BradyGames was kind enough to send me a review copy of their Batman: Arkham City Signature Series strategy guide. I received it and then promptly set it aside because I didn’t want any spoilers. When I wrapped up the main story, I picked up the book and found it to be well-written, extremely pretty, and almost entirely redundant. Please understand, though, that it’s not BradyGames’ fault that their strategy guide is a bit pointless. They’ve put together a great book here.
The artwork and screenshots are fantastic: big, vibrant, and sharp. The information in the book is well-written and overflowing. Open to any page and you’re greeted with tons of character information, gameplay tips, and art.
By and large, the book is laid out really well; it’s clear and understandable. The sections flow naturally one into the other: gameplay introduction into character introduction, main story missions separate from Catwoman’s missions, side-quests then Riddler challenges. I do have a complaint about the maps section. I wish it had been organized geographically, rather than according when in the story you visit each area, but that’s a really small nitpick overall. I got used to it eventually. I’d also liked to have seen the Riddler challenges organized according to their placement in the Batcomputer, rather than their placement on the maps, but again, that’s a small complaint.
So it’s a great book all around, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less pointless. The trouble is in Rocksteady’s design of Arkham City. All of the information you can get from the book is in the game. All the backstory, all the character information, even all the hints and tricks. When I couldn’t figure out how to fight Mr. Freeze, the game recognized that I wasn’t getting anywhere and had me pull up the Batcomputer, which laid out twelve different strategies where I only needed three or four. Even finding the Riddler trophies is handled in-game.
In the guide’s favor, I will say that a few of the trophies and challenges were a bit too challenging for me. In those instances, I did turn to the book for assistance. The maps were easy to read, and the tips were extremely useful, but I’m not sure I need a full book just for the ten or so riddles (out of 400+) that I had trouble with. BradyGames’ map app for iOS seems like the better choice, and Google is free.
If you want something more robust than a Google search and don’t have an iOS device, or if you’re a major Batman collector, then BradyGames’ strategy guide is for you. Otherwise, the design of Arkham City pretty much negates any need for a guide. On the one hand, you can’t fault Rocksteady for designing a great game. On the other, it’s unfortunate, because BradyGames put together a great book. It’s extremely pretty. It’s extremely thorough. It’s just not all that useful.