2. Batman: Arkham City (2011, Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC, Mac)
Before this console generation, DC Comics’ Dark Knight detective left a litany of awful to mediocre games in his wake; despite being one of the most popular characters on the planet, Batman just couldn’t manage to get himself into a halfway decent game. That is, until Rocksteady got their mitts on him with 2009’s Arkham Asylum, which trapped players in the belly of the beast with all of Batman’s greatest villains in a story (very) loosely based on Grant Morrison’s 1989 graphic novel of the same name. What set Asylum apart was the fact that the game gave players the tools to be the Dark Knight and unleashed them on the world – there was no feeling quite like sneaking into a room full of armed thugs and silently taking them out one at a time. There was literally no way it could be topped.
That is, until Arkham City two years later, which took the stellar mechanics of Asylum, kicked them up to 11 and unleashed players on an open world with dozens of side missions to find and secrets to uncover. That it perfected Asylum’s stealth and action mechanics – which were already pretty great to begin with – pushed City from a great game to an instant classic. A prequel, Arkham Origins, was released just last week, and maintains much of the same open-world stealth action of City, but never quite manages to top its predecessor – Arkham City is still the greatest Batman (and quite possibly superhero) game to date.