Batman: Arkham City – E3 Preview

Many regard Batman: Arkham Asylum as one of, if not the greatest superhero videogames of all time. It won countless videogame awards when it came out back in 2009. Both Warner Bros. Interactive and Rocksteady have been hard at work on the sequel known as Batman: Arkham City, and they hope to take things even further with this title, and judging from what we saw and played on the E3 2011 floor, this will be an outstanding game.

The first thing that stood out during the demonstration was how massive the game is. With a zoomed out camera you could see a very small Batman sitting on a gargoyle, and off in the distance Arkham Asylum could be seen, and it paled in comparison to the map that you as a player are presented with. You would think they would have to make sacrifices with the graphics or framerate to make a game of this scale. The game looked and ran beautifully, with zero hiccups noticed. I personally didn’t see how they could improve upon the graphics, seeing as how good Arkham Asylum already looked, but there is more detail, size, and mass to every layer of the game world.

One of the most popular features in Arkham Asylum was the combat system. It made you feel like Batman. That same feel is back, and is known as a “Freeflow” combat system. While this system has not been completely revamped, there have been many additions to it in the upcoming Arkham City. This includes many new attacks available, as well as being able to counter enemies that are carrying big weapons such as chairs. Also available are attacks mid-glide, so if you have chosen to do a kick and are gliding in to perform it you can actually change your attack while you are about to hit your enemy. Another thing shown was Batman grappling up to a rooftop with an enemy and immediately he hopped over full speed and took out the enemy, it was extremely quick and effective. My hands on with the title further emphasizes how much more streamlined the combat is, it just works so much better, and I absolutely loved how it was implemented in Arkham Asylum.

The gliding system in Arkham Asylum worked well, but you were stuck with constantly descending. This has now changed with the “momentum gliding system”. You now have the ability to go up and down while heading to your destination. Those that are worried that they changed it to flying and have ruined Batman, don’t worry as it’s definitely still gliding, but uses the momentum mid-flight to ascend slightly. If anything, this new feature will make travel more fun, and will increase what are already almost limitless possiblities

Fans of the comics and/or series will be happy to see how accurate the map is. They have included several things that are important to the history of the Batman franchise. Whether it is from Crime Alley, where young Bruce Wayne lost his parent, to Gotham Cathedral. It is great to see that Rocksteady took the time to properly implement the landmarks that had such an impact on the success and development of the franchise. It is unknown what role some of these locations will play in the game, but I cannot wait to see what they do with them in the story, and they’re definitely going to be a part of it. Also to further emphasize how massive this map is, it is already known that Batman can search the air and on the streets, but Rocksteady has also implemented an entire sewer system to explore underneath the map, and it is huge.

One huge announcement was that Catwoman will be accessible to play as a character with her own missions and combat. It was stated that she is playable from the beginning of the game. Though I didn’t get to play as her specific character, I did get to see an entire mission during the showing of Arkham City. Her moves are so much more different than that of Batman. She is faster and a lot more agile in the comics, and Rocksteady did a great job of capturing this in the game. Whether it be from her being able to sneak around by climbing on the ceilings, or using her whip to take out enemies, the entire character that is Catwoman was captured in the game footage seen. During the mission we saw Catwoman was in the process of stealing a specific item for Poison Ivy, so she is not always a heroine, just as in the comics.

One other villain reveal was the Penguin, and how he is represented in the game. Just as in Arkham Asylum, many of the characters had a much darker look than their comic book counterparts, and Rocksteady did the same here. Needless to say Penguin looks like he fits perfectly into the game with not only his looks, but also his voice acting. It will be interesting to see who else is revealed to be in the game.

Though the other two reveals were great, the one that looked the best was the villain that I encountered during my hands on, and that’s Harvey Dent, also known as Two-Face. He looked absolutely phenomenal, from the evil style personified, to his gritty voice. I took on the role of Batman and was assigned with saving Catwoman because she had been captured by Two-Face. That son of a gun. As I proceeded into the location where she was I was greeted with a huge group of at least thirty or so enemies, while Two-Face was on stage with Catwoman hanging above a barrel full of acid. After climbing up to the ceiling area I descended on the enemies and took care of them in typical Batman fashion. I felt like the coolest hero of all time, and it felt extremely satisfying.

Batman: Arkham City is scheduled for release October later this year. Definitely keep an eye out.