Batman. I thought I would start this preview with that one word because it was sure to get your attention, although perhaps there was no need, because once you start playing the sequel to Rocksteady’s wonder game your attention will be forever devoted to the fantastic World of Arkham City.
Our time with Batman at Gamescom was split into two parts, first there was a hands on with the E3 demo, allowing us to kick some butt with both Catwoman and the Caped Crusader himself, and then later we sat in a room with some very enthusiastic people from Rocksteady to find out more about their latest reveal. The Challenge Rooms.
The first part of the demo gave us a chance to play as Catwoman as she arrives in Two Faces lair in order to break into a safe and get some plans back. It has to be said that Catwoman is wonderful to play, mainly thanks to her being very agile and having skills very different from that of Batman, such as pickpocket and her ability crawl on ceilings. Unfortunately we didn’t get to play as her for too long as soon after we beat up the bad guys and then cracked the safe, Catwoman was captured, meaning it was Batman’s turn to enter the arena.
Playing as Batman gave us our first chance to look at Arkham City from a rooftop before gliding down, beating up a few bad guys, entering the lair and taking on yet more thugs. As we could see during the demo there was plenty of secret areas to explore and also the chance to interrogate certain people to help Batman find hidden secrets. Batman also has a whole load of new weapons and equipment, meaning he’s now even more efficient at fighting crime. One great example of this in the demo was when a sniper fired a bullet into the room; using Batman’s scanner I was able to determine the exact trajectory of the bullet and lead Batman straight to the villain, which was pretty awesome.
Unfortunately we didn’t get a great deal of play time after getting this far due to the huge Gamescom crowd all awaiting a turn on what seemed to be one of the most popular games at the show.
And so to the presentation, which was certainly one of the most interesting of Gamescom. Interestingly one of the first things we were met with 3D glasses, confirming that the full game is completely compatible with stereoscopic 3D, and it looks seriously good. The presentation took the form of a challenge between man and woman to decide once and for all who is the greatest sex of all. This saw Sarah Wellock (community manager) and Zafer Coban (lead animator) go head to head, with Sarah on the 360 and Zafer on the PS3. The winner would receive a gold star (The very same star given to journos to allow us to skip the massive queues) to confirm their superiority, but who would it be?
The first challenge we saw was named Combat Challenge, this basically saw both players fighting against various enemies on their separate machines.. There was certainly a whole load of combos and score multipliers going on show on both screens. At the end of this particular challenge it was 1-0 to Zaf, although it was a close contest. For single player this will end in you uploading your score to the online leaderboards, allowing you to boast to your friends and taunt them into trying to defeat your personal best.
The next challenge saw the two go head to head in Predator mode, which sees you sneaking around the map, using the characters various abilities to take down the enemies quietly. There are some twists to this mode in that you can try to meet certain requirements, such as using a smoke pellet to take enemies down in order to gain extra points. This was a fantastic mode in that it allowed us to see the experts playing as Catwoman and Batman and therefore letting us to catch some of the new moves on offer.
Catwoman’s moves where particularly impressive as she zipped around in mid air before finding the perfect vantage point to take down enemies with her Pounce Attack, while Batman used his usual array of attacks to take the enemy down quietly. Unfortunately for Zaf it was Sarah who easily won this one, racking up a score which was going to be hard to beat in the final round.
Interestingly the final game mode played won’t actually be part of the final product. Here we saw Batman and Catwoman take part in a race through the rooftops of Gotham City to see which character could get to the top of the ferris wheel first. Although this mode wasn’t full of action it was still great to see both character swinging from roof to roof, with the very impressive sights of Arkham City flowing past in the background. In the end this one went to Zaf, making him the supreme champion for men everywhere, well until Sarah showed off her impressive tally from previous sessions, which proved this particular woman is by far the most dominant player in this studio.
We don’t know anyone who didn’t love the first Batman game, and with 3D support, 40 hours of gameplay and the new and improved challenge rooms, we just can’t see anyone not wanting to add this game to their collection. Some games are just made to be played by everyone and Arkham City is one of these games.
Arkham City is out on October 18 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 and you can pre-order a copy by following the links.
Check out the latest Gamescom screens below.