Batman: Arkham VR's PlayStation Move motion controls aren't always reliable, but it is still one of the best examples of the potential of PlayStation VR.
With the release of Batman: Arkham Knight, many assumed that Rocksteady Studios was done creating games about DC's caped crusader, so the announcement of Batman: Arkham VR during Sony's E3 2016 press conference came as a surprise. After its reveal, some fans questioned whether it would live up to the legacy of Rocksteady's other Batman games, and while it doesn't have the scope of those titles, Batman: Arkham VR is still a quality experience that is a must-have for early PlayStation VR adopters.
The concept of Batman: Arkham VR is simple enough. The game puts players in the role of Batman, tasking them with utilizing his gadgets to solve a murder mystery populated by some of Batman's allies and even a few members of his rogues gallery. The chance to suit up as Batman is enough to sell some people on the game by itself, but for those that aren't necessarily interested in the Dark Knight, it still serves as sone of the best examples of how to do VR right.
Rocksteady takes players on a tour of sorts through Gotham City, with stops at major landmarks like Bruce Wayne's manor, the Batcave, Crime Alley, and more. Seeing these environments in virtual reality is nothing short of awe-inspiring, and it's an experience that fans of Batman should absolutely seek out. However, there is one issue that keeps it from being the perfect virtual reality Batman experience, and that is the occasionally unreliable motion controls.
Like many PlayStation VR games, Batman: Arkham VR uses PlayStation Move, with the controllers representing Batman's hands in the game so that players can interact with objects in the virtual space. While most everything players will need to interact with is within arm's reach, there are some key items that require a bit of walking to get to, which can become frustrating, as the game sometimes struggles to accurately recognize the input of the motion controllers during these moments.
The most significant example of this issue is found early on in the game when players first put on Batman's iconic suit. The motion controls during this section were unresponsive, with Batman's hands disappearing whenever we tried to get close enough to the suit to interact with it. We tested Batman: Arkham VR in a large room dedicated entirely to virtual reality, and the same issues weren't encountered in other VR games that ask similar things of the player, like Job Simulator, for example. The problem was apparent in subsequent playthroughs of the game, and there was no apparent way to fix the issue; we tried to recalibrate the PlayStation VR headset and adjust the position of the PlayStation Camera, among other things.
It seems like this issue is exclusive to objects that are farther out of Batman's reach than most of what players will be interacting with in Batman: Arkham VR, but after some repetition, the problem fixes itself. It can be an inconvenience and hurts the immersion of the game, but even with this issue present, Batman: Arkham VR is so impressive throughout the rest of the adventure that this particular flaw doesn't ruin the experience.
No other major issues in terms of motion control input were discovered with the rest of our time playing the game. In fact, the motion controls work flawlessly most of the time, making it a breeze to pick up objects in the environment and quickly swap between Batman's gadgets (located on his utility belt). Headtracking also worked well, making for a truly immersive Batman virtual reality gaming experience.
Rocksteady is able to achieve immersion in Batman: Arkham VR in other ways as well, mainly through the incredible work its done with the visuals. Graphically speaking, Batman: Arkham VR is on par with last year's Arkham Knight, boasting highly detailed character models and environments. Exploring the game world in Batman: Arkham VR may be limited when compared to Rocksteady's previous Batman games, but Arkham VR's extreme attention to detail still makes searching every nook and cranny worth the effort.
While Rocksteady may be moving on from Batman to a Superman game or something else entirely, Batman: Arkham VR proves that the studio still had at least one more engaging Batman story left to tell. It's a compelling virtual reality experience that is a great way to sell people on the potential of the technology, and while it has some issues, like occasionally spotty motion controls and a short play time, it's still a must-have title for anyone's PlayStation VR library.
Batman: Arkham VR is available now, exclusively for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.