Guide For Combat Mechanics - Guide for Batman: Arkham City
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Batman: Arkham City Combat Mechanics This guide is meant to help you master the combat in Batman: Arkham City, most particularly to get the following achievements: 50x Combo, Flawless Freeflow Fighter 2.0, Gadget Attack, and Perfect Freeflow 2.0. A significant amount of the information found in this guide will closely mirror information found in my previous Arkham Asylum guide. That's because a decent amount of the combat system was actually recycled from the previous game, with mostly new additions. There are, however, a few significant changes, and I'll try to draw attention to those. It's also worth noting that although I played Arkham Asylum on Xbox 360, I am playing Arkham City on PS3, and therefore all of the controls I'm referencing will be for the PS3 this round. Each section of this guide is tagged with a shortcut you can use to jump to it using your browser's find feature. Make certain to include the enclosing brackets when searching. I will sometimes reference shortcuts to other sections, but I will never do so with the brackets. This will make certain you can always jump straight to it. Table of Contents: Section A. - [XA] Combat Mechanics Combos - [CB1] Fail-Outs - [FL1] Moveset - [MS1] Combat Gadgets - [CG1] Unlockable Moves - [UM1] Scoring - [SC1] Putting it all together - [PT1] Environment - [EV1] Enemies - [EN1] Section B. - [XB] Challenge Mode Combat Challenges - [CC1] Campaign Mode - [CM1] Predator Medals - [PM1] Section C. - [XC] Achievements Special Thanks, Contact Info, and Disclaimer - [END1] [XA]. Section A: Combat Mechanics ---[CB1] - Combos--- First, let's have a discussion on what elements comprise a combo in B:AC. Though there are several methods of affecting enemies in the game, as in the previous game, only twelve count as what the game refers to as "variations". These are Strike, Counter, Evade, Ultra Stun, Beat Down, Aerial Assault, Ground Takedown, Instant Takedown, Multi-Takedown, Disarm and Destroy, Bat Swarm, and Gadget. Bonuses are given for high variation scores. This game also adds an additional concept of Gadget variations. Note that I mentioned "Gadgets" as a variation in the previous set. That is because using *a* gadget during a combo counts as a variation. However, using a second gadget does *not* count as an additional variation. So the entire class of "gadgets" is one "variation". For the Gadget Variation score, however, there are five gadgets. Batarang, Batclaw, Explosive Gel, REC, and Freeze Blast. An important note is that to receive a full Gadget Variation bonus, they do *not* have to be performed within the same combo. The Gadget Variation meter does not reset when a combo ends, so using a given gadget at any point during a fight will permanently check it off of the Gadget Variation list. I will get more into how this effects scoring and experience bonuses later. Another import concept is that of Critical Strikes. While not distinct from Strikes, they still have important applications. We'll discuss each of these in depth in a moment, but first a few words about the combo system itself. A combo begins when Batman performs certain of the combo element moves against his enemies. Most commonly this is a Strike or a Counter. The combo meter is signified by a hit counter in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. The counter will continue to run and be incremented until Batman reaches one of the fail-out conditions. ---[FL1] - Fail-Outs--- 1. Timed-out Fail: If Batman fails to perform any action for 1 second, the combo meter will fade. Notice that I said 1 second. This is actually a tremendously generous timeout window, which may be difficult to notice since fail-out #2 makes it seem like combos fade more quickly than they actually do. Take note of this fact, however: the timeout is very generous. If you perform a move, and you're not immediately sure what to do next (this is often the case if you think an enemy is about to attack you, but it hasn't begun the attack yet), you may give yourself a half-second of pause to gather your wits. Slowing down the pace of the battle to a level you find comfortable is often the key to victory. 2. Failed-Move: Arguably the most commonly encountered fail-out, certainly the most common if you're still sloppy with the combat system. Whenever Batman attempts a move that completely fails, he will automatically lose his combo. I'll discuss each of these in depth in the various move sections. 3. Taking a hit: A fairly obvious one, if Batman is hit he loses his combo. In Arkham City they seem to be a little more generous about gunfire, as I've been knicked a time or two and not lost my combo. I'm not sure exactly where the cutoff is here. It was machinegun fire, and I also did not seem to take damage, so I believe that the new rule is that you will fail-out if your HP is actually reduced by any means. Any minor changes aside, this failure is still a simple concept: don't get hit. ---[MS1] - Moveset--- Here is a detailed discussion of each type of move in the game. --- 1. Strikes - How to perform: Square  - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: Yes Gained by starting the game, this is the most basic move in the game. Batman punches an enemy. Or kicks. Or... actually, he does a lot of things. When Batman begins a combo he has different phases. The first two hits of the combo are a simple punch, and must be performed at close range. Once you have a 2-hit combo, Batman enters what is called "Freeflow". In the previous guide I referred to this as "Power Strike Mode", but Arkham City has dialog that confirms its official name. Upon entering Freeflow, with each strike Batman will leap across the screen and find the nearest enemy that he is facing and punch them. In the previous game the range of this move seemed nearly unlimited, but that is not the case in Arkham City. I am uncertain if the range was actually reduced, or if it's simply because there are bigger areas to play with out on the world map, but I have managed to get Batman to have an enemy out-of-range several times during streetfights. This will result in a combo fail-out. After the Critical Strikes upgrade has been purchased, Batman has a further type of attack. After building up to a 3-hit combo (it doesn't matter how the combo is achieved, it does not need to include 3 strikes, or any for that matter), he can begin to use Critical Strikes. To execute a Critical, all you have to do is only tap the X button only once since your last move. This means do not button-mash. It's a hard habit to get out of, but ridiculously rewarding. Critical Strikes do absurd damage, reducing enemies to ribbons in seconds. In addition, each hit will always knock an enemy to the ground with a brief stun period. Most importantly, a Critical Strike counts as 2 hits in all measurable ways. This will come up later as being very important. Notice that this means the most direct route to Critical Strikes is Strike, Strike, Freeflow Strike, Critical Strike. That third hit Batman performs must always be a Freeflow Strike, it cannot be a critical. This is because when you perfectly time a Strike, you are not actually making that attack a Critical, but rather the one that follows it. What this means is that if you want your 4th hit to be a Critical, you have to properly time the third hit. Meaning you can only use the "mash X" strategy for Batman's first two punches. You must them perfectly "time" all Freeflow Strikes, to make the blows that come after them be Criticals. There's actually an even further interesting caveat here. Due to hits from things like Counters, or Gadgets, it's possible to get Batman into Freeflow by a method other than Strikes. For these situations, your Critical Strike queue is actually tracked from the first Strike you ever make. For example, Batman's first punch is a regular Strike, not a Freeflow Strike. But you should still always time it properly, because if you Counter after it (and hit 2-3 guys), you will be in Critical Strike territory. If you made a perfectly-timed blow for your first hit, then your next one will be Critical. This also means that you cannot have a Critical Strike until you've had at least one regular Strike. If you perform your way up to a 5x combo with Batarangs and Counters, then no matter what, your next Strike will not be a Critical, as there is no Critical built up in the queue. Strikes can be modified with the Batclaw to grant a Batclaw Slam. This gives a few bonus points in combat challenges, but for story mode the main purpose it serves is to stun enemies and then knock them to the ground. Another type of strike in the game is Rodeo Strike, done by riding a Titan. This is a peculiar one, but Rodeo Strike counts as a strike in all significant ways, except that it is scored slightly differently. Failures: A strike that fails to hit an enemy will count as a failed move, and end your combo. The only time a Freeflow Strike can fail is if it is performed in a direction where there are no standing (important distinction) enemies. Once Batman enters Freeflow, as long as you keep him facing an enemy who is vulnerable to being punched, he will always successfully strike. It is also imporant to note that attacking an armored thug or shield thug will be blocked, and counts as a failed move, even for Critical Strikes. Interestingly, a ninja evading a Strike will not cause a failure for Batman. This is convenient, since it happens a lot. Rodeo Strikes cannot be blocked. Attempting to strike a Stun Rod Thug will cause Batman to take damage, which also counts as a fail-out. --- 2. Counters - How to perform: Triangle /\ while a counterable enemy is attacking you. - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: Yes Gained by starting the game, counters are mostly just a defensive measure, but they are also sometimes essential in order to continue a combo, since taking a hit will guarantee losing your combo meter. As long as you are not in New Game+ or don't have the One Hand Tied challenge condition, you will receive an indicator for counters in the form of a series of blue streaks appearing above the enemy's head who is about to attack. These are no longer removed for Hard Mode. The Counter engine in Arkham City has been fleshed out a bit more for multiple incoming attacks. This reduces these from being one of the worst things that can happen in battle, to being quite good. If two enemies are attacking Batman at the same time, you simply have to tap the Counter button twice, and Batman will take care of both attacks. If three enemies are attacking, simply counter 3 times. I have never seen more than 3 enemies attack simultaneously. The game also seems to be oddly careful about not allowing Knife Thugs to attack in conjuncture with other thugs. For incoming Knife attacks, the visual indicator will be yellow. Batman cannot counter knife attacks, but he gains a context-based "dodge" to replace it, also activated by /\. In order to perform this dodge you must hold /\, while continuing to back away from the enemy. This can be tricky. This move includes an upgrade whereby if Batman briefly releases the /\ between knife swings (there are two required release points), at the end of the evasion he will do an instant takedown on the knife thug. Note that this leaves the knife available for other enemies to pick up. Arkham City also adds a sort of counter system for gunfire this time around. Once per battle (the gadget has a long recovery time) when Batman is under fire, you can drop a Smoke Pellet using /\. This will usually cause the gunman to redirect their fire, and Batman can sneak through the smoke and use a silent takedown, if desired. It's important to note that this does not count as a combo move, and should be done swiftly between moves in order to avoid causing a failure case. I'll get into more about handling gunfire enemies later. Failures: If you attempt to do a Counter and there is no incoming enemy attack, it will count as a failed move, and will end your combo, no matter what you attempt to follow it up with. Once you begin to master the game's combo system, this is the easiest way to accidentally lose a combo meter. --- 3. Dodge - How to perform: Double-tap X - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: No Gained by starting the game, the dodge allows you to avoid some enemy attacks, maybe. Personally, I find that from a defensive standpoint, anything dodged can usually be better avoided by simply holding A and running past it. However, there is a more useful version of dodge where Batman rolls over an enemy's back. Again, thanks to Arkham City's penchant for naming all of the moves, I now know this is called the Redirect. In my previous guide you may remember me calling this the Enemy Dodge. By any name, this move will not only stun the enemy and stop whatever they are currently doing (useful for preventing incoming knife attacks), but it will also completely renew the timer on Batman's combo meter. Dodging over an enemy can be done as many times in a row as you like, and the combo meter will never fade as long as no other Fail-Out cases are met. If you are not using Redirects, you must make certain to only use a single dodge in a row. It is important to note that the Redirect is most useful against enemies with stun rods, as dodging over their back to get behind them will allow you to combo them normally until they recover. This strategy also works on ninjas. They will sometimes evade their way out of your attack, but it's almost always good for one punch, which is handy when mixing in Critical Strikes. Failures: If you are using ground dodges, the second dodge will always count as a Failed Move, and end your combo. This does not apply to Redirects. --- Special note: Cape Stun - How to perform: Circle () - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: No In the previous game, Cape Stun was one of Batman's basic moves, and a crucial variation. That is no longer the case. The Cape Stun subsystem has been changed substantially, so I have left this in place where the Cape Stun write-up was previously, even though it is no longer a variation. It is still important, however, as a bridge to no less than three of the game's other variations, which will follow this section. Gained by starting the game, the Cape Stun will stun an enemy briefly. It can be used sometimes to stop an incoming attack, but it is generally more useful to perform either a Counter or Dodge depending on the attack coming in. Cape Stuns can be chained indefinitely without causing you to lose your combo meter. It is noteworthy that Cape Stuns are affected by Freeflow mode the same as strikes, meaning upon entering Freeflow Batman will be fairly generous about going out of his way to get to an enemy, as long as you were facing them when he executing the move. Knife enemies no longer have special defense, and no longer require Cape Stuns to render them vulnerable. Failures: Cape Stun will cause a Fail-Out if it does not make contact with an enemy. --- 4. Ultra Stun - How to perform: Three consecutive Cape Stuns on the same enemy - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: No While Cape Stun chains were mostly useless in the previous game, in this game they have added a new move called Ultra Stun. The Ultra Stun is performed by executing 3 Cape Stuns back to back on the same enemy. This will knock the enemy to the ground for an extended time-out. This (as well as any move that knocks an enemy to the ground) will cause them to lose their weapon, if they had one. Ultra Stun can be hard to perform on Hard Mode, as aggressive enemies will make incoming attacks. Whether you counter the attack or take the hit, it will still reset your Ultra Stun counter. To mitigate this, it's best to perform Ultra Stuns after Batman is in Freeflow, and target a foe away from the main group. Ultra Stun is amazing for a couple of situations. For the Combat Challenges, it does no damage and knocks an enemy to the ground. This is a guaranteed method to set up for a Ground Takedown (many other methods that knock an enemy down also deal damage, and may accidentally kill the enemy). It also knocks the enemy down for a long time, meaning if you're interrupted, you may be able to get back to them. This is a big deal since, in Combat Challenges Ground Takedowns at the end of huge combos are major points. For the Predator Challenges, Ultra Stun is silent, and can be used to bring an enemy to the ground without alerting others. This can either be used as a long-term stun to get away (if you've already got an enemy frozen and don't want to thaw him), or to get to a quick Ground Takedown on the Armored Thugs who appear in Extreme Predator challenges. It's also worth noting that Ultra Stun is this game's new Titan-foe technique. When multiple adds are involved I find this a bit more frustrating than the old batarang-to-the-face tactic (which doesn't seem to work well anymore), but it's also proactive instead of reactive, which is nice when you're on a time budget. Failures: As an extension to Cape Stun, Ultra Stun has no unique failure conditions. --- 5. Aerial Attack - How to perform: Double-tap X after performing a Cape Stun - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: Yes One of the three new Cape Stun follow-up attacks added for Arkham City. Frankly, my least favorite of the set. The Aerial Attack will cause Batman to jump up and knock an enemy to the ground. This adds a hit, and extends their stun period from the Cape Stun. Overall, sounds pretty nice, right? Unfortunately it comes with problems. The button combination used for Aerial Attack means that after Cape Stunning an enemy, you cannot Redirect over them. This will instead result in an Aerial Attack. This may seem like an acceptable trade-off at first, but Batman does not gain any i-frames during the Aerial Attack. This means if you Cape Stun an enemy, and notice