Best of 2011 Runner-Up: Batman Arkham City

This week Shacknews finally reveals its top five games of 2011. We continue today with out third best game of the year, as voted by the editors and staff writers: Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City.


Batman: Arkham Asylum impressed audiences by bucking the trend of licensed superhero games. It wasn't just "good for a superhero game"; it was an unqualified success, both critically and commercially. Years later, developer Rocksteady had the unenviable (and inevitable) task of creating a sequel. They attempted to craft a game that could expand the concept of Arkham Asylum without compromising its original vision, and in many ways Batman: Arkham City does just that.

The shock of a quality Batman game may have worn off in the years since our visit to the creepy mental hospital, and players had mixed reactions to the expansion of a larger open world. However, the game refined and honed some of the best qualities from Arkham Asylum. One of the most responsive third-person combat systems in modern games felt even more so with the addition of double-counters and expanded gadgetry, letting the Dark Knight wreak even more havoc on any thugs dumb enough to take him on. The story was overhauled from a glorified steroid metaphor into a winding, twisting narrative that spanned the character's canon and weaved villains against each other. This led to a shocking, poignant conclusion that could go toe-to-toe with some of the best graphic novels DC has to offer.

Batman: Arkham City may have felt less revolutionary than its predecessor, but it was a sharpened iteration that made good on its promise and further cemented the so-called Arkhamverse as one of the most unique ones the character has to offer. It just so happens to take place almost entirely in the realm of our chosen medium, and that's something to celebrate.

The Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year awards are based on a weighted scoring system between all staff writers and editors [here's how it works!]. Last week we revealed our "Honorable Mentions," which include the titles that did not quite make our overall 'Top Five Games of the Year.' This week we reveal that Top Five list, with our Overall Game of the Year award being announced on January 20.

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 18, 2012 12:00 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Best of 2011 Runner-Up: Batman Arkham City.

    This week Shacknews finally reveals its top five games of 2011. We continue today with out third best game of the year, as voted by the editors and staff writers: Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City.

    • reply
      January 18, 2012 1:03 PM

      This is currently tied or very close behind Dark Souls as my GOTY. Based on what has already been listed and omitted (namely Dark Souls), I'm really curious what games are in the top 2. BF3 maybe?

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 1:13 PM

        While for me personally, Batman WAS the game of the year (PURE FUN start to finish). My predition is Witcher 2 for 1st runner up and Portal 2 for GOTY.

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 1:14 PM

        Portal 2 will definitely be one of them. Has Uncharted 3 already been omitted?

        • reply
          January 18, 2012 1:18 PM

          Not officially, but Garnett Lee mentioned on Weekend confirmed that ALL of their top 5 games were available on PC this year. That puts Uncharted 3 out of the running.

          • reply
            January 18, 2012 1:21 PM

            I wouldn't have put it that high anyway, good game but not as good as 2 and not as good as a lot of the other games released this year, sadly.

            • reply
              January 18, 2012 7:30 PM

              I wouldn't put it anywhere near this list. I didn't really enjoy UC3 and I loved UC2. I think the wow was gone and just left all the stuff I don't like.

        • reply
          January 18, 2012 1:20 PM

          Oh right I forgot that wasn't mentioned yet, yeah that will most likely make the top 2.

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 1:25 PM

        Batman: AC would be higher in the list if it wasn't for the nasty savegame bug. As game-braking some bugs are, that one must rank at the top because it really breaks your progress and there's no way to avoid or predict it.

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 3:35 AM

          This is what is going to kill it. While I was lucky, and only lost 3-4 hours of progress, it was insane of Rocksteady to ship the game with a game-breaking bug like this. And I refuse to believe the "maybe it didn't show up in QA!" folks on this one. As someone who spent 4 years doing QA, there is absolutely no way this bug wasn't in the database. Some marketing/production/PR person waived it, though, because it only affects X% of players and there wasn't enough time to fix it to meet release date.

          While I understand from a purely business perspective, it's a pretty big middle finger to the actual consumers.

          • reply
            January 19, 2012 3:47 AM

            Yeah, I lost all my progress after 40h of playtime and since I didn't have System Restore on the drive I store all my Steam games, I got FITA.

            It's interesting because Rocksteady went from one of my favorite studios (because I loved B:AA so much) to one that I really, really hate due to their poor support. They say they are doing "all they can and working with third parties to analyze the issue". They are now asking people to send them the Steam Support ticket number - what the fuck.

