The HD remake well has had a handful of worthwhile oil paintings in the sky and a crowd awaiting the delicious ichor to drip into their mouths. Some may yet even have another squirt to offer (c’mon Killer 7 re-release!). However, the by-and-large greed driven stench of recent lazy flips is to HD remakes as Yooka-Laylee is to releasing Kickstarter projects.
So let’s get this out of the way forthwith: This is not an HD remake that needed to happen to unlock Batman: Arkham City’s full potential. Arkham City was an electric syringe to the neck when it first came out, proving Rocksteady a still hand at creating engaging content under the Batman name while still taking to heart legitimate criticisms from Arkham Asylum. Ultimately, it’s the best game of the recognized trilogy and a perfect Batman experience.
Moreso, it made sense. The logical paradox has always been in the video game blind spot, asking players to accept insane premise after nonsensical plot twist to haphazardly staple gun a scripted story together in their own minds. I’m speaking from the top of that grading curve wherein it made sense to go open-world after the confines of Asylum. It made sense to give Batman and Gotham larger stakes to tackle and more tasks to overcome. This side of day-one Catwoman shenanigans, every step was the encapsulation of Sequels For Dummies executed with the precision of a batarang edge.
But that’s all true for the original, last-generation version. Nothing was added to Arkham City HD that you can’t get in a Game of the Year edition or on sale for cheaper on Steam now. I, a lover of this game through my teeth, find nothing in the Playstation 4 version more attractive than those older versions, nothing to make me actually buy the game or recommend it to fellow bat fanatics. If anything, it’s a worse experience technically with far more glitches and frame rate issues than I remember. The influx of batsuits and post-credits content is not a fair tradeoff to me if Batman feels objectively worse to move through the world.
I didn’t even touch Arkham Asylum HD after seeing the lack of additions to City. Asylum has always felt like a grouping of pretty great moments surrounded by slower, more stealth-focused gameplay as opposed to the more consistently paced City. I already didn’t want to go back to that chapter of Batman lore, so having a nice, big sandwich of no reason to head back inside the madhouse was all good in my book.
The gameplay, story, and overall feel of Batman: Arkham City endures but doesn’t build with the graphical promises. There’s no tearing down the statue of Bruce Wayne in a torn Batman suit from my personal pantheon, erected with no thanks given to this game. I love Arkham City, and I have a fondness for Arkham Asylum, Origins, and Knight with their moments of sublime action and storytelling. I just don’t need new graphics to remember the legend of how Batman saved us all from action stagnation.
Batman: Arkham City HD Score: