Batman: Arkham Asylum - PS3 - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

To be totally blunt, Batman games have been very dodgy in the past while. In fact, the last Batman game to truly be any good was the game based on the original movie on the NES. Therefore, as a professed Batman fan, I was looking at Eidos’s upcoming Batman title (Bat-title?) with equal parts admiration and admonition. However, after taking it for a test drive at E3, I can truly say that this game is on-track to be the best game featuring the caped crusader in years, if not ever. The game nails the darker aesthetic that fans love from the character, while adding in a great combat system, effective stealth gameplay, and excellent art direction for a game that no Batman fan will want to miss.

Batman: Arkham Asylum opens up with the hero helping transport the Joker to the titular institution for the criminally insane. However, things take a definitely bad turn when the Joker breaks free, and with the help of his assistant Harley Quinn, runs amok in Arkham, taking over, releasing hordes of baddies and capturing the Warden and his staff. Bats must then take up arms and use his skills and gadgets to restore order and put the Joker in his place.

The game features a “free flow” combat system, allowing you to effectively chain attacks to build up your meter to perform even more punishing moves. Additionally, you’ll be able to perform counter-hits, airborne kicks, and use your token tools like Batarangs and grappling hooks.

While going in guns blazing is often an option, there are situations that require a bit more tact and stealth is an important part of your interactions with the loonies in the asylum. You’ll be able to enter “Detective Mode” which allows you to enter an “X-Ray” sort of vision mode, seeing inmates’ positions on the other side of walls, whether or not their armed and what their condition is. You’ll even be able to see what their heart rate is, letting you determine if they’re scared or calm. You can even scare enemies by making examples of their mates, hanging them up and then dropping them, freaking them out quite a bit.

The game is filled with plenty of little nuances to pull you into its atmosphere. As you progress, you’ll receive help from Oracle (Barbara Gordon), who will give you clues as to what you need to do to solve certain puzzles, as well as give you bios on the various supervillains that you meet, including recorded therapy sessions with the doctors at the hospital. You’ll also be able to go through the game’s environment and discover the Riddler’s Trophies, which are hidden throughout.

One feature unique to the PS3 version is the challenge mode, which lets you play as the Joker himself. This mode was also on display at E3, showcasing the clown prince of crime’s drunken brawler style, and some of his special moves, which included an overpowered hand-buzzer and even a gun to the face.

Graphically, the game is definitely a treat. The game sports art design with the creative input of DC’s Wildstorm Productions, who redesigned all of Batman’s Rouges Gallery to reflect a more mature look. The overall quality of the visuals is very impressive and this should be one good looking game when it launches.

Fans of Batman should keep a close eye out for this game, which is definitely poised to offer some of the most accurate and intense Bat-action ever.

 

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