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Spider-Man PS4 vs Batman: Arkham City

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Which side are you on? Spider-Man PS4 or Batman Arkham City? Let's swing right in and finding out which of these two critical darlings is truly gaming’s greatest superhero. We’re looking at everything from gameplay, plot, to world design. Spidey VS the Dark Knight. Be warned, there are plenty of spoilers to come. To have your ideas turned into a WatchMojo or MojoPlays video, head over to http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and get to it!
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Spider-Man PS4 vs Batman: Arkham City

Will it be the scarlet spider or the dark knight? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re finding out which of these two critical darlings is really gaming’s greatest superhero. We’re going through a range of categories, looking at everything from gameplay, plot, to world design. Be warned, there are plenty of spoilers to come.

Round 1: Story



Immediately following the events of “Batman: Arkham Asylum”, Bruce Wayne is flung into brand-new prison-slash-mental-hospital, Arkham City. The story hooks you from the beginning, as Batman pursues Huge Strange’s mysterious “Protocol 10.” The emotional investment comes when Batman is poisoned by the Joker’s diseased blood, forcing him to save not just himself but also his greatest enemy. The Joker twist and his poignant death in the same place Bruce Wayne’s parents died decades earlier – the Monarch Theater – is masterfully foreshadowed and executed.

“Spider-Man”, on the other hand, is a fresh take on one of the world’s favorite superheroes; Insomniac’s Peter Parker is equal parts humor and heart. The game starts off light enough, but the Demon terrorist attack is a tragic punch in the gut that completely shifts the tone of the story. Spider-Man is humanized; we see him balance trying to pay his rent, his job, help out Aunt May and reconcile with MJ – and we feel for him not just during the game’s climactic showdown against Doc Ock, but also in the much more relatable scenes as he struggles through texting his ex

“Arkham City” is like the superhero version of a greatest hits album, with so many characters showing up, so many simultaneous plots, and great individual moments. But “Spider-Man” makes us feel for not just Peter’s friends and family, but also his tragic villains like Dr. Octavius and Martin Li. Spider-Man takes Round 1.

WINNER: Arkham City 0 / Spider-Man 1

Round 2: Comic Book Loyalty



The entire “Arkham” series has been widely praised for its fidelity to the comics. Where movies and TV shows seek to reimagine the Dark Knight, the games have never shied away from directly translating comics to consoles. If you’re a fan of the comics, there’s nothing you haven’t seen before – and this is one of the few occasions where that’s actually a good thing. While the game’s main story is new and unique, origin stories of beloved villains are intact, with even their costume designs lifted straight from those colorful panels.

Insomniac, however, reinvented a lot more than just the now-iconic white spider suit. They really made the characters their own, and in doing so added exciting, new dynamics we haven’t seen before. Peter in the role of Doc Ock’s lab assistant, inadvertently aiding him on his way to becoming his biggest foe yet; MJ becoming a reporter just as important to Spider-Man’s investigations as the man himself, and finally the ending twists with Harry and the Symbiote as well as Aunt May’s poignant death. While working wonderfully for the story being told, they’re just not familiar to comic book fans.

Both games may be awash with cameos and easter eggs, including Spider-Man’s suits – many of which are pulled from famous comic arcs – but it was really Rocksteady’s entire aim to make a Batman game that felt like the Batman of the comics, meaning “Arkham City” takes the award for comic book loyalty.

WINNER: Arkham City 1 / Spider-Man 1

Round 3: Combat



Superheroes have to get into fights, that’s a given; you can’t make a world-saving omelet without breaking a few criminal eggs. “Arkham City’s” free-flowing combat has been fun since the beginning of the series, showing off how Batman is a master of every known martial art and combat style. Weapons can be incorporated during combat too, with quick batarangs and quick batclaws being deployed. Another core aspect of “City’s” gameplay is, of course, sneaking, and Batman utilizes all of his skills and gadgets in the game’s many puzzle-like stealth rooms.

“Spider-Man” is clearly borrowing heavily from the combat of the “Arkham” games; Insomniac has always been open about how they’ve used the “Arkham” series as their own inspiration. The free-flowing, hand-to-hand combat is very similar, but Spider-Man iterates on the formula to create a free-flowing, fast-paced, and ultra- combat system fitting of the wall-crawler’s speed and agility. Peter can also unlock dozens of different gadgets and power-ups by collecting a wide array of tokens, from suit powers to web upgrades, and he also has a regular skill tree. There’s no getting around the astonishing variety of playstyles this game allows.

While the gameplay and combat are incredibly similar in both titles, “Spider-Man” builds on foundations laid by “Arkham City” years earlier, making them even more fun and challenging. It does everything the acclaimed “Arkham City” does and more, feeling truly like an evolution in the superhero genre.

WINNER: Arkham City 1 / Spider-Man 2

Round 4: Bosses



Any game about superheroes and supervillains is bound to be judged on the battles between those heroes and villains. “Arkham City” introduced a wide variety of unique showdowns, shelving the tired mini-boss battles of its predecessor. The dream-stage battle against Ra’s al Ghul, the classic fight against zombie Solomon Grundy, and the final one-on-one against Clayface are all varied and masterfully designed. Finally, “City’s” Mr. Freeze boss battle, where Freeze learns Batman’s tactics so he can never do the same takedown twice, is one of the most celebrated boss battles in gaming.

Again, “Spider-Man” has villains galore. Kicking off with a battle against Kingpin, we’re shown exactly what this game has to offer right from the get-go. While interesting fights are few and far between after Kingpin and before the emergence of the Sinister Six, when Peter finally has to take down these rivals they’re ingeniously teamed up for the fight. Rhino and Scorpion are no match for Spidey, and neither are Vulture and Electro, and these combination bosses really add something to the game. But the cherry on top has got to be that last, grueling battle against Doctor Octopus – which pushes both Peter and Octavius to their limits.

It’s the closest call so far, but for sheer variety, this victory has to go to Batman. “Arkham City’s” boss fights are more spread out and unique, while the last act of “Spider-Man” almost becomes an exhausting boss rush to get through the Sinister Six and take down Doc Ock.

WINNER: Arkham City 2 / Spider-Man 2

Round 5: World



The dilapidated Arkham City itself is a region of Gotham’s slums converted into a brutal prison. Batman glides over broken roads, flooded streets, and flickering neon signs, the map is well and truly a slum in every sense of the world. But for all its darkness and harsh weather, it’s a masterpiece of world design. Teeming with iconic locations it’s hard not to be blown away by the attention to detail. The gliding traversal really allows gamers to take in the sights of one of the most famous cities in fiction.

There’s been no shortage of games set in New York City or thinly-veiled versions of it over the years, but “Spider-Man” does the impossible with its sheer level of faithfulness to the real-world location. Any New Yorker can recognize genuine streets and monuments, emphasized by the game’s landmark collectibles. But the incorporation of Marvel comics locations, such as the prominent Avengers Tower, Wakandan Embassy, Sanctum Sanctorum and the R.A.F.T., makes it just a little bit more interesting than the reality it’s portraying.

Creating a city from scratch is one thing, but perfectly capturing one so recognizable is a feat all of its own. They may both boast the comic book locations, but the web-swinger’s hometown seizes victory from the caped crusader’s atmospheric ruins.

WINNER: Arkham City 2 / Spider-Man 3

It would seem your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has swung his way to victory, just beating the powerless Dark Knight over the finish line with a score of 3 to 2.
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