Batman: Arkham City
Gamescom 2011: Batman: Arkham City Hands-On Preview - Going With the (Free)flow
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It's safe to say that there's a fair bit of hype riding around Batman: Arkham City, certainly more so than existed when its superb predecessor came out of leftfield to deliver the superlative Batman experience. So without that Batman-style layer of mystery surrounding it, and a whole heap of pressure to deliver that same amazing experience, can developer Rocksteady kick things up yet another notch and deliver even more thrills than you can shake a Batarang at?

Obviously the main storyline has been discussed in some depth up to this point, and Rich managed to go hands-on with a portion of the campaign at E3 this year and was suitably impressed. With a standout cast of characters from right across the Batman lore, such as The Penguin, Solomon Grundy, Two-Face and Bane, then there is certainly plenty to get excited about. However, Dax Ginn from Rocksteady was on hand at Gamescom to highlight some other features of the game – you know, just in case you felt that beating the hell out of goons in a fortified prison city was liable to get dull.

Right off the bat (ha!) we were handed a pair of glasses allowing us to view the entirety of the demo in stereoscopic 3D. The effect was pretty well implemented and provided flawless visuals as well as the requisite depth. It’s clear that the team have worked hard to make this a superb visual feast for those with the requisite technology, though suffice it to say that the game looks pretty damn lush regardless. Obviously 3D is not for everyone, but as an added extra it certainly does the job and makes certain parts of the game come to life in ghoulish detail.

Just taking on the single-player is liable to set you back twenty-odd hours of your life, assuming you ignore all of the side quests and collectibles on offer that is, which would take you well into forty hour territory. The Riddler is back to make your life a living hell, and not only has he scattered over four hundred (400!) items around the city to ensure you explore every nook and cranny, but he's also gone for some more traditional balls-to-the-wall challenges too. So Batman will be expected to use a fair bit of brawn to complete all of the obstacles that face him, as The Riddler isn’t afraid to throw his weight around, or that of his goons at least.

So it should come as no surprise to fans of Arkham Asylum that the Combat and Predator challenges have made a glorious return. With a choice of Batman, Robin and Catwoman on offer, you have a variety of ways to smash, or stealth, your way to victory. With double the number of combat animations on offer, you can expect the freeflow combat to be even more fluid if such a thing was possible. Having gone hands on with Catwoman (in a gaming sense – easy tiger) the differences between her and the Bat are fairly subtle.

To start with Catwoman can use her whip to stun foes in the same way as Batman’s cape, she can also grab opponents from a distance and yank them to the floor for a vicious takedown. Enemies don’t politely attack one at a time either, but that’s all fine and dandy as our heroes can pull off double or even triple counters by pressing the Y button the appropriate number of times. The effect is impressive and stops you getting swamped, while also quickly allowing you to build massive combos and gain access to brutal takedowns. Certain enemies have their own quirks too, with knife wielding foes having to be gracefully dodged by swaying out of reach of their attacks. The whole combat system feels perfectly organic, and once again relies more on timing and reflexes than mindless button bashing. Before long we were building up massive combo chains, dispatching foes with ease and then pulling off brutal takedowns on the major threats. Plus, with Catwoman’s added dexterity you can move between foes with almost alarming speed. Rack up a high enough combo and you will snag all three tiers of Riddler icons on offer per challenge – assuming you survive that long.

The Predator challenges once again focus on the stealth side of things, and each character has a different set of objectives to pull off in order to succeed. Catwoman can slink along ceilings to catch foes unawares, or drop a handful of caltrops in the path of her pursuers to slow them down. As always the goal is to take out foes quickly and effectively, while not getting cornered or spotted. The added challenge of using each character for each map certainly adds some level of replayability, though it has to be said that the sheer breathlessness and adrenaline-filled fun of the Combat challenges seems to have the edge for now.

