Since Batman VR was announced back at E3 I have eagerly anticipated donning the cowl and becoming the dark knight – but does it live up to my expectations? Well the answer is a big fat yes and then some, although that’s not to say it isn’t without its faults.
Batman VR was my first ever experience of playing anything in Virtual Reality – with my PC not being capable of supporting Rift or Vive I had the release date of PSVR pegged in my calendar and Batman VR was first on my must play list, and happy to say it did not disappoint. The game plays as a bit of fan service, from the locales it takes you to the characters that make an appearance, but as this is half the fun I will avoid any spoilers here. From the second the game boots up and you are presented with the main menu which sees you standing on top of the GCPD, the Batsignal illuminating the sky behind you and a drop to the street below in front – leaning forward and over the guard rail was a feeling I have never before felt while playing a game, and for the first half hour of playing I could hardly stop laughing with giddy excitement at what this new technology was allowing me to do. Starting off in Wayne Manor as Bruce wakes up from reliving a very pivotal moment in his past and then descending into the Batcave made me actually whoop out loud – I’m British, and as such am quite reserved and don’t normally go making random noises when playing computer games, but here I just couldn’t help myself – the whole set up, from being inside the Batcave to taking batarangs from my belt and throwing them at whatever took my fancy was everything I wanted from VR.
Having watched plenty of videos about VR, one of my concerns was how you move around in the virtual world, and in Batman VR this is done by looking at the outline of the PlayStation move controller and clicking the move button which instantly transports you to that position. This is done in order to combat the possibility of motion sickness, which was thankfully something that I did not experience while playing Batman VR, and to be honest, I did get used to it quite quickly. Similarly, Batman VR can be played in either a seated or standing position, with the game recommending the latter. Having recently moved house my current set up doesn’t give me enough room to stand up so I opted to play sitting down and this worked fine the majority of the time, but ensure you can sit far enough away from the camera so that it can track your head and both hands – a few times during play grabbing either my forensic scanner attached to my left hip, my grapple gun on my right, or the batarang on my belt buckle could get a bit fiddly if the tracking was off. This culminated during a scene in the morgue when I had to use the scanner on a body, and in order to do that I had to sit quite stiffly with my arm in a completely unnatural position – this was workable and probably more down to my set up than the game itself. While playing sitting down you can press any of the face buttons and this turns you round to view what is behind you – while standing you can obviously turn yourself, but I could see this becoming a problem with all the leads that seem to snake along my floor now.
Ultimately my main complaint with Batman VR is that it is far too short, and can be completed quite easily around the hour mark if you forego any exploration or experimentation with the environment. Rocksteady do try beefing out the experience a little by adding in the return of Riddler trophies when you first complete the game, and some of these are fun to collect and mix up the gameplay a little, such as throwing batarangs at green buttons in quick succession in order to open the cage and the grapple the trophy – something I have done countless times in the earlier Batman Arkham games, but here it was a completely new experience when I was physically having to take each batarang from my belt and throw it before using the grapple gun to shoot and retrieve the trophy. There does feel like there is slight aim assist when throwing and aiming, but again this is easily overlooked and only helps to make you feel every bit the badass that Batman is supposed to be.
If you’re a fan of Batman and the Arkham games, then the £15.99 price tag is a respectable one to pay for what you get. If anything, Batman VR plays like a taster of what could be from a full-blown Batman game, and my only complaint is that it leaves you wanting more, with the story coming to quite an abrupt end, particularly if you haven’t played Batman Arkham Knight (in which case the ending will do nothing but confuse you and leave you with more questions than answers). Hopefully Rocksteady have the Batman bug again and this was just them testing the water to see what reaction would be (fingers crossed).
Batman VR is the closest you are likely to get to becoming the Dark Knight and this alone elevates it to the top of the PSVR must play list. Unless of course you’re a multi-billionaire with your own company and suffered a serious childhood trauma, undertook years of training and have a hidden series of caves under your mansion – but either way, Batman VR is the cheaper (and safer) option between the two. A must have.
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