another enemy is about to attack you, and you attempt to use a Redirect to escape, if you accidentally Redirect towards the enemy you just stunned, Batman will Aerial Attack instead, resulting in you taking the hit. This means that using an extended chain of Redirects after every successful move (a strategy I have long advocated) now requires a bit more care. This move has been solely responsible for me almost completely cutting Cape Stun from my normal combat rotation. The only point where Aerial Attack really shines is enemies with shields. The mechanic seems to be specifically designed for that, and it works well enough. Shield enemies are affected by Aerial Attack the same as any other enemy, which means it will knock them to the ground and cause them to lose their shield. This is useful in small groups, but in large groups some other enemy is just going to pick it back up, and you're still likely to get hit while trying to perform it. I'll get into other strategies for Shield Enemies in the enemy section. Aside from that, Aerial Attacks are best used when there are few enemies remaining. It can immediately be followed with a Ground Takedown, meaning it is a relatively quick method to dispatch of an enemy, and can be performed at any time, regardless of your combo count. This makes it useful in random 1-2 person encounters on the streets, but I find Ultra Stun serves this purpose better. Aerial Attack has a more interesting secondary called Directed Aerial Assault, where once Batman leaps up to the enemy's head, he can instead go from there and attack another nearby enemy. This technique's a bit more fun than a standard Aerial Attack, but I find it's so much more difficult to consistently pull off as to not be worth the effort. However, it does have the advantage of throwing the enemies off their aim, typically. Whereas (at least on Hard Mode) you are almost always hit during an Aerial Attack, during an Aerial Assault Batman leaps to a different foe in mid-air, and this will usually stop any incoming attacks and cause the enemies to have to relocate. Aerial Assaults count as the same variation as Aerial Attack. Failures: I have noted no unique failure conditions for Aerial Attacks. --- 6. Beat Down - How to perform: Rapidly press X after performing a Cape Stun - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: Yes (variable) In contrast to my lukewarm feelings for Aerial Attacks, I absolutely adore the addition of Beat Down. This move causes Batman to go into a quick super-combo against an enemy, ending with an instant takedown. If engaging a single enemy via fresh ground combat, I do not believe there is a quicker method to dispatch the foe. Beat Down has some interesting stages to it. For the first few hits, Batman does not receive any additions to his combo meter. Once Beat Down progresses far enough it begins to add hits, but it adds multiple. At any time during this animation, if there is an incoming attack, Batman can cancel out of the animation with a Counter. This stage is of variable length, and will continue until the enemy is nearly out of hit points. The final stage of Beat Down is the finishing blow. Batman does not gain any i-frames until he enters this stage of the Beat Down. In all previous stages, he can be struck and knocked out of the attack. Note what I said about the variable length of Beat Down's stage two. How long Beat Down lasts depends on how much health the target has remaining. I have seen it add as few as 2, and as many as 13 hits to your combo meter. How many hits it requires does effect the length of the animation, however, and this means that you will not always require the same opening for one Beat Down as another. It's important to keep this in mind, as it can lead to some tricky situations. Failures: As a Cape Stun follow-up, Beat Down does not appear to have any specific failures once initiated. As mentioned, Batman does not gain i-frames until the finisher of the move, so he can be knocked out of it. Otherwise, the Beat Down can easily be continued to completion, or cancelled out of safely without failing out the combo meter. --- 7. Ground Takedown - How to perform: R2+/\ after downing an enemy. - Can be used as a variation starter: Yes - Counts as a hit: Yes The original instant-KO move from Arkham Asylum, Ground Takedown isn't quite the staple of Batman's repertoire as it once was. With so many new and exciting ways to instant-KO enemies, Ground Takedown's starting to look a little old and rusty. Regardless, you'll be using it from time to time, so don't forget it's there when you need it. Ground Takedown requires that an enemy be laying on the ground with stars above their head before it can be executed. Ground Takedown is often best used when there are no other enemies standing, because the technique takes some time to do, and Batman can be attacked (and cannot counter or defend himself in any way) before he delivers the final blow. If Batman is in Freeflow Mode, the Ground Takedown will seek out any enemy on the battlefield and Batman will leap to them. I would be remiss to not mention that Bat Swarm is ideal for finding openings for Ground Takedown, and in fact I believe it may have very well have been designed specifically for that purpose. I will discuss this further in the Bat Swarm write-up. Failures: If Batman attempts a Ground Takedown when he is not in Freeflow Mode and no enemies are near him, it will count as a Failed Move. Once Batman has landed on an enemy and begun the Ground Takedown, his combo meter is extended. However, if Batman has to move to an enemy who is down, his traveling time is counted against you. In other words if you being a Ground Takedown and Batman leaps to an enemy, but does not reach the enemy before 1 second has passed since your last combo extension, you will hit a Time-Out Fail. Also, if Batman is forced to leap a great distance to a downed enemy, he will sometimes miss. These are both good reasons to only use Ground Takedowns when enemies are close by. Finally, and perhaps most frustratingly, if Batman leaps to do a Ground Takedown while an enemy is standing, and the enemy achieves its full standing status before Batman lands on them, he will simply land next to them and it will count as a failure. Again, this normally will only happen if Batman has to go a great distance, but I have seen it happen in rare other cases. --- Special Note: Special Combos The final four variations I will be discussing are the Special Combo moves. Each of these moves can only be used under certain conditions. More on this is discussed in the Unlockable Moves section. --- 8. Instant Takedown - How to perform: /\+() after move becomes available (see Unlockable Moves section below) - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes Instant Takedown is a move that must be purchased. As it suggests, whatever enemy Batman uses Instant Takedown on is finished and removed from combat. There is no special defense against Instant Takedown. Only Lieutenant, Titan, or Boss-level enemies can avoid it. Otherwise it will dispatch any foe in the game without prejudice. Instant Takedown is the staple of efficient combat for Story Mode progression, and if used properly, its presence alone reduces the overall difficulty of story mode itself substantially. Failures: Instant Takedown cannot be blocked, and can only fail if there are no targets. Batman is invincible to normal thug attacks during its animation. --- 9. Bat Swarm - How to perform: +X after move becomes available (see Unlockable Moves section below) - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes Bat Swarm is the replacement for Throw in this game. I consider it to be a substantial upgrade. Throw was perhaps the most underwhelming move in the first game, and its difficulty to use was rarely worth the end reward. Bat Swarm, while no less difficult than Throw to perform, is massively more useful as a technique. When performed, Batman stomps the ground and a large circle of bats swarm around him, stunning all of the enemies. Think of this as an omni-directional Cape Stun. However it seems to have about twice the range of a standard Cape Stun. The main reason I am so taken with Bat Swarm is because of its application to Ground Takedown. In the first game, finding an opportunity to perform a Ground Takedown was the hardest part of getting a Perfect Freeflow, and often either had to be used as the variation starter (not easy), or used at the end of the battle when nearly every enemy was dead (which often meant having to hold out without losing your combo meter). Bat Swarm completely eliminates this problem. If using Critical Strikes to build up to Bat Swarm, you are guaranteed to have an enemy on the ground as the move becomes available. If you use the move immediately, it will the stun every enemy around Batman. You can then swiftly follow this up with the Ground Takedown, and go to the enemy who was knocked down by your Critical Strikes beforehand. This doesn't have a 100% success rate. Bat Swarm *does* have a range limit, and it's possible to perform the move, miss one slightly out-of-range enemy, execute the Ground Takedown, only to have that one enemy immediately run in and attack you. Worse still, if you try to work this in late into a fight, you may find that Batman kills the enemy that you're hitting to knock down with his Critical Strike, resulting in no one being on the ground for you to Ground Takedown. Still, even with these possibilities, it's dramatically easier than finding a normal opportunity for a Ground Takedown. In Arkham City, Bat Swarm is my only recommended approach for getting Ground Takedowns in during combat. Failures: Unlike Instant Takedown, Bat Swarm is an area attack, not a directed one. This means that Batman will not attempt to reposition himself for optimum usage. If you execute a Bat Swarm and there are no enemies within immediate range, Batman will still hop into the air, but the move will fail and you will lose combo. This is indicated by Batman hopping, but he does not summon the cloud of bats (kind of sad...) --- 10. Multi Ground Takedown - How to perform: X+() after move becomes available (see Unlockable Moves section below) - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes Another stellar addition to Arkham City, the Multi Ground Takedown kills all opponents who are lying on the ground at the time it is used. The simplest way to think of this is by exactly what the name implies. Any enemy whom Batman could currently use a Ground Takedown on, this move will dispatch all of them at once. Failures: This move is multi-target directional attack (Batman leaps into the air and throws Batarangs), so it does not suffer from Bat Swarm's weakness. However, as with Ground Takedown, if there are no viable targets for Batman to attacks, using this move will count as a failure. --- 11. Disarm and Destroy - How to perform: +/\ after move becomes available (see Unlockable Moves section below) - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes Disarm and Destroy causes Batman to move to an enemy who has a weapon of some sort. The description of the move in-game suggests that it is for firearms, but that is not entirely true. Batman will attack any enemy equipped with any weapon (including projectiles), and destroy it. It is, however, most useful for firearms, where it is just lovely. Note that this move does not dispatch the thug involved, merely their weapon. In some cases (enemies with projectiles, for example), this can make the move a worse choice than Instant Takedown. Disarm and Destroy has an interesting quirk to it. Batman will go out of his way to find an enemy with a weapon to disarm. However, if there are no enemies with weapons equipped, Batman will actually fall back to using Instant Takedown instead. When this happens, this is not merely an action change, Batman actually uses Instant Takedown, in spite of your command input. This means that if you perform Disarm and Destroy, and there are no armed enemies, Batman will move to a foe and kill them instantly. You will not receive the variation for Disarm and Destroy, you will instead receive the variation for Instant Takedown. If Instant Takedown has already been used, you will not receive a varation point for Disarm and Destroy at all. In other words, in order to receive variation credit for Disarm and Destroy, inputting the command is not sufficient. Batman must destroy a weapon, even if it is just a projectile. Bear that in mind. Failures: From a targetting standpoint this move behaves in every respect as Instant Takedown, going so far as to even fall back on it in some circumstances. The move cannot fail unless used in a situation where Instant Takedown also would have failed. --- "But abaddononion, you left one out!" Is that what you're saying? Shame on you. Have a little faith. 12. Gadget The final variation is a combat gadget. Using any of the game's 5 combat gadgets will count for this variation. There's a lot of information to get into here, so I've split it off into its own separate section. For each gadget I will describe their combat application, their Freeflow Focus powered-up state, and whether or not I consider this state worth using. I consider this worth mentioning since using a powered-up gadget requires burning not only Freeflow Focus, but also knocks you back to starting from scratch for building up to a Special Combo (a disadvantage not present with regular combo gadget use). Note that powered up varieties of gadgets require the Freeflow Power Gadgets upgrade to have been purchased. Once purchased, this cannot be disabled. This can be a bit of an inconvenience. Freeflow Focus is actually an extremely powerful state for Batman to be in, and it's often best to keep him in it at all times. However, once Freeflow Power Gadgets has been purchased, doing so means you can never allow Batman to use a gadget, or he will have to build back up to Freeflow Focus. However, since I find none of the gadgets are essential for combat purposes, this has only rarely impacted me. Note that no gadget can be used as a variation starter (for standard Variation purposes), because you must have at least a 2x combo for it to count as a "combo gadget". This is also important when going for certain Riddler combat achievements. ---[CG1] - Combat Gadgets--- 1. Combo Batarang - How to perform (combat shortcut): Tap L1 - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes The Combo Batarang is a returning element from Arkham Asylum, but it has been greatly simplified in this game. First of all, it can now be used at any time, and has no combo requirement for activation. There is no more Triple Batarang in this game, but there are a couple of replacements to it. For one thing, Batman can now rapid-fire batarangs. If you continue to tap L1, he will fire up to three batarangs in rapid succession before needing a chance to recover. The other replacement is the Freeflow Focus upgrade. Powered-up: When powered up with Freeflow Focus, the Batarang will attempt to carve a path that hits multiple enemies, as well as doing more damage and having a longer stun time. This is more or less analogous to the old Triple Batarang from the first game, but much more rarely usable do to the requirements for Freeflow Focus. Worth it? No. I like the powered-up Batarang. It's a very smooth, nice mechanic, quite fun to watch, and better than Triple Batarang in nearly every respect. But unfortunately it's not better enough to be worth burning a Freeflow Focus with. The Freeflow Focus state itself is just too powerful, and there are better alternatives to this move. Failures: Like with a Strike, if Batman attempts to throw a Batarang in a direction where there are no standing enemies, it will fail. You are no longer penalized for rapid-tapping L1, as the batarang now supports a rapid-fire mechanic. Even if you press the button beyond the three rapid-fire batarangs, you will not suffer a failure. --- 2. Batclaw Stun - How to perform (combat shortcut): L1+/\ - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: No The Batclaw is roughly unchanged from the first game. It pulls an enemy towards Batman, keeping them stunned and reeling. As in the first game, the Batclaw can be followed by a Strike to perform a Batclaw Slam. However, in this game Batclaw Slams are dramatically altered from the first game. Instead of a regular punch, Batman will knock the enemy up into the air, and then roughly back to the ground. This stuns them for a time, however it must be preceded with a Batclaw Stun and should not be performed in the middle of a large group of enemies. In this game there is an upgrade for the Batclaw called Batclaw Disarm. This allows Batman to force an enemy to drop their gun when Batclawed. While this only sounds okay in theory, I cannot speak enough about how useful it winds up being practically. This game has several ways for Batman to disarm opponents, including the disrupter, or Freeze Grenades. But the disrupter has a charge limit, and Freeze Grenades will only stop a single foe, and only temporarily (if they thaw, they resume fire). In addition, the Batclaw Disarm will only affect guns and not any other weapon. The Batclaw's range is also substantial, and can grab guns from great distance. Powered-up: Freeflow Focus does not effect the Batclaw. Instead, its bonus applies to the Batclaw Slam. This means that in Freeflow Focus, you can still use the Batclaw freely without worrying about losing Focus. If you use a Batclaw Slam, its powered-up variety will cause Batman to do additional damage to the enemy (it has been a knock-out every time I've used it), but also it will cause him to generate a large shockwave from the impact, which will stun other nearby foes. Worth it? At least once. The powered-up Batclaw Slam is pretty awesome to witness. From a practical standpoint, though, I'm still not sure if it's good enough to merit losing Freeflow Focus. However, the Slam generally seems to cause a KO (this may be partly due to the damage dealt while building to Freeflow Focus), and can in some ways be thought of as an alternative to Instant Takedown, with a nice shockwave effect. However, unlike Instant Takedown, this will still not work on shielded or armored enemies, so it's a bit of a wash. The great thing here, though, is that the Batclaw Stun still works during Freeflow Focus without deactivating it. This can be useful when dealing with fights involving Gun Thugs (although frankly, a Critical Strike will usually work just as well). Failures: The Batclaw will fail if you fire it into a direction where there are no enemies. Perhaps more dangerous to your Batclaw usage, however, is Stun Rod Thugs. If a Stun Rod Thug is Batclawed at close-range it will stumble into you and damage Batman, causing a failure. If you perform a Batclaw from a significant distance, you can dodge over or out of the way of the thug and prevent this damage, however it is often a risky gamble unless they are all the way across a battlefield. --- 3. Explosive Gel - How to perform (combat shortcut): L1+ - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: Yes (per enemy) The Explosive Gel oddly did not count for combat purposes in Batman: Arkham Asylum. That has been skillfully changed in Arkham City, for wonderful results. When used the first time, Batman will drop an Explosive Gel at his feet. He also performs a neat little cartwheel while doing this, making the move somewhat evasive and relatively safe for combat use most of the time. Once a gel has been set, a counter appears on the screen to tell you how many enemies will be effected by it once detonated. This only further simplifies the use of the gel, as you don't have to remember where it was or keep track of whether or not it's safe to use, the game does for you. Attempting to use the Explosive Gel a second time will detonate the original, knocking down and stunning any enemies within its range. Powered-up: Freeflow Focus increases the range and the stun time of the Explosive Gel dramatically. These two factors combine for a truly amazing result, where you can easily have Batman knock out an entire room of enemies with a single blast, and they still stay stunned for a generous amount of time. It's worth mentioning that you do not have to actually lay the gel during Focus in order to receive the benefit from it. If you lay a gel pre-Focus, and then achieve Focus, and then detonate it, Batman will do a powered-up Detonation (not really sure how he manages this. I assume mind-bullets). Worth it? Yes. As much as any of the gadgets can be worth losing a Freeflow Focus and Special Combo opportunity, this one is. It can be used to take out an entire room, and set up Batman for all sorts of things, or simply follow it up with a series of Ground Takedowns. Or, better yet, if you can perform a powered-up gel and take out a room of enemies, but miss one, you can move to him and perform a Beat Down. If you're lucky and he had enough health left this will get you a fresh 5x multiplier, and you can immediately do a Special Combo Multi-Ground Takedown, wiping out everyone affected by the original blast. My personal best here is a Multi-Ground Takedown that killed 17 enemies. This move requires a bit of luck to pull off, but there's no more emphatic way to wipe out an entire group, and it's really just plain awesome to witness. Failures: Laying an explosive gel cannot fail, and extends your combo window the same as a regular ground dodge. This generally means you need to follow it up with something else (I tend to opt with Redirect) shortly in order to prevent a fail-out, but this is usually not a problem. However, upon detonation of the gel, if no enemies are hit it will count as a failed move, and end your current combo. --- 4. REC - How to perform (combat shortcut): L1+() - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: No For combat purposes, the REC causes an electric shock to any enemies it passes through. It can be mainly thought of as a long-range version of the Cape Stun. For this reason, it's not a terribly amazing move. The REC's main application is for Armored Thugs. The REC is not only able to still stun Armored Thugs, but it will also blow them back and cause them to stun other thugs. This is wonderfully effective. Additionally, after an armored thug has been stunned with the REC, Batman can combo them normally. This is analogous to how Cape Stuns affected Knife Thugs in the previous game. The REC will also cause a Shield Thug to drop his defense briefly, but unlike Armored Thugs, a Shield Thug can only be struck once after being REC'd. This is still very useful when trying to hold a Critical Strike chain. Simply adjust your strategy to fire one REC blast before Striking each foe. Powered-up: When in Freeflow Focus the REC will cause a chain-lightning effect, automatically hitting any thugs near the one you fire it at. In battles with Armored Thugs, this can cause a satisfying amount of chaos. Worth it? No. As I mentioned, in general I find the REC to be fun, but underwhelming. There's very little that it achieves that I don't find the Batclaw is better suited for (especially with the addition of Batclaw Disarm). With the exception of Armored Thugs or Shield Thugs, you will rarely find yourself in a situation where the REC is going to make much difference in the fight, and that is still true even when powered-up. You're better off preserving Freeflow Focus, or using an Instant Takedown. Failures: As with the Batclaw, the REC will fail if it is fired in a direction where there are no targets. --- 5. Freeze Grenade - How to perform (combat shortcut): Double-tap R2 - Can be used as a variation starter: No - Counts as a hit: No In reading my previous sections here, you may have noticed that I'm a little down on the gadgets. Overall I find them fun, great for adding spice to the game, great for showing off to friends or just generally saying, "I'm Batman!", but not practical for most real combat situations in this game. They just don't quite measure up to the usefulness of the Triple Batclaw + Triple Batarang combo from the Arkham Asylum. Well that all ends here. The Freeze Grenade is excellent. If you are looking for a combat gadget to make good use of, here it is. When used, the Freeze Grenade will encase an enemy in a block of ice, preventing any movement or action on their behalf. This is not permanent (they will eventually thaw), but it is far and away the longest time-out period of any of Batman's crowd control abilities. More often than not, you will end a fight well before your frozen enemy defrosts. However, by some remarkable manipulation of the physics of the Batman universe, freezing another foe will cause the first foe to defrost. This means that you can only have one foe frozen at a time (under normal circumstances). This can typically be used to take out the most dangerous or annoying foe in a fight (Gun Thug, Armored Thug), or simply to thin the herd in general, but there are other applications as well. If Batman Strikes an enemy who has been frozen they will fall to the ground, losing their equipped weapon or shield. This makes the Freeze Grenade generally as effective as the Batclaw for dealing with Gun Thugs, but with the added benefit that Shield and Armored Thugs can't shrug it off. If there is one gadget to use in every situation, this is it. The only disadvantage to the Freeze Grenade I have been able to find is its combat shortcut. It requires a double-tap of R2, similar to how the Batclaw was activated in the first game. I had hoped we wouldn't see a return of this mechanic, but I suppose they ran out of viable button options for quickfire gadgets. This double-tap mechanic makes getting off a freeze grenade just a bit slower than a regular gadget, and also since its the only gadget that behaves in this way, it can be difficult to remember when you want to use it. I would much rather swap the shortcuts for Freeze Grenade and REC, personally. Still, this isn't a good enough reason to not try to work this gadget into your normal combat utilization. Powered-up: When powered-up the Freeze Grenade will freeze multiple foes. Worth it? Yes. As excellent as the Freeze Grenade already is, this is just even more excellent. If you're in Freeflow Focus and there are only 6 enemies left, you can easily take half of them out with a single grenade, and then deal with the others. It can sometimes be difficult to keep Batman from ever going over and hitting one of them, knocking them free, but even so, some enemies will still be incapacitated. Failures: Throwing a Freeze Grenade in a direction where there are no targets will cause a failure. ---[UM1] - Unlockable Moves--- Certain of Batman's moves become unlocked during Combat. I will list them here, as well as a breakdown of the Special Combo mechanics. Freeflow - Usable once Batman has achieved a 2x combo Special Combos - Usable once Batman has achieved a 8x/5x combo Freeflow Focus - Usable once Batman has achieved a 12x combo (disabled upon using a special combo or Freeflow Power Gadget) Freeflow - I have removed "Critical Strikes" as a special mechanic, because technically it is just a modification of Freeflow. Allow me to explain. Once Batman has a 2x multiplier, he enters the Freeflow state. This will cause him to recklessly pursue enemies across the screen each time a Strike is performed. It also means that you can now perform Critical Strikes by simply tapping the  button once and only once between each attack. However, performing a successful Critical does not effect your current hit, it effects the one that will come after it. In other words, you do technically make a Critical on Batman's 3rd hit. But it is Batman's 4th hit that will benefit from this. In the first game, I explained this as the combat system going Strike, Strike, Power Strike, Critical Strike. Note that the effect is still the same. The third hit will always be a Freeflow Strike, but it will never be able to be a Critical Strike. Performing the 3rd hit properly modifies the 4th hit, performing the 4th hit properly modifies the 5th hit, etc. It's worth noting that the Batclaw Slam can no longer be a Critical Strike. If you insert a Batclaw Slam where a Critical Strike should have been, then your next Strike after that will be a Critical Strike. Think of it as a basic queuing system. The game only tracks whether or not you currently have a Critical Strike "queued" based on the performance of your previous strike. Batman must also be in Freeflow in order for gadget usage to count as combo gadgets, and therefore variations. --- Special Combos - Initially, once Batman has achieved an 8x combat multiplier his Combo Counter will turn yellow. This signifies that Special Combo moves can now be used. Once the Special Combo Boost upgrade is purchased, this requirement will be reduced to 5x. After using one of the moves, Batman must re-enable them by performing further attacks. Spillover points do not factor in. In other words, if you have purchased Special Combo Boost, and wait until a 9x combo to perform it, you will not be able to perform another Special Combo until 14x. There's an interesting caveat here. Even if Special Combo Boost has not been purchased, Special Combo moves are unlocked every 5 further combo points after the initial one is performed. In other words, though the initial Special Combo move cannot be done until 8x, the next one can be done at 13x, then at 18x. Some Special Combo moves add to Batman's combo meter, but unfortunately Arkham City has been modified and these no longer counts towards the +5x requirement to the next unlock. Please note: for veterans of Arkham Asylum, this is a substantial change. Instead of being able to chain Instant Takedown, Critical Strike, Critical Strike, Instant Takedown, over and over again, you must now perform at least one other hitting move between Instant Takedowns. This can be counters, Batarangs, another Critical Strike, whatever. This weakens what was perhaps the most effective combat tactic from the first game. I suspect that this change was made due to the addition of Multi Ground Takedown, which could theoretically hit 5 enemies all at once, immediately setting up for another Special Combo. --- Freeflow Focus - This move is activated once Batman achieves a 12x combo. There's a few things to note here. First of all, unlike Special Combos, there is no diminishing returns here. It is always an additional 12 hits Batman must gain. Secondly, using a Special Combo will always return Batman to a "0 hit" counter for Freeflow Focus. This means that if you build up a 6x combo, and then use an Instant Takedown, you will have to go up to 18x in order to activate Freeflow Focus. The effect of Freeflow Focus is that the rest of the game is slowed down slightly, but Batman is not. It's a bit like bullet-time, but it's actually even beyond that. It not only give the player extra reaction time, but it actually makes Batman faster relative to everything else. Freeflow Focus is disabled and its counter reset back to 0 when using a Special Combo. Once Freeflow Power Gadgets have been unlocked, using a gadget (except for the Batclaw) will also cause this effect. There's a lot to say about Freeflow Focus, but I have moved that into the Putting It All Together section of the guide. ---[SC1] - Scoring--- Combos are scored in two different ways in B:AC, one for in-game experience bonuses, and the other the point-system for challenge mode. I will discuss each of them here. 1. In Game Experience At the end of any non-boss thug encounter you get experience based on the number of thugs you defeated, with each one being worth a certain number of predetermined points. This is normally about 10 points for most common thugs in the game. The method by which you kill them does not affect this experience value. If you achieved a minimum of a 5-hit combo during the encounter, then you will receive 10*X bonus experience for the battle. You will then receive a variation bonus based on the number of combo variations used during the battle. Here is a list of the variation bonuses: Standard Variation x3 - 25xp x4 - 50xp x5 - 75xp x6 - 100xp x7 - 125xp x8 - 150xp x9 - 200xp x10 - 250xp x11 - 350xp x12 - 500xp Gadget Variation x1 - 25xp x2 - 50xp x3 - 75xp x4 - 100xp x5 - 125xp 2. Challenge Mode The challenge mode scoring system is much more complicated than story mode. Whenever you perform a move that adds to your combat counter, it will give you points in the form of M*X, where M is the Modifier for that particular move, and X is the number of hits in your combo after the move is complete. Here is a list of the modifiers for moves I am aware of. I do not claim this is complete: 10 - Strike 10 - Counter 20 - Projectile Counter 20 - Critical Strike 25 - Batclaw Slam - a punch that immediately follows a Batclaw 25 - Aerial Attack 10 - Special Combo Multi-Ground Takedown 10 - Special Combo Bat Swarm 25 - Special Combo Disarm and Destroy 50 - Special Combo Take Down 50 - Beatdown Finisher 75 - Ground Pound 10 - Rodeo Strike - caused when riding a Titan, and it hits another enemy 25 - Rodeo Shockwave - caused by pressing () when riding a Titan 50 - Lieutenant Takedown - kill a Lieutenant though normal combo 100 - Titan Takedown - kill a Titan through normal combo 100 - Knife Evade Takedown 10 - Combo Batarang 0 - Redirect 0 - Evade 0 - Stun 0 - Slide Attack 0 - Ultra Stun 0 - Batclaw Pull 0 - REC 0 - Freeze Blast 0 - Quick Explosive (note: this move will not even appear in you list) Miscellaneous: 10 - Collateral Damage - This is a static 10 points granted when knocking one enemy into another (most common during Rodeo Strikes) 100 - Special Combo Takedown - This is a static 100 points (not modified by combo) that occurs when you kill an enemy by knocking them into an environmental trap, such as electrified walls. Interesting note: The Takedown Projectiles modifier for Campaign Mode causes Batarangs to give the same effect as an electrified wall, and will trigger this same static bonus. A couple of notes. 1. Multi-Counters - Whenever Batman counters multiple enemies in this game, it is treated as a stack. So if you have a 3x multiplier, and perform a Counter against 3 enemies, you will receive 4 x 10, 5 x 10, and then 6 x 10 points, for a total of 150. The game performs this seamlessly in the background. 