The lights are on
We already told you all about Batman: Arkham Origins in our cover story, along with a hands-on E3 2013 preview. But Arkham Origins has a little brother called Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. The Vita and 3DS side-scrolling 3D adventure game takes place six months after the conclusion of Arkham Origins. In my hands-on demo, Batman chases Catwoman across rooftops while beating down thugs.
Here’s what you need to know about Blackgate:
Batman Loves His Grappling Gun
The Caped Crusader hasn’t been into wall jumping since his NES days, so Blackgate’s Batman relies on his grappling device to scale high ledges. The majority of the demo involves running to the ledge of a roof and firing the grapple when you see a button prompt in the distance. Then Batman runs across more roofs and repeats the process. The environments are dark and detailed on the Vita’s big, crisp screen, but this early section of the game is pretty repetitive.
Combat Is True To Its Console Brothers
Naturally, Batman comes upon some scrappy thugs while chasing after Catwoman. These overzealous security guards make perfect punching bags to familiarize myself with the combat. Batman unleashes a volley of punches with the tap of a button, and can counter incoming enemy attacks instantly with the tap of another button. Enemies slightly fan out around Batman, creating the appearance of depth in the side-scrolling world. Developer Armature is using some combat animations from Arkham Origins to enhance the scuffles.
Touchscreen Detective Vision
The Master Detective still has augmented vision that allows him to see clues in the environment. Vita players drag their fingers across the touchscreen to reveal hints like a switch on a fire escape that can be Batarang’d to release a ladder. We didn’t get a chance to try detective vision on the 3DS.
Batman likes to strike his enemies from the shadows, and a simplified version of this is in Blackgate. Players use the grappling device to leap across gargoyles while guards patrol below. Sentries that wander too far away from the group can be picked off stealthily with a swift flying kick. Fumble one of these sequences and the guards unload their machine guns on The Bat, who crumples quickly if he doesn’t escape back into the shadows.
Motion Comic Storytelling And Voice Acting
Batman and Catwoman’s game of tag throughout the demo is occasionally interrupted with cutscenes that look like hand-drawn comics. The voice acting sounds good, and the corny double entendres exchanged between the two are par for the course. Some of these flirty interactions are done in engine, which consists of looking at the character models while they flirt with each other.
The demo ends with a police helicopter swooping in on the two black-suited creepers. Batman, still untrusted by the Gotham police force, decides to make his exit while Catwoman faces an uncertain fate. Blackgate has great graphics for a handheld title, and the controls feel good at this point in development. The gameplay in this early section is simple to a fault, but things should get more engaging when Batman enters Blackgate Penitentiary. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate hits Vita and 3DS on October 25, the same day as Batman: Arkham Origins.
Read up on Blackgate's Metroid-inspired elements
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