E3 2011: Batman: Arkham City Impressions

After delivering the biggest surprise hit of 2009 in Batman Arkham Asylum Rocksteady Studios is back this E3 with Batman: Arkham City. The demo starts off with a quick gameplay segment from the recently announced Catwoman missions. One thing to note is that Catwoman is not a re-skinned Batman. She is quicker than Batman, but not as strong and with only a few gadgets to play around with. After taking out some of Harvey Two-Face’s thugs, Catwoman is captured by Harvey himself. From there, he take control of the Dark Knight. Keep in mind that the Catwoman missions only make approximately 10% of the game; this is very much a Batman experience. After learning of Catwoman’s abduction, Batman heads for the courthouse where Two-Face is holding her. First though, Rocksteady takes a detour to show the improved Riddler trophies. Unlike the first game, Arkham City makes players work for trophies by turning them into full on side quests. In the E3 demo, Batman tracks down a group of thugs who seem to all be working for Two-Face. After highlighting the Riddler’s mole and knocking them all out, you must interrogate the spy for information on the location of the trophy; more on that later though. The demo then moves on to the courthouse where Catwoman is being held. Here Rocksteady shows off their new combat system. With twice as many animations and moves, players have even more options to take out enemies. But the greatest addition has to be the incorporation of gadgets into combat. You can grab enemies in the chest with the batclaw and pull them over to you for a quick takedown. Or how about using the batarang to counter an enemies incoming attack; it appears incredibly deep.

Returning from the first game are the investigation segments. Using detective mode players can  once again search for clues to solving different crime scene scenarios. In this demo, Batman is trying to find out where the bullet from a sniper rifle was fired after foiling someone’s attempt to kill Catwoman.  The final portion of the demo cover the various ways Riddler trophies are obtained. As I said, these have been expanded and a varied ranging from brainteasers, to full on side quests. This variation is very welcome especially when you take into account that there are over 400 trophies to collect. There were three trophies shown in this demo. The first required the player to hit a button using precision aim and control over a Bat-a-rang. The second had Batman gliding from pressure plate to pressure plate to unlock the case holding the trophy. The last one was incredibly complex. After the Riddler threatens to kill a series of hostages for every batch of trophies Batman doesn’t solve (Riddler his hell-bent on proving he is smarter than Batman), Batman enters a challenge room filled with electrified floor panels, spinning saw blades, and a very scared, very desperate hostage. This room provided the perfect setting to show off Batman’s improved gadgets. Since Arkham City isn’t pulling a Metroid on us and taking away all of our gadgets, Rocksteady is beefing up what we played around within Arkham Asylum. The remote control Bat-a-rang has a boost and brake system, the Batline can now switch trajectories mid-swing, and the cryptographic  sequencer can hack into radio signals. Great stuff on offer here, making the wait until its October 18th release date all the more excruciating.

About Abel Girmay

Just living, loving, and learning. What else is there to do?

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