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 3:37 PM

        My bet is Portal 2 + BF3

    • reply
      January 18, 2012 1:17 PM

      Absolutely LOVED this game. I know there were complaints about it being "Too big", and I think Garnett Lee compared it to a Las Vegas buffet while Arkham Asylum was more of a fine restaraunt, but man was this game fun! And really isn't that was games are supposed to be? There is no better combat system out there, and for me, the story was amazing. Rocksteady has produced, to date, the only two games I have EVER completed AND finished ALL the side mission stuff, and unlocked ALL the single player acheivements. I just couldn't stop playing this game. Well deserved.

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 1:46 PM

        That wasn't me but it was on the show. I think it Christian. We disagreed on that point. I felt if anything the story on this one was a tiny bit better than its predecessor.

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 3:36 AM

          I absolutely loved the story in this one. It did a great job of introducing two main villains, while still having their stories be distinct (albeit intertwining).

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 8:06 AM

        That was actually Garnett Lee quoting our review from Andrew Yoon.

    • reply
      January 18, 2012 7:12 PM

      No hate for the triple-DRM madness?

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 3:37 AM

        I downloaded it on Steam, signed into Live, and launched it. If someone has an issue with the DRM, that is more a statement on their Aspergers than it is against the game itself.

    • reply
      January 18, 2012 7:13 PM

      That makes Portal 2 GOTY? Fucking nerds, it was good but not THAT good.

      • reply
        January 18, 2012 9:35 PM

        Agreed. Decent but it got old after a bit.

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 12:20 AM

        The last time you all assumed something, you said we picked Skyrim as our GOTY.

        How did that work out for you?


        • reply
          January 19, 2012 1:28 AM

          Well, it's not gonna be Saints Row 3, so you guys are wrong anyway.

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 8:58 AM

          they're going to have a TIE for first place... Portal 2 and The Witcher 2! Both GOTY!

          You heard it here first.

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 12:22 AM

        It's better than Arkham City, that's for damn sure.

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 12:32 AM

          Based on our weighted scoring system, Batman edged it out. It was very close!

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 5:57 AM

          Silly post is silly.. Arkham City was incredible. Portal 2 was excellent, but to state it in a way that makes AC sound bad is just ridiculous

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 7:31 AM

          I didn't think so. Portal 2 is a blast, but I like Arkham City better.

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 12:38 AM

        Yah, flawed game, first time I've seen Valve make a misstep of any kind with a major release.

    • reply
      January 18, 2012 9:40 PM

      I bought the first one on a steam sale, but haven't had time to play it yet. Should I buy a controller to play on PC? Does anyone have a recommendation for an inexpensive but awesome PC compatible controller?

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 9:16 AM

        PS3 or 360 controller.

        • reply
          January 19, 2012 12:16 PM

          is that a question? I guess I'm looking for a 360 style controller. Are any of the 'knock-offs' any good?

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 12:45 AM

      For me it's clear:

      1) Dark souls
      2) Witcher 2
      3) Skyrim
      4) Dues Ex
      5) Portal 2

      Batman is good as is portal 2 but not near the top 3 on my list

      • reply
        January 19, 2012 12:46 AM


        4th should clearly have read Skyward Sword, forgot about that :-)

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 1:27 AM

      man the credits for that just kept on going and going and going and going

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 1:53 AM


      • reply
        January 19, 2012 3:11 AM

        I'd love this choice. Or even if it was just #2. I honestly can't say I had more fun with any other game this year. Batman equaled it somewhat, and Skyrim sure is more bang for my buck, but the best moments in Bulletstorm were just so fucking awesome.

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 3:32 AM

      I just finished beating the single-player campaign last night, and it is definitely my favorite open-world game in years. I love that they managed to not only make a fun and engaging game, but to provide a better multi-villain storyline than any of the Batman films have done so far. The combat system is, as could be expected from the first game, top-notch, and the exploration elements seem to have been given a lot more focus than in Arkham Asylum. On top of that, Rocksteady managed to organize the gameplay to where (unlike in B:AA) you don't have to play the game with Detective Mode on the entire time.

      As someone who is not a fan of the open-world genre in general, the fact that I started New Game+ the instant I finished the main campaign solidifies this as my GOTY.

      Poor Joker. I absolutely loved the way they handled his death, it felt very true to the comics and the characters in tone, but I still hate to see him go.

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 4:22 AM

      Sooo, two slots left (And here is what has already been picked):

      It's has to be Portal 2, right?

    • reply
      January 19, 2012 3:00 PM

      Played it.

      Did not like it.

Hello, Meet Lola