The lights are on
After seeing Batman: Arkham Knight in action for our April issue cover story, I was excited to see more at E3 this week. But I never expected the Batmobile to have such an impact with my first hands-on.
Maneuverability: In the mission I played, Batman had to infiltrate Ace Chemicals to rescue five hostages from the clutches of Arkham Knight. Normally in an Arkham game you'd swoop in and trade off some combat and stealth sections until you reach the end. Now you hop in the Batmobile, fire up the jet engine hooked to the back, and ramp over the busted out bridge. The vehicle is incorporated into the entire sequence in unique and interesting ways, but the most striking thing was how it controlled. Pursuit mode feels like a normal speedy car, however, it's not the best for the tight corridors of the chemical plant. By holding down the left trigger, it changes to battle mode instantly, allowing one of the most maneuverable vehicles I've ever controlled. Not only does it work great for battles (that's next on the list), it's nimble enough to scoot along narrow, twisting bridges, and the strafing ability is perfect for little tweaks necessary to line up with a ramp for a big jump or to simply turn around.
Car Combat: The Batmobile's maneuverability comes in handy for vehicular battles as well. Enemy trucks line up green lasers that change to red once they've targeted you. At this point, it's easy to tap a button to perform a quick dash move and dodge the barrage. Offense includes infinite ammo machine guns and a rocket launcher that runs on a cooldown. If you connect with enough shots without getting hit, you can unleash a barrage of homing missiles to finish off several foes at once. Higher-powered enemy vehicles are invulnerable to Batman's machine gun "bullets" so you'll have to build up the more powerful shots to take them down.Puzzle Solving: The first big jump in the demo doesn't seem possible until you notice an R1 prompt at the edge of the cliff. You shoot out a tow cable and jam on reverse to bend the road back enough to form a ramp you can jump over. In another spot, you blow up a wall with explosive gel while you're walking around and there's some hot steam blasting out of a pipe. At the tap of a button you can control the Batmobile remotely, clamp the tow rope onto a pipe further up the line, and yank it off to prevent steam from getting to Batman's position. After that there's a spot where you come across a broken elevator and have to shoot the tow rope at the counterweight and pull the elevator up. Next, you go back to controlling Batman and hop into the elevator. And finally you zap back to the Batmobile and carefully lower our hero down deeper into the facility.
Fighting Street Troops: In case you're wondering about the seemingly lethal munitions on the Batmobile, it auto-detects when you're targeting a human and switches over to non-lethal rounds. These have a faint smoke trail as they fly through the air and knock them out instantly. If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can run them over. Again, you're not killing them. They're getting electrocuted falling over stunned. It's a stretch, but I'd rather have that than enemies constantly jumping out of the way like grasshoppers. If you feel like getting your hands dirty, the Batmobile also helps out with melee combat. Once you build up a combo, a prompt will appear onscreen for some vehicular assistance. If you mash the two face buttons simultaneously, Batman will uppercut the foe into the air and the Batmobile's stunner cannon targets him and blasts him like a clay pigeon.
Ever since I played the game, I can't stop thinking about that demo and getting back behind the wheel. I'm sure there is still plenty that Rocksteady is keeping behind the curtain and look forward to seeing more soon.
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