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
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.
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.