Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Test Drive: 2015 Batmobile

Most of you who looked at the title of this test drive are probably thinking, "OK, West Brother has completely gone off the deep end. He does realize the Batmobile doesn't actually exist, right?" For the record, yes, I am very much well aware that there is no such thing as a real "Batmobile" outside of movie props and replicas people have built themselves. But, if you were given the chance to drive the Batmobile, even if it was in a virtual world, why would you pass up that chance? The Batman: Arkham series of games gives you that chance in their latest, and final entry to the series, Batman: Arkman Knight.

*Review was conducted on the PC edition of the game with an Xbox360 controller

Since the Tumbler made its debut in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, newer versions of the
Batmobile have begun to look more and more like tanks rather than cars. This version of the Batmobile is no exception. It starts off looking innocently enough, or as innocent as a rocket car with armor plating can look. The overall design looks like it has taken elements from previous Batmobiles, as evidenced by the fins on the back of the car, and combined them with the very tank like look of the Tumbler. With the press of a button though, the Batmobile goes from "rocket car on steroids" to an actual tank. When the vehicle enters "battle mode," the car raises itself, takes a wider stance, and allows all four wheels to rotate in a full 360 degrees. The crowning achievement of "battle mode" though is the vehicle's weapons turret, which holds a 60mm cannon, a "riot supression" system, and a vulcan cannon. 

The interior of the Batmobile is spartan at best. There are tons of different buttons, all of which are more than likely related to the various functions of the vehicle, and probably none of which are related to any sort of infotainment system. Creature comforts are probably the last thing on Bruce Wayne's mind when he is driving his tank. Looking around the inside, you will notice that the car's speed is controlled by a fighter aircraft style throttle lever rather than a foot pedal like a normal car. Video, and I am assuming other information, is displayed behind the steering wheel via a projector like device, much like the one Batman wears on his gauntlet. Also of note is the bat shaped steering column, which I have yet to decide is cool or tacky. Speaking of the bat motif, even the car's tire treads are bat shaped. I sometimes think Lucius Fox thinks Bruce Wayne is "bat shit crazy" (pun intended) when he puts together all of Batman's toys.   

Not too much is known about what kind of engine powers the Batmobile. From what it sounds like though, it sounds like Lucius Fox found the biggest V8 he could find and crammed it into the car. In other words, the Batmobile sounds like every muscle car fanatic's dream machine. Also powering the car is a rocket engine strapped to the back. I am betting that the Batmobile weighs quite a bit, because having that rocket engine makes life so much easier when you need a quick burst of acceleration that the normal engine cannot seem to provide. To get the best possible launch, fire the rocket engine, hold it, and then mash the accelerator. If there was an actual visible speedometer somewhere, I bet the Batmobile could hit 60 mph in the two second range. In "battle mode" though, the car sounds more like a Prius running in full electric mode. Can you imagine hearing the humming of an electric car coming up from behind, and then turning around to see a tank with its gun pointed at you?

At no point did I ever expect the Batmobile to handle like a race car, but I also did not expect it to handle like an SUV with a gigantic engine crammed into it. In car mode, the best description I have for the handling characteristics is "sloppy." The car seems to over and understeer a lot, so in order to get the darn thing to go the direction you want, you have to be gentle with the throttle. Due to the lack of any reasonable amount of control at high speeds, you find yourself power sliding through almost every turn. Thanks to the car's gigantic carbon ceramic brakes, at least you are power sliding like a champ. Along with the gigantic brakes, the car also deploys flaps used as an air brake (much like the McLaren 12C's computer controlled rear wing). It is good to know this thing can stop really quickly. Though its on road capabilities seem to be hampered due to the car's suspension setup, it certainly handles off-roading like a champ. The combination of the suspension's articulation, ground clearance, and that gigantic engine means most terrains are no challenge for the Batmobile.

Switch the car over to "battle mode" and it becomes much easier to drive for a few reasons. First off, as mentioned earlier, "battle mode" allows all for wheels to turn 360 degrees. This means that not only are you able to drive normally, but can also strafe left and right. This definitely comes in handy when you are trying to dodge enemy tank fire while attempting to line up your own shots with the turret. The second reason is that "battle mode" drastically limits your speed. The Batmobile is ultimately easier to handle at lower speeds, but do not expect to go performing any high speed chases in "battle mode."

The Batmobile comes with a whole host of defensive and offensive capabilities, and it does seem to have far more offensive capabilities than defensive ones. The car's two main defensive capabilities are its obscenely thick armor plating, and gigantic tasers mounted in the wheels. What does this mean? It means the car can take a beating, and it also means you shock pedestrians and send them flying before you can crush them with your massive car/tank thing. An EMP generator is later added, but let us assume that is an additional option that does not come stadard. As for offensive capabilities, this thing has plenty. For starters, there is the weapons turret that is deployed in "battle mode" that I mentioned above. With a 60mm cannon, a vulcan cannon, and a "riot suppression system", the Batmobile is pretty much death on wheels...if Bruce Wayne did not have a "no-kill" policy. Due to Batman's policy of only bringing people to the edge of death, the turret automatically changes weapons depending on the target you are aimed at. Aiming at an enemy drone tank (which you will encounter quite a few of during your time in Gotham), the car will fire the 60mm cannon. Want to silence a big group of thugs? The car automatically switches over to the riot suppression cannon, which fires big rubber bullets. Missile launchers are also present on the car, and can only be used to destroy enemy tank drones as well as any flying drones. Seriously though, how has Batman not accidentally killed someone with this thing?

Tell me you like my car...say it or I crush your head with my bat tires!
So, best Batmobile ever? If the idea of driving what is essentially a bat themed tank around city streets and blowing stuff up gets your juices flowing, then yes, best Batmobile ever. Sure, the thing certainly has its flaws, but what I find most annoying is Wayne Tech's applied sciences division head, Lucius Fox, chiming in every now and then to remind you not to break the damn thing. Hello? Have you seen the kind of crap that is going on in Gotham? That man should be lucky it even gets returned in one piece. Anyway, Batman: Arkham Knight is definitely the most definitive Batmobile simulator out to date. Keep in mind though, having the Batmobile around is just a bonus on top of what is supposed to be a Batman simulator where you glide around Gotham city and punch criminals in the face until they pass out.