Batman: Arkham City Preview

The Dark Knight returns in a sequel that takes him to the streets of a transformed Gotham.

by

It's one thing to hear the development team members at Rocksteady say that Arkham City is much bigger than the island in Batman: Arkham Asylum, but it's quite a different thing to see it and realize just what they mean. Batman: Arkham City is an absolutely massive game, and we were able to get a taste of just how grand it is in a short demo that featured Batman--once again--attempting to track down his nemesis, The Joker.

The demo begins with Batman standing on a rooftop, overlooking a courthouse in Arkham City--a district of Gotham that has been walled off from the rest of the city. Its new warden is Dr. Hugo Strange, whose armed guards maintain brutal control over the inmates and will shoot anyone who tries to escape. By hacking into Strange's communications and with the aid of Alfred, Batman learns that Two Face (also known as former district attorney, Harvey Dent) has captured Catwoman and that he's keeping her in the courthouse below. Naturally, the building's facade is designed to represent its new inhabitants--one side is perfectly fine while the other is completely mangled.

Before heading into the structure, we were shown one of the ways Batman can get around in Arkham City. By leaping from rooftops, or other suitably high locations, Batman can glide over the streets of Arkham. He can continue gliding to the ground and perform a high-impact landing by using his dive-bomb maneuver, or he can use the same maneuver to quickly lose altitude and then swoop back up toward the sky. If you're already on the ground, then you can easily grapple up the side of a building (or even onto the landing struts of a helicopter) to get back to higher ground. What's interesting is that while you're doing all of this, you can use detective vision to check out what's going on in the city and choose to fight crime elsewhere, if you are so inclined.

But for the purposes of the demo, Batman heads back toward the courthouse and makes his way in, dispatching some thugs near the entrance with some slick melee moves that smoothly transition from one punch to the next. Once inside, we see a cutscene that shows Two Face rallying a group of inmates and proving how powerful he is by attempting to kill Catwoman, who happens to be dangling over a vat of acid. This isn't a small group of foes either--Rocksteady says that it has managed to increase the number of enemies you can face at once to about 25 or 26.

By using detective vision, Batman can see that most of the people in the group are holding machetes or led pipes; nothing that he can't handle. But just above his location is a thug with an automatic weapon who can easily take Batman down if the Caped Crusader goes right for Two Face. To improve your chances, you can climb up to the platform and quietly take the enemy out before leaping down into the crowd to dispatch justice with feet and fists. It's worth pointing out that over the course of this fight, enemies will use anything they can as a weapon against Batman. We saw a couple of inmates pick up chairs and hurl them in a sad attempt to do some damage, but Batman can also catch these objects and throw them right back.

With the crowd under control, Two Face suddenly shoots Batman and then makes his way over to Catwoman. Just as he's ready to shoot her, Catwoman escapes from the trap and manages to knock Two Face down. Just as soon as she does this, the former district attorney pulls out another gun and tries to shoot her, but Batman saves the day with his grappling hook. As Batman and Catwoman begin their back and forth, we see a laser appear on Catwoman's face. Someone's trying to assassinate her with a sniper rifle, and that someone is none other than The Joker.

With everyone safe, the courthouse becomes a crime scene, which gives Batman an opportunity to investigate a little more. Using his detective vision, you can scan for the entry point of the sniper's bullet and where it landed, which then lets Batman figure out its trajectory. He learns that the bullet came from a gun located in the bell tower of a church nearby. Like what we saw earlier, you can have Batman go immediately to the bell tower or stay inside the courthouse to do some more investigating.

Turning on detective mode reveals that there's still a person in a holding cell in a lower level of the courthouse. Going downstairs, he finds Calendar Man locked behind bars. What's particularly cool about a supremely uncool villain is that what he says is tied to your system clock, so if you happen upon him on the same day that he has committed some horrible crime, Calendar Man will go into greater detail about it. In the cell next to him is a Riddler trophy--yes, the collecting element from the first game returns in Arkham City and the trophies are even harder to find and secure this time around. The only way you can get to this particular trophy is by carefully guiding a remote-controlled batarang toward an electrical source and then back toward the circuits that power the lock on the cell. It's not easy.

With his job in the courthouse complete, Batman then makes his way out of the building (through an alternate exit to avoid enemies in front). But before heading to the bell tower, we get a closer look at another form of transportation for Batman. Nearby, a helicopter floats over a hot spot in the city. Batman seizes the opportunity to grapple up toward the helicopter and grab onto its landing struts. As the helicopter flies over Arkham City, you can use Batman's detective vision to look down and find other things to do, whether it's finding more Riddler trophies (specifically designated enemies will reveal trophy locations if you are able to interrogate them) or saving innocent civilians that have somehow found their way into the madhouse.