Of course, for all those hardcore types who thought the challenge maps were too easy, and I’m assuming such a person is indeed a God amongst gamers or possibly someone who actually, you know, practices and such like (you buzzkills you) then you’ll be glad to know that you can make life more difficult for yourself. You can now add difficulty modifiers before starting each map, allowing you to have more tough enemies, more guns as opposed to just knives and so on. Obviously the reverse is true as well, so all you mere wannabe Batmen, and Batwomen, can include recharging health, easier foes and the like. Making things tougher will obviously help beef up your challenge score, while selecting the easy way out will have penalties as you would expect. We trust you will all be joining us in the badass only club of making things a living hell. You know you want to.

With the regular campaign looking pretty damn special, plus the superbly fun and addictive challenge modes making a welcome return, not to mention playing like a dream, then you can be sure that Batman Arkham City is not just going to be more of the same. Instead this is going to be bigger and better in every way, while still retaining that gritty feel and fluid combat that made the original such a hit.

Expect to see Batman: Arkham City grappling into stores on 18th October, 2011 in North America and 21st October in Europe.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 856
Comment #1 by i got squeezed
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:21:43 PM
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This game is going to kick ass!

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #2 by Spandex Stiffy
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:31:03 PM
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Thinking about the last couple of challenge maps still makes me feel like a scared puppy in search of gaming skills. Never could get the full 1000. Had fun trying, though. Even invented some new swear words.

Forum Posts: 738
Comment #3 by DerEnglaender
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:39:45 PM
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cant wait for arkham city. got al 5 versions of asylum on my tag

Forum Posts: 18
Comment #4 by Boomfield
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:40:55 PM
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@2 my pad has never felt so much fury trying to complete the last combat challenge.
Proudest 1k to date.

OT: Cant wait, definitely one of my highest anticipated games of this year!

Forum Posts: 556
Comment #5 by RedDragon4275
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:46:06 PM
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@2 and 4

I completed Batman: AA GOTY for PC all in one day. :D

I can't wait for this game. It's going to be epic.

Forum Posts: 1749
Comment #6 by UberPirateNinja
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:56:49 PM
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who's the new guy?

ot - the one thing i hated in aa, because i sucked so hard at it, was the combat, i could never get the hang of it, the final boss fight was a pad-breaker for me. still getting ac tho!

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #7 by Swegabe
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:57:11 PM
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The combat in Batman: AA was one of the most satisfying systems I've ever had the pleasure to play, simple yet complex at the same time!

Forum Posts: 398
Comment #8 by CRAZY 7
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 02:59:38 PM
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This is going to be awsome I just hope the combat challenges are not has hard as the first one it took me 8 hours straight to get the last one done for my brother when he couldnt do it

Forum Posts: 53
Comment #9 by donlowc06
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 03:13:02 PM
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I am imagining shock and awe extreme with an even higher difficulty. my poor controllers are going to suffer

Forum Posts: 182
Comment #10 by Ephidel
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 03:24:08 PM
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Nice to see you've finally changed your profile pic, Lee. ;)

On Topic : This game was a guaranteed purchase for me as soon as it was announced. I'm still hoping for some solid Co-op though.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #11 by GaminFanatic
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 03:33:07 PM
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I was pretty psyched once I finally beat that last combat challenge, that was a beast, and now I can change things up to make it even harder and soak even more hours into this allready epic long game? Guranteed pre-order.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #12 by asilent boom
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 04:09:27 PM
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Really looking forward to this, it's going to make the week before BF3 releases go by alot faster for me when I immerse myself in this game.

Forum Posts: 175
Comment #13 by Bullhorse
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 04:24:22 PM
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best melee combat system i've ever played, really. getting the high score on the most difficult challenge map was probably one of the most enjoyable things i've done on the xbox 360.

Forum Posts: 569
Comment #14 by Nutty Scouser
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 04:42:54 PM
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looking forward to the 3D version of this - ghost recon 3D is truly amazing

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #15 by Len lfc
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 05:01:47 PM
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2011 is looking to be a great year!

