By Charlie Higson
MCM London is exactly the kind of place you want to be if you want to see excellence in Film, TV, comics and gaming, whilst stood next to a two groot cosplays and six hundred anime characters you’ve never heard of. For this attendee, on their very first comic-con outing, there was certainly reason to be overwhelmed. One of the best moments of the weekend had to be coming across the life sized Batmobile, sat amidst a Batman Arkham booth. It wasn’t long after this that I began queuing behind a gender bent snow white/princess leia cosplayer to get a closer look at the new gameplay from Batman: Arkham Knight, set to release on June 23rd. Anyone who does not want this game spoiled, read no further.
There’s much to be excited about, and as viewers were dropped back into the Gotham landscape for this series’ 4th outing. Commissioner Gordon briefs Batman on the situation, a terrorist, who calls himself the Arkham Knight, is holding Ace Chemical engineers hostage.
The first thing we can see is that the world design of this Arkham instalment meets and exceeds the detail and of the previous games. Not only this, but the Arkham team have made good on their promise to make the world more expansive. Batman’s signature gadget, the grappling hook, has been enhanced to the point where he can zip further than ever before.
The combat, which in this series has always been sleek and satisfying, has some new elements. Players are now able to use the environment for takedowns. Say there’s a handy bench nearby, just throw the henchman into it. Electrical circuit board within arms reach, plough somebody’s head straight through it. I’m excited about this new feature just because I know we’re all going to be seeing just how much of the environment can be used.
Stealth combat has also changed, as our hero can now take down up to three enemies from a hidden vantage point.
It’s not long in the gameplay before Batman calls in the Batmobile, which, in perfect style, you can call remotely. It’s pretty much the ultimate gadget in Batman’s arsenal and there was a lot of pressure for the design on point, and for it capabilities to be worthwhile having it in the game. I can say with confidence that we will not be disappointed.
The batmobile is both a heavy-duty tank, or a sleek street surfer, depending on the players choice to enter either ‘combat’ or ‘pursuit’ mode. The pursuit mode allows the player to screech around the map (where possible) in the classic Batmobile style, drifting round corners at unnecessary high speeds. For combat mode the vehicle folds out in a satisfying, ‘we’re bout to make ‘splosions’ kind of way. In this mode we’re able to drift side to side and make use of a suite of explosive weapons. The batmobile is capable of launching non-lethal rounds to assist Batman during combat, making vehicle assisted take downs possible. Whilst driving at high speeds it is possible to launch Batman out of the front of the vehicle, like an oiled pig out of a cannon, gliding effortlessly through the night. The Batmobile also has two seats in the back, either for transporting criminals to jail, or for taking the kids to school.
The most important thing is that the Batmobile was actually needed during gameplay, its not just a gimmick to attract sales. In this half hour we were shown some of its abilities: to get to certain areas of the map, to take out certain enemies (such as automated evil tanks for example) and even to drag down metal doors with the cars own grappling hook.
The footage that I viewed came to a climax when Batman saves an engineer from a group of thugs, only to be surrounded by another team, led by the mysterious Arkham Knight. The games main antagonist is designed to have a mechanistic look, with pointy ear things like Batman. From the few minutes we witness, we can surmise that he’s a cocky son of a bitch, and that he seems to have at least some unknown history with our hero. All I can say is as an adversary he seems exactly the maniacal, charismatic type that’s perfectly balanced to Batman’s Batmaness. However, the story is clearly building to the reveal of this characters identity, so it better be good.
Overall, there’s a lot left to see when the game is finally released, but there’s certainly reason to get excited, at least for the new gameplay features that I’ve mentioned. The Arkham series has always prided itself on great story arcs, a myriad of villains and varied gameplay. These elements remain to be judged. For the time being however, its good to see the amount of work that has gone into new gameplay mechanics.