Batman Arkham VR is set before the events of 2015’s Batman Arkham Knight, a game which had immeasurable issues on the PC, took months to fix and by the time it was ready, my button-bashing digits were busy with other electronic offerings.
However, in the role of Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy), you don the cowl in order to track down Nightwing (aka aka Dick Grayson) after he’s disappeared. Has he gone out on the lash with Robin (Troy Baker)? Sometimes, ol’ Robbie might need a bit of Dick time.
One of the best things about this is that it encapsulates the world of Batman and Gotham City along with his foes including the Joker (Mark Hamill), the Penguin (Ian Redford) and Joe Chill (Glenn Wrage) who offed Batman’s parents.
However, what was disappointing is that it essentially plays out like a point-and-click adventure, since when you want to get from A to B around a location, there’s a series of checkpoint-style markers that you can hop between rather than physically walking about. The Batman games are always about ‘being the Batman’, but here, you feel rather constrained in that fashion. Imagine the early Tomb Raider games, but just the puzzle-solving bits.. not the actually running, jumping and shooting segments.
The ending sequence is a nice mindflip, since you have to look all around you as events play out, and it neatly wrong-foots and surprises you with its twists and turns. The claustrophic feeling you get as you’re housed within an enclosed space rather reminds me of a point in the recent Ghost In The Shell live-action movie. Despite all its faults, I saw it in 3D and there’s a scene where Scarlett Johansson is ‘recharging’, with you being made to feel like you’re right inside the pod with her – and that’s how I felt here, too.
However, before I set off for the first part of the mission proper – to find Nightwing – I had an option for two vehicles, including the Batmobile, and was looking forward to driving it through the streets…. which you can’t. You just *arrive* at your destination with the screen going black, briefly, inbetween, the hum of the vehicle’s engine being heard but not seen. That really feels like a missed opportunity. Imagine if you’d gone to see The Hobbit’s first film and once Bilbo Baggins and co left his house, the screen went black and they just *arrived* at Smaug’s abode? You’d feel rather miffed, yes?
So, Batman Arkham VR feels like a great demo, and the impact of Batman and everything about him comes to life like never before, and I understand from the credits that it took a huge team of talented individuals to bring this to our helmets, but it’s a way too short an experience.
It’s priced at around £15 on both PC and PS4. I’d say around £8-10 would be a better price, but I understand a great deal of developement has gone into this. It’s also early days with VR, so perhaps before long we will get something like the Batman Arkham games in a headset. After all, Push For Emor shows you can go shooting bad guys in 360-degree space, as well as chasing them through underground tunnels first-person-shooter style, so joining forces would be awesome.
Once you’ve completed the game, you can go back through it again and unlock 30 characters and vehicles which The Riddler has dropped throughout the various scenes, so that adds a bit of longevity for the completist, but since you know exactly what to do gameplay-wise, I can’t see you returning to this for more than a second trip round. Additionally, while it took around 75 minutes to play it first time, when it came to my second go, as you can see from the video above, the footage runs to around 53 minutes – and that was with checking this, that and the other in the Batcave before setting off, since once you’ve seen all that, you don’t desperately need to click everything again. That said, a third trip would be necessary for me to check out all those collectables, since my second go was primarily to make a decent video.
And note with my video, the game shows up in portrait mode. This is how it appeared on my PC screen. I’ve seen videos of the PSVR version which are in 16:9, but the Oculus Rift shows up as portrait. I recorded it with nVidia’s Shadowplay software and, to save you seeing my desktop and its icons, I put it against the black background of my website since you don’t want distracting bright colours behind the game.
Batman Arkham VR can be used on PC with both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It has support for Oculus Touch and gamepads. I have an Oculus Rift DK2 and Logitech gamepad and it worked a treat.
- Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
- Players: single player campaign
- Sound: DTS 5.1
Director: Sefton Hill
Writers: Martin Lancaster and Craig Owens
Music: Nick Arundel and David Buckley
Creators: Bob Kane and Bill Finger
The Joker: Mark Hamill
Jason Todd / Robin: Troy Baker
Waylon Jones / Killer Croc / Thug 1: Steve Blum
Batman / Bruce Wayne / Thomas Wayne: Kevin Conroy
Tim Drake / Robin: Tom Austen
Thug 2 / Coroner: JB Blanc
Alfred Pennyworth: Hugh Fraser
Vicki Vale / Batcomputer / Police Dispatcher: Jules de Jongh
Martha Wayne: Andrea Deck
Edward Nigma / The Riddler: Wally Wingert
Thug 4 / Radio Presenter: Tom Clarke Hill
Thug 3: Kerry Shale
Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin: Ian Redford
Joe Chill: Glenn Wrage
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.