It’s only been about two weeks since I lavished Arkham City with praise as my current favorite title of 2011, but in that time I’ve had a chance to utterly devour every little bit of content available, specifically anything that has to do with The Riddler. At this point I feel that I’ve mastered the combat and have a strong handle on the Predator maps, so it’s time to share my findings with everyone else. This is Tips From a Grandmaster on Arkham City.
My Dirty Secret:
Before I go any further, I should admit that a lot of my help in understanding different uses of Batman’s gadgets and where every last Riddler trophy and riddle was located came from a magical strategy guide sent to me courtesy of Brady Games. It’s been a long time since I’ve used a strategy guide, but now I remember why I vastly prefer them to online walkthroughs: Pictures!
Here’s my little plug for Brady Games (seriously they’re a dying breed in a lost art, go support them). The Arkham City strategy guide includes pictures on every Riddler trophy, plus a detailed map of the area to let you know exactly where you need to be to find what you’re looking for. Nothing is worse than “Okay, head just north of the Ace Chemicals building and you’ll find the trophy in a corner.” No, I much prefer, “Okay, here’s a picture and the exact location on your map. Go here and do this.” Much better.
Even more, it breaks down Xbox Achievements and PS3 Trophies, Riddler’s Revenge challenges, and includes a whole preface with character bios and large pictures of each of the cast of characters who’ll inevitably cross Batman’s unfortunate path.
Some Skill You Gotta Learn:
But just because I used Brady Games’ strategy guide extensively to find Riddler trophies doesn’t mean I didn’t acquire a heck of a lot of skills on my own and develop some key strategies needed to turn you from a Batboy into a Batman. A lot of my skill comes from searching for shortcuts everywhere, especially in the Predator sections. This is a direct result of my personality being so geared toward Smash & Grab tactics as having to slow down kills me.
Instead of letting this bother me, I figured out some of the most useful upgrades that you’ll want when playing as Batman. When it comes to Predator gadgets, most of those will just come with time and story progression, so I’ll detail those specifically later on. Combat, however, it where you can set yourself up with a major advantage fairly quickly.
If you’re looking to maximize your effectiveness in combat, you’ll need to upgrade the abilities that let you do the most damage as fast as possible. Don’t worry about upgrading your suit’s armor since if you’re doing things right, you won’t be taking damage anyway. Instead, focus on attacks that incapacitate attackers quickly and effectively, such as the weapon breaker upgrade or the knife attacker KO counter.
How to Punch Like You Mean It:
The Freeflow Combat system that Rocksteady put into place here is the very reason that I haven’t enjoyed other games that include some sort of combat mechanic. Namely, the system works too good to ever want to try anything else. The goal is to rack up large combos by hitting enemies in a fluid series of attacks, counters, and K.O.s, all leading to larger and larger score readouts. A higher score in the story mode of the game doesn’t mean much beyond rewarding you with higher experience point values, allowing you to level up quicker, but if you’re attempting to get three medals in the Riddler’s Revenge challenge maps, here’s all you need to know.
There are nine enemy types to deal with. The first is the standard thug, punching his way at you without putting up much of a fight at all. The second is the knife-wielding enemy, which can become a bother when you’d prefer not to have to counter them. This gets more complicated with ninja assassin women who have swords and can dodge your attacks. Some enemies carry shields and must be dealt with via the stun-jump-jump combo, whereas the electric baton enemies take the jump-jump-strike tactic. Then there are armored enemies, requiring a stun before doing into a beatdown mode, and of course enemies with guns that can shoot you from a distance. Finally, Titan thugs show up as major, unblockable pains, as well as one-armed thugs (Mr. Hammer and Mr. Sickle) who are actually very useful, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
The trick is to prioritize enemies and utilize a very simple strategy in order to maximize your combo and score. First, stun an enemy, preferably an armored enemy as they can take a larger beating. Then, proceed to deliver a beatdown since a stunned enemy will lock Batman into a bunch of repeated pummel punches. While you continue this assault, counter when necessary. By the time you’ve K.O.ed that first thug, you’ll have a combo built up high enough to either instantly dispatch another thug (aim for ninja assassins as those are good to remove from play) or destroy a weapon. I highly recommend destroying all weapons in the area, specifically shields and batons as you cannot attacks coming from either of those. Immediately after using up your special combo move, stun another enemy and repeat until everyone is down.
Change your strategy a bit when dealing with Titan thugs or one-armed heavies. Titan thugs can easily be dispatched by doing an ultimate stun (three stun attacks in a row), then punching until you leap on their back and ride them around. It’s important to get rid of them first as their attacks are unblockable and even cut into moves that usually make you invincible, such as a beatdown finisher or a weapon-break. Most of the time you’ll intend to dodge when you see them rushing you and just can’t, so it’s best to take care of them early. By the time you’ve dealt with them you should have build up a pretty high combo, thus making your Titan Takedown score you huge points.
