We were finally able to break out Batman: Gotham City Chronicles and play the first mission. I really like the game. The mechanics are fairly straightforward, and have a decent amount of depth. Combat is all about resource management, as you're spending energy to act, but you only get back a certain amount per turn. Spend a turn resting and you get back considerably more. Do you go all out and make sure you pass a roll, but then find yourself useless for a round or two? Or do you do a little each round without needing a break? Wounds come from the same pool of energy, too, which makes it worthwhile for the villain to beat the heroes up just to slow them down.
Each mission in the core game is one-vs-all, with one player controller the henchmen and all the goons, and the other controlling one hero each. The one mission we played was really well balanced. I played the villain (Bane), the kids played Nightwing, Batman, and Catwoman (Caiden played two.) Each of us had a point at which we didn't think we could win, but we both came really, really close in the end. The game was decided by one die roll on the last action of the last hero's turn on the last round of the game. If Batman succeeded at the roll, the heroes won. If he failed, I won. He put everything he had into the roll, literally knocking himself unconscious in the process, and managed to disarm that last bomb. I can't wait to try out the next scenario.
This is famously huge game. It takes up a ton of space on the shelf. The thing is, though, most of the expansions that come with it are content, not rules. They're alternate characters, alternate maps, and alternate scenarios. Of the three regular expansions two only add one rule (how to use the elevator in the batcave.) The Batmobile expansion adds rules, but only about a pamphlet's worth. The only real new rules are in the Versus expansion, which is a completely separate 1v1 mode. So once you learn the rules, you don't have to keep fiddling with them every time you grab a box. You just have a much bigger selection of content. Add to that the fact that each scenario can be played with a different combination of heroes and there is enough content here to play for a long, long time without repeating the experience.
The components are top notch, and their use of theme is great, too. I really liked the fact that they made it interesting and self-contained, but still stayed true to the source material. The only real criticism I have is the manual. It is overly wordy and repeats way too much information. Their intent, they've said, was to ensure that each time you look up a process, you'll have everything you need in that one section without flipping back and forth. When learning that game, though, that means that every single subsection repeats the same information with just a few details different. I find that actually slows things down rather than speeding them up, as you can't just look up the tweaks to the 'action' rule that comprise a 'complex manipulation', but rather have to read through the entire rule looking for the differences. Still, the rules aren't that complex, and after a game or two you won't need the books much.
FWIW, this will be back on Kickstarter on the 4th of June. It'll be a reprint, plus new content. Since the game will never be released to retail, this will likely be the last chance. They've been dropping teases for a while now about the new maps, scenarios, and characters. Expect the Suicide Squad, including King Shark, Black Manta, Amanda Waller, Rick Flag, Joker's Daughter, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Bronze Tiger, and others. They've also shown the League of Assassins (ie - League of Shadows), Jim Gordon Batman, and Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond.)
I was given this monstrosity as a gift, and the two who did so have already said that they're getting me any new content being released. Damn!