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Batman: Arkham Asylum - hands-on

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Batman also has to use his ‘genius level intellect’ (as read in his character bio, of which there is one for almost every character in the game) to solve dastardly clues left by The Riddler. Every area in the game (and we mean every area – from the smallest corridor to the largest outdoor area) has a clever riddle attached to it that Batman must solve. To do so you have to ‘scan’ the answer in Detective Mode – which earns you a heap of experience points to spend on new moves, like bone-breaking combos.


Above: From the PS3 exclusive Joker maps

Yes, Batman can be upgraded. “This was difficult for us because we wanted Batman to feel fully-featured out of the box.” says Hill. “But we also wanted him to improve as the story went on. The idea is that you can choose how you want to upgrade.” Almost everything you do has an experience reward – from solving riddles and finding clues to defeating enemies. When you reach a certain amount you earn an upgrade that you can use to power up an ability.

Some are simple like improved armor or new combos, but others are more outlandish like remote control batarangs and the ability to hang upside down from the rafters and grab hapless guards from above. The genius of the experience system is that it makes you really explore your environment. You’ll become obsessed with solving every riddle, finding every set of joke teeth and locating every interview tape because it makes a tangible difference to your character.

We’ve played about six or seven hours of the main game, – from the interactive intro where Joker takes over the asylum, to rescuing a guard from the demented Victor Zsaz, to Commissioner Gordon being kidnapped, to a boss fight with [deleted] and another with Bane, whose ‘Venom’ tubes you need to violently yank out of his head. The Bane fight is the only disappointment of our entire playthrough. It’s firmly rooted in traditional game design and sees you tricking Bane into charging into walls, and attacking as he’s stunned. In the context, mind, it’s churlish to grumble after five or so hours of constant surprises and excitement.


Above: From the PS3 exclusive Joker maps

Arkham Asylum is so well designed, so polished and of such quality that we almost can’t believe it. Licensed superhero games notoriously never live up to their potential, a tradition Rocksteady have boldly defied. With grey corridors and indistinguishable jungles dominating games, it’s refreshing to see a world so full of detail and history and to control a character that so perfectly captures its essence. You are Batman. “We’re really proud of Arkham Asylum”, says Hill. “This is the game we’ve always wanted to make.”

Jul 31, 2009

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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.

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