Playing in the Sandbox:
Having finished some basic storyline I started exploring Arkham City in earnest. Wandering the various parts of town I came to appreciate the little touches here and there that add depth to Arkham City. The gang members talk about the recent events from their different gang perspectives, side missions are scattered about to encourage exploring, gang members to interrogate, lots of little things that make Arkham City come alive.
All of these things add up, creating a wonderful sandbox of things to do. They add a sense of immersion as you stalk the streets of Arkham as Batman. Leveling is important to improve your survivability as the story progresses, but there are some many things to do that you never feel like you're grinding, just doing other Batman things.
The Rogues Gallery:
The cast of Batman villains is larger this time around. While the original Arkham Asylum did an excellent job of incorporating several different villains into the game, the generic thugs were all associated with the Joker. Arkham City it brings other villains to the forefront as the different baddies wage war over the City. In addition to those showing up in the main storyline, several other villains show up in the side missions and in little details around the City.
As you complete various missions new gadgets unlock for Batman, including several new abilities and gadgets he didn't have in Arkham Asylum. The new items serve various purposes, but add even greater depth to Batman's bag of tricks, and as an improvement over Asylum, many are given quick-key combos to activate them without having to select it in your inventory.
Treasure Hunting gone Crazy:
While Arkham Asylum had some treasure hunting with the Riddler Trophies and Jokers Teeth, Arkham City has added several more types of collectibles to be destroyed around the City, including security cameras and Joker Balloons. It seems a fairly common idea in 'sandbox' games to add a mess of collectibles and treasure hunts, and Arkham City doesn't skimp on this standby.
Thoughts after 10 Hours:
It's difficult for me to pinpoint when I hit the 10 hour mark gameplay wise. I was so completely enthralled with the game that I lost track of time. I have actually finished the game at around 20 hours, but in the spirit of 5/10/20 I'm posting my thoughts at around the mid-point of the game, and the details that caught my interest. For a game to be so good that I lost track of time, and played it through to the end in a matter of weeks when my free time is at a premium, you can rest assured that the game is great.
Next Time, The End and What Comes After:
In the 20 hour review I'll present my final thoughts on Arkham City. Due to the nature of the game and the importance of Story I'll probably have to warn against some spoilers to express what parts of the game I really enjoyed and why.