2. Multi-Hit Special Combos - A definite change. There are two Special Combos in this game that can hit multiple enemies. The game treats them surprisingly differently from everything else. In the case of either Bat Swarm of Multi-Takedown, you will only receive +1 to your combo counter. However, the game gives you points per-enemy. This actually can be seen on the screen in the upper-left corner. Let's say you use Multi-Ground Takedown with a 5x combo, and you take out 4 foes. The game will show "Special Combo Multi-Ground Takedown - 6 x 10 x 4", resulting in a total of 240 points. This makes Multi-Ground Takedown very poor for score. Bat Swarm, however, is a different story altogether. Bat Swarm does little (if any) damage to enemies, has a base multiplier of 10x, and then is mulitplied by the number of enemies it hits. It also has a tremendous radius, and no apparent target cap. This means that if you use Bat Swarm against a group of 10 enemies, it will be tied with Knife Evade Takedown and Titan Takedown as the highest multiplier in the game. If you use it on a group of 15 enemies, it's far and away the highest. The catch here is that Bat Swarm's value diminishes as enemies die, which means it's difficult to combine it with an extremely huge combo. Generally by the time you've reached a 60-hit combo or higher, most of the enemies on the field will have died, and Bat Swarm won't be worth much more than a Ground Takedown, for example. Still, there are situations where this isn't the case. Any battle involving a Lieutenant, for example. You can make the Lieutenant your first kill, and usually come out of that with a 50 hit combo. After that you can throw a batarang, maybe perform a Critical Strike or two, build the combo up a little more, and then use Bat Swarm for massive points. At the end of the round, there is a list of static bonuses you can receive, and then a variation bonus which changes depending on the highest variation combo you obtained during the match 500pts - Perfect Round - Do not take damage during a Round 1000pts - Flawless Freeflow - Kill an entire round of enemies in a single combo 5000pts - Perfect Fight - complete an entire challenge (all 4 rounds) without taking damage Variation Bonuses: x3 - 100 x4 - 250 x5 - 500 x6 - 1000 x7 - 2000 x8 - 3000 x9 - 4000 x10 - 5000 x11 - 6000 x12 - 7000 Gadget Variation x1 - 100 x2 - 200 x3 - 500 x4 - 1000 x5 - 2000 So let's walk through a simple scenario and calculate the points you would gain for it. You begin a battle by performing Strike, Strike, Strike, then two enemies attempt to attack you so you perform a multi-Counter. Next you use an Ultra Stun, Dodge over an enemy's head, throw a Combo Batarang, Batclaw, perform a Batclaw Slam, and then finally use an Instant Takedown. For the purposes of this example, we'll assume the battle somehow ends here. Here are the points you would receive for each move performed: -Formula, Points awarded, Total- 10x1= 10= 10 (+1 variation = 1) 10x2= 20= 30 10x3= 30= 60 10x4= 40=100 (first part of multi-counter, happens invisibly behind the scenes) 10x5= 50=150 (Counter) Ultra Stun and Dodge give no points and add no combo hits, so have no effect on your score. (+2 variation = 4) 10x6= 60=210 (Combo Batarang, +1 variation = 5, +1 gadget variation = 1) Batclaw Stun adds no points. Keep in mind it also cannot add a standard variation, because you have already used a gadget with the Batarang (+1 gadget variation = 2) 25x7=175=385 (Batclaw Slam) 50x8=400=785 (Instant Takedown, +1 variation = 6) This would give you 785 points onto your base score. In addition, you would receive a x6 variation bonus worth, or +1000. You'll now also receive a +2 gadget variation bonus, or +200. You would also receive the Dark Knight and Flawless Freeflow bonuses, +1500. Giving you a total score of 3455 points. If you've read my guide from the previous game, you may recognize that this is roughly the same scenario I used last time. I did this to illustrate a point. In the first game, this same combo achieved 4215 points. In this game, it's down to 3455, a loss of 760 points. What happened? Did the game get stricter? Well, not exactly. The main thing this example suffered from was the loss of the previous game's distinction between of both Batarang and Batclaw as separate variations. Because this game considers them both gadgets, the same variation, we dropped from a 7 variation bonus to a 6 variation bonus, a dip of 1000 points. This was compensated slightly by the game's new gadget variation bonus, which awarded us 200 extra points. This mainly accounts for our 720 point difference. In case you're curious, the rest of the discrepancy is because you can't critical a Batclaw Slam anymore. In my original example we had Batclaw Slam at x7 because of Critical'ing it. Since we can't do that, in order to keep the examples close, I had to add an extra hit earlier on (the additional Counter). This changed the scenario slightly, but kept us more or less in line. Aerial Attack is a closer equivalent to what combo batarang represented in the first game, so let's try using it, instead: 10x1= 10= 10 (+1 variation = 1) 10x2= 20= 30 10x3= 30= 60 10x4= 40=100 (first part of multi-counter, happens invisibly behind the scenes) 10x5= 50=150 (Counter) Ultra Stun and Dodge give no points and add no combo hits, so have no affect on your score. (+2 variation = 4) 25x6=150=300 (+1 variation = 5) Batclaw Stun adds no points (+1 variation = 6, +1 gadget variation = 1) 25x7=175=425 (Batclaw Slam) 50x8=400=825 (Instant Takedown, +1 variation = 7) Now we add 2000 for our 7 variation bonus, 1500 for Dark Knight and Flawless Freeflow, and 100 for our single gadget variation. This gives us 4,425. That's over 200 points more than the nearly-same combo in the previous game. These can be accounted for by the extra modifier of Aerial Attack (Combo Batarang was only 10x), and the new gadget bonus. So what are the major take-aways here? Well, at first, it may seem like Arkham City is a completely different game in terms of scoring and rewards, but it's actually not that far of a departure. Things that worked in Arkham Asylum still work about the same way, but there might be a change here or there to keep variations consistent. In fact, the variation bonuses for Arkham City are identical to Arkham Asylum all the way up to x7. Variations x8 and x9 are slightly diminished, with x10 in this game being the same as x9 (max) in the previous game. Variations x11 and x12 are beyond Arkham Asylum's old max. Perhaps more importantly, though, the Gadget Variation bonus now makes a somewhat substantial difference. Keep in mind that Gadgets do not have to be put together within a single combo, just within a round. This means that if at any point in the fight you use all of the five gadgets, even if you break combo, you'll get a full 2000 bonus points per round, or 8000 extra for your final score. Given how insanely easy this is to do, there is no reason not to do this every round before beginning your actual combat approach. Whether you're using my Combat Method 1, Combat Method 2, or a mix-and-match, you can still knock out easy points by using all of the gadgets first. ---[PT1] - Putting it all together--- Knowing all of this is a good place to start, but at some point you've actually got to apply the knowledge to a fight. Whether you're going for bonus in-game experience or a high score in a challenge, there are two main combat methods that are effective for scoring. They can be used solely, mixed and matched, or put together. - Combat Method 1 - Method 1 is the variation approach. Each round of combat allows you up to a +7000 point bonus for doing only 1 perfect 12-variation combo. The rest of the battle you can do any way you like. This is definitely trickier than it was in the first game, but remember the same rules apply: boil it down to a few basic elements, slow yourself down (realize the timer is more generous than you think), and learn all of the failure cases I mentioned previously and how to avoid each one. The key to mastering the variation process is to think of Batman's various moves in segments. First, we'll start with the basic 5 elements. Strike, Counter, Dodge, Ultra Stun (this is a basic because it replaces Cape Stun from the previous game as our variation requirement), and Gadget. In the previous game I had a strategy that involved chaining Cape Stuns until you got a Counter off. In this game that is no longer as practical. Unfortunately the Ultra Stun animation is much more complicated than just a Cape Stun, and Batman cannot safely counter at all points during the move. Since this is the case, it is now a bit more difficult to get the Counter off safely during a combo. In most cases you will eventually be forced into a Counter situation, but if you're truly farming for variations, it's not wise to risk it. Instead, I recommend starting combat with a Counter. Run in the middle of the group of enemies, wait for an incoming attack (projectile counters count for this as well), and Counter as necessary. After getting off the counter, immediately go into chained Redirects. Your next priority will be getting off an Ultra Stun. Ultra Stun isn't easy to perform without being interrupted by an enemy, so you may not succeed first time. Your best bet is to try to redirect out to a straggler, someone who is separated from the rest of the group of enemies. It may be useful to get Batman into Freeflow mode before doing this (get another counter or an extra strike or two), in order to get extra range for the initial Cape Stun. The reason I am forcing you into getting Counter and Ultra Stun right off the bat is because there's little use in proceding deeper into the combo until they're complete. Going for an Ultra Stun is always risky (unless there's only 1-2 enemies left), and you're going to have enough moves stacked at the end to not want to deal with it (believe me). Counters are easy to get off, but this makes them easy to forget. Making sure to knock one out here may save you some heartache with a barely-missed achievement. The next two moves are Strikes and Evades, but we're not going to worry about them. Those two moves will come naturally. We're going to be using Strikes in order to build up combos between Special Combos, and we're going to be using Redirects at various points in the battle to stay safe between moves. Alright, so you've done your Counter and Ultra Stun. If everything has went as swiftly and minimally as possible, you now have a 1x multiplier. Our next step is going to be to use a gadget. In order for the gadget to count as a combo gadget, we need to have a 2x multiplier. Go ahead and hit an enemy with a single Strike if you need to, or get in an extra quick Counter (if one's available). If it's preferable, you can also have done this at the beginning of the fight (I usually throw a punch or two before going for an Ultra Stun). Regardless, this is the state you need to be in: 2x or higher multiplier, Ultra Stun complete, Counter complete. At this point go ahead and start doing Redirects over the enemies. Keep in mind that chaining Redirects prolongs Batman's combo indefinitely, making this entire process much simpler than in the previous game. At some point between your Redirects, you're going to want to use a gadget. I recommend the Batarang. It's not the best gadget we have available, but Batman has a very quick release and recovery time on it. You can slip a Batarang in between two Redirects and you will almost never get hit by an enemy for it. This completes the "basics" section. Remember, it's best to think of this as the "Counter/Ultra Stun/Gadget" stage of combat. If you focus on those three things, you'll be fine. Redirects and Strikes should be a given if you're playing properly. Now we begin the Special Combo stage of combat. This is a bit more complex than it was in the previous game. Not only do we have 4 Special Combos that we have to work with now, but the hits from the Special Combos don't count toward the next build-up. This means there is usually 3 actions required between each Special Combo. There are ways around this, but they're either situational, or too risky to be worth it (three-enemy Counter, Explosive Gel). But let's not get fancy here. We're just going to use Redirects and Strikes to get through this. First, we're going to try to take care of Ground Takedown, our former problem child. It's not as much of a problem as it used to be, though. First, use Redirects and Strikes until your combo meter is yellow. The best approach here is to use one Redirect, then Strike that same enemy. Then pick a new enemy, Redirect on him, Strike him, rinse and repeat until combo meter is yellow. Once we have a yellow combo meter, we're going to do something a little complicated here. You're going to need to find another enemy, Redirect over him, and knock him down. There's a few ways to do this. The safest is a Critical Strike, but if you're not good at those, you can use a Batarang or Batclaw Slam instead. Now, quickly, you're going to have to make a judgement call on whether or not that enemy is dead. The game gives a booming death-knell when you KO an enemy, so you can pay careful attention if you're quick enough, but this can be rough in the middle of battle. At any rate, the goal here is to knock and enemy to the ground in some fashion. As soon as you knock an enemy down, you need to activate Bat Swarm. Bat Swarm will paralyze all of the enemies around Batman for a couple of seconds, giving him time to perform a Ground Takedown on the enemy you just knocked down. These two moves should be thought of as a single unit. It's not Bat Swarm and then Ground Takedown, it's the "Bat Swarm/Ground Takedown" move you're trying to perform here. This is one of the bigger failure points and lynchpins of the Perfect Freeflow achievement. Ground Takedowns are difficult to pull off under any circumstances. Bat Swarm attempts to mitigate that by stopping most of the enemies, but a lot can still go wrong here. Enemies have certain i-frames (like when they're picking up a weapon off the ground), and if you're unlucky they can manage to blink through your Bat Swarm and hit you during your takedown. They may also be out of range, and either come running in or throw a projectile at you. These things can and will happen to you. Sometimes often. Don't let it get to you, just start over, try again, and try to get to the Ground Takedown. An alternative approach to this section is to move the Ultra Stun from the beginning of the combo to here, and try to use it to achieve the Ground Takedown. This is most useful when you've got a group of enemies with low health, and you're afraid of killing them before knocking them down. The best approach here, I've found, is to actually do the Bat Swarm first, then Ultra Stun an enemy, then immediately Ground Takedown them. In most cases, Batman will get out of his Ground Takedown animation just in time to Counter the first incoming attack. It's not foolproof, but it's no more risky than using Ultra Stun is anyway. If you go with this approach, then your first stage of combat is Counter/Gadget, and your second stage is Bat Swarm/Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown. Once you finally succeed with the Ground Takedown, this is the first major checkpoint of the process. You've now done the Strike, Counter, Evade, Ultra Stun, Gadget, Bat Swarm, and Ground Takedown variations. That's 7. That sounds like it's a long way from 12, but it's actually not such a bad thing. If you can pull off a 7 variation bonus in each round of a Challenge, that's 8000 points (2000 per round). If, on top of that, you add each of the 5 gadgets in at some point during the round (remember, the gadgets do not have to be part of the same combo), that's an additional 2000 per round. With these two bonuses alone you'll net 16000 points. Add on top of that the points for the moves you're actually performing. Assuming the minimum of 5x multiplier needed to perform Bat Swarm, it will be worth 200 points. The Ground Takedown following it will be worth 450. That's an additional 650 per round, putting your total at 18,600. Keep in mind here that I'm still not counting all of the points for all of the moves you're using, and you will have to perform other moves to complete the challenges. If you stick to this method, even with very little success, you can easily 3 star many of the combat challenges. But the important thing is that from the 7 variation, each additional variation is an extra 1000 points. So the points add up quickly here. You shouldn't make it your goal to get a perfect 12x variation each round, but you should always follow the process for it as far as it will take you. Let's get back to our method. We've performed the first 7 moves. With Bat Swarm complete, we're free to focus on the rest of our Special Combos. We're going to start with Disarm and Destroy. Disarm and Destroy requires an enemy who has a weapon, and as we progress in the battle, we're going to be knocking more and more weapons out of enemies' hands. The sooner we work in a Disarm and Destroy, the better. Disarm and Destroy also has the advantage of falling back into an Instant Takedown upon failure, so we may accidentally achieve our Instant Takedown variation while going for this one. That's another good reason to go for it first. But finally, and perhaps the best reason to go for Disarm and Destroy first, it's extremely useful for removing problem enemies. If there is an enemy with a Gun, Shield, Stun Rod, or Knife (prioritize in that order), then do your best to use Disarm and Destroy to remove that item from combat. The danger of gun enemies is obvious. They can shoot you at any time, ending a combo. Shield enemies are dangerous because if you ever try to hit one (or use most other attacks on them), they will block it. Their attacks also cannot be countered. This counts as a failed move, and you will lose your combo. Stun Rod enemies are vulnerable to more things than Shield Rod enemies, but they are immune to Strikes from the front (something you'll be doing often), and their attacks cannot be countered. Knife Thugs have no special defenses, but their attacks cannot be countered by the normal counter method (you must hold the counter button and back away from them). This isn't impossible, but it's a hard thing to remember in the middle of most fights and will often result in a hit. After coming out of your Ground Takedown, you're going to want to immediately go back into Redirects. Roll along enemy backs and Strike them as before, building up to a fresh yellow meter. Now, turn Batman to face an enemy who has a weapon of some variety. Any weapon will work, including projectiles. Execute a Disarm and Destroy. In combat challenges, it's best to quickly glance up at the left side of the screen as you're doing this. The game will tell you if you did a Special Combo Disarm and Destroy, or an Instant Takedown. It's usually not that hard to judge, though. If Batman performs and Instant Takedown instead, then your enemy didn't have a weapon (this will usually happen if a projectile enemy throws right before you reach them). Go back into Redirects/Strikes, build up a fresh meter, and try again. If you get to a point where no enemies have weapons (happens often in early challenges like Blind Justice), then just give up on Disarm and Destroy and move on to Multi-Ground Takedown. Our strategy for Multi-Ground Takedown is roughly the same as our earlier Bat Swarm/Ground Takedown. The only difference here is that we only have to do one move instead of two, and we'll have full i-frames during the move. This makes it substantially easier. Still, step one is knocking an enemy to the ground without killing them. Whether by Critical Strikes, Ultra Stun, Batclaw Slam, Batarang, Freeze Grenade, Exposive Gel, or any other method, you must knock at least one enemy to the ground without killing them. This is indicated by the stars above their head, but they can sometimes be hard to catch in the heat of the battle. Once you get an enemy on the ground, Multi-Ground Takedown is effortless, and virtually cannot fail. Remember, once you come out of it immediately go back into Redirects. This will buy you time to think of your next move. This one's a bit conditional. Have you or have you not yet performed and Instant Takedown? If you know you accidentally used one while going for Disarm and Destroy, skip this step. If you didn't or are unsure, use the same method we've been using. Redirect, Strike, Redirect, Strike, until yellow combo meter. Then execute Instant Takedown. Instant Takedown is extremely easy to initiate, and Batman's invincible during it, so it's virtually failure-proof. This is one of our easiest steps. "But wait," you may be saying, "if it's so easy, why didn't we use it earlier and get an easier extra variation?" A couple of reasons. First of all, Instant Takedown KOs an enemy and thins the field. This sounds like a good thing, but it's actually not. When we're going for high variation scores, large groups of enemies actually work to our advantage, especially if we fail out and want to start the whole process over. Secondly, as mentioned before, Disarm and Destroy will often accidentally result in an Instant Takedown, so it's wise to try it first. An exception to this rule may be made in the presence of Armored Thugs. Armored Thugs are problematic because, like Shield Thugs, attempting to attack one will result in your attack being blocked and your combo failing. If there is an Armored Thug on the field, feel free to move Instant Takedown up before Disarm and Destroy in order to eliminate him. After completing these three Special Combos, you will now have a 10x variation. This will net you 5000 points per round, and is equivalent to our old 9x bonus (which was max) in the previous game. I consider this to be the wall to shoot for. If you can hit 10x variation bonuses in just the third and fourth round of every fight, you're extremely like to get the 3 star, especially with the high amount of points you'll be getting from that last Instant Takedown (minimum of 20x50 = 1000 per round). But of course, at some point you're going to want to get that perfect 12x variation achievement, aren't you? Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging. I've saved the last two moves to the end for good reason. The only moves that Batman has left are Beat Down, and Aerial Attack. Let's start with Beat Down. Beat Down takes longer depending on how much health an enemy has remaining. Batman also does not have i-frames during the Beat Down animation (though he can Counter his way out of it safely). For this reason, Beat Down is best executed on an enemy who is already low on health (do not attempt Beat Down on Armored Thugs when going for variation bonuses, it will take substantially longer than on normal thugs). Beat Down is also easier to get off when there are fewer enemies around to attempt to attack Batman. Depending on the number of enemies you started the battle with, at this point you can have killed no less than 3 (Ground Takedown, Multi-Ground Takedown, Instant Takedown). I find that far more often I've killed 5 or 6, just from the extra Strikes and Counters I've been laying out across the battlefield. If you're down to three or less enemies, getting a Beat Down in should be easy. Take an enemy out with a Freeze Grenade, then immediately Redirect over another enemy. Now, if you can, Cape Stun that Enemy, and then turn and do an Ultra Stun on the other enemy (the first Cape Stun is to prevent that enemy from stopping our Ultra Stun). Both Freeze Grenade and Ultra Stun will take an enemy out with plenty of time for you to complete your Beat Down safely, so go ahead and finish the third enemy with it. If you have more than three enemies, the previous approach is not ideal, and you are better off using Bat Swarm. As previously demonstrated (Redirect, Strike), build up to a yellow combo meter, and then Redirect over a single enemy repeatedly until all of the enemies are gathered around you. This should be easier than our previous Bat Swarm, because we do not have to knock an enemy down to the ground first. When all of the enemies are close use Bat Swarm, and then pick your target and go immediately into Beat Down. The last move is Aerial Attack. You must be wondering why I saved Aerial Attack for last. Well, I saved it for last because I hate it. Aerial Attack is second only to Ground Pound itself in terms of how likely Batman is to get punched out of it. Batman goes up on an enemy and comes straight back down. This is worse than Ultra Stun, because with Ultra Stun Batman at least continue to move forward, and will sometimes evade an attack out of luck. This is worse than Beat Down, because Batman cannot Counter out of Aerial Attack safely as he can with Beat Down. True story: the first time I got my 12x variation achievement, I went 0/6 on the last Aerial Attack. Six different fights I had gotten the first 11 variations in, and six times--with only a few enemies left on the field--Batman had been punched during his Aerial Attack animation before it registered. There are a few ways to mitigate this problem. The first is crowd control, as described during Beat Down. If there are only a few enemies left, use Freeze Grenades and Ultra Stuns to take all of them out except for 1, and then use Aerial Attack on him. Another method is to use Aerial Assault. During Aerial Assault Batman will leap to a different enemy. This movement, while slight, will often make the difference in whether or not an attacking enemy successfully hits him. Ultimately, at least for me, the strategy that works best is... you guessed it: Bat Swarm. Build up yet another 5x multiplier, and perform yet another Bat Swarm, and then you should* be able to effortlessly get an Aerial Attack off. Aerial Attack doesn't take as long as a Ground Pound or Beat Down, so even if an enemy is outside of the range of Bat Swarm you will usually be safe to complete the move first (if for some reason they're still alive, projectile or gun enemies will impact the effectiveness of this). *I say "should" because in one of my six failures, I actually had an enemy bend over to pick up a pipe during Bat Swarm, avoiding it by i-frames, and then run over and hit me during my Aerial Attack. I cursed. Knowing that it's a problem child, you may also attempt to work Aerial Attack in somewhere earlier in the combination. For example, setting up for your Multi-Ground Takedown. Or if you somehow find yourself at the edge of the battlefield with a lone enemy, go ahead and sneak the Aerial Attack in and it will be one less thing to worry about. In general, however, my luck with this move has been abysmal. I prefer to leave it off until the very end of the combo, assume it's going to be a total failure, and suffice myself with 11x variations for the purpose of making points. If I happen to get an Aerial Attack off, I just take it as a lucky break. - Combat Method 2 - Method 2 is the simple approach: Critical Strikes. Critical Strikes is a tremendously powerful move, and relatively simple to use once you slow yourself down and get into a steady rhythm of just tapping the  button once whenever you want Batman to attack (unlike what the game implies, timing here does not matter. You have the full combo window to initiate your next Critical Strike). Each Critical Strike is worth +2 hits, then adds 20x your combo meter in points to your score, and they cause Batman to fly around across the screen pretty wildly, which if used carefully to your advantage can be a great defense mechanism. A 19-hit combo (3 initial Strikes, 8 Critical Strikes) is already worth 1,980 points. Add just 5 more Critical Strikes to that chain, and you will be at 4,480. Five more (a total combo of 39 hits at this point) gives you 7,980. For adding just 10 hits (it might sound like a lot, but it's really not), we've added 6000 points to our score. That's more than a perfect 9x variation bonus! There are a couple of different ways to get these massive Critical Strike chains going. The easiest (and least reliable) way is to simply use nothing but the  button. With some dedication you can make this work, but it will cause you some grief with incoming attacks, Stun Rod Thugs, Shield Thugs, or Armored Thugs. For many basic battles, however, this method can be applied successfully. The second step is to intermix counterattacks into your Criticals. Watch for blue lines during Batman's slowdowns before the hits, and try to slip a /\ in when it seems appropriate. This will raise your hit counter, but can be dangerous because it requires a split-second decision on whether or not a thug is about to hit you. If you tap /\ and no attack is coming in, it will count as a failed move and you will lose your combo. If you fail to catch an incoming attack, you will take a hit and lose your combo. The third, and better step (the second step could arguably be skipped for this one in most cases) is to apply a liberal use of Redirects between every 1-2 criticals that you do. A Redirect will buy you time to think, and in large groups of enemies you can simply Redirect around until you see a good opportunity to execute your next Critical. In fact, you can often Redirect over an enemy at the edge of the group, then do a normal evade out into the open. From here you can use your next Critical strike. The final step, very important to remember for some of the challenges, is intermixing your Criticals with Instant Takedowns. Here is a sample flow of what can be done using this technique: Strike, Strike, Strike, Critical Strike, Instant Takedown, [Critical Strike, Critical Strike, Critical Strike, Instant Takedown], repeat ad nauseum. As I've said, veterans of Arkham Asylum must note that the combo point for one Instant Takedown does not count toward the build-up for the next one. Even with that, this method is still devastating. The instant-death effect of Instant Takedown will absolutely obliterate a battlefield, leaving Batman invincible a significant portion of the battle. Instant Takedown also still comes with a 50x modifier, making it substantial for score. In Arkham City, you may want to consider replacing Instant Takedown in your rotation with Disarm and Destroy. This is particularly useful in extremely large groups of enemies with things like Stun Rods, Knives, Shields, or Guns in play. If you kill the thug the weapon will be picked up and come back, but if you destroy the weapon it is permanently out of play. This will also allow you to build up longer Critical Strike chains for more points, but Batman will still be remaining invincible for long periods of the battle. Finally, if you get to a point where there are no weapons available, you do not have to switch the button input you're using. The game will fall Disarm and Destroy back to Instant Takedown for you. The main time this strategy is not as ideal is when there are many projectile thugs, but no other weapons in play. A Disarm and Destroy to take out a projectile is almost never worth giving up the instant-KO of Instant Takedown. Combat Method 2 in this game is made easier by the addition of Freeflow Focus. During Freeflow Focus the rest of the game moves more slowly, but Batman remains at full speed. This makes continuing massive Critical Strike chains almost effortless, and it's extremely difficult for an enemy to slip an attack in in time to stop you. The catch here is that you will not be able to incorporate Instant Takedowns, as they will stop Freeflow Focus. You can, however, still use Ground Takedown. I'll touch more on this in the next section. -Combined Methods- Now remember, we can mix the two methods for tremendous results. Here's an example. We go into battle and recklessly charge our first enemy, and do a ,  combo against him. At this point an attack is coming in (an aggressive enemy with a pipe), so we need to Counter immediately. We have a +3 combo. Next we do an Ultra Stun, because we know to do so after our counter, then we Dodge over the nearest enemy. Next we tap  once to do a Critical Strike, giving us a +2 combo, and immediately we follow it by triggering a Disarm and Destroy to remove a Shield Thug. After this an enemy is behind us so we Enemy Dodge over him, then Ground Dodge away from the group of enemies once. We throw a Batarang to knock an enemy to the ground, but another enemy is charging us and we don't want to risk a Ground Takedown yet. Instead we do a Critical Strike into the charging enemy, knocking him senseless. We Counter an incoming attack, putting us at Special Combo activation (Batclaw Slam, Batarang, Critical Strike (+2), Counter). Now we do Bat Swarm, then our Ground Takedown, quickly finishing off one of the enemies on the ground. At this point an enemy has already recovered and is mid-punch against us, so we tap /\ for a rapid Counter. After the Counter ends we start Enemy Dodging again to buy a second to think. Eventually we perform a quick chain of three Critical Strikes, to clear the air a little, and then go into an Instant Takedown. When the Instant Takedown is over the enemies who are still alive are back up on their feet, so we Dodge away once, turn and fire the Batclaw, perform a Batclaw Slam. We finish things off with a series of Ultra Stuns mixed with Ground Takedowns until everything is dead. As opposed to Arkham Asylum, I've replaced the finisher here with Ultra Stuns and Ground Takedown. This is because Ultra Stun is guaranteed to not kill a foe, meaning you can milk extra Ground Takedowns out effortlessly. Ground Takedown is worth x75, not x50, so once you get a 20+ combo a Ground Takedown over an Instant will net you an extra 500 points. This is half as much as it was in the previous game, but you've also got more crowd-control utilities to make Ground Takedowns easier to pull off. Once you've narrowed the battlefield down to 3 or even 4 enemies, it's incredibly easy to switch to Ground Takedown mode. Lob off a Freeze Grenade to freeze one enemy, then continue to Redirect (remember, always Redirect between moves), until you have an opportunity to Ultra Stun a guy. Now there are only two guys still standing. As I've explained before, Cape Stun one of them (or Critical Strike or Batarang if you prefer), and then Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown the other. Now there are only 3 guys left, one of whom is frozen, and the other is probably still Ultra Stunned. Keep using Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown until everyone is dead. This will wrack up *tremendous* points. At a certain point near the end of the fight you may want to allow Batman to achieve Freeflow Focus to make this even easier. It's also important to realize that the Critical Strikes technique can be used for very quick chaining between your first and second Special Combo attack, the same way it can be used to chain between Instant Takedowns as I mentioned above. This makes flowing from one to the other much faster. In Arkham City, it takes only 3 Critical Strikes to activate any Special Combo move. If a Counter or other attack (such as Batarang) was involved, only 2 are required. -Further Techniques- Aside from these two main modes of combat, there are a few other things you should keep in mind as you're working for points. Gadgets are worth very little points. A Combo Batarang has a multiplier of 10, a Batclaw Slam 25. That's technically only an additional 5x multiplier for using the Batclaw at all, and then only if you follow it with a Strike and nothing else. Now there are a few advantages to Batclaw Slams, but as far as points go it's not overwhelming. Batclaw Slams don't Critical in this game, so technically you can get two Batclaw Slams in for every Critical Strike, making them worth arguably more than twice as many points. However, while the Slam itself is safe, Batman's Batclaw animation is not safe, and it makes this entire process take substantially more time. The overall point here is, don't think of gadgets in terms of enhancing your score. Except, do keep in mind that Gadgets are a separate variation score now, which it does not have to be part of one combo. This means that for every combat challenge, you have absolutely no excuse for not using every single gadget at least once before the end of the fight, and netting an easy 2000 points. Beyond getting this variation bonus, though, I would not worry about gadgets as part of your standard scoring tactic. Perhaps to go along with it now being easier to use, Ground Pound is now only a 75X multiplier. It is still one of the biggest cash-cows for score, though. A very useful tactic is to learn how many of the enemies in a wave you need to kill, then start doing Ground Pounds on all of them. This can be setup with the Bat Swarm attack in this game, as opposed to the gadget-heavy methods used in the previous game. Starting at a 25x combo (fairly easy to achieve with Critical Strikes in large groups), 5 Ground Pounds alone will net you 10,125 points. Now it's often difficult to get a full 5 Ground Pounds in at that point (after all of those Critical Strikes, I find that most of the enemies are highly weakened and die to the Batarang or next punch often), but you can see that when you can pull it off, the rewards are well worth it. If you find yourself unable to perform a Ground Pound in a lot of situations, Instant Takedown is also a good move. At 50 points it's still a significant reward, and safer to work into a battle between Critical Strikes. In fact, I hate to say this, but this method is actually