First Look: Batman Arkham City Armored Edition (Wii U)

There’s no question that when Batman: Arkham City was released last year, many folks considered it one of the best comic book games ever made.  How could it not be?  Everything in the game made you feel like you were the Dark Knight, whether it was gliding through the city, pummeling crooks or tracking down criminals like a master bounty hunter.  So it makes sense that Rocksteady Studios and WB Games are working on bringing it to a new platform, as the Wii U will be getting a taste of the Dark Knight with Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition later this year.

All of the original content from the prior release of City will make it into this new version, including every hidden mission, Easter egg, Riddler challenge and more.  You’ll also be able to play as Catwoman, Robin and Nightwing in bonus missions, as well as the Harley Quinn’s Revenge mission.  And, finally, some bonus missions will be included, though the rep didn’t clarify what to expect from those.

The company did provide us ample hands-on with Armored Edition, and thus far, it definitely feels like a Batman experience.  When it comes to traditional control functions, the Wii U tablet does take a little bit of getting used to, especially when it comes to fighting and using the face buttons on the front.  (So much wider than an Xbox 360 or PS3 pad, you know?)  However, they are quite functional, and after a few minutes of play, the feeling will eventually sunk in.

Where the Wii U version stands out is with the additional gameplay functionality that’s being thrown in.  The touch-screen on the controller lets the user interact in a number of new ways.

Let’s talk detective mode first.  Once you turn on this mode, you’ll be able to hold up the Wii U controller to your television screen, finding clues and magnifying with them through the second screen.  This enables you to pick up scents, DNA and light trails even easier than before.

Then there’s also weapon selection.  You have a number of goodies that are accessible on your utility belt, but before, you had to hit a direction on the D-pad to utilize them.  With the touch screen, you can select the items right there and then, without missing any of the in-game action.  If you prefer the old method, however, you can slide the items over to a function on the D-pad and then press it to utilize the weapon.  Old-school!

Additional perks include using the touch screen to track signals with the cryptographic decoder (rather than fiddling with analog sticks) and accessing WayneTech upgrades and a map without needing to hit the select button.  All of these features work just fine within the game, and take away some of the complication from previous versions.

As far as how the game appears, it’s still in need of a little bit of polish, as it doesn’t quite exhibit the HD visuals that the Wii U is capable of just yet.  However, the engine runs quite well with the console, and the animations, particularly during fighting, look superb.

Batman: Arkham City remains a great thrill ride on other consoles, and the Wii U version adds some extra convenience to the mix, along with features that really take advantage of that funky new controller.  We’ll have more details on supplemental features and extra missions in the months ahead, leading to the game’s late 2012 release.