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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Review: Batman Arkham VR

I was really hesitating the pay the $12 sale price for Arkham VR, but then I read people complaining that the game was too short, so I paid the price and tried it. A short game means that I'll actually finish it and experience it to completion, and I'm discovering that VR goggles aren't really suitable for extended use anyway.

The story is simple and just a frame upon which for Rocksteady to show-off a few set-pieces. In fact, it's barely coherent even in those circumstances. What is exciting is the investigative bent of the game: in one sequence you use your controllers to examine a crime scene and can roll the events back and forth and view it from multiple angles. This is cool stuff that really cannot be done in any other medium. (For instance, if you tried to replicate this using live-action actors, you'd have no way to hide the camera --- 3D modeling and animation is really the only way to show this off in 3D)

The downsides: some of the gadgets are a little too finicky. There were places where I tried to use the Bat-analyzer tool and it would snap the tool back into my utility belt instead of activating the tool. Some of it might have been that I'm too close to the PS4 camera, but my guess is that they didn't really test it well enough in all possible VR configurations and separate the UI gestures correctly.

I was very excited when I got the choice between the Batwing and the Batmobile, but it turned out that I never got to experience sitting in either: the game basically blanks out when shifting between scenes with no transitions. This avoids VR nausea, but really takes away from the experiences they could have provided.

For a couple of hours, it was really fun pretending to be Batman. Many of the scenes are very well rendered, and unlike other 3D experiences where artists would slave over the details of the environment that you'd only glance at for a few seconds, the VR environment is such that you would experience each scene in detail and all that effort isn't wasted.

If you own a VR set, I'd consider $20 a bit too much to ask for this "game", but $12 (or in my case $8 since I'd gotten my Playstation Wallet monies at a discount) is a good price and unlike many other games, you'd actually get to experience all of it. Recommended.

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