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Batman: Arkham City - finally, an actual gameplay preview

Finally, it was time to hop off the helicopter and go check out the church that the shot came from. As Batman glided down from the chopper, he showed off one of his new attacks - the midair throat grab. It's just as brutal as it sounds, with Bats floating down from above, grabbing onto his target's throat, and slamming them into the ground.

Of course, that's not the only new move in his upgraded arsenal. For the new, armored foes, there's the powerful Beat Down move, which involves breaking down their defenses and landing dozens of punches in quick succession. It really adds to the cinematic combat from the first game, and we're excited to see what else they'll be bringing to the table for combat.

After beating down on the thugs outside, Bats headed inside, only to meet up with Harley Quinn and a group of heavily armed guards. After the aforementioned scuffle with the Joker's helper, she left the gunmen to guard the big bad Bat. Strangely, simply standing there being guarded was our favorite part of the demo. The four men stood around, arguing over what they should do about this superhero standing in front of them, with hilarious dialog and fabulous voice acting throughout. Their arguments went on for a good two or three minutes, making us laugh the whole time. It shows the deep amount of attention to detail that Rocksteady has committed to giving us in their titles.

Finally, just before they decided to blow away Mr. Wayne, a smoke bomb came down, allowing for a quick escape to the oh-so-familiar gargoyles. What followed was more of what we loved about the first game: stealth takedowns from above (including a new, hanging chokehold utilizing the bat-feet), and seamless combat. Batman can even punch through weak walls in order to grab enemies who have taken refuge with hostages in, say, a confessional.

After disposing of the riffraff, a quick exploration of the tower from which the gunshot was fired revealed that the Joker had been controlling the gun remotely. Knowing Batman, the grinning one could predict that he would go check it out and laid out explosives to take out the Caped Crusader. After his signature taunting of his perpetual arch nemesis, the Joker started a countdown to detonation. Needless to say, Batman escaped through the nearest stained glass window and glided down to a nearby rooftop, just in time to watch the tower he had just escaped go up in flames.

And that's where our demo ended, but not before raising one more question. On a billboard next to the final rooftop, someone had painted a large number of green question marks surrounding a mysterious message, the meaning of which we couldn't get out of anyone: "Turn on, tune in before someone checks out. 275.00 325.00". Well, we're convinced.

Feb 25, 2011