Arkham City: Catwoman

One thing that Arkham City does to keep things fresh, at least in the “GOTY Edition” that I’m playing: You get to play as Catwoman every so often. In fact, the prologue gives you control of Catwoman before Batman. Other than that, it seems to work kind of like the Venom chapters in Ultimate Spider-Man: you play as Batman for a while, then you finish a chapter and it switches to Catwoman for a while. Since I’ve been going after side-quests instead of advancing the main story, I haven’t seen a lot of Catwoman, but I have put her through her paces in the city at large. She even has her own Riddler Trophies, in pink instead of Riddler green. Trophies For Her.

Even under the player’s control, she’s predictably othered, but not just with the obvious sexualization. She moves in frankly inhuman ways, leaping like an animal and clinging to the underside of gratings like a xenomorph. Batman grapples and glides around the city; Catwoman climbs buildings by clinging to them like a tree frog and jumping to higher handholds. Batman has his “Detective Mode”, an augmented-reality filter built into his cowl that enhances details and reveals secrets; the same button on Catwoman activates “Thief Vision”, the source of which is unclear and may be somehow innate.

Come to think of it, Batman in these games has always been a bit Spider-mannish, with all the zipping around on ropes, and Catwoman clinging to walls and ceilings gives us elements of Spidey’s moveset that the game was otherwise missing. And there’s lot here that has a feel similar to the Spider-Man games I’ve played, much moreso than in Arkham Asylum: the opportunities to rescue random innocents, the Zsasz challenges that send you racing from one payphone to another. It makes me wonder just how much it’s a result of deliberate imitation. The hit Spider-Man games of the last several years hadn’t been made yet, of course. Maybe it’s just convergent evolution, two studios hitting on similar approaches to street-level superheroics.

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