Batman: Arkham Asylum

With an excellent mix of biff, stealth and sleuth, you don't need to be a fan of Batman to enjoy this excellent third-person action game.

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 4 reviews

Price: AU$119.95


The Good Story mode really sucks you in
Uncomplicated combat is fast paced and looks fantastic
Tons of cool stuff to unlock, including Challenge-mode maps
Audio and visual presentation is uniformly impressive
You won't want to stop playing even after you've solved all 240 riddles
The Bad Too tempting to play through the entire game in detective-vision mode
Super villains that you don't get to fight feel like missed opportunities

You've heard of Batman no doubt, but if you don't read comics, it's conceivable that you might be unfamiliar with Arkham Asylum. The iconic psychiatric hospital is essentially Gotham City's Alcatraz, and it has housed just about every villain Batman has ever tangled with at one time or another. Now, thanks to Eidos and developer Rocksteady, Arkham is also the setting for a great third-person action game in which the lunatics take over the asylum and only you can stop them. As Batman, you not only get to go toe-to-toe with thugs in fast-paced punch-ups, but you also employ satisfying stealth tactics, play with great gadgets, solve some remarkable riddles, and do a decent amount of detective work. In short, you get to do all of the things that you want to when you don a Batman costume in a game, provided you weren't hoping to get behind the wheel of the batmobile.

The front gates

Because just about everything else needs to be unlocked, the first time you boot up Batman: Arkham Asylum, your first port of call will inevitably be the Story mode. Here, you learn that Batman has captured Joker, and as the lengthy intro sequence plays out, you see him being returned to the asylum under Batman's watchful eye. Joker doesn't seem at all perturbed by his predicament, and it quickly becomes apparent that he has deliberately allowed himself to be captured as part of a grand plan that involves taking control of Arkham Island and throwing a party there with Batman as the guest of honour. Clearly it's a trap, but as Batman (and as someone who demands more than two minutes of gameplay before the credits roll), you just can't walk away from it.

As you take the controls, Arkham Asylum wastes no time throwing you into the thick of the action. Almost immediately, you're rushed by a few of Joker's goons and encouraged to knock them out using both basic attacks and counters. Using just two buttons, you can perform a huge number of moves from Batman's superbly animated repertoire, and it isn't at all difficult to string together combos worthy of Hollywood's finest fight coordinators. That's because for the most part, at least early in the game, combat requires you to do little more than mash the attack button and then hit the counter button anytime you notice an enemy with an "I'm about to attack you" icon above his head. None of the thugs that you encounter pose much of a threat individually, but you rarely encounter fewer than three or four of them at once, and often, you'll be up against six or more. Furthermore, the vanilla thugs are joined by enemies with knives, cattle prods and guns later on, who force you to raise your game and incorporate stun attacks and evasive rolls into your deadly dance routine. Boss battles against super-villains like Scarecrow and Harley Quinn are definitely among the game's highlights, though it's a little disappointing that there aren't more of them. One super-villain in particular makes a number of appearances, but you never actually get to fight him.

The combat in Arkham Asylum never gets overly complicated, though the number of moves and attacks at your disposal increases quite dramatically as you progress through the Story mode, earn experience points, and subsequently spend those points on acquiring new combo moves and gadgets. Throws, takedowns and even batarang attacks can be incorporated into your combos this way, but you never need to press more than two buttons simultaneously, and the timing of your moves doesn't have to be particularly precise. Fighting against mobs of up to a dozen enemies or so is a blast, and while they're not smart enough to all just jump on you at once, they're not stupid either. Given half a chance, thugs will pull pipes from walls to attack you with, pick up boxes to throw at you, and recover weapons from fallen colleagues. Fortunately, there's one weapon that your foes seem blissfully unaware of but which Batman is incredibly comfortable with: the environment.

