Batman: Arkham VR
Be the Batman
Like Batman, I won’t pull any punches when it comes to the launch of PlayStation VR. The reason so many VR launch titles have such low RRPs is because they’re short experiences that are designed to introduce a mainstream market to the wonders of virtual reality.
This doesn’t have to be a disappointment, especially when it gives players the chance to shit themselves in haunted-house rides, soar in the cockpit of an X-wing or, in this particular instance, be the Batman. That last bit was the oft-repeated catchphrase of Batman: Arkham Knight, and it seems like a wasted opportunity in that it should have been saved for Batman: Arkham VR.
With bat-eared headset covering my ears and a PlayStation VR unit offering me a Bat’s-eye view of Batman’s alter ego, the Arkham VR demo started off modestly enough in Bruce Wayne’s rather lush lounge. Like PS VR title The Deep, the player is restricted to standing on the spot, armed with dual Move controllers that mirror real-world hand movements.
Rocksteady has a reputation for pretty games, especially in the Arkhamverse, but Arkham VR is on a whole new level. The room was visually impressive enough, but when faithful butler Alfred entered to inform Bruce Wayne that his alter ego was needed, I missed most of what he was saying because I was distracted by the amazing attention to detail of his character model.
Alfred handed over a key for the piano that was in front of me, and I hurriedly put key in lock, then bashed out a few out-of-tune chords, the Batman fan in me knowing I was about to enter the Batcave. But in expert showmanship, Remedy didn’t simply open a doorway to my expected location. Instead, the floor slowly lowered and I found myself in a small chamber adorned floor-to-roof with tech. It was time to suit up.
The bulk of the main Batsuit was applied automatically, but what followed helped to make up for that disappointment. To put on Batman’s signature gauntlets, you have to stick both of your arms into side-by-side cylinders that contain the bladed gloves. The final touch is to grab Batman’s cowl and pull it over your head, before you receive a mirror view of an impressively rendered Bat visage that moves in time with your real-world head and arm movements.
On the descent to the Batcave, there’s some obligatory gadget testing, which is fun. There’s the grappling hook, which I test-fire at a nearby target before snapping it onto my belt. There’s a similar test with a forensic scanner, before Batman’s iconic batarangs enter the fray, with some subsequent testing against rotating targets. It seems impossible to miss the targets, but that doesn’t impact how cool it is to flick a batarang from the front of Batman’s utility belt towards the targets with a simple gesture.
The elevator finally lowered into the full awesomeness of Rocksteady’s Arkhamverse take on the Batcave and the demo faded to black. I was left wondering what the remaining detective mode is all about.
Like you, I’ll have to wait for the release of the final game to figure that out, but if you have a bat in the belfry for all things Batman, you’d be nutty to miss out on this Arkhamverse experience if you’re picking up PlayStation VR on day one.
CATEGORY ACTION DEVELOPER ROCKSTEADY STUDIOS PUBLISHER WARNER BROS INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT DUE OCTOBER Mmm, yes, looking nice and "non-lethal" there, Bats.