Batman: Arkham City Updated Hands-On Preview - Going After the Joker

In Batman: Arkham City, the caped crusader squares off against his worst enemies once more. We log in more time with the game and have new details to report.

Batman: Arkham City is the upcoming sequel to 2009's outstanding action adventure game Batman: Arkham Asylum. The second game also features appearances by many more members of the caped crusader's iconic rogues' gallery, including Catwoman, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze (among others), along with Batman's archnemesis, the Joker, and his girl Friday, Harley Quinn. And for one brief shining moment, the Xbox 360 version of the game was in our hands at a recent press event, and we had the opportunity to play through a never-before-seen segment of the game that takes place shortly after the events we discussed in our time at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Here's our updated report. Spoiler warning: This story does contain minor plot spoilers. Proceed with caution.

This time around, we played through a segment of the game that takes place about three hours in--just after the events in the E3 demo, which, to recap, involved Batman's enemy and occasional girlfriend Catwoman being captured by Two-Face; Batman rescuing her; Catwoman being narrowly missed by a shot from a sniper rifle seemingly wielded by the Joker; Batman tracking the origin of the fired shot to a bell tower that ends up being a trap that was rigged with explosives; Batman narrowly escaping the explosion; and then Batman tracing the origin of the explosives to the city's abandoned steel mill. Our session started here, with Batman on the rooftops of the city on his way to the mill, occasionally turning on his comlink to discuss his current list of clues on the Joker's location with his trusted advisor and butler, Alfred.

We were short on time, so we immediately set out to find the Joker's location by following a tracking beacon that clearly indicated our relative distance, and whether we were going in the right location. And since we were playing as Batman, we traveled in style by using our controller's right bumper to grapple onto rooftops, pulling ourselves up and swinging and gliding our way across the city. As we've mentioned previously, Batman has a new trick up his sleeve that you perform simply by double-tapping the action button (A for the Xbox 360); it lets him perform an extra upward leap just as his grapple is yanking him along. The leap carries him further forward and upward and gives him an extra momentum boost that's perfect for turning tiny, unforgiving ledges into jumping points to help you glide farther and faster.

In Arkham City, Batman travels by grapple and can use this gadget to leap higher and glide farther than ever.

We poked around the city for a bit, finding a few pockets of the Joker's thugs to fight, and even encountering Bane, the supervillain whose use of the titan chemical formula has turned him into a massive juggernaut. Apparently, Bane isn't hunting for bat this time around. He suggests that he's investigating a shipment of the titan serum that managed to escape the asylum after the events of the previous game and wishes only to find and destroy the remaining 12 samples to minimize the spread of the deadly substance. Batman strikes an uneasy truce with the giant--this unlocks a side quest that helpfully pulls up the location of six of the vials for him to track down while Bane goes after the rest.

However, we skipped the side quest to go after the Joker, leaping and gliding across the city to eventually scale our way to the gigantic smokestack of the abandoned steel mill and then leap headfirst into it. While we were able to safely enter the mill's furnace without alerting any guards, the abandoned furnace room itself overflowed with molten steel, forcing us to deftly hop along collapsed railings. Once we got through, we found ourselves sneaking through the grates underneath an atrium area in which a civilian doctor was being held by the Joker's thugs and the always exuberant Harley Quinn. In Arkham Asylum, the Joker isn't feeling very good, probably because of that massive overdose of titan serum he took at the end of Arkham Asylum--so as it turns out, Harley is doing her best to kidnap medical personnel to attend to the sickly supervillain. We arrived just in time to dramatically leap out of the floor grate to save the good doctor and practice our fisticuffs--and Arkham City's heavy-duty hand-to-hand combat appears to be just as satisfying as ever. We beat down these thugs using the game's simple melee system, which still lets you press the counter button (in this case, Y on the Xbox 360 controller) to intercept incoming attacks and turn them into skull-cracking takedowns.

The city has become a warzone. Expect opposition pretty much everywhere you go.

We rescued the doctor and holed her up in a locked stock room that contained one of the game's new gadgets, the remote electrical charge--essentially, a high-voltage stun gun that the dark knight can use to either subdue enemies or charge up damaged machinery to make progress. We couldn't wait to put this new toy to use, and after trekking through more of the ruins of Arkham City (including a high-ceilinged, conveniently gargoyle-filled chamber that just happened to be guarded by thugs--a great opportunity to revisit the classic Arkham Asylum stealth gameplay of silently grappling up to the gargoyles before using a spectacular diving kick to take down our foes, one by one), we found a very important use for this new toy.

Up ahead lay a heavy machinery site with a powerful electromagnet. To make progress, we had to use the REC to positively attract a dangling steel girder and then negatively repel it so that it would swing back and forth on its chain, eventually smashing through the wall of a second-story office to which Harley Quinn had escaped. After breaking open the bricks, we used our grappling gun to ascend, but we were quickly kicked out by Mr. Hammer, a huge, one-armed thug wearing clown makeup and wielding an enormous sledgehammer. We were forced to defend ourselves against this new threat and a small group of other thugs, but it turned out that Mr. Hammer was able to easily brush off our early attacks. However, zapping him with the REC caused him to briefly lose control of his own body and spin around in crazy circles--knocking down other thugs with his sledgehammer. Once we figured out his weakness, we made short work of our foes and again ascended to the office to apprehend the Joker, once and for all.

And expect to dish out knuckle sandwiches aplenty when Arkham City is released on October 18.

