know about it so far, it definitely looks like a title to watch out for in 2011. That said, Marvel’s Spider-Man looks to up his video game reputation as he makes his way to consoles in the intriguing Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Which of these heroes has the edge? Also, which game will likely provide the better gaming experience?
Right off the bat (lame pun intended), Arkham City looks like its intention is clear: to provide a bigger and better sequel experience. Considering just how awesome Arkham Asylum was, there’s no doubt that the folks over at Rocksteady Studios have their work cut out for them. I’m currently playing through Arkham Asylum for the first time (I know, I know!). I can definitely say, without a doubt, that this is one of the most enjoyable comic book hero games I’ve ever played, if not the most enjoyable. The combat is fluid and satisfying, the atmosphere is dark and gritty, and the mechanics properly combine a great blend of action and stealth. Arkham Asylum is a true Batman experience, and it’s going to be tough for Arkham City to top it.
That said, I don’t think it’s an impossible feat. On the contrary, there are plenty of things Rocksteady can do to make Arkham City a better game than its predecessor. For starters, they’ve addressed detective mode, which is used to pinpoint key elements in Batman’s surroundings, all the while taking away from the beautiful visuals. Rocksteady stated that this is a big feature for the Dark Knight, so it won’t be going away, but it will be reworked. Rather than relying so heavily on detective vision, Arkham City will require players to use this tool from time to time to locate special clues or items. In Arkham Asylum, it was necessary throughout most of the adventure, so it was pretty hard to enjoy the graphical luster of the game.
Another element that fans of the first game are sure to be stoked about is the addition of a massive open world. Arkham City is a huge place—five times the size of Arkham Asylum—and you can bet that there will be plenty to see and do. Want to go on a side quest run? Perhaps you want to teach some petty thugs a lesson using your educated fists and feet. You can do that in Arkham City’s open world. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the Riddler’s optional objectives, and I’ve found that my Arkham Asylum experience is much more fruitful if I play through the story without any interruptions. If that’s your deal, too, don’t be daunted by the scope of Arkham City. If you want to tackle the main story without getting sidetracked, you can do just that. Yes, Batman’s upcoming quest is definitely something to watch out for. October couldn’t come soon enough.
However, Batman may have some competition if Spider-Man has his way, because also launching this October is Spider-Man: Edge of Time. After having offered a successful Spider-Man video game with last year’s Shattered Dimensions, developer Beenox looks to deliver the goods once more. Edge of Time isn’t a direct sequel to the aforementioned Shattered Dimensions, but it does feature several similar gameplay elements. As with any follow-up, however, it’s obvious that Beenox is going to have to make some modifications and fixes in order to deliver yet another enjoyable Spidey adventure.
In Edge of Time, you’ll take on the roles of Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. This is a tale of time travel, and you’ll need to master both incarnations of Spidey in order to succeed. Amazing Spider-Man is the more typical of the two, relying largely on his web attacks and acrobatics. Employing his agility is key in succeeding in battle. Spider-Man 2099 is a much different arachnid. Since he’s a few years ahead of his time, Spider-Man 2099 can summon a decoy of himself to fool enemies and set off traps. Additionally, Spider-Man 2099 is a rough fighter who isn’t all that agile but packs a heavy punch.
The fact that there are two playable characters in Edge of Time isn’t just a gimmick, though. You see, Arkham City will also feature the lovely Catwoman as a playable character. It seems that both Rocksteady and Beenox want to add a bit of variety to their promising titles. By featuring different characters, all of which should be enjoyable to use while remaining fairly different from one another, both of these games are giving players yet another nice layer to play around with. How well Catwoman and Spider-Man 2099 play has yet to be seen, but let’s hope they offer a nice change of pace to their respective games.
Batman and Spider-Man have certainly come a long way in the video game realm. With great games behind them and potentially awesome titles ahead of them, it’s obvious that these two heroic crusaders have a lot to offer their fans if the right developer is behind them (which is apparently the case). Ultimately, I can’t take anything away from Spider-Man: Edge of Time. The title looks like a legit action game that’s sure to provide plenty of solid entertainment. In the end, however, it’s Batman: Arkham City that looks like the better of the two games. After delivering one of the most enjoyable comic book hero experiences to come along in years, Batman is looking to outdo himself this October. I would suggest that you check out both games when they launch, but if you do have to choose one, Batman: Arkham City is the clear winner.