BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY Shows Much More Dangerous Riddler

BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY - Dangerous Riddler

We've gotten to play Batman: Arkham City a couple of times now, once at E3 2011 and once at SDCC 2011. So when we were invited to play a new build, and a different couple of sections of the game by Rocksteady and Warner interactive, we jumped at the chance, knowing we'd have an hour of excitement ahead of us.

After zooming through the Catwoman fight that opens the playable demo builds they've been showing off for the last couple of months (got a combo of 14 this time, not too bad for my second time playing with the feline fatale!), we were told to ignore the story, and instead explore the city a bit. After gliding and zipping along, a series of movements that feels more and more natural as you play, and collecting two Riddler trophies, Batman landed on a rooftop where he could see several thugs beating up a civilian down below. Zooming in, we can see that there is one thug with a glow about him; turns out, he's an informant for the Riddler.

One dive bomb attack later, and Batman's in the thick of it, fighting a gang of about ten. Luckily, the combos have been perfected, and gadgets are simply awesome to use in combat. Two thugs attack warning go off at the same time, and a quick double tap of the counter button drops both face first into the concrete. We save the informant for last, and happen to hold him defeated on the ground. Batman slams his heel into the poor thug's neck and asks where the Riddler is with his hostage. He tells us, and after observing one thug literally weeping in a corner (and laughing about it, of course), we have a brief chat with the civilian getting beat down. It's Jack Ryder (Easter Egg alert!) and he gives you some dialogue that will help you in a later mission.

But we're not here for that creeper of a pundit, we're after The Riddler. We follow the new map marker to find Riddler's hiding spot, and find some thugs outside. Already in the groove of combo attacking, Batman takes this group down with ease. We even got to try out using the explosive gel in the middle of a combo, sending an unsuspecting thug who thought he was sneaking up behind us flying about 15 feet across the street.

Now it's time to hit the Riddler's hideout. When we enter (through a wall that's not a wall, oh Edward, you card), a projection of Riddler tells us the score, that we have a hostage to save, and that he's watching us. We'll refrain from describing the entire deathtrap to give you something fun to play through. Suffice to say, there are huge buzzsaws, electrified floors, barbed fences, and you have to use no less than five different gadgets (and some swell timing) to beat this challenge and save the hostage. It's a lot of fun and extremely satisfying to finally save him and go soaring out the window, though. it's almost like having story-based challenge maps that are built into the regular game.

In addition to the Riddler section, we chatted with Rocksteady a bit while playing a couple of challenge maps as Catwoman (Seriously, the whip? Her counters? You will say "holy $#!*" at least ten times during every single fight). They let slip during our playtime that Catwoman's side-story doesn't just start with Two-Face; that battle will actually go back and forth throughout her story in the entire game.

A new type of challenge appears in this sequel, with a three-part mission. In this, you get one perk and one setback; the only trick is, you have to use both the perk and the setback in one of each of the three parts. So you might get a perk that makes you harder to kill, but then a setback that makes enemies come at you faster and in tighter groups. It's a cool twist on the challenge format, and along with custom challenges (that can only be saved locally) it opens up the challenge section of the game quite a bit. Also for Robin fans out there, Tim Drake's Challenge character exclusivity via a Best Buy preorder is only temporary; the character will be available to all at a later date.

We took a little tour of the city in 3D, and it is what it is. If you're a fan of (and don't get sick from) 3D films, you'll probably dig this, if not, it's going to bother you. Luckily, it's totally optional. Everyone that has the capability should climb up to some of the higher points in the city, turn on 3D, and just look around a bit, though. The city is incredible, it is huge, and there are so many little bits in there for Batman fans, hidden on walls, shining in neon signs, and more. With a gametime of over forty hours if all you do is the main Batman missions, Catwoman missions, and Riddler challenges, when you take into account the other exploration available to you, this is a game that will take a lot of your fall time. Luckily, from three separate hands-on times now, it also looks like you'll enjoy every second.

Batman: Arkham City hits shelves October 18, 2011.

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