We were met by a strangely shaken Harley, who accused us of ultimately being to blame for what had happened. And a moment later, we came to realize what had happened as an in-game cutscene played, showing the Joker's motionless body slumped in a chair, connected to an intravenous drip that had apparently failed to save him, because according to Batman's detective vision, the Joker's body was lifeless. The clown prince of crime had apparently died. But the Joker has always somehow avoided death, and Batman himself vowed years ago to never take a life--so how could this have come to pass? Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Interactive remained tight-lipped about how this had happened or what it means for the story, but it's clear that many, many changes are afoot for Batman in his next adventure. Given that Arkham City has even more bone-crunching fistfights, high-tech gadgets, and crazy plot twists, we can't wait to play the game. Fortunately, it'll be here soon--next month, in fact, on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

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Discussion

118 comments
Dominic_18
Dominic_18

i honestly expected more , after the first part of course , but..hmm i think its "okay"

ModdedOG
ModdedOG

the anticipation is killing...drop that game already lol. @apeenismightier ..and the recipe needs to be served to the public

esba160
esba160

I must say I enjoyed the first game, and I am not a fan of 3rd person games or batman. The gameplay, the stor,y and atmosphere were superb, this one looks even better....

Deathstalker83
Deathstalker83

Not sure what system toget this for , been thinking about waiting for the Wii U version.

terminator661
terminator661

does anyone know have rocksteady made any other games apart from Batman: Arkam Asylum so far?

Adenosine
Adenosine

I bet Joker found out a way to zombify himself and some thugs. Third game will be called Batman: Arkham Undead.

0oJazZMano0
0oJazZMano0

Spanks the bottom of every preceeding comic book game!!!! Would be GOTY if not for Skyrim.

zavalaman
zavalaman

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

jindro
jindro

looks like another awesome batman game coming out especially its gonna be similar to arkham asylum this one will be awesome.

doomonger
doomonger

Can't wait to get this game!

sbdb
sbdb

Fake gameplay trailers....sigh...and it's funny how that makes gullible teenagers yell how awesome this game will be.

burgo81
burgo81

maybe rocksteady should have made the marvel destiny game because you can see that arkham city is in a whole new league

antelegenda
antelegenda

Thumbs up if u think Batman: AC will pwn.

grim0187
grim0187

Interesting. Im eager to see where the story goes and whats up with Joker.

KUNG-LO
KUNG-LO

Awwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeee !!! That looks so cool. Too many awesome games b4 Christmas.

Cedar-Teeth
Cedar-Teeth

i really cant wait anymore!! there have be more games like this =) My top 5 games this year: 1. The Elder Scrolls 2. Batman Arkham City 3. Uncharted 3 4. Assassins Creed Revaltions 5. Modern Warfare 3 (after playing the BF3 Beta)

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

If they ever dare to release another hero game again,I want Rocksteady to be the ones to make it. Too many hero games try to ride the fame of the hero while being lame.But Rocksteady proved you can make a cool-no,an EPIC game out of a hero. They're the developer Batman deserves,AND the one he needs right now.

ZEYAAM898
ZEYAAM898

Cant wait to get my hands on it!

leonbjohnson
leonbjohnson

kind of pathetic that you can't say it plays good, bad or indifferent. Or even say how it rates so far against the '09 game...i to could right a meaningless gamespot filler piece...come on... with any modicum of journalism you should at least be talking about how a game plays, looks, feels...something, not just some banal precis of the story. And to finish a "hands-on" with the sentence "we can't wait to play the game" is ridiculous; weren't you just playing the game?

prince_2009
prince_2009

(Awesome) It's a fun game and I hope to be the best.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@MetalRatex its not flying its gliding or "falling with style" as they say in toy story

Skullsector
Skullsector

Awesome! Can't wait :) Also if you want multi-player there is Batman: Gotham City Imposters...

mykee16
mykee16

This is going to be the best Batman game ever!

jaispeed2007
jaispeed2007

we really need more games based on comic like this.. if they ever did a superman or even somehow got the rights to do a spiderman game, i think it'd be awesome... don't get me wrong, shattered dimensions was good, just prefer the free roaming that was in arkham asylum/arkham city.. we got 2 weeks 2 days left till release! IF you are picking up on release day, thumbs me up!

meedokicky
meedokicky

OMG OMG OMG 8DDDDDDD BATMAN: he only does everything!

Power_83
Power_83

This could be game of the year for me... With so many good games coming out it will be a hard pick, At the moment it would be a toss up between Deus ex HR and Gow 3. Up and coming leaves Rage, BF3, ( MW3 doubt it ), Skyrim, and Uncharted 3, not enough time on my hands.

Masterous
Masterous

Flying around the city like Superman along with the Joker's random commentary over the big speaker, what's not to love?

oflow
oflow

impressive...I have a feeling that this game will probably be better than advertised. With all the other releases hogging the spotlight this game is highly polished and under a lot of radars.

Darkaamelott
Darkaamelott

I will play this and give to joker hard time. Can't wait to play this game!

Jumbo120788
Jumbo120788

It looks like they have a decent map this go around....even though the last one was usable, it was utter crap!

cynicalundead
cynicalundead

Must buy. This is too good to believe. And it's just a little over 2 weeks away!

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

This looks amazing.

noru18
noru18

No~~~this is Superman in Batman's disguise

StuffHobbes
StuffHobbes

Damn...now I just want to get drunk and zip around Arkham.

ROMSES
ROMSES

I guess my stash will be empty after all October hits that I want to buy)

MetalRatex
MetalRatex

I don't know if I agree with this flying Batman.

hyde8866
hyde8866

yeah...show them who's boss wayne...

ReFe2617
ReFe2617

And I tought Arkham Asylum was great I can't wait to have this game