Ever since I was a little boy, I’d dreamed of being… a fireman. No, I wasn’t one of those kids that wrapped a bin sack around my neck and pretended to be “The World’s Greatest Detective” AKA: Batman. I can see how that’d appeal to some, but for me, nah, I’m alright; I like my sleep too much.
Which is ironic, really, as Batman: Arkham VR has been stealing my sleep ever since I first stepped into its virtual world. I simply can’t get enough of how the game puts me in Batman’s shoes, albeit only for a very limited time. You may have heard about PlayStation VR games being “experiences”, and while it’s not strictly true for most of the games I’ve played in PSVR, it does apply to Batman: Arkham VR.
It’s a pity that the game is only an hour or so long because the story really had me hooked until the last moment. Granted, it’s not the same affair as previous Arkham games in the series – for one, there’s no rhythmic combat and crunching skulls – but it was a refreshing change of pace for the insomniac billionaire. Instead of stalking prey from the shadows up high, your job is to do some detective work. It might sound a little mundane on paper, but trust me when I say that donning the famous cowl and scanning a burnt corpse with the detective scanner is like nothing you’ll have played before on a home console.
You’ll go to a few locations and meet a few familiar faces in the series, but it’s all over so quickly you’ll struggle to remember their significance to this side story which is just begging to be expanded upon.
As expected, Batman: Arkham VR has you controlling the moody hero with two PlayStation Move controllers. Each controller represents one of Batman’s hands (no – your hands!) and you’re free to pick around and inspect numerous objects in each location. See a clipboard in the morgue? Pick it up and have a gander. Post cards littering the phone table? Pick ’em up and have a little knowing chuckle at the easter egg. Phone ring? Pick it up and hold it to your ear to hear Alfred having a moan – you get the picture.
It’s not just the simple acts of picking things up and waving them in front of your own face for giggles. You can explore the Batcave and test your marksmanship with Batarangs, inspect Batman’s vehicles with levers, and if you’re feeling immature, have Batman perform some lewd acts on poor old Alfred or make Batman dance like a loony. Yes, I couldn’t help myself. This is the inherent danger of VR, I’m afraid.
The presentation is among the best I’ve seen so far in a PSVR title, though there’s still some obvious trickery going on behind the scenes – not that you’ll really care. The game does a good job – nay – a great job at placing you in the boots of Batman, so much so that on more than one occasion I looked down over a building and felt a little uneasy. That’s not due to the VR, but instead my own fear of heights. Told you I’d be a crap Batman…
While the story is over far too soon, there are bits and pieces to keep you coming back. There’s the Riddler puzzles to solve, easter eggs to find, and of course the mandatory trophies to collect on PS4. It might seem a little pricey, but I think the £15.99 is more or less around what I’d be happy to pay for such limited experiences. But come on, seriously, it’s 15 quid to be Batman, and that beats the crap out of paying to see Batman vs. Superman any day of the week.
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