Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City and the Unexpected Chills of Mr. Freeze

Batman: Arkham City gives the Dark Knight all manner of handy tools to take out foes and bosses. They’re vital to your survival. While Batman might be strong, it still doesn’t take more than a few bullets or beatings to take him down. He’s still human, after all. And everyone in town wants to see you dead. You’ll slowly learn to rely on those tools to keep breathing. That’s what makes the encounter with Mr. Freeze as unnerving as it is. If you’ve become too reliant on any one tool, you’ll soon have to learn to fight when it’s been taken away.

You’re taught, from early on, to use your gadgets and tools to get out of tight spots. It starts with the hand-to-hand combat. You can’t just swing your fists around and mash the attack button. If you fight like that, your enemies will stomp you flat by constantly punching you in the back. You have to tap the attack button while directing Batman at who you wish to hit. Preferably someone who’s about to hit you in the back of the head. If you aim carefully, you’ll constantly smack and stagger the closest threat, which works wonders for keeping you alive.

Even if you fight carefully, someone is going to get the drop on you. It just happens when you have thirty enemies or so surrounding you, because there’s almost always someone who sneaks up on you. You can hit them with a counterattack if you’re quick, but it’s often easier to use one of the many gadgets Batman: Arkham City gives you. Toss a few Batarangs around to stagger nearby enemies. Hit someone with a shot from your Remote Electrical Charge to zap them and stop their attack. If things get too bad, you can also just fire off your grappling hook and get out of there. You learn to rely on these in combat to get yourself out of trouble in a pinch. Especially as the enemies get tougher and use better defensive items.

Your gadgets and tools become your lifeline as enemies start carrying firearms. Batman can get cut down quickly by groups of enemies with machine guns, so you have to use stealth. Walking around while crouching works okay, but with enemies constantly looking for you, you’ll need to use tools like the Line Launcher, grappling hook, and Disruptor to beat these enemies without being seen. Personally, I just like to stay up high and take enemies out from where it’s safe. I’ll constantly fall back on that plan, because honestly, I make it work almost every time. It’s hard to find me if I’m way above the action.

By the time you’re fighting Mr. Freeze in Batman: Arkham City, you’re likely very comfortable with your tools. You’ve gotten out of a lot of trouble with them by this point. They’ve helped you take out gun-toting foes with ease. Kept you out of sight on high perches or zipped you out of danger just before you were about to die. But Mr. Freeze is where the game starts taking your tools away, stripping you of the combat abilities you’ve been relying on to this point. No matter what has brought you comfort and safety until now, Mr. Freeze is going to take it away.

The battle with Mr. Freeze offers an open arena filled with all of the usual ambush possibilities and opportunities to make use of your weapons. It looks like you have lots of ways to take him out if you’re careful. Mr. Freeze has a powerful gun that will leave you as an icy corpse pretty quick, but he moves slowly. He seems like he’ll be easy pickings for any of your tools. However, he continually adapts his defenses to take away your abilities, forcing you to keep switching them if you want to survive this fight.

Batman: Arkham City

If you sneak up behind Mr. Freeze, he will start spraying ice shots behind himself that will hurt you if you get too close. If you glide down and dive bomb into him, he’ll chill the air so that your cape becomes too stiff to slow your fall. If you creep into the grates under his feet, he fills them with ice. Even if you use your Detective Vision (that handy tool that detects nearby foes) often, he’ll begin jamming it. Each tool will work once, but ONLY ONCE. If you rely on the same weapons often like I do, this is when you’ll probably start feeling uneasy playing Batman: Arkham City.

Batman’s tools make you feel powerful and capable. They take deadly situations where you face multiple gunmen and make you feel strong enough to deal with them. You build up confidence in your abilities as they keep growing to give you more ways to defeat your enemies. Even if I could die quickly from screwing up, by this late in the game, I just felt so safe in my powers that I never felt afraid. If it got bad, there was almost always something I could use to make myself safe again. Toss a Batarang, zip out of there, drop a smoke pellet – there was always some means of turning a fight around. Usually the same old tools I used every time. It’s not like the enemies would stop falling for it.

Batman: Arkham City

But Mr. Freeze was different. Watching my avenues of attack get cut off eroded that confidence. It made me feel like I was growing weaker. As each weapon became useless, I felt my frailty a little more. I had fewer ways to escape if I screwed up. My mortality loomed large, and all while Mr. Freeze’s unsettling voice boomed around the arena about how he knew he could find me. It’s not like his abilities were any weaker. It was the first time I felt scared playing Batman: Arkham City, but it made for an incredible fight. I had to be creative with what still worked, and all while I grew more and more nervous about my dwindling supply of tricks.

Feeling weak and helpless against a superior enemy can make for a frightening game. Doing that by surprise can bring a little fear into a game where you absolutely weren’t expecting it. I didn’t expect to feel anything other than strong and powerful while playing Batman: Arkham City. I had cool tools, could beat up enemies by the dozens, and could sneak around in all kinds of unique ways. After a time, I didn’t feel like anyone stood a chance. Mr. Freeze showed how tenuous my position of power was, though, by taking away my abilities and tools. He reminded me how fragile my life really was, and how quickly I’d find myself cowering once my precious tools were gone. He also reminded me that the scariest moments in games can be those times when you were never expecting to feel fear.