In addition to the unchecked crime produced by a population composed entirely of criminals, Batman also has to deal with Two-Face, who's captured Catwoman and plans to publicly execute her within Arkham City.
At a Microsoft press event this week, a reprentative from developer Rocksteady offered us our first guided demo of the city and some of Batman's enhanced gadgets, including the revamped Detective Mode.
As Batman watches silently from a rooftop above, the camera pans out to reveal a massive city under siegie. The wicked run rampant here, but they've got a big problem: Batman.
Leaping from the rooftop, Batman pulls wide his cape and shows off its new gliding ability. The feature is highly reminiscent of the cape power-up in Super Mario World: Diving down, Batman gains momentum and can pull back to gain altitude, gliding further. It looks like the way to navigate the now much larger, more open environment.
Eventually, Batman makes his way inside of a church and comes face-to-face with Harley Quinn and four thugs, armed with machine guns. She charges Batman, who easily tosses her aside but, guns drawn, the thugs line Batman up in their sights and he deftly dodges danger through perfectly timed use of a smoke bomb. With his grappling hook, Batman leaps up into the rafters and surveys the situation. The thugs break off and start patrolling the area and Batman stalks them one-by-one, in brilliant predatory fashion.
Here the rep turns on the upgraded Detective Mode, which seems to have taken some cues from The Dark Knight -- it's part sonar, part x-ray. Two of the thugs grab hostages as bargaining chips, but the other two are alone and easy pickings. One of the more violent takedowns shows Batman punching through a confessional wall and pulling a thug through, knocking him out cold with one blow.
The demo ends shortly thereafter, leaving me to ponder a contradictory desire: Arkham City makes for a hopeless setting -- darker and less redeemable than the forgotten asylum -- yet invites me to keep exploring and stay in just a bit longer.