Don't get me wrong, I've got absolutely nothing against Oracle. If I ever needed somebody to sort out something on the computer she'd easily be top of my list. But when Batman puts his finger to his ear and it's Alfred on the other end, well, it just feels more like Batman - you know?
Batman: Arkham City, British developer Rocksteady's sophomore crack at the Caped Crusader, immediately smacks as one of the most loving and extensive recreations of the Dark Knight legacy ever produced. As for the game itself, a few minutes within its take on Gotham establishes Arkham City as a very real contender for Game of the Year, and that's after you exclude the fact it has Batman in it. And Alfred, of course.
The latest demo, taking place just a few weeks before the game's launch on October 21, starts at the end of the game's first act, with Batman perched over a destroyed bell tower - courtesy of the Joker - and surveying the sprawling Gotham skyline.
Rocksteady's English heritage worked wonders on the gothic mansion of Arkham Asylum, and now these sensibilities have shifted and developed, if you can ignore the flickering and decrepit neon signs, into a full-blown Victorian slum. The smoky, ice-tinged sky and cobbled ground could easily be as much a home to Jack the Ripper as Bruce Wayne.
Having recently dealt with Two Face, the Dark Knight turns his attentions to the Joker, following the Gotham coastline through the Docklands into the heart of the Industrial District. Like Arkham Asylum, Batman's movements are simultaneously hefty and graceful, with the sequel adding in dozens of new animations and flourishes to complement the satisfying simplicity of hooks and uppercuts.
With a greater emphasis on outside exploration, with each street corner littered with undesirable rogues, Batman has a few new tricks up his sleeve when it comes to navigation. His cape is his primary mode of transport, with players able to dive downwards before swooping up for bursts of forward momentum. A new boost grapple has been added, for some additional welly, allowing Batman to propel himself into the air at the end of long hooks - whooshing open the cape at the apex of the jump.
Upon reaching the Joker's steel mill, the game inverts itself and heads indoors - an aesthetic more familiar to those acquainted with travelling around Arkham Asylum. Most of the action here takes place in the mill's smelting chamber, rescuing a captured doctor with a predatory sequence reminiscent of the first game.
Like with the flowing combat system - detailed in my last preview - skulking around to hunt foes has been enhanced with a wider variety of tools and a greater emphasis on ingenuity. Zipping from pillar to pillar to evade your gun-toting adversaries is still an integral part, but areas have been beefed up with more tricks and traps, and the puzzle-like satisfaction derived from a perfect chain of silent takedowns (and the new ability to dispatch two enemies at once) is hugely gratifying.
Weaving through the insides of the steel mill involves a multitude of scuffles with Harley Quinn, who frequently does her best to trap you in one spot. It's a lovely touch that Harley's preferred option to deal with Batman is attempting to halt his progress rather than confront him directly, as it makes the confrontations - where you effortlessly smash through packs of thugs - all the sweeter.
Another nice touch for the sequel is that collectibles can be marked on the map for later collection, allowing you to progress with the matter at hand rather than forcing yourself to dither about with the puzzle for a few minutes because you're worried you'll forget the location of the valuable pickup.
A few minutes and a couple of environmental puzzles later, with the doctor safe and our hero now armed with the electric-spewing R.E.C. (for those worried about it being a gun, have no fear - it's an attachment for the Batclaw) gadget, Batman returns to the steel mill's main hall to confront the Joker directly.
What happens next, well, it's a pretty big spoiler so I'm not actually going to write about it - I'm sure you'll be able to find out from another website if you're determined to know. I, however, don't want you to know, because it's good, very good, and if you've got a soft spot for Batman you'll definitely want to be counting down the days until it's released. I know I am.
Batman: Arkham City will be released for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC on October 21.