E3 Quick Play: Batman Arkham City

The first won a BAFTA, but how does its sequel, Batman Arkham CIty, compare to the first? We tracked down the game at this year's E3 in Los Angeles to find out what to expect and what it's like. Will the Joker return, what are the graphics like, and is the gameplay still as good? Oh and did we tell you that you get to play Catwoman?

Read on to find out how we got on.

Name

Batman Arkham City

What platform is it on?

Xbox 360, PS3, PC

When's it due out?

21 October 2011

What other game is it like?

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move, or Kinect for Xbox 360?

Nope

The pitch

Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new, all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.

The storyline

Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City - five times larger than the game world in Batman: Arkham Asylum - and the new maximum security “home” for all of Gotham City’s thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds.

Trailers, demoes, and video

 

Our first impressions

You get to play Catwoman. That’s the key point to take away from our quick play at E3 in Los Angeles. We didn’t get to play with her for long however, before the game whisked us off in charge of Batman to learn how the new flight/glide mode worked, beating up two face's henchmen and embarking on some detective work.

That said we still got to play with the feline nemesis of Batman’s and it’s good news to report.

The controls of course are similar, it’s still very much a fluid fighting style that has you pressing X to strike and Y to counter, but by Jove have you got to press those buttons at the right time to inflict the most damage and it's lovely to watch Catwoman and her rather revealing top decimate the bad guys on the screen, like she is performing Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

The moves look effortless with RockSteady, the game developers, toying with you and no doubt the countless teenage boys playing Batman Arkham City. Will she kiss the henchmen before breaking his legs or just finish him off straight away. Yep, it’s very much in keeping with the comic book universe that the game is based upon.

In the extract of the game we played Catwoman is quickly captured (it’s a trap) and the action zooms out and spins over to Batman 24 hours later.

We’re standing on a building looking over the city. Neon lights flicker, the rain tumbles down, it’s all very atmospheric. A quick leap into the unknown, a quick swish of the Batman cape and we are gliding down to street level with ease. The control mechanism is all very responsive and very easy to command, allowing you to swoop your way through the air as if, well, as if you're a bat.

We land straight into a gaggle of bad guys not that pleased to see us, and we start pressing that X and Y button like it’s going out of fashion. Compared to Catwoman it’s heavy and clunking, but that’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable. Batman has a different approach as you can imagine, and it’s still just as effective at getting the job done.

Bad guys dealt with we start roaming the city, messing around, and generally getting to learn the controls and that flight mechanic.

Some time later...

We’re back in the courtyard to witness two face about to drop Catwoman into a large vat of toxic waste. Not happy to let that happen we drop in on the action, bashing our way into clearing the room of punks to save Catwoman.

Seconds later we’re saving her again from a bullet through the window. The sniper? The Joker.

From here Catwoman buggers off and we get to play with the new detective mode that allows us to look and see elements of the game that you can’t normally see. It’s like a night-sights option, but for guns, or stuff that helps move the story along. In this case where the bullet came in through the window and where it was fired from. Using that knowledge then takes us onto the next challenge and sadly our time with Batman Arkham City is over. Big real-life henchmen come over and move us on so more can play.

What we’ve learnt is that you get to play Catwoman, that Batman is still great fun, there’s still a very strong focus on the storyline, and that it’s no walk in the park.

With the promise of Riddler, Pengiun, and others still to make an appearance, great storybook graphics and the killer combo offering from Arkham Asylum; Batman Arkham City is one sequel that is unlikely to disappoint when it comes out later this year.

Please note

The E3 games convention is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year, as well as, letting us get a glimpse into what is going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.

The big problem however is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there or even have a product manager walk you through a specific level.

So with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.

What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review or even a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming on just 15 minutes of play? However it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion, of what to expect come launch day.



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