Best of all for instantly high combos are the one-armed hammer and sickle henchmen since they are extremely easy to handle. They, too, can break through invincible animations, but it’s easy to plan how to assault them. Once you start hitting, you’re again locked into them as if they were a regular stunned thug. As you wail endlessly, they’ll very slowly move themselves around to wing their weapon. Right as they’re about to do this, jump over them and continue the attack. After over 30 or 40 hits, your combo meter will be incredibly high and they’ll finally go down, leaving you with the rest of the room and easy points. When played right, they’re the best thing to see in a combat challenge as they pretty much guarantee you’ll make enough points for three Riddler medals.
Strike Hard and Fade Into The Night:
Predator challenges are quite a bit different, but a lot of the same concepts apply. For this you’ll most want to make use of your Sonic Baterang, your Firearm/Mine Disruptor, and your Smoke Pellet. Also, Silent Takedowns will be your best friend. Just like with Combat challenges, know which enemies to eliminate first. The five types are normal thugs with guns, thugs with infrared goggles (which are basically useless if you upgraded yourself to be invisible to them when standing still), thugs with scramblers, and thugs with sniper rifles (these need to go first, always). There are also thugs with mines, but those were never a problem for me.
The one key difference with Predator challenges is that in order to get all three Riddler medals you’ll just have to complete three random tasks, such as scare a thug and then knock him out, or pull an enemy off a platform with your Batclaw. Some get fairly elaborate, such as one that requires you to hit a fire extinguisher with a Baterang and then perform a Silent Takedown in the smoke, and others are downright frustrating, like one that requires you knock out the enemy with the disruptor backpack last.
The order you go about your business should be dictated by the medal requirements. Check those first, and then survey the area. Most of the times, one of the more complicated medals will actually be set up instantly, such as a Double Ledge Takedown or something similar, so some trial-and-error may be required.
Most of the time you’ll have six or seven enemies total in a map, so when you get a chance either right before earning the first medal or in between medals, Silent Takedowns when the opportunities present themselves are incredibly useful. You can very easily take out an entire room with the Silent Takedown alone, but that won’t get you all the medals.
When the time does arrive for you to start clearing the room, remember that your Sonic Baterang can provide an instant K.O. when you actually hit a foe with it. Unlike normal Baterangs, it won’t just lock on to your target, so you’ll have to line it up and hope the enemy doesn’t move. A miss will require you to wait for the cooldown period to expire, but if you hit and knock an enemy out, you won’t be able to use it again.
The last two enemies are always the easiest since you can use the Firearm Disruptor and make them utterly useless. When you swoop down to knock out the first, the other will just blankly try and fire at you, only to become confused and then taken out when you get the chance. Save this method for when it makes the most sense, but keep in mind that you only have two uses and then you can’t use it again.
Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths:
The hardest Riddler challenges are without a doubt the Campaign challenges. These are just three challenge maps in a row, usually alternating between Combat and Predator, but the catch is that you’ll have to do three perfect maps in a row with added qualifications, such as reduced health or the inability to perform Silent Takedowns.
There’s a trick to decide which modifiers to turn on for each map. You don’t need to use all of them in a single map; you just need them all used by the end of the three. My advice is to pick the biggest headaches first, such as the alternating invincible enemy modifier or a scrambled Detective Mode modifier. Get rid of them early and it makes things simpler from there on. Some, like the modifier that prevents Batman from using gadgets in combat, doesn’t affect me whatsoever due to the strategy I outlined earlier, meaning it’s a freebie in a map. I can easily save that for last along with the one positive modifier such as regenerating health or the ability to break through enemy defenses. Saving those positive perks until the end will just help with your overall morale.
A bit of pre-planning may also need to come into play here as well since there are times when a modifier will prevent you from getting a medal in the first place, like removing the ability to perform a Silent Takedown on a map where you have to do so under specific conditions. In these instances, or if you realize that you just won’t be able to complete the Combat rounds with enough points to get all three medals, go ahead and take a dive. Each of the three maps give you three retries, so the only punishment is time. It’s much better to have to restart the final combat map over to get three medals than to complete it with two and finish the campaign with eight total, meaning you’ll have to redo it again anyway.
Be The Batman:
Arkham City is not the hardest game to master once you put some time into it. In all actuality, it can be one of the simplest games you play in the higher difficulty levels as long as you start to learn these basic strategies. You’ll get plenty of practice in the Story Mode of the game, so get out there and fight some crime.
And that’s my advice as a Grandmaster. Does anyone else have some tips? Or do you need help with a part you’re stuck with? Leave a comment and let me know. I can help you, for I am justice!