LOS ANGELES--Two Wii U games stole the show at the Nintendo press conference on Tuesday, Ubisoft's ZombiU and Warner Bros. Interactive's Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. I was able to sneak in some time with the latter on Wednesday and found out what exactly "Armored Edition" means.
To be clear, the Wii U version of Arkham City is mostly the same game you've played on the other consoles. Sure, all the DLC available up until now is packed in, but those looking for a separate experience different than Rocksteady's epic won't find it. Graphically speaking, Arkham City AE looks like a slight step down from its predecessor, but its fantastic controls and button scheme remain the same.
Armored Edition adds B.A.T. mode, a brief turbo state that gives Batman a temporary boost in power and ability. But by far the most interesting addition is the way you control Batman's gadgets. Essentially, the Wii U tablet controller replaces the game's pause screen. It provides seamless access to Bruce Wayne's arsenal of toys, letting you tap and select things like explosive foam or the batarang.
The tablet's tilt functionality can be used to control projectiles like the batarang. When I threw one at a switch, the tablet's screen assumed a first-person view of where it was headed. It wasn't the most intuitive of control schemes, but after five attempts I was able to trigger the switch.
It's not just the batarang that takes advantage of the tablet controller -- in fact most of Batman's gadgets do. For example, explosive foam can be detonated with a screen tap. Players can also map gadgets to a D-pad direction by dragging it to an emulated display on screen.
Also, all of Wayne's inventory can be navigated and upgraded through the tablet, once again reinforcing its glorified pause screen functionality. I also really loved the fact that I didn't need to pause to view the level's map -- it can be brought with a tap on the touch screen. It's a huge convenience -- ask anyone who has already played Arkham City and they'll tell you how much its relied upon.
Just judging from this brief gameplay demo, the Wii U certainly has a high-profile title up its sleeve. Whether it provides enough new functionality for those who've already made their way through Arkham City, though, remains to be seen.