Rocksteady Studios rocked the gaming world in 2009 with Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game that let players wear the cowl of the caped crusader. Moreover, they actually succeeded in making players feel like Batman, a rarity for superhero video games, whose history could most generously be called “spotty.” They returned with Arkham City, which expanded the game to an open world, and the current-gen Arkham Knight, which finally let players deliver justice to the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile.
Earlier this year, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced Batman: Return to Arkham, a current-gen remaster of the first two games. Originally scheduled for a July 26th release, WB delayed the port “to give the team at Virtuous Games additional time to deliver a polished Batman Arkham game experience.”
WB has finally issued a new release date of October 18th, as well as the remaster’s price point – $49.99 in North America, €49.99 in the U.K. and £39.99 in Europe. Additionally, WB has released a comparison trailer (see above), to give fans an idea of what to expect from the new PS4 and Xbox One iterations of the first two Arkham games.
The side-by-side video highlights the ports’ significantly improved textures, reflections, and environmental effects. Developer Virtuos has pushed Rocksteady’s games from the Unreal 3 to Unreal 4 engine for the remaster and the results are definitely noticeable. The only possible point of contention may be occasional alterations to the game’s lighting, which seem brighter in some scenes (like the Catwoman break-in) than they were in the original game. While some fans may prefer the darker and moodier lighting of some instances, the overall effort feels like a net improvement to the original experience.
Assuming the video isn’t hiding any glaring flaws, the port looks like may compare to some of the more favorable available (The Last of Us – Remastered, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition), as opposed to those which have simply offered a 720 to 1080 up-res (DisHonored: Definitive Edition).
Despite complaints about “cash grabs” from long-time gamers, remasters have been a popular resource for newer fans who never got around to some of the best games of the prior generation. If you never got the chance to play the first two Batman: Arkham games, or you’re a huge fan with a hankering to return to them in higher fidelity, the Return to Arkham compilation looks to be a worthwhile investment.
Batman: Return to Arkham hits the PS4 and Xbox One on October 18th.