NYCC 2013: Hands-on With Batman: Blackgate
Batman had a HUGE presence at this year’s comic con and everything about the caped crusader was revealed. From an entire panel of Batman: Arkham Origins to the costumes, everyone loves The Dark Knight. Tucked in the corner of the Javits Center was a DC Comics section, complete with several demos. Among them was Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate.
Blackgate is the portable installment of the highly anticipate Batman: Arkham Origins. Origins will tell the beginning of Batman and build up to 2009’s Arkham Asylum. Blackgate will be an interquel to Origins and Asylum. Taking place three months after the events of Batman Arkham Origins, we find Batman continuing his quest for justice. The game is being developed by Amerature Studios, a team composed of developers that made Metroid: Prime for Retro Studios. The game will be available on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. I demoed the Vita version.
I spoke to a representative of the game on hand. He went to confirm that Origins is a Metroid-vania styled game. Following the first playable chapter, which is more of a guided, action-packed introduction, players will be able to tackle bosses in any which way they choose across many levels.
After a bit of a wait, I got my hands on a Vita and tried it out! First thing I notice is the audio design. I was wearing a pair of Astro headphones which enhanced that quality. However, it still felt sharp with orchestra, sounds, and the same voice over from Origins. The story is told through motion comics illustrations as well. The are around me was bright so it was hard to make out some things but they looked pretty damn good. After a brief introduction, we cut right into the action. Catwoman and Batman are meeting for the very first time here and Batman is in hot pursuit. We get to kick some butt in combat.
I noticed that the combat was solid. Button presses were responsive and the countering system worked well. Little wavy lines appear above a foes’ head, indicating an attack. Batman can counter and continue fighting. Fighting groups of enemies, everything felt seamless. It wasn’t difficult to keep fighting with dozens of enemies attacking at once. You can also perform takedowns. As Batman chases Catwoman, we begin to see the navigating portions of the game. It is a 2.5 D side-scrolling adventure, with Batman navigating into the foreground, background, and in any other direction while maintaining the side-scrolling perspective. It makes for an interesting dynamic for the game and actually reminds me a bit of the 1989, NES Classic Batman developed by Sunsoft. That particular game was a tie-in for the 1989 Tim Burton directed Batman movie ( An absolute golden super hero classic)
Moving along, I had several moments where Batman was perched. The game prompted me to use “Detective mode.” Holding the Vita screen down, a special overlay comes down and you can identify items and enemies. Also, you can hold the R button to lock onto enemies and use a batarang.
Batman moved well outside of combat. Gliding and running felt good, if maybe a tad bit loose but that was also because of my orientation. AS The Above picture illustrates, I played the game on the Vita but it was linked to a Samsung 40 inch TV. With that, the visuals were pretty rough but held their own. On the vita screen, they looked great, with nice lighting and texture touches. The demo concluded with a fight with Catwoman. It was really brief but was nonetheless cool. As you fight, the camera will zoom in on blows made by Batman or Catwoman, adding a nice, brutal touch to the pacing.
Looking at the game, its ambitions, the developer history, and the content, I for one am sold on the game. It will release on October 25th on the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS, right alongside its console brother. My only concern is length and game play variety and I am surprised that there hasn’t been more press or media buzz on this promising title. Look for more on it within the next few weeks!