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Preview: Batman: Arkham City

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Preview is a new kind of segment on GamePlayer where we review games that haven’t been released yet based on the current information available. In no way should you take any opinions represented below as confirmation of the games quality at its final launch.

After my only marginally concealed rant about how Kinect Star Wars made me cry, I thought I’d provide at least one Preview which approached an unreleased game from a positive light. In case you hadn’t guessed which from the title, that game is Batman: Arkham City.

Now if you are unfamiliar with this sequel then you probably aren’t aware of its predecessor, game of the year winner Batman: Arkham Asylum. And that is a very bad thing. This game basically made every other super hero game look like Batman Forever  (Clooney goodness) while making itself look like Batman Begins. In non-batman terms, it was a superhero game changer.

And Arkham City looks like it’s going to be just as good. While Arkham Asylum attracted a lot of praise for it’s closed in mental asylum setting and it’s stealth adventure game play, Arkham City promises much the same thing. But in a city. The change to an open sandbox environment is a risky decision but to be honest I can see it working very well for this style of game. After all, what’s the point of being Batman if you can’t glide effortlessly from building to building in between taking out henchmen that never knew you were there?

Another great thing about the original that I am looking forward to being recreated in any form, especially a sequel, is the combat system. Instead of simple combos with a point system to expand your list, the “free flow” combat system which Arkham Asylum employed was amazingly simple to pick up and deceptively difficult to master. While glorious looking punches and kicks could be issues by tapping a single button (POW! KABLAM! ETC!), pulling off a successfully large combo was intricate and amazing to watch. If you ever get to see someone take out 20 guys in one long combo, breaking several arms and legs (of theirs) in the process, you will understand what I mean.

One of the choices which isn’t quite as exciting is the alternate characters they are offering. In the original Arkham Asylum you were Batman start to finish and you never really wanted to be anyone else. Which is why I am puzzled both by the addition of Catwoman as a playable character for optional crime side quests and, apparently, Robin as a perk for pre ordering the game? Who would wanna be Robin? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure even Robin didn’t want to be Robin.

Regardless, this is definitely a game to keep your eye on. Everything (well most things) about it suggest a well thought out sequel to what was a very unique and enjoyable game.

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