Silent but deadly

Your surroundings don't always have a role to play in combat, but during large set piece encounters (many of which can be replayed against the clock in Challenge mode), using them to your advantage is practically a requirement. Picture this: you walk into a large room where eight gun-carrying enemies have been instructed by Joker to keep an eye out for you. You can't leave the room until every single one of them is unconscious, and going toe-to-toe with them isn't an option because — at least as far as this game is concerned — bullets are Batman's kryptonite. What do you do? Job one is to stay out of sight, which can often be accomplished by crouching atop gargoyles mounted high on the walls that, while an unusual interior design choice, make near-perfect hiding spots from which to survey the scene using your x-ray-like detective vision. From a vantage point like that, you can perform glide kicks to swoop down and floor enemies passing nearby, perform awesome "inverted takedowns" to grab guys as they pass directly beneath you and leave them hanging on ropes for their comrades to see, and throw batarangs that serve a number of useful purposes. Or, if you need to move, you can use your grapnel gun to zip to another location. Just be sure to suspend your disbelief as you do so because you're invisible to the enemy when you're in transit.

Once you've thinned your number of enemies a bit, it's safer for you to move around on the ground, and that's when you can really start to use the environment to your advantage. You can rig explosives to bring walls and ceilings down on top of enemies, crash through windows and ceilings, hide in floor grates and emerge directly behind unsuspecting enemies, and, well, you get the idea. All of these actions can be performed quickly and easily, but that doesn't make them any less satisfying when they work.

Mark Hamill's Joker is fantastic
(Credit: Eidos)

The reactions of enemies who know that their colleagues are being picked off one by one adds massively to the feeling that you're playing as a bona fide superhero. As their numbers diminish, enemies become visibly more scared — they start to move around in pairs rather than individually, press up against walls and lean around corners, and ultimately get so panicked that they fire a shot anytime they turn a corner. Listening to their superbly voiced conversations clues you into their state of mind as well. Initially, your enemies will be quite bold, loudly making threats and musing on how famous they're going to be for killing you. But as the odds gradually shift in your favour and Joker taunts them, they exude less and less confidence — ultimately sounding like they're resigned to their fates and might start crying at any moment.

The quality of the voice acting never falters for a second in Arkham Asylum, and while Mark Hamill's Joker is unsurprisingly a standout, there are great performances from other characters too. Listing them here would be to risk spoiling elements of the story for you, particularly where the other villains are concerned. You just need to know that every character in the game is well written, well voiced, and often well worth listening to — whether it's a super-villain, a thug, an ally or a lowly security guard.

Riddle me this

One character that you definitely want to listen to carefully is Edward Nigma, also known as Riddler. That's because there are no fewer than 240 "riddles" for you to solve on Arkham Island, and doing so not only earns you a good number of experience points but is also the only way to unlock character bios, character trophies (detailed character models that you can examine and admire at your leisure), and Challenge mode maps. The riddles come in a number of different flavours, many of which don't involve riddles at all, and the one thing that they all have in common is that they're rewarding to solve. For example, finding hidden patient interview tapes or chronicles of Arkham affords you additional insight into the asylum's history and inmates, while cracking a cryptic clue to locate an item that you need to take a photo of might make you feel smart and, if you're lucky, earn you enough experience points to purchase your next upgrade. The best of the proper riddles are those that lead you to photograph question marks painted around the island, which doesn't sound very interesting until you realise that these question marks can only be seen using detective vision from very specific locations. That's because these elusive punctuation marks are painted in two parts at different locations that are often quite far apart, so the solution requires you to find both parts and then figure out where to take the photo from so that they line up perfectly. It's clever and compelling stuff, though it does encourage you to spend more time than you'd probably like in detective vision mode.