Batman eventually makes it to the church where he encounters some armored enemies that can easily fend off some of his standard attacks. Thankfully, Batman has a new special attack called the beatdown that lets him launch a flurry of punches that help break the armor and let him take down stronger thugs. Inside the church, Batman is immediately confronted by Harley Quinn whom he tosses aside like a sack of tangerines with a quick counterattack. This scene is particularly noteworthy because it shows how you can interact more with important characters in the plot, whereas in the previous game, villains always seemed like they were just out of Batman's reach.

Harley quickly gets up and leaves Batman to deal with a group of armed enemies that are holding hostages. They tell Batman that if he tries anything, they'll start shooting. But if you actually stop to listen to what they say for a bit, you'll get to hear some funny dialogue that almost hints at what you're supposed to do in this situation. In fact, one enemy makes specific mention of smoke bombs, which you happen to have in your inventory; throwing them down buys you enough time to grapple up to the ceiling and begin your systematic assault.

As we reach the end of the demo, Batman finds himself at the top of the bell tower, but Joker is nowhere to be found. In his place is a remote-controlled sniper rifle strapped with explosives. Just as he realizes what's going on, Batman receives a message from the Joker before he starts his countdown. As it reaches one, you can make Batman leap out of the window and safely guide him to the ground below.

Needless to say, the short demo was impressive, and it seems like Rocksteady has really tried to focus its efforts on not only bringing Arkham City to life, but also in doing it so that it makes sense within the Batman universe. Still, we're interested to see just how far off the beaten path Batman can go and what benefits there are in doing that as opposed to focusing on the main part of the game. We'll have more on Batman: Arkham City before it is released later this year.

Discussion

206 comments
turtlethetaffer
turtlethetaffer

This looks like it will be a pretty sweet game. I just hope the boss fights have more vairety. (Which they will, judging by what we already know.)

Dominic_18
Dominic_18

you know what makes batman so cool not in games only even at the movies and comics is joker , honestly he's the one who makes me laugh when he acts so crazy

vadagar1
vadagar1

I'm not worried if this game will be good or not, cause if its anything like the first one then its GOOD. I just want more gadgets, like hundreds :P, and more villains and thugs to take down :)

dg3215
dg3215

Sadly I did not like the first one as much as I thought I would, but it was one of the best super hereo games I've played in a while. That being said I will still be getting this one, because I imagine it will still be agreat super hero game and I have not played one since the last Batman game.

555boy
555boy

this is going to be the best game EVER

Master_cheat001
Master_cheat001

The cover picture of the disk is not as good as the 1st. But no matter what, this game will be a great game! Try your best, Rock Steady!!!!

arkhamcityftw
arkhamcityftw

i wish u cld forward time so u dont have to wait for this game

arkhamcityftw
arkhamcityftw

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

arkhamcityftw
arkhamcityftw

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Masterchief-118
Masterchief-118

Batman Arkham Asylum was the first game I got all the achievements....not because it was too easy. But because I couldn't stop playing it. Now Arkham City is going to be bigger, badder, and HELL OF ALOT MORE awesome. Can't wait for this game :D

pokecharm
pokecharm

wow, that does sound/look very impressive - I still need to get through the first one...should I not admit this, I wonder...

TheRealLisaAnn
TheRealLisaAnn

A GTA-style Batman game is a fanboy's dream come true. *DRRROOOOOOOOOOLL*

D3thN1gh7
D3thN1gh7

I usually am one to hate Batman but this game does actually seem pretty good. Looks like I might have to think outside the box for this one. :P

jamesyyyftw
jamesyyyftw

I found too many typos in this, you guys should either hire me as a proofreader or go back to high school English.

men-o-war
men-o-war

@burns112233 Is this going to be the last Batman game by Rocksteady? Do you know something we don't?

chefstubbies
chefstubbies

Can't wait. Arkham Asylum is one of my favorite games ever!

Gulle0612
Gulle0612

well TxtBin that can't be discussed. Batman AC will win the price :D

02050muh
02050muh

@marxux_1 dats a lot of money we spend just for gaming a year...

marxux_1
marxux_1

this year will be the toughest contender year for GOTY title..just imagine- Dead Space 2, Killzone 3, Dragons Age 2, Mass effect 3, Batman AC, GearsOW 3, Uncharted 3, Crysis 2, Rage, Resistance 3.....and more...im saving every penny i can...

