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Batman: Arkham Asylum - hands-on

But when it’s time to get your hands dirty it’s like controlling a whole new character. Combat is timing based, reminiscent of the Onimusha series’ ‘Issen’ counters. As you punch and kick, foes behind or to the side will move in for a strike when your guard is down. This is indicated by a lightning bolt above their heads, which is your cue to pull a counter. With each counter your combo meter rises and you perform more elaborate attacks (some of which are unlocked via the upgrade system) and are able to perform additional moves, such as throws.

It sounds simplistic but getting the timing right takes practice, and the results are hugely entertaining. The grace and fluidity of the animation is incredible and Batman has countless reactions to enemy attacks – from blocking to counters to sweeping legs away and side-stepping. As Batman would, he makes the Joker’s lumbering thugs look ridiculous as he effortlessly whips around them and takes them out. They only ever get the better of him when they attack in packs… which they often do.

And sometimes they’re armed, which is where the Silent Predator mode comes in. It only takes one burst of gunfire to kill Batman, so to deal with packs of rifle-toting guards you have to use stealth. The aforementioned grappling hook is perfect for staying out of their line of sight and watching their movements, while Batman has a range of silent stealth attacks you can perform.

The trick is to wait for the guards to separate and pick them off one by one, knocking them unconscious or hanging them from the rafters by a rope – an ability you can unlock later in the game. The problem is, the more guards go missing, the more the others get spooked. And when they’re nervous they’re a lot more dangerous, often firing blindly into the shadows. Luckily you have Detective Mode, which lets you see foes through walls to easily track their movement. It even shows you their heart rate and mood (calm, nervous etc.) so you can figure out how much of a threat they are before you act.

And Detective Mode is also used for, well, detecting. This is an aspect of Batman rarely explored in games ­– he is, after all, ‘the world’s greatest detective’. Between exploration, fights and stealth sections you have to scan specially designated areas for clues. For example, in one scene you’re tracking down a corrupt guard called Boles. Boles has a drinking problem and carries a hip flask of whiskey around with him. To trace his movements, Batman finds the abandoned flask, scans the alcohol content and then uses this to pick up his trail. The detective bits don’t have the same depth and detail of the Condemned games, but that’s what they’re closest to in terms of design. Early clue-hunting is relatively easy, but the developers promise it’ll get harder as the game goes on, with red herrings designed to mislead Batman.

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30 comments

  • nadrewod999 - August 14, 2009 6:52 a.m.

    Definitely getting this via pre-order on the PS3 for 3 reasons: 1, I don't have many PS3 games right now; 2, I have played the demos of both the fighting and the story, and was just stunned; and 3, I GET TO PLAY AS THE MADMAN HIMSELF! THAT ALONE IS ENOUGH REASON TO GET IT!
  • Roze - August 12, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    this game looks tooooo sick
  • jigsaw21 - August 11, 2009 7:53 p.m.

    *me
  • boxmeizter - August 6, 2009 10:46 p.m.

    I HAVE THE FUCKING DEMO WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
  • Seabread - August 4, 2009 1:41 p.m.

    Batman for NES was AWESOME > great Didn't know Riddler was in it (well, i did but only cos i read it on imdb) no other sites have stated he's in it so i hope that's not a slip by GR - I'd hate to see them hit with a fine for disclosure. Have PS3 but will prbably get for 360 as not arsed bout Joker exclusive bollocks plus i prefer playing games on sexbox.
  • Elbo444 - August 3, 2009 6:54 p.m.

    I played a demo for this at target last week, it was just beating up waves of enemies in a small room so all I got to try was combat but it was awesome
  • IIIJabbaIII - August 3, 2009 5:11 p.m.

    I still think that the best superhero game ever was superman 64...I mean you could fly through rings as superman...what could be better than that? But seriously this game looks awesome, I'm definitely getting this one
  • GameraTheGreat - August 3, 2009 3:28 a.m.

    The title of best super-hero video game could be considered quite subjective. Radical’s “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” and THQ’s “The Punisher” rank number one and two for me (in the same order)…Activision’s X-men Origins: Wolverine is a close third followed by Activision’s Spidey: Web of Shadows. Batman would have to go a looong way in order to top these four games IMO. There will be many that will try hoist Batman into the category of “best superhero game”, but much of that sentiment will be attributable to the popularity of the recent movies…. The Bat-fans will tout the story no doubt (which I am sure will be decent), but three of the four games I just mentioned were created with close Marvel partnerships and expanded on storylines/villains/characterizations well before Arkham came along and received little fan-fare. I have been an avid comic collector for some thirty years (a gamer for twenty-five +) and I am sure I will enjoy the game, but I will reserve calling it the “best” for after I play through the entire experience. Let's not get ahead of ourselves....
  • waynski1457 - August 2, 2009 10:45 p.m.

    Every time I see this game, I think back to that top 7 you guys did and how exciting you mad a new Batman sound. It's like they used that as their design document. I really, really want to play this!
  • Corsair89 - August 2, 2009 6:51 a.m.

    This game has more potential than any super hero game I've ever seen, but I'm still hesitant to get into the hype until I see some results when it does come out. I'll start believing if it gets 9's and 10's from many different sites and reviewers.
  • OddWoN ER - August 1, 2009 12:04 a.m.

    looks awesome! sad about bane though...i just thought of numerous other ways to fight him, whilst involving pulling the tubes... and shame about the joker maps.. :( hope this lasts atleast 20 hours...not to long...but long enough :)
  • PhantomOfKrankor - July 31, 2009 9 p.m.

    I played the demo at Best Buy. It was really good! I'm getting it for sure!
  • Cyberninja - July 31, 2009 8:14 p.m.

    i wish i had a ps3 now :(
  • TanookiMan - July 31, 2009 6:14 p.m.

    I almost cried when this got pushed back, but I'm willing to wait if it's as good as it looks. Great preview
  • walrusthewill - July 31, 2009 5:56 p.m.

    hey, dont say there arnt any good superhero games, look at Marvel Ultimate alliance and x-men origins wolverine(not excellent), they were pretty good games, this is deeper than x-man wolverine, but i dont think its deep enought. it will get great reviews but no one will buy it
  • Eureka - July 31, 2009 5:55 p.m.

    *hope it lives up to its potential.
  • jigsaw21 - August 11, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    Just let kick Jokers ass already!
  • EffinChrys - August 9, 2009 9:38 p.m.

    I like Spider-Man!! But in an unrelated note, I played the demo for this game on PS3. I've never been big on Batman but it looks like a fun game.
  • Freddy - August 6, 2009 7:43 p.m.

    This game looks sweet. I'm deffinetly buying this for myself, and my wife lol
  • cart00n - August 5, 2009 11:56 p.m.

    @ walrusthewill: "it will get great reviews but no one will buy it" What are you smoking? If a Batman game got great reviews, what makes you think it wouldn't sell? Batman is part of our culture, even people who've NEVER read a comic book know who Batman is. Most of his games have been hits, and they mostly SUCKED, so why would a Batman game that got great reviews NOT be a hit? Your logic makes no sense to me.

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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