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EXCLUSIVE GAME PREVIEW: Batman: Arkham Origins

In a last ditch effort to get someone, anyone excited about Batman: Arkham Origins, the good people at Warner Brothers Interactive held a press day at their L.A. offices to show off a part of the game they hadn’t previously revealed at E3. Or at Comic-Con. Or at Gamescom. Or at any other point since they announced the game this past April.

Batman Arkham Origins jet

Due out October 25 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, WiiU, and PC, Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum and 2011’s Batman: Arkham City that takes us back to the Caped Crusader’s second year as a crime fighter. Still considered a vigilante at this point in his career, the game not only has him fighting the usual collection of colorful bad guys, but also the police, who don’t yet trust The Dark Knight.

Further complicating matters, one of those aforementioned bad guys, Black Mask, has put a bounty out on Batman’s head, and it’s not just other super villains trying to collect, but a squad of crooked S.W.A.T. cops as well.

Which sets up the new section of the game we got to see. In it, Batman has tracked Black Mask to the scene of a murder. But because the Bat-Computer isn’t connected to the National Crime Database yet, and thus can’t be used to identify the bodies, Batman decides to break into Gotham City’s police station to do a little I.T. work.

Batman Arkham Origins

First, however, the demo had Bats going back to the Batcave. Unlike the other Arkham games, Batman: Arkham Origins lets us explore and utilize The Dark Knight’s secret lair, which is not only where he keeps his computer, but also where you’ll run into Alfred, who can give you advice or just a nice cup of tea.

It also has a workout area, where Batman can not only do those challenge missions that they’ve included in every game, but also some training exercises. Whenever Batman learns a new skill or acquires a new item, he’ll get a little lesson on how to use it. But if he wants to really master them, or learn some advanced ways to utilize them, he can visit this area of his man cave and get a little practice time in. Even cooler, completing a training mission isn’t just good practice, it also gives him some much-needed experience points as well.

The Batman: Arkham Origins demo then moved the action to the police station (which was easily done since Batman can, at almost any time, jump in his private jet and go instantly to the Batcave or to any of the pick-up joints he’s unlocked in the world). What makes the police station part of the game different is that unlike other areas, where Batman can go all willy-nilly with the fisticuffs, here Bats takes a quieter approach, since he would rather not punch cops if he can help it.

Now, given his bigger mission, there are times in the police station that he’ll have to take out some of the cops. This isn’t like that part in Splinter Cell when Sam Fisher had to infiltrate the C.I.A.’s offices, and if he killed anyone or was spotted, he automatically failed the mission and had to start over. Batman won’t be penalized if he’s seen or if he goes all willy-nilly with the fisticuffs. But since the cops are all armed, it might just get him killed.

Batman Arkham Origins sneaky

In one part of the police station, for instance, Batman can jump down and try to take out the entire S.W.A.T. team. But unless you’re really, really good at this game, and playing on super easy, you probably won’t make it.

Instead, Batman has to use distraction techniques, stealth, and his wonderful toys to get the cops out of his way. During the demo, he used a sound-emitting Batarang to distract one guard, then later used a grappling hook to shimmy over the heads of the aforementioned S.W.A.T. team.

More often that not, though, Batman uses silent takedowns to remove any cops that are in his way. Sneaking up behind people, Bats — er, the person controlling him during the demo — took out the police officers all quiet-like, rendering them unconscious and thus not a threat to his mission. But there were times when there were multiple officers in the same room, and they were all paying attention, which meant Batman had to return to his usual technique of pounding people up until they’re knocked unconscious.

Of course, before Batman could get to the cop’s computer and connect it to his Mac back home, the demo came to an end. Which means we’ll have to tune in next month — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel — to find out what happens next in…Batman: Arkham Origins.

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