The first thing to talk about is the graphics. It's dark, moody and as smooth as butter. There are virtually no load times and I haven't noticed a single hiccup in the framerate that I could see and it's one of the prettiest games I've seen in a while.
Actually, for load times, I suppose I should mention they 'hide' them behind security doors and ventillation ducts that you have to wait to scan/navigate through before moving on in some cases, but it never feels like a chore and feels natural enough. Very good job at keeping the 'Now Loading' screen out of my face while still making it feel like I'm the goddamn Batman sneaking around in the air ducts.
I'm The Goddamn Batman
If there's one thing this game succeeds at, it's that you feel like you are Batman. You've got an Assassins Creed-like combat system that relies more on rhythm and timing than it does complex inputs (one button handles all forms of melee attacks, another is for counters, a third is for a cape stun/evade and the fourth is for run/jump) and that, to me, is a good thing. There's enough variety in animations and with how you time it in this simple configuration for combat that I feel like I'm just tearing into thugs and villains alike.
Add to the simple combat all of Batman's gadgets, like batarangs and small explosives, as well as detective-like clue finding and stealth play and you are Batman in this game. When you jump into combat to get your feet wet for the first time and you get that slow-mo finisher on someone, you'll immediately be hooked.
Riddle Me This
One thing I wasn't expecting was the Riddler trophies and other collectibles found in the game. Every odd room has a Riddler Trophey to be found hidden somewhere in the vents or secret rooms that needs to be found to unlock character art, challenges and what have you. There's also riddles for certain rooms that give you a hint on items to scan with your cowl that will give you a character profile or other bonus and it's just fun trying to figure out the riddle and what you need to scan. This has not been tedious in the least so far and it's actually one of the best 'scavenger hunt' featuers to a game I've had as it rewards you with XP and other goodies for everything you find, making it actually enjoyable to do so.
Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?
Yes, I should have mentioned it earlier, you can level up in this game, making this an Action RPG Stealth hybrid game. You're awarded XP based on how you defeat enemies (bigger combos = more XP) and from extras you find in the game, as mentioned above for the Riddler Trophies. When you level up, you get to pick new skills. They are fairly simple skills, like more health or some 'finisher moves' that can be activated once your combo meter gets high enough, but add some extra depth to the game and makes it feel like, again, that you're Batman by letting you tailor his abilities to your specifications.
So far, I have a couple of boss fights under my belt. None have been overly difficult and rely on a certain mechanic to get through. The first time you run into Scarecrow and his fear gas is probably the best encounter I've had at this point, though. The actual fight with Scarecrow, however, was...interesting, to say the least. Not what I was expecting from a boss fight, but not terrible either. To be honest, it's a small complaint, but I actually enjoy fighting thugs and goons more than the actual bosses.
Metal Gear Batman
Can't talk about the game and all the fun combat without mentioning the stealth parts of the game. While the combat is a joy, the stealth parts are just as good. You can place some explosive on walls, ceilings or floors and time it to collapse on villains or drop down off a gargoyle and string them up Predator style or just sneak up and choke them out, systematically taking out everyone in the room in most cases. It's been a perfect blend of stealth and straight up combat so far and I think they've hit a perfect balance between both.
Even though these are just first impressions after a few hours of gameplay, I'm confident in saying this game is absolutely spectacular. I haven't even touched the Challenge Rooms yet, which are, from what I understand, similar to Metal Gear Solid VR training mission extras.
For those that only played the demo, let me tell you this - it's a million times better than the demo. That demo is literally 2 or 3 rooms spliced together to show off combat and stealth and those rooms are actually seperated by a good 10-20 minutes of gameplay. Batman has more options, more gadgets, can level up and there's just plain more to the actual game. I was blown away by the demo, too, and I can't believe how much more there is to the actual game than that.
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