Arkham City: Villains on the loose, Catwoman playable

Back in the boots of the Batman to clean up Gotham (again)

The streets of Gotham are a playground for the Dark Knight in Arkham City.

Exclusive footage from E3 has revealed first glimpses of Batman's return to Arkham, this time hot in pursuit of a cadre of comic book supervillains sprung from Arkham Asylum at the end of the last game.

Confirmed to be making an appearance in this latest game are the eponymous Penguin, maniacal chancer Two Face, The Riddler, serial killer Victor Zasz and, of course, the grinning face of Gotham's criminal underworld himself, the Joker.

But Arkham Asylum isn't all about dishing out rubber-bodysuited justice. This time, players switch between fighting crime as Batman and causing mischief as Catwoman, who marks the series' first playable character other than the Dark Knight himself.

Clips of gameplay revealed at E3 show that Catwoman boasts a whole new combat style of her own, leaping and twisting through crowds of burly henchmen slashing at them with steel claws and tripping them up into the air with flicks of her whip. While the super-macho Bruce Wayne might be able to go toe-to-toe with Gotham's hardest criminals, the slender Catwoman - more Michelle Pfeifer than Halle Berry - has to outmaneuver lumbering aggressors, deploying claws and caltrops to disable opponents.

The combat system from either character's perspective looks just as fast and fluid as in Arkham Asylum, with both Batman and Catwoman chaining together attacks, blocks and counters to dispatch crowds of enemies. Of course, tackling Gotham's underbelly head-on is only half the story, with Batman retaining his x-ray-style detective vision and stealth takedowns for a more tactical approach to dispensing law and order.

One marked change from Arkham Asylum is the openess of the environment - unlike its predecessor, Arkham City is a grimy, neon-lit playground from the get-go. As Batman explores the rooftops and city streets, new objectives will present themselves which players can choose to accept. Batman can still glide from elevated positions, making for easy exploration, but he can also now dive toward the ground to gain momentum before swooping up or into unsuspecting enemies for an extra-powerful takedown.

We'll have more on Batman: Arkham City as we see more at E3. In the meantime, check out the trailer below, and stay tuned to T3.com for all the latest announcements as they happen.