Forum Posts: 122
Comment #16 by jaysfan14
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 05:34:50 PM
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Those challenges were brutal. I got so mad, I don't think I have ever gotten so close to putting my controller through my tv lol. It took me hours to get the hang of keeping your multiplier going, but when I did, I felt like a bad ass. If only I could do that in real life...

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #17 by COMICNERD11
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 06:12:41 PM
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a definite buy for me, just wish i could pre-order it though... :(

Forum Posts: 315
Comment #18 by CrownlessKing
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 08:54:21 PM
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I love how nothing of Robin was mentioned here.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #19 by JamMastrHibbert
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 @ 08:57:09 PM
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Can we expect a demo for this beautiful game. My little bro and I just downloaded the original demo again today so we can get ready to tear up the GOTY version of AA. And we played the crap out of the demo.

Forum Posts: 72
Comment #20 by PonySl4ystation
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 12:15:14 AM
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@ 5 Tosser!

OT: Game is going to be great. Done some overtime this week so i can afford to pre-order

Forum Posts: 1705
Comment #21 by The Duke of Darkness
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 01:57:38 AM
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Maybe i'm better at games than i thought cause i did all the challeges in one day

Forum Posts: 4159
Comment #22 by jackanape
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 03:32:10 AM
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@6 and 10. New guy? I've been writing reviews here for three years, plus I'm not Lee B (who kindly helps out with news stories) so don't be getting us mixed up, ha ha!

Forum Posts: 48
Comment #23 by McKauz85
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 03:55:22 AM
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why does we europeans always have to wait for the release?

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #24 by Eoth
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 04:07:00 AM
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Can't wait for this game. Batman AA remains my favorite game this gen, my first game to ever 1000/1000 as well.

No doubt Batman AC will be my next 1000/1000, which I admit is maybe a strange thing to say on a site about achievements but hey I'm just not able to be as dedicated to games as I'd like. Still I'll make the exception for this game here.

Forum Posts: 1749
Comment #25 by UberPirateNinja
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 05:34:18 AM
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@22 d'oh! apologies dude, just didn't recognise the profile picture! I visit the site on a daily basis, so when I saw a picture I didn't recognise just assumed it was a new guy!

Forum Posts: 4159
Comment #26 by jackanape
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 07:40:28 AM
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@23 Standard practice is for games to release on a Tuesday in the US and on a Friday in Europe - just the way it has always been.

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #27 by Mr Mc G
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 09:43:30 AM
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true story

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #28 by dead end786
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 11:43:22 AM
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the demo is coming out september 11 2011 on xbox live :)

Forum Posts: 156
Comment #29 by Delboy06eu
Thursday, August 25, 2011 @ 04:17:58 AM
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@2 got that full thousand no sweat g

Forum Posts: 298
Comment #30 by ViNyLek
Thursday, August 25, 2011 @ 04:40:23 PM
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I wonder who will get it for my birthday?:-) (10/19) If I remember correctly last game came out around same time. Looking good!

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #31 by jbslipknot13
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 05:19:53 AM
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i know it maybe way to early to ask but.. do u think there will be dlc packs for this??

kinda like for CoD just 5 or 6 packs ALL with achievements!!! that would make this my all time fav game

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #32 by undeaddanny4
Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 08:29:56 AM
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I've seen a few trailers and it lookes violent and violence+super powers=awesomeness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #33 by DRichards
Sunday, September 04, 2011 @ 09:00:54 AM
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Read the Alan Moore graphic novel coincidentally just before Arkham Asylum came out and was blown away by the style and gameplay. Good level of challenge to that one so much, much more of the same would suit me fine

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #34 by Awesome9870
Monday, September 05, 2011 @ 12:53:38 PM
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@28 how do u know

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Game Info


US October 18, 2011
Europe October 21, 2011

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