Batman Arkham VR Review
Although this may not be saying much considering there aren’t a huge number of VR titles for PlayStation just yet, Batman Arkham VR’s story mode immediately puts you right in the middle of one of the most iconic scenes in the Batman franchise. Starting the game as young Bruce Wayne, watching your parents get murdered in a dark alley entirely in VR was simply mind blowing. As someone who is a huge fan of the Batman franchise, this came to me as a major surprise and a stroke of genius from Rocksteady. Does the scene actually have any real meaning to the rest of the game? Not really, but it’s a phenomenal way for the developers to show off what they can do with such technology.
The rest of the game unfortunately doesn’t quite pack a similar punch. Rest assured, the actual VR experience is superb and the entire game was built specifically to be enjoyed on VR, with the optional (but highly recommended) use of PlayStation Move. Perhaps this is purely due to the fact that the developers may not have had enough time to create a full Batman experience, but my biggest concern with Arkham VR is that the game demotes Batman to being just a detective. He has access to all of the fantastic gadgets to help him analyze crime scenes, but any moments of actual action are limited to well-crafted cutscenes. Early on in the game, you’re interrogating Penguin as he’s hanging upside down high up in Gotham. It’s truly a sight to behold.
Arkham VR takes the detective aspects of Rocksteady’s Arkham City and Knight games to form the premise of this campaign, which is extremely short. In fact, you can complete it in one sitting if you have the stomach for it. Although you can play the game with a normal controller, it is best played with PlayStation Move. In fact, unless you have invested in Move, it’s not worth playing Arkham VR. You can use the Move controller to scan bodies, crime scenes and piece together clues to identify what happened. Move makes you feel more in control of Batman and gives you a sense of freedom that a controller just cannot give you.
My main concern with this game is that after a while, I stopped feeling as if I were playing as Batman. The old Arkham games contained a lot of detective work, but they still contained more action. If I want to swing from gargoyle to gargoyle, I want to experience that. Instead, Arkham VR simply transports you there without giving you the full experience of the rope swing. I have PlayStation Move in my hands and I want to use them to take opponents out using hand to hand combat. There just isn’t enough interaction with enemies. If anything, I felt more like Jim Gordan than Bruce Wayne.
Arkham VR is ultimately a murder mystery set in the world of Batman. After a while, it no longer becomes amusing to throw batarangs are Alfred’s head, and one does wonder where Batman is storing this unlimited supply of throwables! Arkham VR is very much a standalone experience that doesn’t tie in at all with the other Rocksteady titles, although the voiceovers add authenticity to the game.
I don’t see Arkham VR as anything more than a tech demo to show off what PlayStation VR can do. If you want a game to show off to your friends, Arkham VR is one of the coolest in the market right now. I have no doubt that the console is more than capable of providing a more authentic Batman VR experience – there are games such as Drive Club VR and Resident Evil that prove that PlayStation VR can deliver a deeply texturized gameplay experience. I just feel that Rocksteady needs more time, and if they do finally decide to announce a full Batman Arkham game in VR, I’ll be the first one in line to grab my hands on it. Until then, Arkham VR will appease your Batman needs by providing you with a highly graphical and technically impressive VR experience.