Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm Moved By Arkham City

Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of the best games of 2009, the best according to most. As weird as this may sound it was one of my favorite games of 2009 because of it's movement. No, I'm not talking about narrative flow or level design, I'm talking about Batman's actual movement through the environment. That's what gets me most excited about Arkham City, the upcoming sequel to Arkham Asylum.

As Batman you had the ability to glide over the asylum, zip-line across from building to building (or wall to wall), and grapple up to ledges and gargoyles. Thanks to Rocksteady's brilliant animators all of this was beautifully animated, making you really feel like you were Batman. Even combat involved movement; Batman could glide-kick down to his enemies, knocking them down and then finishing them off. The player could then quickly and easily grapple onto a nearby ledge or, more commonly, gargoyle and disappear without anyone ever knowing he was there. Well, except for the knocked out thug that's left behind.

I even enjoyed the simple things like running forward and reaching a ledge; the game automatically had you jump at points like this which kept Batman's cape flowing and the player moving forward. Movement is Arkham Asylum wasn't just made for traversing the environment, it was also used as a tool for handling situations like Ivy's poison gas in Arkham Mansion. Rocksteady's ability to perfectly blend storytelling with gameplay and make it all work together with such an iconic character is unparalleled for superhero videogames.

Nobody's Perfect
I think because you felt so free in the asylum's exteriors it was a little frustrating when the player entered places like the penitentiary in which there wasn't much room to move or use any of your movement aiding gadgets like the zip-line. Arkham City hopefully won't have any of these cramped places.

Looking Forward...
As good as Arkham Asylum was and as much as I enjoyed it, I can't help but think that Arkham City is going better and I'm going to enjoy it more. With Arkham City being five times bigger than the asylum the ability to move, and move efficiently, becomes all the more important. Director, Sefton Hill has said that Batman won't be using any vehicles in Arkham City, he said instead that he is “ultimate vehicle.” In the city Batman will be able to use the zip-line as a tightrope, as well as dive at any time while gliding over the city. These should both allow for a more tactical approach to combat situations.

So it's weird... but the most exciting thing for me about Batman: Arkham City is Batman's awesome ability to move. Batman: Arkham City is expected to release sometime in quarter 4 of 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

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