Not a ‘I’m wearing a bathroom towel as a cape and doing my best angry Christian Bale impression’ Batman - actual, Batsuit wearing, Batarang throwing, throat punching Batman.
It is awesome.
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s E3 video game conference was issued by Rocksteady Games during the PlayStation news conference. The studio had told everyone they’d hung up the cowl having polished off their Arkham trilogy with 2015’s hugely successful Arkham Knight. They were lying.
I am beyond thrilled that they were lying.
Alfred approaches me in Wayne manor at the (fully interactive) grand piano. I’ve always wanted a butler. Something has happened to Dick Grayson, and I need to suit up. I am about to put on the Batsuit. I am 12-years-old all over again.
There follows a sequence of gloving, cowling and general dressing – which includes a moment that allows you to dance about in front of a mirror as frickin’ Batman. Hip thrusts complete, I arm myself with a scene scanner, batarangs and grappling gun. It feels… right. I never want to take this off.
One of a clutch of 50 VR experiences and games that will launch alongside the PlayStation VR in October, Arkham VR doesn’t boast the same scale as Rocksteady’s previous titles: there’s about an hour of core game, supplemented by an addition 45 minutes of extras and secrets for those with a keen eye.
I get a handle on the basics of the game in the 10 minutes of my Bat experience: in addition to wearing the VR headset, you interact through two PlayStation Move controllers, one in each hand. With these, you can grab items from your belt, scanning crime scenes, collecting evidence and tossing batarangs around like the Dark actual Knight.
Movement is controlled by ‘teleporting’ to hovering bat symbols, dodging the motion-sickness issues that usually come from attempting to move with a controller like a normal screen game.
I don’t want to spoil the crux of the story, but it’s an immediately familiar set up for those who’ve played previous Arkham titles. You approach a crime scene, scan for clues, recreate events and head off to kick the ass of the criminals responsible. The emphasis is on investigation and problem solving rather than rib breaking.
But that shouldn’t disappoint you. No VR game is yet ready to match the heights of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy. This experience is the perfect illustration of the potential of VR, the way you can expand on some themes you’ve already encountered in video games, but never thought you’d become obsessed with.