a little overpowered in this game. I was able to do all of the Combat Challenges using only Critical Strikes, Instant Takedown, and Ground Pound. I did not have to rely on variations, regular or gadget, at all. Not only did I complete all of the Combat Challenges, but in several I beat most of the three-star cutoffs by a factor of 2-3 *times* the requirement. The game tries to mix things up a bit by adding in Armored and Shielded Thugs, but they're easily removed with Special Combos Takedown and Disarm and Destroy (make them early priorities in the fight). Ninjas are also added in as well, but ninjas are just as vulnerable to a Redirect/Critical Strike as other enemies, so I find they actually make little difference to the fight. They can't be disarmed, but they also can't drop their weapons for other enemies, meaning Instant Takedown handles them just fine. ---[EV1] - Environment--- There are a few environmental factors to consider during combat. Electric Fences: Throwing an enemy into one of these will kill him instantly and grant a 100 point, non-combo'd Takedown bonus. Hitting it as Batman will count as a hit and reset your combo meter. Flagged scenery: This is an important one. Certain arenas can have background scenery that thugs can use as weapons, including pipes, hammers, throwable boxes or chairs, etc. If an unarmed thug goes to one of these, they will have to spend a second attempting to obtain the weapon, and then they will have it available. When a thug attempts to access the gun boxes, an alarm will sound to warn Batman of it. Once you knock a weapon from a thug's hand it remains available in combat, and can be picked up easily at any time by another unarmed thug. Scenery cannot always be fetched in Challenge Mode, however. Certain pieces of it are flagged during various rounds as being available. These flags are individual to a specific element, and do not apply to the weapon class as a whole. In other words, just because one pipe is flagged does not mean they are all flagged. Once an object has been flagged in a round, it will remain flagged for all future rounds if no thug successfully uses it. Unlike Arkham Asylum, these items can now be removed by using Disarm and Destroy, and should be. Allowing items like Shields, Stun Rods, and Knives to stack up across all four rounds can be very dangerous. During the early stages of building combos, Disarm and Destroy should be used liberally until no dangerous items remain in play. ---[EN1] - Enemies--- I've decided to divide the enemy strategy sections up into Challenge Mode and Story Mode enemies. Most Challenge Mode enemies do also appear in story mode, but the strategies I discuss for them are more relevant to Challenge Mode overall. -Challenge Mode Enemies- There are nine main flavors of enemies in Challenge Mode. Unarmed Thugs, Pipe Thugs, Stun Rod Thugs, Knife Thugs, Shield Thugs, Armored Thugs, Projectile Thugs, Ninjas, Lieutenants, and Titans. Interestingly, Gun Thugs do not appear in Combat Challenges. This makes building huge combos for giant score much easier than it was in the first game. They can appear in Campaign Mode, though, but Disarm and Destroy makes easy work of them. --- Unarmed Thugs: Your garden-variety thugs. All they can do is punch you, and it can be countered. They also have a charge attack, which will happen much faster than a punch and can be tighter to counter. Any Unarmed Thug can pick up any weapon that is flagged as available and use it against you. All of the other types of thugs mentioned above are technically the same enemy as this one, with the exception of Armored Thugs. --- Pipe Thugs: Pipe Thugs are like Unarmed Thugs but have increased aggression, faster attacks, longer reach, deal more damage, and cause Batman a brief period of blurriness after a hit. All in all they are not a significant threat, and can be handled the same way as normal thugs. When I classifed these Thugs, I am also including other pipe-like weapons, such as bats, hammer, polls, etc. --- Stun Rod Thugs: Stun Rod Thugs are slower than others, but their attacks cannot be countered. Also if Batman punches them, it will cause Batman to take damage and reel. The easiest way to handle a Stun Rod Thug is either to roll over their back then combo them normally, use a Special Combo move, Ultra Stun them. Any of these methods will cause them to drop the Stun Rod. Once dropped the Stun Rod can be picked up by other thugs. This should be a Disarm and Destroy priority. If you choose to use the Batclaw, keep in mind that when pulled towards Batman they can do damage, so you must quickly dodge over them or out of their way. This is sometimes impossible if they were too close when you fired the Batclaw. --- Knife Thugs: Knife Thugs are no longer special enemies, they are now simply thugs carrying a knife. Like with a Stun Rod, knives can be dropped and picked up by other enemies. Knife Thugs have a special attack. It shows up with a yellow indicator. This means that Batman cannot Counter it, but he must use the Knife Evade technique. Since this technique is not safe to pull off consistently, I do not recommend attempting it. Instead whenever you see a Knife Thug about to attack you, simply Redirect over them. If you take the hit you will lose your combo. You can also perform a Knife Evade Takedown on these enemies, which is one of the most rewarding techniques in the game, worth a 100x multiplier. Unfortunately, given how situational it is, and how easy to make a mistake, I never recommended attempting this at the end of a high combo. --- Shield Thugs: These are most likely the toughest enemy class in the game. A thug with a shield is immune to nearly all sources of attack, and they have an unblockable attack, as well as an unblockable charge. If taken out (Instant Takedown or any other means), the Shield remains in play. These are your number 1 priority for Disarm and Destroy. If there is ever a shield in play, you should destroy it at the first opportunity. They are also vulnerable to a few other techniques. If you are using the Redirect/Critical Strike technique, you can hit a Shield Thug as long as you hit them with a shot from the REC first. So it becomes a Redirect/REC/Critical Strike combination. Keep in mind that they will only let you hit them once. If you try for a second attack, they will get their shield back into place and you will hit it, counting as a failed move. This can be used to make Shield Thugs relatively harmless, but it's still best to destroy the Shield when possible. Aerial Attack can also be used against them, and will cause them to drop their shield. More often than not, in Challenge Mode this will just result in another enemy picking it up (and likely cause you to take a hit during Aerial Attack). That approach is not recommended. Ultra Stun does not affect Shield Thugs. --- Armored Thugs: Similar to Shield Thugs, Armored Thugs cannot drop their armor, and therefore are not vulnerable to Disarm and Destroy. These guys should be your second priority (first if there are no Shield Thugs present) for disposal, but you will have to use Instant Takedown instead of Disarm and Destroy. Armored Thugs are also vulnerable to the REC, and it will cause them to be blown back into other enemies and stunned for some time. You can also combo an Armored Thug normally after an REC blast. This is not like Shield Thugs. They do not recover after a single hit, but will allow Batman a full combo. Armored Thugs are also vulnerable to both Ultra Stun and Beat Down, but not Aerial Attack. If you have to dispose of an Armored Thug and do not have a Special Combo available, the recommended tactic is Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown. If there are too many enemies to manage this, simply freeze them with a Freeze Grenade and get back to them later. --- Projectile Thugs: When a projectile has been flagged, Unarmed Thugs will go to throw them at Batman. These can be handled easily handled with a Batarang before they are thrown, or any of the other gadgets for that matter. They can also now be countered, allowing Batman to throw the projectile back to the enemy who threw it, or at another nearby enemy. They can also be handled with Disarm and Destroy, but this is not recommended if there are higher-priority targets (though it will sometimes happen by accident). While here, I'll mention a note about Campaign Mode Gun Thugs, since it's related to how projectiles work. When the gun boxes are flagged for combat via the Dangerous Zones campaign modifier, enemies can only pull one gun from the box for the entire challenge. This means if you Dispose and Destroy of the guns in Round 1, they will not be present for the remainder of the fight. This is recommended, since the bulk of your points will come from round 3 and 4, and you do not wish to be shot mid-combo. --- Ninjas: These are interesting enemies. They have a mix of both Knife-style attacks (which must be Knife Evaded), and regular attacks (which can be Countered normally). Their combos are much faster than regular Knife Thugs, and attempting a Knife Evade or Knife Evade Takedown is even less recommended here. Normally Ninjas will not allow themselves to be hit by any of Batman's gadgets. When you attempt to gadget them, they will drop a small smoke cloud and dodge out of the attack's way. They can actually do this with any attack, including regular Strikes. The important thing is to not panic when this happens. A Ninja evading Batman's attack does not count as a failed move. As long as you stay calm and don't let it shake you by thinking it broke your combo, you can proceed back into your Strike chain. Ninjas also cannot knocked to the ground. Even if you perform an Ultra Stun on them, they will leap back to their feet immediately. This means that a Ninja can never have Ground Takedown used against them (this can be important to remember near the end of fights). Ninjas should be handled the same way as normal thugs, meaning Redirect over them and then Critical Strike, and Instant Takedown once available. This tactic actually works for the gadgets, as well. After either a Redirect over a Ninja's back, or a single Cape Stun (not an Ultra, they auto-recover from it), you can tag them with one of Batman's gadgets. Using the Freeze Grenade or REC is one of the few ways to stun them for an extended period of time (but still does not allow for Ground Takedowns). --- Lieutenants: A new addition to the game, these guys are excellent for farming points. Like Titans, their attacks can hurt Batman through any i-frames, including Instant Takedown, so be wary of that. Whenever a Lieutenant is on the field they are your number 1 priority. This is not a problem, because they are so easy to kill. Simply build up a 5x combo through any means, approach the Lieutenant, Redirect over them to their back, pause for about a half second (to reset Batman's behavior a bit), and then use Bat Swarm. Now turn and immediately begin rapid-tapping  against the stunned Lieutenant. If another enemy approaches, Counter the incoming attack. The combo Batman uses on Lieutenants is the same as the Beat Down combo, and can be safely countered out of at any point. As soon as your combo meter turns yellow, activate Bat Swarm again. Repeat until dead. This will build up a 50+ hit combo without breaking a sweat, even in the fights where there are also Titans involved, followed by a 50x modifier Lieutenant Takedown. If the enemies are not being particularly aggressive you can try to go beyond the simple 5-hit combo here, but be careful. At a certain point, the Lieutenant does some move that causes Batman to be knocked back, resulting in an auto-fail. For safety's sake, even if you are not using Bat Swarm when your meter turns yellow, then you should absolutely use it once it turns red for Freeflow Focus. --- Titans: Titans have been touched up a bit for this game. Their attacks remain approximately the same as Arkham Asylum, but the method for handling them has been changed completely. Titans will still charge from time to time, but you can no longer use a Batarang to stun them into losing control. This is compensated for by the fact that the charge is not as accurate as it once was (the Titan will not adjust its path if you dodge out of the way), and it does not have the same distance (they will often stop after just a few steps). Titans can be handled by Redirect/Critical Strikes, like any enemy, but they are best handled with Ultra Stun followed by a quick 8-hit combo. In order to easily set this up, like with Lieutenant, I recommended preceding it with a Bat Swarm. Bat Swarm to stun the Titan and any surrounding enemies, Ultra Stun, and then attempt to combo the Titan with Critical Strikes while Countering any incoming blows. This is pretty easy, and allows you to go into a Rodeo. While riding the Titan, you can steer it into enemies for Rodeo Strikes. These do a lot more damage in this game, it seems, and will quickly clear out a battlefield. I don't recommend doing this, as it does not seem to be an optimal way to score. Instead, after you've gotten 5 hits with the Titan (you want to refill your Special Combo counter), start mashing the () button until Batman disembarks. The Titan Shockwave will keep knocking down nearby enemies without doing much harm. However, its hits do not count toward your Special Combo meter, so it should not be used until you have a yellow meter, as I said. -Story Mode Enemies- These are enemies who you will only see in Story Mode. The bosses in this game have a surprisingly liberal checkpoint system, with Batman returning at full health if he dies. This mainly makes beating each of the bosses more of a matter of patience and trial and error than actual strategy. The exceptions to this rule are Joker and Mister Freeze, who have no checkpoints. For the purposes of this guide, all of these bosses were beaten on Hard Mode with no health upgrades, so overall I would say they are not particularly challenging. Still, I will endeavor to write up what little strategies I can for them. If it's not completely obvious, this section will contain some minor spoiler material, so if you do not wish see this material, skip to shortcut tag XB. I have left a large whitespace buffer on each side of this section for your convenience. [ Spoiler whitespace buffer - Story Mode spoilers below this block ] Solomon Grundy (want pants): The reanimated corpse of Cyrus Gold is a much easier starting boss than Bane was in Arkham Asylum. This battle is entirely about using Combat Explosive Gels on the three electric panels on the ground. You can lay one on a panel at any time, and then run around the room watching to see when the panels are open (they are all in unison), and then detonate it. For the first round they are always open. This round should be done quickly without taking any damage. When lightning is flowing from the panels to Grundy, make sure to avoid it. When Grundy falls to his knees, run to him and hammer  rapidly. Batman will do an auto-combo and end the round. For the second round the panels will start opening and closing, spending most of the time closed. Additionally, Grundy will summon flaming maggots to attack you along the ground. These can actually do decent damage, so I recommend a quick series of rapid-fire Batarangs to take them out. Just keep evading Grundy's attacks (they're slow and very poor), and take out the panels when open. Auto-combo Grundy again to end the wave. Upon reaching Wave 3, you get a checkpoint. Grundy is now tied to the far wall, and attacks from there. He will still throw maggots, and they should be dispatched swiftly. He may deal extra damage in this round, but otherwise I found him uneventful. Wave 4 is actually the Penguin. He will be firing rockets at you. Just Evade your way around the room in a strafing pattern to reach him, then perform another auto-combo to win. --- Ra's Al Ghul (the Demon's Head): The first wave of Ra's is a battle of several sand soldiers. One of them will periodically turn into Ra's to do a special attack against you. This may tempt you to attempt to single that soldier out, but don't bother. The goal here is to simply kill all of the sand soldiers, so just treat it like you would any other fight, with Redirects and Critical Strikes. I recommend using Instant Takedown at every opportunity it is available to speed things along. The second wave Ra's summons a giant sand golem to fight you. Ra's himself is hovering in the air a few feet in front of the golem, and he is your target. You must use the REC to deal damage to him. There are a few small walls of sand soldiers moving around the golem, and when these are in front of Ra's you will not be able to hurt him. The best strategy here is to get as far away from the golem as possible, all the way out to the edge of the combat zone. This gives you the most time to react to the incoming attacks. Stand back there and rapid-fire stubbornly with the REC, dodging out of the way of incoming attacks from time to time when necessary. You should easily blow through this wave. After finishing this, you will go into a brief scene where you must Counter an onslaught from Ra's by rapid-firing /\. For the third wave a massive wall of ninjas will be jumping onto your back. This is another rapid-fire counter section, so just mash /\ until they're blown off. If you're careful with your timing, you can stop mashing the button as soon as Batman counters, and preserve a 20-hit combo here. From here's it's simply a matter of killing the 20 ninjas. Like with wave 1, Critical Strikes, Redirects, and Instant Takedown make quick work of this. The fourth wave is a remix of the second wave, but it's much harder now. Ra's has a solid wall of sand soldiers circling him, with only a narrow opening about the width of 3 of them at one point in the wall. Your tactic remains unchanged (get out to the edge of the battlefield, rapid-fire REC, dodge incoming attacks), but it's a bit more frustrating to get in the