Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition Hands-on with the Wii U update to last years Bat-Blockbuster

Arkham City took gamers by storm last year, becoming one of the best-reviewed and best-selling games of 2011. Now, seemingly timed for the launch window of Nintendo’s next home console, Warner Bros is porting the Dark Knight’s adventure to the Wii U in Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. We got an extended demo of it that let us experience all the new techniques added for the system’s unique Gamepad.

First up was the update this port is named after: Batman’s new combat armor. Not just cosmetic, the redesigned Batsuit is there to incorporate with other Wii U abilities. Bats has a new computer interface on his forearm to match what you can access on the Gamepad’s screen. The action doesn’t pause anymore when you pull up any of the menus, making the interface realer and more dangerous. Fortunately Batman’s new armor also comes with him new charged up combos. They don’t really change the flow of Arkham’s superlative combat, it just adds some extra oomph via a timed damage boost to the already destructive combos.

That’s probably the most impactful of the additions, while the rest that we saw worked in subtler ways and with varying success rates. Deciphering passwords seems made for the system’s Gamepad, as Bruce’s tool for hacking security computers is shaped pretty similarly to Wii U’s controller. As the hacking device scanned for the password, a touch-based minigame began where we moved our finger over a circuit board to find the system’s weak point.

Tough it may not seem like much, in practice the sonar mode on the Gamepad display was helpful, not only because it provided us with the location of nearby guards, but because it kept track of where we left explosive gel. We could see when the thugs approach our trap and by tapping the markers on the tablet screen, we exploded three different walls in fast order, taking out the guards much more efficiently than we did in the original. Also somewhat improved was Detective Mode, because now when Batman sets up a crime scene, that close-up view of the area appears in the Gamepad’s screen. You scan the ground using motion controls, moving the viewer around you until you find the important piece of evidence. Not groundbreaking, but interesting in a practical way.

Weakest of all the Wii U updates had to be the Remote Control Batarang. Hopefully they can work out the kinks in the months before the final version ships, as the current form was nearly uncontrollable. You were supposed to direct its flight with the motion sensor in the controller, but the movements were far too sensitive and we found the projectile incredibly unwieldy. At least it was the only update in our demo that was a flop.

Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is likely to ship around the launch of the Wii U, which is promised to appear at retail by year’s end.

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