Batman Arkham City will prove to be an epic adventure through Gotham’s grimmest time, as DC’s darkest vigilante.
Comic Con 2011 yielded a bevy of pop-culture fans from across the globe; easily a fanboy’s orgasm to the tenth degree. Despite the galvanization to be had, it’s impossible to view everything the convention has to offer. One must choose their experiences wisely. For a game journalist, the decisions point in one direction: Games! Atop my list of software not to be missed was Batman: Arkham City.
The WB booth, like any booth at SDCC was a tumultuous environment, but that didn’t stop me from gluing my eyes to the screen or slow my fingers down from dishing out all I could out of The Dark Knight’s wide array of skills and gadgets.
The demo begins on the roof tops of Gotham with a gorgeous view of the city as you discover the location of Catwoman, who is being held captive by Two-Face, inside a courthouse. You never get to battle Harvey Dent or Joker (who also makes an appearance), but it’s a demo, hence the short running. With this expectation in mind, prior to playing, the only goal in my cerebrum was to put the new and improved combat to the test. Test it I did and blown away I was.
First off, everything I experienced in the demo that received a fine tuned upgrade revolves around Batman and his interactions with the environment. The most sumptuous improvement being combat. If you thought fighting in Batman: Arkham Asylum was seamless, be prepared for engagement smoother than silk in Batman: Arkham City! With twice as many combat animations, Batsy is incredibly versitle. One of the sweetest moves I pulled off was the batclaw slam. Here, you reel in the enemy, dish out a closeline, which lifts them into the air, allowing you (with timely execution) to hammer them to the ground.
Another returning gadget woven into combat is explosive gel. Before, players had to spray gel (in the form of a bat, mind you) strategically before detonation, which took about 3 agonizing seconds. Now you can use gel on the fly during engagement. With one push of a button, gel is applied to your enemy. From here you can either blow them up instantly, or save your gel for a timely blast.
In addition to these gadget based take downs, there are other finishers, which include the beat down: After stunning an enemy with the cape, repeatedly tapping the attack button will unleash a barrage of boxing esque punches, hence, a beat down. A variation of this move is executed from the air: Beginning with a cape stun, followed by a double tap of A (Xbox 360), has Batman jump on top of the shoulders of your opposition, taking him out from above. During stealth play I was able to unleash a double-take-down by slamming the heads of two foes together. Furthermore, double and triple take-downs can now be performed during free-flow combat; simply double or triple tap when Bats is being engaged by multiple enemies and they’re done. According to Warner Bros. Entertainment producer, Ernest Zamora, “All of these take downs are contextual. The animations are all different.” So if you perform these maneuvers near a wall (for example) Batman will slam them into said wall. Yes please!
Visually B:AC is a tier above B:AA. Based on the demo, which is barely the tip of the ice berg, the game looks crisper, cleaner and is chock-full of detail; in a word: Opulent. Models and animations have all received touch-ups and buffers, which enhance the overall aesthetic experience. More is better and considering the setting and length of B:AC, there will be plenty more peacock feathers to show off.
If I was left with one thought, post demo play, it was that this game appears to be doing all the right things to immerse players into Batman’s universe. You really do feel like you’re playing The Dark Knight. All in all the demo was a well executed foreshadow as to what’s to come in the full version of Batman: Arkham City. Right now the title is on par to best its predecessor by a landslide. Fans will not be disappointed with this game and I for one cannot wait for its inevitable release. Be ready to take Gotham City by storm on October 19th for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
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