damage you need to end the fight. The golem is more aggressive now, which will result in more dodging, and you have less openings for dealing damage any way. Whenever you see the opening in the wall appear I recommend rapid-firing the REC regardless, and just taking a hit or two if you have to. It may take you a couple of attempts to beat this wave, but it has a checkpoint, so it's not a big deal. This wave ends with another rapid-fire Counter sequence, followed immediately by a Beat Down sequence (mash ). --- Mister Freeze (Ice to see you!): This is a great fight. Victor is the first true stealth boss of the series (unless you consider shining the Light of Your Mind(tm) at Scarecrow as a boss), and he's a thrilling experience. Since this isn't a true combat battle, I'm not going to go into much detail here. I will, however, tell you that it took me 8 Takedown techniques to defeat him on Hard Mode. After each one of these you must perform a combo on Fries to do damage to him. Once you use any of these techniques, Fries does something to permanently disable that move for the rest of the fight. When he throws his drones out, they can be taken out with batarangs. Silent Takedown - simply walk up behind him and press /\ Window Takedown - Lure him over to one of the windows (he follows your footprints), crouch on the other side of it, and hit /\ Grate Takedown - Takedown from inside of one of the grate areas. Drop Attack (from railing) or Ledge Takedown - You can only do one of these, as Fries will then disable all of the ledges in the room. Electromagnets - If you fire the REC at one of these it will pull Fries into it, giving you a chance to combo him after he falls. Explode wall - Roughly the same as a window takedown, just use Explosive Gel to trap a wall, then walk away. Fries will follow your footsteps and go to it, then detonate the wall into him. Ceiling Takedown - This one is a little trickier to pull off. There's a ceiling on the side of the room that Batman starts that can be used to drop into Fries. However, you can't get him to walk under it normally. First, you have to destroy the breakable wall (right side of the room in the direction Batman is first facing) under the platform. They you can walk all the way across the area here, and make Freeze take a path that will allow you to ceiling takedown him. Zipline Takedown - I was seriously running out of ideas when I tried this one. If you just fire the zipline across a doorway right as Freeze is walking out of it, you can zipline into him, and it will knock him to the ground. --- Joker (The Clown Prince of Crime): Joker's less of a boss, and more of an epic battle. This is the only Story Mode battle that is on par with the hardest of the Challenge Mode rounds. This battle will consist of a large number of assorted enemies, 1 Lieutenant, and 1 Titan. The Lieutenant spawns fairly early into the fight, and should be dispatched immediately (standard Lieutenant tactic as described in the Combat Enemies section). After dealing with the Lieutenant you'll have some time before the Titan spawns. Use this time to get off as many Disarm and Destroys as you can. The Titan can be a bit harder to deal with in this group, and you may catch yourself dying on him a time or two. Your best bet here is to Ultra Stun him, punch him once, then Redirect over him, and then continue a chain of Redirects and Critical Strikes into him. The Titan is large enough that a Redirect over him will generally keep moving Batman enough to prevent incoming attacks from being a problem. When you're on the Titan, make full use of the time, using as many Rodeo Strikes as you can. Don't worry about using any of the Titan special attacks, they will just reduce your ride time too much to be worth it. Once the Titan is taken down, switch to Criticals/Redirect/Instant Takedowns to finish things off. Aside from this just being a standard--if difficult--battle, there are two extra factors that you must keep track of. One is the trains that come through the room periodically. As long as you stick to the middle area of the room you will usually be safe, but it's extremely easy to forget about the tracks and Redirect onto them just in time to take a hit. Just be mindful of this, and you should be fine. The other factor is Joker himself. Joker is mostly harmless. He's nothing more than an standard thug, with invincibility. You can disarm him, knock him to the ground, all normally. For the most part he shouldn't cause you much distress, and can be safely ignored. Just try not to focus on him, as any attacks made against him are wasted. Once all of the other enemies are killed, Joker will die in a single hit. If you attempt to Instant Takedown Joker he will simply knock you aside (tougher than he looks?), but the game will not deduct the move from your pool and you can attempt to use it on another thug, as long as you do not panic and fail-out of your current combo. If for any reason Joker is causing you a significant headache, you can simply Freeze Grenade him and keep him out of the main fight. --- Clayface (or, the big twist ending!) The tactic for Basil Karlo is not dissimilar to the one for Ra's. Get away from him, keep your distance, Evade the attacks as they come in (Batman can roll over the sweeping scythe attack), and just fire off constant Freeze Grenades as fast as your fingers can tap R2. This serves two purposes. The Freeze Grenades not only do damage to him, but they also slow him down, making all of his attacks easier to evade. In fact, even when you're dodge-rolling through his attacks, you should attempt to continue lobbing in Freeze Grenades to keep him slowed, for defensive purposes. One difference in this fight is that you're actually going to want to fight in the corners of the room. These corners are trapped with explosives, and when Clayface does the move where he turns into a large ball and charges you they'll detonate. You may take a hit for doing this, but it's worth it, as the explosions cause massive damage to him. Even with no health upgrades on hard, I found the damage from his attacks to be underwhelming. After finishing his health bar you'll need to charge him to execute the round-finishing cutscene by taking the sword from his back. In Round 2 he adds a move where he spins around, throwing mud across the chamber. This is actually a pretty inconvenient attack, and I haven't found a foolproof way to avoid damage from it. Just Evade around the room and try to find an area where he's firing the fewest mudballs, and do what you can. Aside from that he's roughly unchanged from Round 1, other than being a bit more aggressive with some of his attacks. Round 3 is entirely different from the previous two rounds, but all in all probably less difficult. This is a battle with a large group of mud-creatures. This is similar to the Sand Soldiers you had to fight during the Ra's battle. The difference here is that Batman now has a sword, and all of the enemies go down in one hit, including Counters. This is really more fun than anything else, but it's not productive. The purpose of this round is still to damage Clayface. While you're killing his soldiers he will periodically rematerialize from the puddle in the muddle of the room and attempt to attack you. Throw a Freeze Grenade or two at him here and he'll freeze up, giving you an opportunity to go over and hit him with the sword. After a few of these, Batman will finish the battle. --- Mad Hatter (O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!) Jervis Tetch isn't much of a fight, but it is technically a combat section, so I figured I'd touch on it here. This battle will keep spawning enemies indefinitely, so you need to keep your eye on the outskirts of the battlefield. Hatter himself will periodically spawn out there and start charging an attack. When he does, you need to move over to him and use a Critical Strike on him. After a few of these, the battle will end. [ Spoiler whitespace buffer - Story Mode spoilers above this block ] [XB]. Section B: Riddler's Revenge ---[CG1] - Combat Challenges--- These are not nearly as difficult as they were in Arkham Asylum. The additions of Disarm and Destroy, Freeze Grenades, Ultra Stun, and Bat Swarm allow you to retain full control of the combat in nearly any situation, meaning you are far less likely to ever lose combo. After mitigating dangers are removed, nearly every round of the combat challenges can be done with a single Redirect/Critical Strike chain with ease. With the extremely stacked Round 4's in each challenge, this will generally result in beating the 3-star score by dramatic margins. The Combat Challenges are also conceptually simpler than they were in Arkham Asylum. None of them are timed, none of them have trapped instant-death floors, and none of them have guns in play, even on Extreme. For this reason, most of my advice for each challenge is going to be widely the same, and basically involves reading my write-up in shortcut PT1. Remember, ending battles with long combo chains, and Ultra Stun + Ground Takedown is overwhelmingly effective. Overall, I'd say there are just way too many points for the challenges in this game. Still, in this section I will attempt to point out strategic differences where they exist. A couple of notes about how I summarize the rounds. The first number will be the number of standard thugs in play. This number includes all thugs regardless of their equipment, except for Armored Thugs. All Armored Thugs, Ninjas, Lieutenants, or Titans will be noted after the regular thug count. After all enemy counts have been given, I will the enumerate the weapons that are introduced into the field on this round. This will not include counts for weapons that existed in previous rounds. I will generally assume that projectiles are always in play. Rather than noting when they are, I will instead note when they are not. --- Blind Justice - 6000, 12000, 24000 R1: 3 Thugs; projectiles disallowed R2: 5 Thugs; projectiles disallowed R3: 8 Thugs R4: 10 Thugs Blind Justice is one of the hardest challenges to consistently get the 3 Star on, believe it or not. You can still achieve it with a simple Redirect/Critical Strike tactic, but you'll only break the wall by 10000 or so points. This means that if you're not executing perfectly, just a few mistakes can knock you below the line. This makes Blind Justice easy in Challenge Mode, but it can actually be a nuisance in Campaign Mode, where you want to 3-star it first time, every time. To that end, I actually recommend approach Blind Justice with a variation approach. More on this can be read in my Combat Method 1 under section PT1. A 5 Gadget Variation Bonus and a 7 Varation Bonus will net 4000 bonus points per round, or 16000 overall. This leaves just 8000 to clean up for the 3-star. Assuming at least a couple of long-combo chains, you should easily be able to make that up. --- Survival of the Fittest - 8000, 16000, 32000 R1: 4 Thugs; projectiles disallowed R2: 9 Thugs; 1 Knife R3: 14 Thugs; 2 Knives R4: 20 Thugs Remember what I said about challenges having way too many points in this game? This challenge is the poster child for that. The final 3 star cutoff is a meager 30000 points, and you can break 80000 points with your Base Score in Round 4 alone. The only noteworthy thing to take away here is to Disarm and Destroy the knife that is introduced in Round 2, and then the two that are added for Round 3. If there are no knives available for Round 4, you should effortlessly be able to 3 star this challenge with your Round 4 score alone. If for some reason you're struggling to hold combo, remember that using 5 gadgets at the beginning of each round will add 8000 points. --- Rooftop Rumble - 8000, 16000, 32000 R1: 6 Thugs; 2 Knives R2: 7 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R3: 14 Thugs; 1 Knife R4: 10 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs This battle has more variety than anything you've faced so far, but it shouldn't be much of a problem. In Round 1 your main priority is going to be destroying the two knives that are in play to keep them from adding up into later rounds. In Round 2, you're going to want to build quickly up to a Special Combo, and use Instant Takedown on the Armored Thug. Batman is very insistent about this, and he will actually go pretty far out of his way to get an Armored Thug with Instant Takedown, even knocking other thugs aside to get to him. So just point Batman in the general direction of an Armored Thug, activate Instant Takedown, and he'll do the rest. If you have a hard time taking out the Armored Thugs and keep losing combo, make sure to do all 5 gadgets and some variations to make up the points. There's also a knife that can be removed in Round 3, but it's not as much of a threat now, as it's the last knife that will be introduced for the battle. Round 3 is actually your big score-farming round for this challenge. It's the most thugs of any of the rounds, and none of them have special defenses. Your goal here should be to finish the entire fight in one combo, don't worry about variations. Do constant Redirect/Critical Strike, activate Instant Takedown when available, and make certain to finish at least the last enemy with Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown (I recommend the last 2 to 3, however). --- Hell's Gate - 8000, 16000, 32000 R1: 3 Ninjas (kick back!) R2: 10 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R3: 7 Thugs, 3 Ninjas R4: 7 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug, 6 Ninjas (late spawn) This challenge introduces ninjas to Challenge Mode. I am genuinely uncertain if ninjas are actually meant to be an additional threat in this game, but to me they just come off as another unimportant thug. As long as you stick to Redirect/Critical Strike on them for every attack, their presence should make no real difference in your tactics here. Ninjas cannot be disarmed, and do not drop their weapons, so don't worry about Disarm and Destroy. Rounds 2 and 4 have an Armored Thug, so once again your priority there will be a swift Instant Takedown. Round 4 has a peculiar mechanic where, once the battlefield has been reduced to a certain number of enemies, a fresh wave of Ninjas spawn. This may spook you, but just be prepared for it, don't lose your combo, and treat them like you do the other thugs. One minor inconvenience with this challenge is that, because of the addition of Ninjas, it be difficult to end a massive combo with a Ground Takedown for the boatload of points it's worth. Ninjas are immune to Ultra Stun and Ground Takedown. To that end, in Round 4 I recommend keeping a couple of thugs alive until the end of the fight, and focus on dispatching the ninjas with Criticals/Instant Takedown. When the Ninjas are all gone, use Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown on the remaining thugs as you always would. --- Funhouse Brawl - 15000, 30000, 60000 R1: 5 Thugs; 1 Shield R2: 9 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug; 2 Knives R3: 12 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs R4: 21 Thugs, 1 Lieutenant; 1 Shield This is an interesting challenge, with a lot of variety in it, but it's another challenge that suffers from "way too many points available" syndrome. It has a slightly higher cutoff than some of the others, but it's still easy to shatter that cutoff by more than 100000 points. The first wave is your first exposure to a shield in Challenge Mode. Disarm and Destroy it. This is your only priority for this wave. You do not want to leave the shield floating around as a nuisance for the rest of the challenge, and you certainly don't want it mixing in with the other shield in Round 4. There's a bit more to do in Round 2. The Armored Thug should be your first priority, via Instant Takedown. After this there are two knives that can be disposed of with Disarm and Destroy. I recommend knocking out at least one of these for variation purposes, but aside from that, they're not particularly dangerous to leave around. Round 3 isn't much different from Round 2, except that you have 2 Armored Thugs here. if for some reason you're having trouble distinguishing the Armored Thugs from the regular thugs, remember that Detective Mode makes it much easier to tell. I will often do a fight in Detective Mode until I have disposed of all yellow or orange items on the screen, and then switch back to regular vision. There's a Lieutenant in Round 4. He is worth an absolutely vulgar amount of points. You can read more on Lieutenants in my enemy write-ups in EN1, but overall the strategy is to build up to a Special Combo on regular thugs, move to the Lieutenant, Bat Swarm, punch Lieutenant until Special Combo activates again (it goes fast), Bat Swarm, repeat until death. Even allowing for mistakes, you'll usually come out of this ordeal with a good 20-30 hit combo, and from there should go immediately into a Disarm and Destroy on the new shield. After that, it's just Critical Strikes and Instant Takedowns for massive points all the way home. --- Prison Riot - 8000, 16000, 32000 R1: 6 Thugs; 1 Stun Rod, projectiles disallowed R2: 8 Thugs; 1 Knife, 1 Shield R3: 8 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R4: 10 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs; 1 Shield, 1 Stun Rod, 1 Knife The first appearance of Stun Rods in Challenge mode, this challenge doesn't have the total over-abundance of enemies several of the others do. It also has the highest number of enemies who can cause an attack to fail you've encountered thus far. If you're not attentive, by Round 4 you can have 2 Shields, 2 Stun Rods, and 2 Armored Thugs in play. This will create a scenario where there are only 4 enemies on the screen you can attack regularly. So let's avoid that. In Round 1, Disarm and Destroy the Stun Rod. In Round 2, Disarm and Destroy the Shield, and preferably the Knife as well. There's nothing to destroy in Round 3, but you will have an Armored Thug to deal with. You can either