As ComicsAlliance's resident Batmanologist, It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that for me, the wait for the "Batman: Arkham City" video game -- the sequel to last year's awesome "Arkham Asylum" -- is almost unbearable. And today, with a boatlaod of news on the plot and gameplay dropping from "Official PlayStation Magazine" that reveals new abilities and hints at co-op characters, it's gotten downright painful.

According to VG247's coverage:

The fenced-off area is five times the size of Arkham Asylum. Batman, obviously, doesn't like it: "He's been monitoring this place," said director Sefton Hill. "He's worried. He thinks it's a time-bomb waiting to explode into the streets of Gotham."

I'm going to go ahead and guess that he's right about that one, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Be warned, though: Minor spoilers follow!

Nothing's been announced about vehicles (and as much as I love the Batmobile, I could pretty much do without it unless we're talking about a "Grand Theft Auto"-sized sandbox to tool around in), but the larger game is definitely going to come with increased mobility for Batman. And as much as the Noir levels of "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" seemed to take their cues from "Arkham Asylum," it looks like the developers at Rocksteady also noticed how fun the web-swinging was in "Web of Shadows":

Wheels or not, Batman can essentially fly this time round. He has a new gadget called a Grapple Boost, which pulls him up and launches him into the air, and can be combined with a new dive which pulls into high-speed, street level flight.

He also now has a second zip line which he can shoot out while using the first: think classic Spider Man.

I haven't seen it in practice, but the fact that Batman can use his grappling hook to boost himself into the air gives me the idea that while they could still play a role as "perch points," you probably won't need a gargoyle every time you want to use the grappling hook. Although, oddly enough, the everpresent Arkham gargoyles would actually make more sense in the outside areas of a walled-off portion of the city than they did decorating the treatment wards of a mental hospital. Seriously, no wonder nobody ever got cured there.

The biggest bit of the new announcements, though, was the tease that there might be co-op play in the form of Catwoman. She's definitely not the antagonist that the other classic Batman rogues are -- in a demo level, Batman rescues her from Two-Face, as depicted on the "GameInformer" cover from a few weeks back -- and when asked if the fact that she uses her whip much the same way as Batman's grappling hook meant she'd be playable, Hill offered up a very telling "I'm not allowed to comment on that."

To be fair, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but I do know that there were plenty of people wanting co-op and other characters when "Arkham Asylum" came out. A friend of mine even went so far as to completely mystify me with the statement "It'd be perfect if you could play as Nightwing," but I'm pretty happy with just Batman.

As far as other gameplay news, Hill revealed that there will be optional side-quests in the form of crimes that can be solved detective-style, by examining multiple pieces of evidence. It's a nice touch to show Batman as the World's Greatest Detective and not just a dude who kicks criminals in the face, and it seems like it could add more to the game than just wandering around hunting for Riddler trophies in between boss fights.

The basics of the combat are set to stay same -- which, again, I'm totally fine with, as being able to push a direction and just straight up wreck a dude was one of the major selling points of the game to me -- but with new moves, including "beatdown" attacks and all-new takedowns:

Harley Quinn was also seen in the demo, as was the more traditional, Arkham Aslyum gameplay of hunting goons from above in closed environments. Additions here include a hanging takedown where Batman throttles a man from above with his legs, and the ability to punch through panels to get to enemies on the other side.

Sadly, there's no screenshot of Batman punching a dude through a wall, but I was able to find an artist's rendering:

Batmanning dudes in true Frank Miller style? Seriously, you guys: This game needs to come out yesterday.