Detective Vision mode
(Credit: Eidos)

In fact, it's likely that you'll spend a good portion of your time with Arkham Asylum in detective vision mode even if you're not looking for hidden question marks. In regular vision mode, you just get to see that this is a great-looking game with superb animation, excellent lighting and impressive attention to detail. But when you switch to detective vision, you can immediately spot destructible surfaces, more easily locate hidden items, and spot enemies through walls. You can even tell at a glance which of those enemies have guns and which don't because they're coloured differently. It's unfortunate that the predominantly blue-with-white outlines vision mode is so invaluable because, while it's an interesting look, it's akin to reading a black-and-white photocopy of a beautifully coloured comic book.

More significant unlockable content comes in the form of eight challenge maps, which come in regular and extreme difficulties for a total of 16. (24 on PS3 if you include the platform-exclusive free DLC option to play some of them as Joker, whose abilities are quite different to Batman's). The maps are based on areas that you visit in the Story mode, and the challenges are split 50/50 between purely combat-orientated sequences and stealth-based "Predator" gameplay. In the former, you're pitted against four increasingly tough waves of enemies and score points for performing combos, avoiding taking damage, executing ring outs, and using a variety of different moves. In the latter, you're dropped into a level where every enemy has a gun and your goal is to take them all down as quickly as possible. The twist is that to earn a respectable position on the leaderboard in the Challenge mode, you also have to earn medals, and in order to do that, you have to deal with some of your enemies in very specific ways. During a stealth challenge, for example, earning the maximum possible three medals might require you to perform a silent takedown from behind and an inverted takedown, as well as pull an enemy down from a walkway while hanging from a ledge.

The medals get even more demanding in extreme challenges, where you need to knock guys out while crashing through windows, pull floors out from underneath multiple enemies, and even cause three different walls to fall on three different thugs simultaneously. In regular stealth challenges, the wall-mounted gargoyles are your best friends, but on extreme maps, all of the gargoyles are booby-trapped to blow up shortly after you land on them. Robbed of these safe vantage points, you have to spend a lot more time moving around on the ground, which — because you have detective vision — you can do without needing to stop and peek around every corner. Stealth gameplay is almost never this fast-paced or action-packed, and it's rarely this fun.

Regardless of whether you're getting sucked into the Story mode or competing for high scores in the Challenge mode, Batman: Arkham Asylum does an outstanding job of letting you be Batman. Everything about this game — the impressive visuals, stirring soundtrack, superb voice acting, fiendish puzzles, hard-hitting combat — feels like it has been lovingly crafted by a development team that's both knowledgeable and passionate about the source material. Miss out on this one and the joke's on you.


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Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure stealth video game based on DC Comics' Batman for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game were released on August 25, 2009 in North America and August 28, 2009 in Europe, and the PC version was released on September 15 in North America and on September 18 in Europe.

Arkham Asylum, written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini, is based on the long-running comic book mythos, as opposed to most other Batman games which are adaptations of the character in other media besides the source material. The Joker, Batman's arch enemy, has instigated an elaborate plot from within Arkham Asylum where many of Batman's other villains have been incarcerated. Batman investigates and comes to learn that the Joker is trying to create an army of Bane-like creatures to threaten Gotham City, and is forced to put a stop to the Joker's plans. The game's main characters are voiced by the actors from the DC Animated Universe, namely Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin reprising their roles as Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, respectively. The game is played as a third-person perspective action-adventure game with a primary focus on Batman's combat abilities, his stealth and detective skills, and an arsenal of gadgets that can be used in both combat and exploration.

The game received high praise from critics, earning a 92% average on GameRankings, a game aggregator. The game also holds a Guinness World Record for 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever', with an average score of 91.67 from reviewers. Several awards were given to Arkham Asylum, including a Spike Video Game Award and the coveted Best Game BAFTA Award. A sequel, titled "Batman: Arkham City", was announced at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards. On May 11, 2010, a Game of the Year version of Batman: Arkham Asylum was released in the United States. This edition includes four new challenge maps and is packaged with two pairs of glasses which may be used to play the game in 3D on any regular 2D television, using TriOviz, a new kind of anaglyph image technique.

