Preview: Batman Arkham Asylum

Boots, cape and underpants on top are GO! Batman launch!

Without a doubt Batman is my most favourite of all comic book characters, as a result I was terrified when I learnt of the latest Batman game. Hoping and praying to everything that is good in this world that this would not get totally messed over was quite odd and an amazing sight to see I am sure – plenty of phone calls were made, enquiries too, but not enough to check me into the loony bin.

Firing up my Xbox and loading that demo had the blood pumping and the heart beating. In the next two minutes, would I be snapping the white console into three pieces in disappointment or shall I be dancing the crazy dance in celebration of a game company getting it right? Thankfully, it was the latter.

Batman Arkham Asylum is without a doubt one of the prettier, yet gritty and tough of course, titles I have seen thus far. The demo began with Batman returning The Joker back to the neighbouring Arkham Asylum overlooking Gotham City. Within moments The Joker is free and the chaos ensues, naturally. You are pretty much thrust into the action straight away to learn a little on how all your basic gameplay elements will come into use, and boy is there a great selection.

From grappling to the higher up areas of a zone to dropping silently behind an enemy and incapacitating them. There is a ‘detective mode’ which allows you to see your enemies and other interesting tidbits such as their heart rate and whether they armed or not. Which actually brings a little strategy and planning to the game. Sitting high up and perched while planing your attack route is something new that I have not encountered since the Tenchu days. Yet the implementation and execution of your ‘game plan’ is quite fluid with the simple tap of a button here and there, but at the same time making sure you have control of what happens versus a tap of the X button and sit back and watch the show. My favourite move was to drop silently behind an enemy and whisk him away back up and out of sight just like in the movies. Brilliant!

Hello Bats, care for a mint?

The great thing about this game is that it feels legitimate. There are the classic characters, locations and costumes and all things Batman but they went the extra mile and voice actors such as the great Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy have returned to voice The Joker and Batman respectively. I must say that even in the demo the voice work is fantastic. The Joker just doesn’t let up and it actually has me sitting in an area just listening to his rantings while planing my attack.

Buddhist palm! Booyah!

Oh and I should mention that the Batmobile at the beginning looks absolutely awesome. I am not sure of which incarnation of the famed car this is, but it looked like a blend of the 1989 Tim Burton movie (my all time favourite version) and the animated series.

Finally there are interesting extras such as biographies and neat recordings that include interviews with patients for you to listen over at your leisure. I could only listen to two of The Jokers’ recordings at the time but both were fun to sit through.

With a release date of August 28th 2009, I am absolutely keen and ready to romp on through the asylum in all it’s gaming goodness.

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.