E3 2011: Batman: Arkham City - hands-on with the Bat AND the Cat

We skulked up to a perch revealing a dire situation; Catwoman was strung upside down above a vat of acid and about twenty thugs littered the area. We took out a guard positioned right before us with a Silent Takedown (now including the option to strike the opponent once you've brought him down) and made our way across the taut rope above the scene. The rope goes straight down the middle, illuminating both sides of the Courthouse once more – the polished and the destroyed. Even Lady Justice had burning embers on one of the scales. Finding no other alternative to crashing the scene, we dove in and proceeded to take on all twenty baddies.

We thought Arkham City would ramp up to this event, but apparently not. Taking the Resident Evil 4 approach of throwing you into a seemingly impossible sequence early on, we fought and fought until we were victorious. However, Two-Face promptly shot us point blank in the chest. The then turned his attention to Catwoman, who had used the ruckus to get loose. Batman re-appeared, unscathed save for a bulletmark on his chestplate, and helped Catwoman take out the former Harvey Dent. All seemed quiet and calm again, but as the Cat and Bat exchanged banter, a Smiley-Faced laser targeted our head. We dove out of the way just in time as a sniper bullet pierced the ground. Where did THAT come from?

In order to find out where the assassin was located, we needed to go into Detective mode and examine the ballistics. Tapping Left Bumper, we walked around in first-person until we found where the bullet impacted and where the bullet broke through the window. The two locations created a pointer, leading back to the location of our would-be assailant: the Belltower on top of the church.

After making our way inside, we were greeted with the following scene: armed goons holding various citizens hostage and Harley Quinn running towards us. We prepared for battle, but the icon for Counterattack appeared over our heads. Tapping Y at the right time, we easily grabbed Harley by the leg and swung her into a wall.

Then the demo gave us one of our favorite moments: Harley took what seemed like a good 30 seconds slowly picking herself up off the ground, while Batman and all her thugs just stood waiting, and nobody spoke a word. It’s tough to describe, but for some reason we found it hilarious. She then wisely ceased her assault, but found her tongue and proceeded to tease us incessantly about the whereabouts of “Mr. J”. She left the church and before the guards could take us down, we slammed a smoke pellet at the ground and zipped up to a statue perch. Ninja vanish!

And this was our re-introduction into the game's signature Predator mode. There were statues set up around the area and various baddies around us. Entering Detective mode, we x-rayed our surroundings and found that besides the guards we knew were around, there was one hiding with a hostage in a confessional booth.

We dropped behind two guards and crouched towards them. Hitting Y, we were able to perform the Arkham City's new Double Takedown move, slamming both heads together. We then glided towards a piece of scaffolding, dropped down and easily dispatched the third thug. One more. We dropped behind the Confessional, entered Detective mode and slowly approached the booth from behind. Tapping Y, the Bat punched through the wooden wall and easily fell the baddie, earning us a neat 10G for the tutorial.

Sadly, our demo ended there. We weren't able to catch up with the Joker, nor did we learn anything new of the greater plot. But we’re salivating for the game even more. Arkham City doesn't change much of what made its predecessor a favorite. Rather, it expands upon the scope of the world and gameplay while building upon the combat, art style and story. We eagerly await more info on Arkham City and cannot wait for October 18. Check back for more E3 coverage.

Jun 2, 2011