Contents [hide]
1 Gameplay
2 Plot
2.1 Characters
3 Development and marketing
4 Reception
4.1 Awards
5 Sequel
6 References
7 External links

[edit] Gameplay

Batman uses detective mode to solve puzzles and follow enemies otherwise unseen throughout the game.Batman: Arkham Asylum is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game.[9][10] The player controls Batman as he makes his way around the island and structures of Arkham Asylum. In addition to running, jumping and crouching, Batman is also able to glide from heights using his cape, and use his grapple gun to ascend short heights or escape and hide from foes onto gargoyle statues. In order to track Joker and other enemies, the player can switch in and out of "detective mode," which activates special visors in Batman's Cowl.[11] In this mode, most of the game world is rendered in darker colors, but objects of interest and people are highlighted, including limited x-ray ability to detect the location of people. Special objects with which Batman can interact, either directly or using various gadgets gained over the course of the game, are also highlighted. In some sections of the game, the detective mode is augmented to detect compounds, fingerprints, and other clues, which are used to direct the player to the next location to explore.[12]

Gadgets include the batarang, an explosive compound sprayer and detonator, grappling gun, and a frequency scanner that can be used to overload security panels.[12] Some of these can be used both during normal exploration of the game world as well as in combat. The game world, though presented in a linear path, allows for exploration at any time, and recently-acquired gadgets can often be used to access areas that were previously inaccessible. Exploration of the world is encouraged by items and clues left by the Riddler for Batman to find; in addition to objects to be collected, some of the Riddler's riddles require the player to seek out a certain area related to the answer to a riddle and scan it with Batman's visor.[9] Solving these riddles unlocks additional content for the game, including challenge levels that test the player's skill at the game's combat system, as well as character bios, patient interviews and detailed character trophies. Riddles, as well as defeating foes, also lead to experience points, which can then be spent on several possible upgrades to Batman's arsenal, as well as his health and abilities, at any time.

The game uses a "Freeflow" combat system,[12] accomplished by using three primary buttons: attack, stun and counter[10] to emphasize the primarily-physical system of combat that Batman employs. Additionally, Batman is able to use Batarangs and his Bat-Claw as supplemental combat tools which can help to extend combos. Countering opponent's attacks can also extend this combo; a brief indicator is shown when playing at lower difficulties to indicate when an opponent is ready to attack. By chaining regular and counter-attacks in combos, the player can build up a special experience point multiplier, which increases further if timed well. When this surpasses a specific threshold, the player then has access to an additional special attack that can quickly take down a single foe. Batman can take damage from his foes, and can be knocked out or killed should it fall too low; when combat is completed, Batman regains a portion of his health relative to the experience earned in combat. As the game progresses, Batman battles against opponents with knives and stun prods that require different tactics to deal with, as well as "Titans" that can be ridden on to attack other enemies. Certain enemies will also try to get their hands on weapons, requiring Batman to stop them from doing so.

The player can also employ "Predator"-type tactics through stealth to tilt the odds to their favor. This includes silent takedowns by sneaking up on foes, dropping from overhead perches and snatching a foe into mid-air, or using the explosive compound on destructible objects to knock foes off their feet. Some areas feature sections that require the player to employ these tactics to avoid alerting Joker's henchmen and failing to meet an objective. Harder areas, such as the "Extreme" challenge maps, put explosives on gargoyles generally used to escape out of sight, requiring players to find other means of taking down opponents with stealth.

