Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na...Batman: Arkham City: Armoured Edition! The caped crusader’s romp around the super-prison that is Arkham City launched on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 late last year, but now it’s on its way to the Wii U with some neat enhancements. Not only is the core of the original game firmly in place, but players will also be granted access to all previously released downloadable content, right on the disc. Other than DLC, what separates the Armoured Edition from the original release? The GamePad, of course!
If there is one character whose shoes anyone would feel right at home in while holding the Wii U GamePad, it has got to be Batman. The Dark Knight is famous for his seemingly infinite supply of handy gadgets, and now you too have your very own “utility belt” to play with. Detective mode (in which evidence and other key parts of the environment are highlighted) can now be intuitively controlled using the controller as a handheld scanner. Assuming there is enough space in the immediate area and you don’t mind getting off the sofa, players can jump up and rotate through a full 360 degrees to get the best possible look at the in-game surroundings.
The batarang can also be controlled in a similar fashion. Once thrown, the camera tags along with the sneaky throwing weapon and all the action unfolds on the GamePad’s touch screen. Tilting the GamePad smoothly alters the flight path of the batarang. It is very subtle and quite difficult to get spot on at first -- especially if someone has previously decided to toggle the invert controls setting in the options menu. If motion controls really aren’t your thing, though, there is nothing to stop from reverting back to the analogue sticks. Both input methods operate simultaneously so there is never any forcing of controls that do not feel quite as intuitive.
Environments themselves, though, were a mixed affair -- in some areas sampled, the look was spot on -- intricately detailed, crisp textures, yet in others it looked worse off, with them appearing smudged and in a low resolution state. Overall, the areas explored in the demo were crafted well, and the studio responsible for the port -- WB Montreal -- has worked well to enhance this edition for the most part; yet it does need fine tuning in some sections. Cubed3 was assured that these gripes in presentation and design would be ironed out once the game was optimised upon release, thankfully.
With a game like Batman Arkham City, lighting is absolutely critical to establish the right mood for the hero to do his job well -- after all he does lack the near-invincibility of Superman or the wall-crawling Spider-Man. The Wii U edition looks to do this to perfection, creating deep blacks and more subtle streams of colour and light pulsing through the cracks. Coupled with the Wii U's digital tool-belt, it helped invite players into the world arguably in a more immersive way than before.
- Jorge Baoh, Managing Director.
As soon as I started playing, Joker's sarcastic voice popped into my head with a “Where’s all your textures Bats?” Whilst that made me smile to myself, the reality was that it was an uncomfortable experience. It felt as if the textures had not loaded properly and I still cannot figure out if that was how the game was meant to look or if there was an issue with regarding information transfer. Anyway, the game, well...it’s a nine month-old title and plays pretty much the same as the original release. The difference, of course, being the controls; combat and movement controls were mapped over exactly, and was in fact lazy from the development point of view. From playing consoles for so long I have an inbuilt mechanism that knows where ‘A’ is on each console and instead of remapping the controls to suit the Game Pad, they left it as was, meaning B was A -- this confused the hell out of me after playing the previous version. Apart from that, face controls are what you expect -- fast, responsive and let you have access to Batman’s quick-gadget fighting style for those clothes-line finishers.
Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition also takes advantage of the GamePad’s accelerometers and screen for item selection and direct control of certain gadgets. When roaming the world you tap up on the D-pad and are taken to the inventory screen where scrolling across is done with the touch of a finger to select items and up to three can be placed on 'hot key' directions on the D-pad. Whilst it was nice to be able to swap out with a full visual representation of what you were doing, I found it detracted from the pace of the game, constantly breaking up the flow in order to swap out an item. My other concern came as someone who has played this game extensively -- Riddler Challenges. Throughout the game there are 300 Riddler trophies to collect -- some harder than others -- and often require players to use more than three gadgets...against a timer. I can see this getting very fiddly very quickly compared to being able to use the D-pad to select everything needed, might I add, without looking.
One of the main gadgets used was the Remote Baterang that swapped the view to the GamePad and followed its flight path and you controlled it by tilting the device. This worked well, but felt a little disorientating at times. It also was not as sensitive as it needed to be. However, you were forced to use the GamePad to control and I found the analogue stick was dead -- a slight concern considering that some challenges take a lot of fidelity in the game. Bad Medicine.
- Calum Peak, Alternative Content Editor.