Darth_DuMas
Darth_DuMas

GOTY, but I just hope they tone down detective mode, Batman AA could have been a game full of secrets taking months to solve or find, but detective mode just shows you eveything, I thought that was a shame. It also lead to a relience on it.

H0rr0rG4m3r
H0rr0rG4m3r

cant wait for this game!!! loved Arkham Asylum

DujePro
DujePro

cant wait to play it, arkham asylum was great

Koi-Neon-X
Koi-Neon-X

WOW!:o I'm currently playing "Batman: Arkham Asylum" (PS3) and I'm really impressed with it so it looks like I'll be getting "Batman: Arkham City" as well. The game..looks..AMAZING!:)

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Hey guyz! Is Nemesis on this!? Cuzz he is a scary man... You know I has two an stories and they are gewd. I onced liked swollen eyes cause he followed meh int Resident Evil 3 LOL But he's teh would not die blarg! This game looks AWESOME! I just did that thing above because I was bored.

burns112233
burns112233

If this is going to be the last Batman game by Rocksteady then I hope they put most of the Batman villains in this game. Freeze, Clayface, Mad Hatter, and so on. Hopefully they also bring back past villains Scare Crow, Ivy, Killer Croc.

gjergjiand
gjergjiand

WTF? He forgot to say that Batman will be out for PC too. What a dic*.

bimmer-boy
bimmer-boy

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Dante1080
Dante1080

All in all I have no doubt that it will be a good game which will hold my attention for some time but it's far from game of the year material. It brings very little new content to the table and has been outdone in almost every facet. The content they already have may be polished but releasing a game we've already seen before isn't enough to win game of the year, not for me atleast.

Dante1080
Dante1080

Alright, lets go in order Transportation: I don't even see why this is worth talking about. Jumping from somewhere high up and gliding is basically a staple in any superhero game. even outside of super hero games, just look at just cause 2, it's the exact same mechanic. As far as grabbing onto helicopters goes as a method of transportation? Spiderman 2 did it and it wasn't a good idea then either. Combat: I will admit, the combat in Arkham Asylum was fantastic. The punches and kicks felt like they had weight to them and when the made contact it really felt like there was real force behind them but again there is nothing new here, this is the same combat system we saw in the last game. Detective Vision: Yes it was a cool idea but it made the game far too easy and I doubt that here it will be any different. There was never any real puzzle solving or challenge when it came to detective vision, all it was, was more busy work you had to do before you got the next waypoint on your map. I can only hope they introduce some real puzzles in this game. Boss Fights: Thank god we finally get to fight villians. By far the most appalling part of Arkham Asylum was the fact that each and every boss fight was nothing more than a gauntlet of beating up lowly thugs until batman got them in a cinematic (yes I know you got to fight bane and poison ivy but those were so dry and boring I refuse to even consider them).

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

nothing new? did you even read this article? this game looks so good, i might just buy a batman costume to wear while playing it! oh yeah, kinky and kool!

zodiackilla
zodiackilla

I would rather have polished and perfect gameplay then something new and broken.

Dante1080
Dante1080

So basically this game brings nothing new to the table and innovates nothing. C'mon now batman, what you're doing now, we were doing in spiderman 2 seven years ago.

TxtBin
TxtBin

Either Batman wins GOTY or Skyrim does.

Jimbowesker
Jimbowesker

Quite possibly a winner of the GOTY award

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

@KUNG-LO The administrator of Arkham Asylum is mayor now and he bought a chunk of the city slums, put a security wall around it, and put the inmates in that area because of the condition Arkham Asylum was left in. Therefore titled Arkham city.

tenakakhan
tenakakhan

This, Skyrim, Deus Ex 3, Star Wars Online - it's going to be an epic, epic year for this gamer, yes indeedy.

47gunner
47gunner

it only hurts when i laugh ! :)))))))))

isshiah
isshiah

i've read about this demo before. nevertheless my excitement level is at maximum.

excell_deLux
excell_deLux

this is higher lrvrl of game and i will buy bought pc and xbox ,but pc version will be awsome like every other game on pc its better...

capntonydanza
capntonydanza

Nice re-hash of a video gamespot :( I thought this was new stuff on BAC...but nope...its the same stuff from TOTS :( lame...thanks for getting my hopes up

harethhalo
harethhalo

the game is great I am sure about that

snared04
snared04

I hope this game's side-quest/extra stuff is a little more interesting than the scavenger hunt crap in Arkham Asylum. If I want to wander around collecting random tokens I'll break out Crash Bandicoot, thanks.

sportwarrior
sportwarrior

Wow that techno music was effing annoying. It LOOKED great, but I couldn't hear a thing and had to force myself to keep watching. Please re-edit that one, Gamespot.