If the Arkham Knight demo shown at E3 is anything to go by, Gotham's greatest enemy may not be the Penguin, the Joker or any other sociopathic super villain.
It may be Batman's car. At the rate this armoured wrecking machine is able to plough through the city, there won't be much left of the Dark Knight's hometown by closing credits.
The Batmobile isn’t a car. It’s hell on wheels. Not only can it smash through fences, road barriers and concrete walls, it can deploy a powerful winch to rip down steel blockades and turn sections of the road into a ramp. And that’s before you get into the vehicle's Tank Mode, which gives the player a Vulcan Cannon and a set of missiles, allowing it to reduce other vehicles to smouldering metallic skeletons.
Batman was always a pretty formidable character, but with Rocksteady’s version of his classic ride, he's a one-man mobile army, causing carnage on the streets, then using the car’s ejector seat to land a flying kick into the face of some ne’er-do-well.
By all accounts, Batman is going to need these new abilities, as well as his new combat prowess, which allows him to use pieces of his environment to floor opponents. Not only has the Scarecrow threatened to detonate a fear toxin bomb that’ll cover the entire eastern seaboard, but most of Gotham’s more colourful villains have taken control of the streets and there’s a brand new villain in play – the Arkham Knight. This new rogue is hell-bent on the Dark Knight’s destruction and from the snippets of conversation in the E3 demo he seems to know Batman quite intimately; his hatred seems personal and he knows enough to direct his henchmen to fire at the weakest parts of Batman’s body armour.
The E3 demo showed that a lot of what made the Arkham series great is still in place, such as the brilliant way the game switches from stealth to combat to puzzle solving without missing a beat. But it also shows that the new features – the Batmobile, the new takedowns, the ability to launch higher and glide for longer – compliment both the existing mechanics and the game’s sprawling open-world structure. Nothing here seems done for the sake of it. Everything clicks together beautifully. Players may be in for a grim time in Gotham, but they’ll probably love every minute of it.
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