Instant Takedown him, as always, but if you're looking for some spice in your life, remember that hitting an Armored Thug with the REC first will allow you to combo them regularly, if that's really what your heart desires. In Round 4 you're going to want to take out the Shield immediately. Leaving the single last Stun Rod available isn't a big deal if you want, since it's easy to track out of the corner of your eye and not accidentally attack it. Other than that you'll be using Instant Takedown on the Armored enemies, and proceeding as always. Since this challenge is a little lighter on thugs than some of the others, you may wish to use all 5 gadgets at the beginning of every round, to stack up that free 8000 bonus points. I also recommend mixing in a few other moves for the variation bonus. Remember, by default you're going to be using Strike, Evade, Counter (likely. if not, it's easy to work in), Instant Takedown, and Disarm and Destroy just to get through these rounds. Throwing out a Batarang and activating Bat Swarm at least once are both incredibly safe, with very little risky, and just adding in the two of those will grab you an extra 1500 points per round (7 variation bonus vs. 5) Add that to your 8000 for gadgets, and you've easily squeezed in an extra 14000 points. If you want more, add an Ultra Stun. But beyond this everything's really gravy, and holding combos and using high-end Instant Takedowns should get you the remainder without trouble. --- Blind Justice (Extreme) - 8000, 16000, 32000 R1: 4 Thugs; 1 Knife R2: 5 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R3: 9 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug; 1 Knife R4: 10 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs There's not a lot for me to elaborate for this challenge. If you've read up to this point, you're well aware of what to do. Disarm and Destroy the Knife in Round 1, Instant Takedown the Armored Thug in Round 2. Instant Takedown the Armored Thug in Round 3 then Disarm and Destroy the Knife. Instant Takedown both of the Armored Thugs in Round 4 (use Detective Mode for easier tracking), building large Critical Strike combos, end battle with Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown. Like the previous challenge, this is a challenge fairly light on enemies, so remember to start every wave by firing off all 5 gadgets. --- Survival of the Fittest (Extreme) - 15000, 30000, 60000 R1: 4 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R2: 9 Thugs, 1 Titan; 1 Knife R3: 14 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug; 2 knives R4: 20 Thugs, 1 Titan In Round 1, use Instant Takedown to dispose of the Armored Thug (seeing a pattern yet?) In Round 2 you'll get your first Challenge Mode Titan. These guys aren't quite as easy or rewarding as Lieutenants were. There's a more detailed write-up in the enemy section of the guide (EN1), but the strategy is basically to use Bat Swarm (to stop the other enemies), then Ultra Stun the Titan, then combo him vigorously. As the other enemies recover from Bat Swarm you should switch to Redirects/Criticals against the Titan from both sides, for safety purposes, until another Bat Swarm is available. Remember not to let Rodeo Strike kill too many of the other thugs. It does huge damage, and will eat through them rapidly. Just build up to a Special Combo with Rodeo Strikes, and then mash () until the ride ends. After finishing the Titan Disarm and Destroy the knife. There's more coming, and you don't need too many of them to stack up. Otherwise proceed with farming this round for points as always. Round 3 is really the round for making the bulk of this challenge's points in. There's a single Armored Thug who needs to be dispatched with Instant Takedown, but beyond that all of the enemies can be attacked easily, and there are 14 of them. This should give you plenty of leeway to net a minimum of 25000 points here, and allow you to go into Round 4 already very close to the 3 star cutoff. Before this wave ends, I recommend taking out all knives that are still in play. There's no need to let them stack up with the Titan in Round 4. Round 4 is basically the same as Round 2, but with more thugs. For the most part this shouldn't make much of a difference for you, but it can make it tricky to pull off a perfect Bat Swarm and stun the entire room. You'll likely find yourself having to Counter out of the combos you're performing on the Titan, but it shouldn't matter. If you took out the knives in Round 3 every incoming attack can be easily countered, and then afterward you can switch quickly back to attacking the Titan until the ride begins. Once the Titan is down go back to Instant Takedowns as frequently as possible. As long as you did well in Round 3 then even with a poor performance here, you should find yourself leaving this round with the 3 star in the bag. --- Rooftop Rumble (Extreme) - 10000, 20000, 40000 R1: 7 Thugs; 2 Knives, 1 Shield R2: 7 Thugs, 3 Ninjas, 1 Armored Thug R3: 15 Thugs; 1 Shield, 1 Knife R4: 10 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs, 1 Lieutenant, 5 Ninjas (late spawns) This is another challenge where you'll be safely milking Round 3 instead of Round 4. The cutoff's lower than the previous, and it has a Lieutenant instead of a Titan, meaning you should be absolutely overwhelmed with points. In Round 1 make sure to Disarm and Destroy the shield and at least one of the Knives. In Round 2, prioritize the Armored Thug. Remember, Ninjas should be treated no different than any other enemy (Redirect, Critical Strike), so pay them no mind. Do, however, try to take them out before the last 1-2 thugs, so you can use Ultra Stun/Ground Takedown as a finisher. In Round 3 Disarm and Destroy the new shield. You can take or leave whatever knives are remaining, whatever you feel is best. Try to complete all of Round 3 as one Flawless Freeflow combo and end with at least one Ground Takedown. The usual Lieutenant tactics apply in Round 4. He should still be your first target (he can attack through i-frames, so should never be left alone). Build a Special Combo Bat Swarm on regular enemies then go for him. The Armored Thugs and Ninjas are effect by Bat Swarm same as everything else, so you should be fine for juggling the Lieutenant. After he's finished immediately use an Instant Takedown on one of the Armored Thugs. Build back up to a combo with Redirects and Critical, Instants Takedown the other Armored Thug, then proceed as normal. --- Hell's Gate (Extreme) - 12000, 24000, 48000 R1: 8 Thugs, 3 Ninjas R2: 13 Thugs; 1 Armored Thug, 1 Shield, 1 Stun Rod R3: 8 Thugs, 3 Ninjas; 1 Shield R4: 11 Thugs, 2 Armored Thugs, 6 Ninjas (late spawn); 1 Stun Rod There's really nothing special to note here. This challenge is essentially the same as the regular Hell's Gate way. The cutoff is a bit higher, there's a few Armored Thugs added, and some new weapons. As always, your priority is Disarm and Destroy. This challenge will require a lot of it. There's a Shield in Rounds 2 and 3 that need to be removed, and a Stun Rod in Round 2 (you can leave the one in Round 4 if you want). As long as you're using Redirect liberally the Ninjas can be ignored for the most part, and should pose little problem. The 48000 cutoff here is high enough that variations aren't going to get you there on their own, so this challenge will definitely require at least 1 or 2 good Critical Strike combo chains. If you're struggling to get to the end of the battle and end the fight with Ground Takedowns, then remember that you only need to perform 3 Critical Strikes between every Instant Takedown. Once Batman has built up enough combo, his Critical Strikes will kill enemies frequently, and they aren't worth as many points as an Instant Takedown. It seems like it would be a better idea to leave enemies alive to punch them more, but in practice that's not the way it has worked out for me. Rely on Instant Takedown for your points. Bat Swarm can also be worth substantial points here, particularly in Round 4. There's 19 enemies total here, which basically means that each time you use Bat Swarm it has a 190x (10 x 19) multiplier. Even once you've whittled the field down to 10 enemies, this still makes it the highest-multiplier move in the game, and since it causes little damage it can be abused. --- Funhouse Brawl (Extreme) - 15000, 30000, 60000 R1: 6 Thugs; 1 Stun Rod, 1 Shield R2: 8 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug, 1 Lieutentant, 1 Titan; 2 Knives R3: 15 Thugs, 2 Armored Thug; 1 Stun Rod R4: 15 Thugs, 1 Lieutenant, 2 Titan; 1 Shield This is probably the hardest of the Combat Challenges. In Round 1 you're going to want to Disarm and Destroy the Shield and Stun Rod so they don't stack with later rounds. Both of these need to be destroyed, because they will stack with the Titan in Round 2. Since these are non-counterable attacks, they can make a real problem. Round 2 is a little nasty. Right off the bat you've got a Titan and a Lieutenant to deal with, so this can seem extremely intimidating. Your first goal should be to get a quick 5x multiplier, and then Redirect around the battlefield until you get the Titan and Lieutenant gathered close together (shouldn't take long, usually they're both in the same place anyway). Then do a Redirect over the Lieutenant and activate Bat Swarm. Even with the Titan's involvement, you're going to want to take the Lieutenant out first, by the same method as always. Bat Swarm will effect a Titan about the same as everyone else. Titans also aren't terribly aggressive, and after coming out of Bat Swarm they'll usually take a while to decide if they want to attack you or not. During this debate period, you should have plenty of time to build a 5x combo on the Lieutenant, then get right back into another Bat Swarm. After the Lieutenant goes down you've got a decision to make. The obvious choice here is to go straight for the Titan and handle him as you did in the regular Funhouse challenge. However, there are two Knife enemies present with this Titan. Knife enemies will prevent you from safely being able to Counter out of your Titan offense, which can result in some nasty beatings. Coming off the Lieutenant you should have a Special Combo charge built up, so I recommend doing an immediately Disarm and Destroy, building up a fresh combo, Disarm and Destroy, building up another combo, then moving to the Titan with a Bat Swarm. Ideally these would all be part of the same combo (if you pull this off that last Bat Swarm will be worth a ton of points), but that's not essential. The priority here is getting off the Special Combo moves, not making the points. After the knives are gone and you've got a Special Combo built up again, move straight to the Titan, Bat Swarm, Ultra Stun, and begin your beating. After the Titan dies take out the Armored Thug if he hasn't already been killed by Rodeo Strikes. Round 2 isn't great for points. You should get a lot out of the Lieutenant kill regardless, but it's easy to take a lot of hits in this round and keep things broken up. Overall, you want to net about 10000 points in Round 1, and then 10000 points in Round 2. Mixing the five gadgets in should make this much more achievable, and also consider going for at least a 7x variation. If you've got 20000 points going into Round 3, you're in good shape. Round 3 is where you're going to really need to make your points for this challenge. Assuming you've take out all of the previous equipment, you only have 1 Stun Rod and 2 Armored Thugs to deal with here. Fire off all of your gadgets immediately and knock that out of the way. Then start off with a Counter, use Redirects/Critical Strikes, Disarm and Destroy the Stun Rod (this is critical for Round 4), Instant Takedown the two Armored enemies, and you'll have a 5x variation. Toss out a Batarang, build up a combo for Bat Swarm and use it, then try to slip in an Ultra Stun, maybe even a Ground Takedown. Don't go for it if it's risky, though, try to save it until there's only 1-2 enemies left. The main goal here is to get to the end of the fight with a huge combo, preferably a Flawless Freeflow for this fight. There's 17 enemies total, so a lot of points to milk, but you need to out of here with 30000 points for the Round. Variations can net you 5000 of that easily, but the rest is going to have to be combo'd out. If you can get the 30000 in Round 3, then you should be going into Round 4 with 50000 of your 60000 points for the 3 star. This should mean that you have it safely in the bag. Which is good, because a lot can go wrong in Round 4. Round 4 is approximately the same as Round 2, except there's an extra Titan and a Shield enemy added in. We're going to follow the same pattern before as far as starting the fight off. Build a quick 5x combo, go to the Lieutenant, Bat Swarm/combo him until he goes down. Coming off of the Lieutenant you'll have a Special Combo, so immediately Disarm and Destroy the shield. Again, you don't want non-counterable attacks on the field while trying to combo a Titan. Unfortunately, you've got 2 Titans, so there are going to be non-counterable attacks on the field. We deal with this as best we can. When you Ultra Stun a Titan they'll stand harmlessly for a few seconds, usually as an opening so you can combo them. We're going to need to do this to both Titans, to buy us a decent opening. The best bet to start this is, of course, Bat Swarm. This will stun both Titans (and the rest of the enemies) just barely long enough for you to Ultra Stun one of the Titans. Then you have to immediately move to the other Titan and try to Ultra Stun him. This is going to be hard, because all of the enemies will have recovered from Bat Swarm, and you almost certainly will get hit. Just press through and try to get the Ultra Stun off. Once you do, start comboing one of the Titans. Ideally, you'd move back to the first Titan you Ultra Stunned and start with him (hopefully he's still in his dazed window). That will give you the full dazed window of the second Titan, minus counter time, to deal some damage. Alternately, you can try to just Redirect/Critical Strike back and forth over one of the Titans, but this will often result in the other Titan smacking you. Either way, eventually your goal is to get on top of the Titan. As in the previous game, one of the best ways to hurt Titans is with another Titan. So once you're on top of this Titan, guide him straight to the other, and do your best to make them hit each other as many times as possible during the ride. Do not use either of the special moves. They will shorten the time of your ride, and do not do enough damage to be worth it. While you're trying to weaken the Titan you should also be doing substantial Rodeo Strike damage to the other enemies on the screen, leveling the field a bit. The ride will end and you should have another Bat Swarm built up, so use it again and repeat the process. With luck, it will only take 1 Rodeo ride to get both of the Titans down to low enough health that your next full combo against them will kill them. At any rate, from this point on the strategy of the battle remains widely unchanged, and it's just a matter of being able to execute it before you run out of health. For this reason, the 3-star for this challenge should be made in Rounds 1-3 (or at least most of it), and Round 4 is about focusing on survival. --- Prison Riot (Extreme) - 12000, 24000, 48000 R1: 11 Thugs; 2 Knives, 2 Stun Rods R2: 12 Thugs, 3 Ninjas; 1 Shield, 1 Knife R3: 12 Thugs, 1 Armored Thug R4: 12 Thugs, 3 Armored Thug, 5 Ninjas (late spawn); 1 Stun Rod, 1 Knife, 1 Shield Looking at the list, I suppose this battle is meant to be a mix of all of the challenges you've encountered previously, excepting Lieutenants and Titans. Overall, it just comes across as a huge relief after Funhouse Brawl. Everything I've taught you up until now still applies here, and all works just fine. Disarm and Destroy all weapons in Rounds 1 and 2, and the Shield in Round 4. Instant Takedown the Armored Thugs in Rounds 3 and 4. There's a late Ninja spawn in Round 4, don't let it catch you off-guard, don't let it break your combo. Use all gadgets at the beginning of every round, try to get at least a 7x variation bonus evey round. Bat Swarm is worth major points in every round of this challenge, so feel free to use it every time your Special Combo builds up until you get down to 7 or so enemies. At that point Bat Swarm isn't worth enough more than Instant Takedown to continue using it, so I'd switch to Instants until you're ready to switch to Ground Takedowns (4 enemies or less). I believe that if you can get all of the 3-stars up to this challenge, you can 3-star it with ease. ---[CM1] - Campaign Mode--- Since a major component of Campaign Mode include the Combat Challenges themselves, I'd be remiss not to at least touch on some strategies for it. For the most part, this is outside of the scope of this guide, since it involves more resource allocation/stealth section tactics. Still, I'll give pointers where I can, and let you know what worked for me. Keep in mind that for the most part, I am a combat player. This means that I will always take the worst handicaps available to me in Combat Challenges, and save the bonuses for Stealth challenges, except in cases where it absolutely makes no sense. Hopefully if you're reading this guide you are also a combat player, and if so the advice here should work for you. If, however, you find the Stealth Challenges to be significantly easier than the Combat Challenges, then you will need to find a radically different approach from mine. Each individual challenge is labeled with a (C) for Combat, or (P) for Predator. After each challenge name I have posted the recommended Medals to take in that challenge for what I consider the easiest path to a perfect 9 Medal run. If you wish to know more about a Predator Challenge's Medal requirements, you can use section PM1. --- Search and Destroy (P)Meltdown Mayhem <
> (C)Blind Justice <