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If one game kept a goofy smile planted on my face throughout its entire E3 2016 demo, it was definitely Batman Arkham VR. The Arkham games have used the tagline "be the Batman" for a number of years now, but that's never rang more true than with a PlayStation VR headset strapped to my face.
During Sony's Playstation E3 presser this past week, a brief teaser was shown for Batman Arkham VR. That was the only information I had on the game when going into my appointment with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, at which point I was told that I would be donning a PSVR headset and trying my hand at being the world's greatest detective.
Here's the thing, I never knew how much I wanted to "be the Batman" until I was given this opportunity to do it. The previous Arkham games have been fantastic, but nothing from that entire series compares to putting on the Caped Crusader's gear from the first-person perspective.
But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. As a warning to those who want to go in fresh when Batman Arkham VR comes out this fall, consider yourself warned that thar be spoilers ahead. I'll keep a few tidbits under wraps but, otherwise, I'm going to walk you through my time as Batman.
Played while standing, I woke up leaning on a piano in Wayne Manor. Alfred walked up to question my choice of sleeping locations, and having the legendary butler scold me made that first great moment of "I'm Bruce-freaking-Wayne" sink in.
After Walter hands me a key, I was left to unlock the lid of the piano and take a gander at my surrounding. Everything was done with the PlayStation Move controllers, which showed Bruce's bruised hands wherever I moved them.
I happened to notice a drawer off to my left with a phone on it. I opened the drawer and found a pair of cards. I reached in and, squeezing on the Move's trigger, picked up one of the cards. Pulling it up to my face, I could look at the card, flip it over and inspect the back. I've seen this done in other VR games before, but it's one of those little touches that still blows me away.
At this point, the phone rang. I picked it up the same as the business card and moved the controller to my head as if it were a phone. Alfred started speaking to me in that ear, at which point I started giggling with delight. Again, it's hard to explain just how neat this stuff is until you can sit someone down, put a headset on them and let them experience it for themselves.
Alfred informed me that I should see if the piano needed tuning and, with the push of a few keys, I was being lowered into an elevator shaft that led directly into the Batcave, which was every bit as awe-inspiring as you might expect.
From there, it was time to suit up. A few gestures later and I had a utility belt strapped around my waist and a pair of gauntlets covering my hands. Net up was the cowl, which I got to pick up, spin around and place over my head. That done, I geared up with an environment scanner, a grapple hook and some batterangs that I even got to toss at targets. Reaching for each of these items and using them worked as naturally as I had hoped.
The demo flashed forward to a crime scene, where I could use the Move button to select my point of view and look around a rainy alley. At my feet was Nightwing, murdered. I know, right?
Using the scanner, I looked for clues and used typical Bat-tech to reconstruct the crime scene before settling on a lead and grappling out of there. I was able to play the reconstruction similar to a DVD, looking for the moments in Nightwing's attack that led to his demise. Again, it's hard to explain but it was super intuitive and a heck of a lot of fun.
My time with Batman Arkham VR drew to a close and I was informed that the game will be available sometime around the PSVR launch this October. After getting a taste of what it feels like to be Batman, i can't wait to put on the cape again and see this mystery through to its conclusion.