Batman: Arkham City
Gamescom 2011: Batman: Arkham City Hands-On Preview - Going With the (Free)flow
Written Tuesday, August 23, 2011 By Lee Abrahams
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It's safe to say that there's a fair bit of hype riding around Batman: Arkham City, certainly more so than existed when its superb predecessor came out of leftfield to deliver the superlative Batman experience. So without that Batman-style layer of mystery surrounding it, and a whole heap of pressure to deliver that same amazing experience, can developer Rocksteady kick things up yet another notch and deliver even more thrills than you can shake a Batarang at?

Obviously the main storyline has been discussed in some depth up to this point, and Rich managed to go hands-on with a portion of the campaign at E3 this year and was suitably impressed. With a standout cast of characters from right across the Batman lore, such as The Penguin, Solomon Grundy, Two-Face and Bane, then there is certainly plenty to get excited about. However, Dax Ginn from Rocksteady was on hand at Gamescom to highlight some other features of the game – you know, just in case you felt that beating the hell out of goons in a fortified prison city was liable to get dull.

Right off the bat (ha!) we were handed a pair of glasses allowing us to view the entirety of the demo in stereoscopic 3D. The effect was pretty well implemented and provided flawless visuals as well as the requisite depth. It’s clear that the team have worked hard to make this a superb visual feast for those with the requisite technology, though suffice it to say that the game looks pretty damn lush regardless. Obviously 3D is not for everyone, but as an added extra it certainly does the job and makes certain parts of the game come to life in ghoulish detail.

Just taking on the single-player is liable to set you back twenty-odd hours of your life, assuming you ignore all of the side quests and collectibles on offer that is, which would take you well into forty hour territory. The Riddler is back to make your life a living hell, and not only has he scattered over four hundred (400!) items around the city to ensure you explore every nook and cranny, but he's also gone for some more traditional balls-to-the-wall challenges too. So Batman will be expected to use a fair bit of brawn to complete all of the obstacles that face him, as The Riddler isn’t afraid to throw his weight around, or that of his goons at least.

So it should come as no surprise to fans of Arkham Asylum that the Combat and Predator challenges have made a glorious return. With a choice of Batman, Robin and Catwoman on offer, you have a variety of ways to smash, or stealth, your way to victory. With double the number of combat animations on offer, you can expect the freeflow combat to be even more fluid if such a thing was possible. Having gone hands on with Catwoman (in a gaming sense – easy tiger) the differences between her and the Bat are fairly subtle.

To start with Catwoman can use her whip to stun foes in the same way as Batman’s cape, she can also grab opponents from a distance and yank them to the floor for a vicious takedown. Enemies don’t politely attack one at a time either, but that’s all fine and dandy as our heroes can pull off double or even triple counters by pressing the Y button the appropriate number of times. The effect is impressive and stops you getting swamped, while also quickly allowing you to build massive combos and gain access to brutal takedowns. Certain enemies have their own quirks too, with knife wielding foes having to be gracefully dodged by swaying out of reach of their attacks. The whole combat system feels perfectly organic, and once again relies more on timing and reflexes than mindless button bashing. Before long we were building up massive combo chains, dispatching foes with ease and then pulling off brutal takedowns on the major threats. Plus, with Catwoman’s added dexterity you can move between foes with almost alarming speed. Rack up a high enough combo and you will snag all three tiers of Riddler icons on offer per challenge – assuming you survive that long.

The Predator challenges once again focus on the stealth side of things, and each character has a different set of objectives to pull off in order to succeed. Catwoman can slink along ceilings to catch foes unawares, or drop a handful of caltrops in the path of her pursuers to slow them down. As always the goal is to take out foes quickly and effectively, while not getting cornered or spotted. The added challenge of using each character for each map certainly adds some level of replayability, though it has to be said that the sheer breathlessness and adrenaline-filled fun of the Combat challenges seems to have the edge for now.

Of course, for all those hardcore types who thought the challenge maps were too easy, and I’m assuming such a person is indeed a God amongst gamers or possibly someone who actually, you know, practices and such like (you buzzkills you) then you’ll be glad to know that you can make life more difficult for yourself. You can now add difficulty modifiers before starting each map, allowing you to have more tough enemies, more guns as opposed to just knives and so on. Obviously the reverse is true as well, so all you mere wannabe Batmen, and Batwomen, can include recharging health, easier foes and the like. Making things tougher will obviously help beef up your challenge score, while selecting the easy way out will have penalties as you would expect. We trust you will all be joining us in the badass only club of making things a living hell. You know you want to.

