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Batman: Arkham City: Five ways Rocksteady could get it wrong

We look at the scratches in Batman's immaculate sheen

In accordance with sacred internet law, each and every one of this winter's bigger games has attracted criticism - except, that is, for Rocksteady's new Batman. Skyrim's want of a class system has been savagely scrutinised, Modern Warfare's new Deathstreaks grilled, Battlefield 3 taken to task over its absentee Commander mechanic, but Arkham City cruises on unmolested save for some mild controversy on the subject of pre-planned DLC.

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That ends now. Confident as we are that the Dark Knight's next outing will be worth your time, we have pondered its seeming perfection and concluded that in fact, there are a handful of things that it is possible to be concerned about. Without further ado...

1. Combat won't feel fresh enough
You can counter-attack more than one opponent at once, new diving attacks allow speedier entry to the fray and Catwoman's evening's worth of campaign content should change the flow somewhat... but once you peel away the PVC, Arkham City trades on the same deceptively accessible combat as Arkham Asylum. We enjoyed the system's fluidity first time round, but we're not sure it's deep enough to enthrall us for another 25 hours. Those new gadgets and abilities better be more than gimmicks.

2. The open world will feel diluted
Easily the biggest concern. Arkham Asylum hovered round the edges of being an open world game, but never committed to the idea fully, and the pay-off was a game that remained focused enough to tell a great story while blossoming at intervals into sandbox action. It's as much an argument for the value of old-fashioned linear storytelling as player choice: think of that marvellous never-ending corridor hallucination, or the heart-in-mouth trip through Croc's lair. The "expanded version" that is Arkham City allows for more spontaneous gameplay possibilities - taking to the skies in pursuit of Dead Shot, for instance - but may struggle to nail that delicate balance between story pacing and flexibility. If Batman's at liberty to flounce off and mash goons in the middle of a hostage situation, immersion will suffer.

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3. There are too many characters
We love that we'll be able to shoot the breeze with Hugo Strange, throw down with Two-Face and get up Penguin's nose, but we're not convinced Rocksteady can fit all these supervillains, their followers and their interests into the same story without blowing an imaginative gasket. Worst case scenario: the new Batman will be a series of funky character vignettes that never quite resolves itself into an organic whole.

4. The electric shotgun doesn't sound very "Batman"
Time to get particular - we don't like Batman's taser shotgun thingy. We approve of taser shotgun thingies in general, but we're not sure projectile weapons belong in the hands of the Dark Knight, a hero renowned for his up-close-and-personal touch. There appear to be some cool applications - magnetising objects sounds fun. We just hope the device isn't so potent that it blots out the charm of punching people in the kidneys.

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