Batman: Arkham Knight
Going hands- on with my new best friend, the Batmobile.
Afew months ago I wondered if the Batmobile was just a noisy addition to the Arkham canon. But while action giggles are certainly part of its appeal, it complements Batman’s existing skills well, and functions more like an AI companion.
My demo is set in one isolated part of the gigantic, five-times-bigger-than- ArkhamCity map, at the Ace Chemical plant. Batman is here to rescue workmen from the militia of the enigmatic Arkham Knight.
Batman has a special batarang to scope out the surviving workmen, which follows sound signals and homes in on them— basically it’s a drone that helps you figure out the objective.
Pursuit and Battle mode can be switched between at any time in the car. Pursuit is highspeed driving, Battle is when the car’s arsenal rolls out and you have more precision in steering and shooting. You can strafe in this mode on some fancy wheels, dodge, and perform a combo bonus where you pelt with rockets every enemy unit you can lock onto. It feels a bit like a deadly hovercraft.
It’s enjoyable, but the less initially obvious uses of the Batmobile are the most exciting, such as solving the new environmental puzzles I discover later in the demo. These involve remote controlling the Batmobile to remove obstacles—blowing up steam
One combo lets you lob a dude in the air and have the car shoot him back to the ground
pipes from exterior locations, for example—or using the cable-mounted hook to pull down a wall or haul up a lift.
The Batmobile’s out-of-car options extend to combat. By far my favorite part of this demo is when I realize that when the Batmobile is nearby, one combo option lets you lob a dude in the air and have the car shoot him back to the ground. I feel like I’m high-fiving Batman’s car.
Batman’s new moves aren’t just limited to his ride. I try the Fear Takedown, which lets you point the camera at enemies and hit B to make Batman sprint between armed guards. It can speed up predator sections, useful without necessarily upsetting the balance of systems that already exist. Bats’ new counter-throw is theatrical and violent, but again the old move set doesn’t seem to be affected. And given the new sword-carrying enemy type with masterful fighting skills, the extra options are welcome. This demo is mainly about the car, but the rest of the design isn’t on hold, in case you were worried. Batman also has a bunch of new contextual moves in the environments, such as throwing light fittings down on goons.
Additions like this shows how much promise and ambition there is in this final Rocksteady Arkham installment. Considering this is just one isolated part of the city, it will be interesting to see how these strategic options open up in the gigantic, gorgeous cityscape that I saw during the game’s unveiling in March.
Drones, because 2014.
“Look for a man dressed like a small flying cave rat.”
Comic book sound effects, for your pleasure: “PLINK! PATWANG!”