Holy fun, Bat­man!

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Bat­man Arkham City From: Warner Broth­ers For­mat: Win­dows PC RRP: $ 100 Clas­si­fi­ca­tion: R16 Score:

If there is one thing I have learned from my time with the Win­dows ver­sion of Bat­man Arkham City, it’s that I need to up­grade my com­puter. Deep down, I knew I needed to any­way.

At times, my age­ing Nvidea Ge­force 8600 GTS graph­ics card (which, un­for­tu­nately, falls un­der the minium rec­om­mended specs) would splut­ter and cough as it tried to ren­der the de­tailed game world of Arkham City and the Caped Cru­sader. Note to self: time to up­grade my PC.

I’ve al­ready re­viewed the con­sole ver­sion and the story is un­changed – parts of Gotham City have been turned into a prison for Arkham’s worst of­fend­ers, Joker is back and Dr Hugo Strange is up to some­thing called Pro­to­col 10 – but the PC ver­sion brings some fea­tures not found in the con­sole ver­sion, namely higher-res­o­lu­tion graph­ics and sup­port for Nvidia’s Physix pro­ces­sor on its top-end video cards (real-time physics mod­el­ling is han­dled by the graph­ics card not the com­puter’s CPU). How­ever, the game also uses the pain-in-the-back­side Games for Win­dows Live ser­vice.

Arkham City PC is avail­able in two flavours: ei­ther as a re­tail disc or through Valve’s online de­liv­ery ser­vice, Steam, which is how I got the game (it’s around 16Gb in size so make sure down­load­ing it doesn’t kill your monthly data cap).

PC gamers will gloat to con­sole gamers that PCS have su­pe­rior graph­ics – and they’re right – and that’s ev­i­dent in Arkham City, which look bet­ter than the con­sole ver­sions. But, be warned, the rec­om­mended min­i­mum card is an Nvidia Ge­force 8800 or an ATI Radeon 3800 and you’ll want at least the min­i­mum as, thanks to my 8600 GTS, I had to play the game in a win­dow, rather than full-screen, capped at a res­o­lu­tion of 1024 by 760 (medium de­tail, no dy­namic shad­ows, no lens flare, no mo­tion blur) and I had to en­dure fre­quent pauses dur­ing game­play, es­pe­cially when a lot is go­ing on at once.

Also if you have a com­pat­i­ble Nvidia graph­ics card, you can turn on the Physx ef­fects, which means scenes will have more de­tails and at­mos­phere (mist will be more re­al­is­tic, there will be more de­bris around, cloth and ma­te­rial will be­have more nat­u­rally).

The game sup­ports a game pad but I de­cided to keep it real and play it how PC games should be played: us­ing the mouse and key­board. It took a few mo­ments to reac­quaint my­self with the key­board lay­out but it soon be­came sec­ond na­ture and, do­ing things such as the in-game Aug­mented Re­al­ity mis­sions (which af­ford Bat­man up­graded gad­get ca­pa­bil­i­ties), proved eas­ier to com­plete us­ing the mouse and key­board than con­troller.

Bat­man Arkham City is a great game on PC but I was sur­prised that you could only ad­just the game’s graph­ics set­tings in the game launcher be­fore you play and not us­ing in-game op­tions. I’m also not con­vinced that Games for Win­dows Live (think of it as the Win­dows ver­sion of Xbox Live) has any merit.

Bat­man Arkham City is one of my top games of 2011 on Xbox 360 and, if you’re got a pow­er­ful enough com­puter to do it jus­tice, the PC ver­sion would be the pick of the bunch. That said, if you just meet the min­i­mum re­quire­ments it’ll still look great.

If your PC can han­dle just about every­thing the game will throw at it, you’ll see it’s one of the year’s best.

Bat­man Arkham City for PC: Make sure your PC is pow­er­ful enough to re­pro­duce the the caped cru­sader’s graphic ac­tion.

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