Superhero games generally have a bad rap, and for good reason: they stink. Literally, they leave a bad taste in our mouth's, with few exceptions. Some of the worst games ever developed have been superhero titles.
Thankfully, Batman isn't a real superhero. He's a crime-fighting tight-wearing detective, with unlimited funds and a craving for dark places. That doesn't mean Batman games of the past were free of fault, but Eidos' latest looks to bring the recent revitalization of Batman on the big screen to your home console.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is as the title states, taking place in Gotham's home for the mentally disturbed and, more importantly, the backbone of the city's crime syndicate goons. As you can see from our brief gameplay footage, the Joker intentionally allows himself free admittance to the facility to overtake it.
lAre you ready for the Batman? Don't worry, no one ever is. Just part of his charm.
Free flow combat ensures the optimum Batman ass-kicking performance while still looking good.
Several things bring the Batman experience home like never before. First, most of the voice actors are from the 90's cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, including the voice of Batman and Joker, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. For fans of Batman, hearing these voices, which have starred in countless Batman shows and specials, is perhaps the greatest way to make everyone comfortable with the game. We sure were the second Batman spoke.
Second is the gameplay style. Batman is only human, so he's susceptible to gunfire like everyone else. In fact, in a scene we played after we were asked to shut the camera off, even with Batman's incredible strength, three gun-wielding enemies were easily able to down Batman in a direct confrontation. Arkham Asylum is not about playing hero; it's about being Batman, and as Alladin told Jafar after tricking him into genie-hood, and everything that comes with it.
The main weapon in Batman's arsenal is his stealth, and his ability to remain hidden. That's how he's able to combat so many enemies without being compromised. That, and the reliance on his, or in this case, the player's ability to plan and execute.
Most combat situations have three stages: planning, setup, and execution. Skipping to the final step like FPS players are used to is the quickest way to the Gotham Morgue. For anyone who dares play as Batman would,, there are plenty of ledges, vents, and generally dark areas to remain unseen.
Then again, Batman has his gadgets, each which only adds to the player's tactical diversity. Throw a few batarangs for a distraction, of which there are an unlimited amount (unrealistic, but fun as heck). He has special goggles built into his helmet which function as both night-vision and a sort of smart vision, which details areas where Batman can hide. For beginners, using it will be a life saver, though as we're told, later on players adjust to the world Batman functions in and don't need the vision change to play.
Combat is also a fluid, simple process. Batman is obviously more powerful than the majority of enemies he'll see, and can chain together up to ten attacks at once. The larger the chain, the more experience players earn, and the more gadgets they can purchase and upgrade. Batman also has a ton of finishing moves, and can use his gadgets for combat.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of our most anticipated games from E3 this year. It's very different from any game we've seen before, and offers a unique style of gameplay that has us interested in playing. Unfortunately, our demo ended shortly after our video. Suffice to say, it's one of the few games we got to play that we wanted to go back for more.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is set for release on August 25th for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.