Batman: Arkham City
My recent hands-on time with the game proved that Batman's new abilities make getting around Arkham City easier than ever.
We brought you our detailed impressions of how Catwoman performs as a playable character before E3, so if want more information on Arkham City, be sure to check it out. My time with the game focused on Batman's new moves, specifically how easier his gliding ability and grapple gun make it to traverse the city. Thanks to the scope of the new game, these features are going to be vital. As the demo opened with a sweeping shot of the city, I was surprised by how small Batman looked; although Arkham City is only a section of the whole of Gotham, it's significantly bigger than Arkham island, while maintaining the same level of detail seen in the first game's environments.
Stepping off of the gargoyle statue of one of Arkham City's towering buildings, I hold in the A button to initiate Batman's glide. As you slowly float forward, you have several options available to you. Pushing the left analog stick forward or backward will change your pitch, similar to the first game. Holding in the right trigger, on the other hand, will make you dive bomb towards the street. If a group of unsuspecting goons is unlucky enough to be standing underneath you, they'll be bowled over by your forceful impact on the ground.
If you're not ready to start hoofing it, you can break out of your dive bomb by releasing the trigger and pulling up on the left analog stick. Your increased speed will cause you to float back up into the air, sort of the way Mario's cape works in Super Mario World. The developer I spoke to said that using these techniques in conjunction will allow good players to continuously travel without ever touching the ground; I usually ended up on the street after a few attempts. Luckily Batman's grappling gun has some added functionality as well.
In Arkham Asylum, Batman could shoot his grappling gun onto certain surfaces and pull himself to their locations. This functionality is still at your disposal in Arkham City, but by tapping the A button twice and holding hit in, Batman will slingshot past the ledge and immediately enter a glide, similar to your parachute/grapple gun ability in Just Cause 2. Even when I botched my timing while gliding around Arkham City's skyline, a quick shot of my grapple gun had me back up above the rooftops in a matter of seconds. Within about 15 minutes of learning these new skills, I was flying around the city like an aerial predator looking for some criminals to prey on.
Later in the demo, I got a chance to try out the new combat mechanics against a group of a dozen plus enemies vying for a spot on the Penguin's gang. It took a while to get back into the stun, attack, counter pattern that Arkham Asylum created, but new abilities like environmental takedowns (bashing an enemy's head into a nearby banister, for instance) and stun takedowns spiced things up. The incorporation of gadgets into the combat also increased the pace, such as the ability to snag enemies with your grapple gun and pull them toward you like Scorpion, or quickly lay down explosive gel and detonate it at the time of your choosing. These gadget moves can be performed without messing up your combo multiplier.
I'm not usually a fan of 3D brawlers, but I loved Arkham Asylum's addictive combat and memorable level design, which captured the Batman universe like no other game has before. Arkham City looks like it's improving on both of these aspects, which should have fans of the first game as excited as I am.