GamesCom 2011 – Hands on with Batman Arkham City

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The caped crusader is back, but this time, the super jail that is Arkham Asylum is has grown a lot bigger, and amidst sinister plots and deadly villains, the Batman is in for the fight of his life. I got a chance to enjoy being the dark knight, in this much anticipated sequel.

Along with the rest of the audience, we’re shown into a room that has two massive 3D TV’s, while an excited Dax Ginn from Rocksteady can’t wait to get started. He explains to us first that as a single-player game primarily, Arkham City will be incredibly comprehensive and time consuming.

“We’re talking a 25 hour main game here”, Ginn says. “Then, we’ve got at least 40 hours in side missions, while the challenge mode will take you who knows how long. And its in 3D!”

Ginn then gets ready to show us some of the challenge modes in action, as he pits his two co-workers, Sarah and Zafer against each other, trying to see who gets the higher score in wave after wave of enemy attacks. Sarah is playing as Catwoman, while Zafer is Batman, and the gameplay looks tight and solid so far.

Batman moves precisely and powerfully, while Catwoman is far more agile and quicker, as well as able to land far more blows against enemies, building her combo score meter up quickly. Eventually, Zafer wins the best of three challenge, with an overwhelming points lead.

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We’re then treated to a familiar game mode, Predator, as Sarah and Zafer face off to see who cna pick off the most villains without being caught, while achieving certain bonus objectives. Watching Catwoman, its clear that she is most definitely a completely different character to play as, picking off perps with her whip and quick reflexes.

Zafer starts taking down henchman quickly, utilising some new dark knight tools, such as disorientating smole bombs and a rifle that shoots paralysing globs of electrical goo. Its exciting and riveting, and the new gadgets open up new possibilities for playing AC. Once again, Zafer wins the round, but its a close match.

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Lastly, we’re witness to a race between Sarah and Zafer, as they must both trace a sniper rifle bullet, while gliding around Arkham City as the Batman. The cape is now a much more versatile instrument, allowing some form of gliding for the bat, while quick dive bombs and grapple hook shots ensure that he doesn’t even have to touch the ground. Sarah finally wins a round, and our presentation is over.

Afterwards, I headed on down to the entertainment area to try some AC for myself, and the game manages to feel both fresh and familiar. Batman’s combat moves are tighter and easier to pull off, but enemies also seem to be smarter, as they’ll use mob tactics to defend themselves, or try and rush you all at once instead one at a time now.

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Its the Batman game you all know and love, but like all true sequels, its bigger, better and grander, and it looks like Rocksteady Studios are about to set a new benchmark for superhero games.

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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