I’ve generally stayed away from the whole VR scene as I’ve often regarded it all as a bit of a fad, much like 3D movies or tooth brushes designed to clean your tongue. That’s not to say that 3D movies are terrible. But they have a nasty habit of being an afterthought. However, when done correctly the result is simply superb. Look at Avatar by James Cameron, a film designed from the ground up to be presented in 3D.
I have the same view with Virtual Reality titles. Sure, the novelty of being immersed in your environment is wonderful, but the graphical presentation usually leaves a lot to be desired, not to mention the fact that buying a VR headset is usually an expensive affair. However, my opinion of VR was coaxed into positivity after getting some time on the forthcoming Batman: Arkham VR game by Rocksteady Studios.
What I’ve always wanted in a VR title is something that provides a convincing reason to play it, and impressive visuals. Other titles, such as ubisoft’s Eagle Flight and Star Trek Bridge crew are all perfectly entertaining, though it’s the novelty of VR that wins in those games, and novelty isn’t something that tends to stick around for long, or convince you to keep playing. Rocksteady, however, seem to take a different approach: why not create a game that is just as impressive as any Arkham title and immerse the player in the shoes of the Dark knight himself?
Obviously, utilising VR means you can’t be expected to jump around your own living room, beating imaginary criminals to a pulp, unaware that anyone sat near you will probably end up with a broken jaw, or that you might try to swoop into your own fireplace with unexpected results. The end product is a game that Rocksteady have specifically created for VR, whilst retaining the popular elements of the Arkham series.
Being an Arkham game means superb visuals, and it doesn’t disappoint. In the demo I experienced I was able to look down on Gotham from the roof of the police headquarters, taking care not to step too close to the edge. Afterwards I visited Wayne Manor before descending into the bowls of the Batcave, complete with a view to amaze and impress. Becoming Batman means donning the cape and cowl. But instead of just turning up to a crime scene, Rocksteady have made the process of getting ready an occasion in itself. No other game places this much emphasis on becoming someone else. But that’s ramped up to eleven as you equip yourself with the familiar black and grey suit and a host of legendary gadgets.
What stood out for me in this game was the attention to detail, which is fairly important in a game where you look for clues. Everything is superbly detailed, and unfortunately the images (above) don’t do the game justice. The demo I got to experience revolved around familiarisation (donning the cape and cowl) and then solving a murder. It involved all of the great detective moments from the regular Arkham series, without reducing the game to nothing more than a point and click adventure.
From what I know about the game so far, think of it as the moments between punching people in the face, all beautifully captured in a fully convincing and immersive environment. And to top it off I caught sight of a Bat Garage. And we all know what that means, don’t we?
The only downside of all this? If you don’t yet have a PS4, buying everything, including the game itself will set you back around £750. However, the VR headset itself is a lot cheaper than Oculus Rift, at a comparatively cheap £349.
I’m curious to know if Sony will launch a bespoke Batman PS4/VR bundle. We’ve reached out to WB on this matter and will keep you updated.
Flugel Meister (Dave) is a longtime video gaming fan, who's love for all things pixelated began way back in 1980, when he ventured onto his brother's Grandstand console before progressing to a Dragon 32 and then a Spectrum 48K. That's right. he's old. When he's not gaming, he can be found swimming in the country's reserves of cheesecake.
Follow him on Twitter: @DavidPMcDougall