[edit] Plot
The Joker attacks Gotham City's Mayor's office but is foiled by Batman, who escorts him to Arkham Asylum. Due to a recent fire at Gotham City's Blackgate Prison, a large number of sane prisoners have been temporarily relocated to Arkham, many of whom are in the Joker's gang. As Batman accompanies the guards taking the Joker inside, the asylum's security is overridden by Harley Quinn, allowing the Joker to escape and take control of the facility. Batman quickly realizes that these events, including the Blackgate fire, have all been part of the Joker's plan and that the Joker had bribed a security guard to help him escape. The Joker threatens to detonate bombs scattered around Gotham City should anyone attempt to enter Arkham, forcing Batman to work alone; however, Batman is able to rely on Commissioner Gordon and other loyal guards after Batman is able to free them. Additionally, Oracle is able to guide him through the Asylum over the radio. Batman is able to gain access to an adjunct of the Batcave he had set up years ago on the island and is able to use his sleuthing skills to learn of the Joker's plan.

Batman eventually learns that the Joker is seeking a chemical called Titan that is being produced at the asylum. The compound is based on the venom that gives Bane his super strength, though the Titan formula is much more potent. The Joker plans to use the Titan formula on the various Blackgate inmates to create an unstoppable army, as well as on Poison Ivy's plants, which mutate and take over the island. He also plans to dump the Titan-production waste product into Gotham's water supply, which could have disastrous effects on the city.

Batman, after defeating several of his arch enemies, is able to return to the Batcave to create an antidote to Titan, but only has enough time to synthesize one dose before Poison Ivy's Titan-infused plants destroy the Batcave's computer. After destroying the mutated plant life and defeating Ivy, the Joker invites Batman to his "party", where Batman sees the Joker holding Scarface, sitting on a throne of mannequins. The Joker then reveals that he has recaptured Gordon and attempts to shoot Gordon with a Titan-filled dart. Batman jumps in front of it, taking the injection himself. Batman attempts to resist the change, which causes an upset Joker to shoot himself with the Titan gun, becoming a massive monster. In his new form, the Joker proudly displays himself to news choppers. He tries to persuade Batman to stop resisting the Titan formula and change into a monster, saying it is the only way to defeat him. Batman refuses, and uses the antidote on himself. The Joker, amazed at his decision, attacks Batman directly. Batman defeats him by covering his glove in explosive gel and punching Joker fiercely in the jaw. The Joker reverts back to his original state and is taken back to his cell, and armed Gotham police officers slowly regain control of the asylum.

Batman then hears over a police radio that Two-Face is robbing the Second National Bank of Gotham, so he summons the Batwing and flies back to Gotham. Following the credits a metal box stamped with the word Titan is seen floating in the water of the Gotham Harbor, and a random villain's hand rises from the water and grabs the box.

[edit] Characters

Batman performs a glide kick on Victor Zsasz.Batman, along with allies Oracle and Commissioner Gordon appear in the game. In addition to the Joker, Batman encounters other foes. He must defend himself from an enraged Bane,[13] sneak up on Zsasz before he can harm innocent guards and doctors,[11] battle his way through hallucinogen-induced nightmares created by the Scarecrow,[11] and silently collect samples from Poison Ivy's plants located in Killer Croc's lair.[14] Batman also battles female antagonists Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.[15] The Riddler does not physically appear in the game, but communicates to Batman to challenge him to find the hidden clues he has placed around the island.[9]

Other Batman allies and enemies are presented in the game as character information that can be unlocked from finding the Riddler's clues, often by finding objects or areas based on that character such as a collection of umbrellas (representing The Penguin). Jack Ryder can be heard reporting about the Arkham crisis. Though not visible himself, Mr. Freeze's special frozen cell can be found in-game, with previous mentions to his escape from the asylum; similar cells can be found for characters such as Two-Face and Calendar Man. Clayface makes a small cameo, but never in his true form as he is seen pacing around his cell disguised as other characters, trying to trick the player into releasing him. The body of Ra's al Ghul can be seen in the morgue, however if the player returns to the room later in the game, they find his body missing. Scarface also makes two small cameo appearances, once in one of Scarecrow's hallucinogen-induced nightmares, and a second time alongside the Joker near the end of the game.
Posted by Azar Levenston
Great game that can really get stuck into and want to finish.
Posted by Eddie
class game
Posted by arthur
Posted by oakell

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