SDCC 2011: Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360) Preview
Luckily enough I was able to book an opponent to play and check out of Batman: Arkham City this year at the San Diego Comic-Con. It is weird because the game caught almost all of us by surprise two years ago, and now the game series is one of the hottest things going and crowds to check this puppy out at E3 and Comic-Con were going out the door. I was excited to finally play and take my time with this one. So here we go: Batman: Arkham City.
So the environment here in the game is massive. Arkham City, or the cordoned off section of Gotham converted into a prison is five times bigger than the Asylum from the first game. At the start of your demo, you learn after hacking into security guard frequencies with your cryptographer that Catwoman has been captured by Two-Face and his gang. You can proceed to the building where the gang is located to save Catwoman or explore the area more. The Tyger Guard helicopters that are patrolling the city are objects that even Batman can grapple a hold of. After taking out the thugs guarding the building, you sneak into the hideout and Catwoman is in dire straits. You are able to rescue Catwoman and take out Two-Face and his thugs. The excellent combat system in the first game is back and better than ever. It is slightly tweaked as you can now use explosive gel in your attacks to stun opponents and also you can hit a double takedown and knock out two enemies at a time.
Following the sequence, you get a cut scene with Catwoman. She is nearly taken out by a sniper rifle before Batman pushes her to safety. Using your enhanced detective mode, you can track the trajectory of the bullet to where the sniper rifle is located. The trace leads you to a church where Joker sets up a bomb trap for you which you have to escape from hastily. From there you get to go to another hideout and encounter Harley Quinn with her new outfit. This part of the demo actually allows you to confront Harley and actually punch her in the face which you couldn’t do in the original. There will be more direct confrontations in this game from what I understand. You can’t finish the job though since Harley and Joker’s thugs have innocent men held hostage in the building. Batman helps guide you through this Detective Mode/Predator sequence as you can use your grappling and gargoyles to track your enemies and take them out and rescue the hostages. This part of the demo was ridiculously fun and the developers have added an even more dynamic and juiced up cinematic element to the gameplay that is really fun.
Further exploration of Arkham City and the demo allows you to try your hand at the Riddler challenges. Like the first game, the Riddler has laid about some hidden trophies littered about the city that you have to use your head to unlock and find. Your map also has green dots specified that you can locate for specific Riddler challenges. The dots lead you to clues and thugs that might know something about the Riddler. So in a fight you have to isolate this particular thug and “interrogate” regarding the Riddler. This is another fun and challenging element added to the gameplay making it much more visceral. You don’t want to just knock out all your enemies straight out. From the interrogation, you will find an area where the Riddler has put a hostage in an elaborate death trap. The floor is completely electrified and not safe to Batman to cross. As if that wasn’t enough, there are deadly rotating chain saws going back and forth across the room and above on the ceiling. Using the cryptographer, you can hack into the power box in the room and use it to cross through a certain section of squares safely on the electrified floor. From there you have to find a safe gap to use your zipline gadget to in order to rescue the guard. The Riddler challenges definitely look like a step up from the first game. Riddler’s design for the game looks fantastic.
The graphics look great. It looks like a hideous amount of detail has been put into the open world of Arkham City with all the grime, dirt, graffiti, and tons of personality (Crime Alley!) The character models and designs look outstanding. The new added features to the gliding such as the dive bomb are very cool and a nice added element to the gameplay. I can’t wait to play the final product on the PS3. Arkham City is set for release on October 18 and will be on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. It will be released some time in 2012 on the Wii-U.