e3 2014
Batman: Arkham Knight Rides Batmobile in Style - Hands on - Update

Greg Tito | 12 Jun 2014 00:14
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The Batmobile's Pursuit is also really fun to control, basically acting as a souped up driving game experience. You'll have to use the afterburner control to hit jumps at just the right time in order to access certain areas - there was a moment in the demo where it took a few tries and when I nailed the landing, I felt like I was in the Dukes of Hazard. I asked Guy Perkins how much the car fits in with the huge open world of Gotham that's five times the size of Arkham City.

"It was really important that if we're going to introduce the Batmobile it isn't just a car or a fast-travel system - it isn't a fast travel system - but it has to be the best car that it could possibly be," he said. "It has to do more than just drive, it has to do more than just look cool. It's gotta be something that supports the game design, that makes it interesting to play with."

Will the car be available from the start of the open world experience or will it be restricted? "We're not restricting you in any way. If you want to [explore] on foot, or grapple and glide, you can do that. If you want to do it in a vehicle you can go and do that. We don't want to force you play in a certain way," Perkins continued. "Obviously, there are instances where it makes more sense to use the Batmobile. For example, you wouldn't walk into a tank battle as Batman because you're just going to get destroyed. Using the Batmobile makes more sense there. But it's very much this partnership of man and machine. We're not trying to create these niches where this is just a little bit Batmobile, this is a little bit Batman."

The Batmobile even has a containment unit that can be used to transport both friendlies and hostiles without endangering them too much. In the demo, we were able to get through the Ace Chemical factory and save a handful of workers left alive by the Arkham Knights forces. The last one, we pushed into the containment unit just as the Knight himself showed up to fight. After a brutal series of combos, upper cuts and Bam/Pows, Batman prevailed, but the Arkham Knight withdrew. The demo ended with Batman driving the Batmobile out of the factory to meet up with Commissioner Gordon.

So if there's a Batombile, will we see a Batplane? A Bat-submarine? Guy Perkins dodged the question, but I might have detected a nod and a wink there.

Another addition in Arkham Knight is the ability to chain grappling shots to "hit that epic verticality" as Dax Ginn put it during the presentation. There's also a new device called the Bat Scanner. It's shaped like a bat, predictably, but when you toss it out like a boomerang it can detect all kinds of signals including radio transmissions and life sign locations. Pretty handy for an open world game - the Bat Scanner seems to act like a synchronization point in Assassin's Creed, only you don't have to jump in any dang pile of hay.

Rocksteady has said that this is the last Arkham game they will make. It certainly feels exquisitely modern in its presentation. The meld between attractive visuals and new and expanded features like the Batmobile and the open world experience in Gotham City looked truly wonderful on PlayStation 4 I played it on. But why are they giving up? Perkins said that part of it is going out on a high note, but it's also the natural progression that Sefton hill always envisioned. "We gave gamers that 'World's Greatest Detective' experience with Arkham Asylum, that kind of intimate, very closed in setting. Blowing that out into the open world, [in Arkham City] we gave you the ability to be the Caped Crusader," he said. "Sefton's vision has always been, 'I need the Batmobile. Gotta have the Batmobile in my game.'"

And now, he's able to deliver that promise. Not only will we get the Batmobile in Arkham Knight, but we'll also get the chance to see the design of the car in the flesh at E3 2014 next week in Los Angeles. "In collaboration with West Coast Customs, we've built this thing," Dax Ginn said. "Full scale, full size. It is red hot. Well, it's not finished yet but it will be red hot."

Is all that worth the news that Arkham Knight has been delayed to release some time in 2015 on the PS4, the Xbox One and PCs? Probably not. But if you take anything away from this preview, know this: the Batmobile is a joy to drive.

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