With the regular campaign looking pretty damn special, plus the superbly fun and addictive challenge modes making a welcome return, not to mention playing like a dream, then you can be sure that Batman Arkham City is not just going to be more of the same. Instead this is going to be bigger and better in every way, while still retaining that gritty feel and fluid combat that made the original such a hit.

Expect to see Batman: Arkham City grappling into stores on 18th October, 2011 in North America and 21st October in Europe.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 178
Comment #1 by escoletsgo69
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:39:45 PM
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Looking forward to this!

Forum Posts: 55
Comment #2 by Steady-Hipp0
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:43:07 PM
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I'm quite good at the stealth challanges but couldn't get enough points on the combat ones.

Forum Posts: 2020
Comment #3 by YurtleTehTurtle
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:55:22 PM
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@#2 Exactly the same here, I kinda hoped those Combat challenges would get left behind this time but I suppose that would be like a Treyarch COD without Zombies. I'll just have to try harder I guess :(

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #4 by Taxinha
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 03:31:32 PM
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Can't wait :)

Forum Posts: 738
Comment #5 by love_handles1987
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 03:47:42 PM
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This is going to be soo freaking good!!! =D

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #6 by Vv_An7iHeRo_vV
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 04:35:18 PM
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400 collectibles. there better be collectible location maps.

Forum Posts: 440
Comment #7 by Cybertechlou
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 06:34:53 PM
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OCT cant come any faster.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #8 by arashinoou
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 10:15:39 PM
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man can't wait

Forum Posts: 1912
Comment #9 by Takk_For_Maten
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 03:21:35 AM
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Getting the hang of the freeflow system in Batman to complete all the combat challenges was one of the most rewarding gaming experiences I've had. It was so much fun and so 'flowing' I have to take my hat off to the developers. It reminded me a bit of combo challenges in games like, MK vs DC and Street fighter, except in Batman: AA you could actually easier spot your progress (starting with 5 in a row then 7 in a row then 10) instead of pressing a lot of buttons and wondering where you went wrong. Can't wait for the combat challenges in the new Batman game, I'm actually hoping the trophies are slightly harder, but not much ;)

Forum Posts: 318
Comment #10 by snakemaster7
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 04:45:09 AM
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The challenges are the only thing that stopped me from getting the platinum in AA, which just makes me mad because I will never do them, and I assume it will be the same with this game :(

Forum Posts: 373
Comment #11 by Aboelsas
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 05:08:50 AM
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Awesome i'm ready to waist up till 60 hours of my life playing Batman although i wouldn't call that a waist it's more likely a full use of my time !!

Forum Posts: 22
Comment #12 by Alienange
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 06:09:03 AM
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Those challenge rooms were great! Shock and Awe had me going crazy but figuring it out and pulling off a non-stop combo to win it was just an epic gaming moment. Hard sure, but not impossible. Hopefully Rocksteady has kept that balance.

Forum Posts: 27
Comment #13 by Yocomodragon
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 10:28:24 AM
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That actually sounds annoying now. I thought some of the challenge maps were pretty difficult but I eventually got them done because the game was so good I wanted to plat it.

But I can see it now "Beat all challenge maps on hardest difficulty" that might ruin it for me.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #14 by Azabech
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 06:46:15 PM
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I can't wait for this game!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #15 by ekajsegdirb
Thursday, August 25, 2011 @ 11:22:29 AM
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I can't wait to play this!

Forum Posts: 297
Comment #16 by Naulziator
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 @ 02:51:21 PM
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I'm expecting this Pt run to be tougher, but I'll have to wait for the Trophy List before I can judge all that. I did Platinum Asylum a year ago, so it won't take much to tackle the routine of the combat challenges this time around. Playing leapfrog with the henchmen has never been so fun.

Forum Posts: 829
Comment #17 by Beanietheman PST
Saturday, September 03, 2011 @ 10:46:24 AM
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i loved all the challenges but did think they were to easy... i hope they do create a group for people like me who will max out the difficulty :D

Forum Posts: 829
Comment #18 by Beanietheman PST
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:41:58 AM
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i loved arkham asylum and kinda got obsessive, so i didnt really find any of the challenges that hard, just because i'd mastered it

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Game Info


US October 18, 2011
Europe October 21, 2011
Japan November 23, 2011

Resolution: 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Players: 1
ESRB: Teen
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