Batman is back and he’s better than ever.
Thanks to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Edios Inc. and Rocksteady Studios, the next major release featuring the Dark Knight may be 2009’s next big hit.
The game, called Batman: Arkham Asylum, will be a third-person action adventure title due to drop on August 25.‚ With all of the hype surrounding Arkham Asylum, it’s no surprise that Blast Magazine wanted to get a closer look at the highly anticipated game.‚ With an exclusive sneak peak at Comic-Con and some additional hands-on time with the recently released demo, we at Blast have the inside scoop on what to expect from the upcoming title.
Batman: Arkham Asylum takes place at Gotham City’s high-security center for the criminally insane, where Batman has just returned the Joker to be imprisoned once again.‚ Batman’s suspicions rise when he starts to realize that the Joker was captured with little resistance.‚ The Dark Knight’s worst fears are confirmed when the Joker escapes from the clutches of Arkham’s security guards.‚ Batman’s green-haired foe reveals he is now running the facility with all of his villainous pals. It’s now up to the Caped Crusader’s save the facility and its employees from total devastation.
As with any comic book-inspired game, the first aspect I look at is how authentic that is.‚ Too often do these types of titles drift a bit too far when it comes to being accurate to the original canon.‚ However, though I cannot speak for the full version of the game, Batman: Arkham Asylum seems to stay true to the initial stories of the characters while also having some addition stylized flair from the developers.‚ Case and point: Harley Quinn.‚ Also known as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Ms. Quinn is described in her in-game bio correctly (according to my research and cross-checking), but is also presented in a newer, sexier outfit than seen in the original comics.‚ This seems to be the case for many of the villains (especially of the female gender) and is a welcome change to‚ the outdated costumes of the past.‚ The folks at Rocksteady did a fine job of dancing on the right side of the fine line between respectable, unique interpretation and overdone elucidation.
The unique interpretations do not end with the enemies.‚ Rocksteady seemed to pay homage to the comic book that may have partially inspired the game, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, by giving it a very dark and gritty feel.‚ Also, the developers decided to make Batman’s character model to be almost superhuman.‚ Looking more like a linebacker than a billionaire, Sefton Hill, director and owner of Rocksteady Studios, told me that they wanted to make it clear that “Bruce Wayne represents the peak of masculine strength and endurance.”‚ Message received.
Arkham Asylum’s gameplay is quite interesting.‚ Using the Unreal graphics engine, Gears of War comparisons will be inevitable.‚ Still, Arkham Asylum has enough unique features to distinguish itself from other Unreal games.‚ First off, Batman, being a vigilante who refuses to kill, does not use guns to take his enemies down.‚ With this in mind, Rocksteady made Batman use a “panther approach” in his conflict suppression.‚ This stealthy-but-aggressive style lets the Caped Crusader use the shadows to his advantage while also putting his hard-hitting martial arts training to work.
My favorite aspect of Arkham Asylum was the need to think like a sleuth.‚ Acting as the world’s greatest detective, players are required to do some major problem solving (or at least that’s what the demo alludes to).‚ In short, you have to think like Batman to succeed in the game.‚ Whether it is with attacking enemies or just putting clues together, taking a Batman mindset is essential when playing Arkham Asylum.‚ Helping with this is an interesting feature called Detective Mode.‚ This mode, activated when the Left Bumper is toggled, illuminates nearby enemies, useful objects and points of interest.‚ Detective Mode will surely come in handy when deciding a course of action to complete missions and tasks.
From what I’ve seen so far, it’s no surprise that Batman: Arkham Asylum is already being deemed as one of the best games of 2009.‚ With both my hands-on experience with the game and discussions with the owner of Rocksteady games, I have found nothing to dislike with Arkham Asylum so far.‚ I don’t want to get too excited about a game that hasn’t even come out yet, but I’m finding it harder and harder to imagine me not picking up a copy of Arkham Asylum when it drops on August 25.