Preview: ‘Batman: Arkham City’ Puts the Dark Knight in a Lawless, Urban Landscape

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The confrontation that followed with Two-Face–who sports an amazingly detailed redesign in the spirit of Rocksteady’s other Bat-interpretation–led to Batman chatting with Catwoman. Their convo gets cut short when a familiar, disembodied voice pipes up: “Twinkle, twinkle, little Bat/Watch as I kill your favorite Cat.” Batman shoves Catwoman out of the way of a sniper’s bullet. The shooter is, of course, the Joker and Batman goes back into Detective Vision mode, scanning the bullet’s entry point at a window and its impact point in the ground to backtrack its trajectory. Hopping onto a helicopter brings the Caped Crusader to the Joker’s location. More thugs await and, here, the improved combat gets shown off. A power dive onto a Joker thug knocks him out immediately and a choke-slam takes much of the fight out of another. The new Beatdown move serves up a rapid flurry of punches that breaks through an enemy’s guard and disarm counters where Batman bludgeons enemies with their own weapons. (Riddles and Rumors: Big Batman 3 Plot Points)

A funny stand-off with armed muscle–”It’s not like he’s a guy who’s great at getting out of death traps and picking people off from the shadows, right? Ohhhh, wait, that’s EXACTLY what he does!”–holding a hostage leads to stealth gameplay where Batman disappears under the cover of the game’s new Smoke Bombs. Another new stealth move has Batman punching through a weakened wall to grab a hapless enemy.

Batman: Arkham City looks amazing, improving n a formula that was already excellent. The game’s huge locale is an interlocking set of tiered levels that isn’t quite strictly open-world or strictly linear. As Batan flew over the city in Detective Mode, other interior locations where he could enter popped up and even manhole covers served as entrance to underground parts of the city. The main storyline appears to follow a set path but you can go anywhere you want in the city and pick up side missions. As appealing as the in-progress game looks, some things still worry me. The dialogue for Catwoman was painful, consisting almost entirely of campy come-ons and the voicework for Selina Kyle didn’t quite seem as polished as the other characters. On the combat side, there seemed to be some sleight-of-hand going on in that one scene with 48 enemies. Most of them disappeared and Batman wound up only fighting a fraction of them. Rocksteady reps said that they’re working on that and that the goal would be to be able to fight as many as 26 on-screen opponents. Finally, the rumors of co-op play in Batman: Arkham City were roundly dismissed, with Rocksteady saying that they’re focused on making a great single-player Batman game. Despite some minor concerns, they appear to be well on their way.

Batman: Arkham City comes out for multiple platforms this fall.

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