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E3 09: Hands-On Batman: Arkham Asylum

Posted by Sarah LeBoeuf On June - 5 - 2009


At E3 09 this week, I got some hands-on time with one of the summer’s most anticipated games, Batman: Arkham Asylum. Read on for my impressions.

As many people already know, I am a huge Batman fan. I love the mythology, I love the animated TV show, I love the action figures, I love The Dark Knight, I even love Batman Beyond. The one thing I have never had was a video game starring Bats that was worth playing. Batman: Arkham Asylum seemed from the start like it was going to be the game to change this, with a Paul Dini-penned story and many voice actors from Batman: The Animated Series returning to their roles (including Mark Hamill, the infamous voice of the Joker). Of course, the plot and voice acting don’t count for much if the actual gameplay isn’t good. However, from my short time with Batman: Arkham Asylum, it appears that this will not be a problem.

In Batman: Arkham Asylum, our titular hero is, as the title suggests, trapped in the Asylum thanks to a trap set by the Joker. The ultimate Batman baddie is assisted by many of the villains in the DC Universe, including one of my all-time favorites, Harley Quinn (in a sexy new outfit that’s a throwback to her roots as an Arkham psychiatrist). Even though he walked right into a trap, Batman isn’t about to let the Joker get away with it, but with Joker and his henchmen killing innocent prison guards left and right, the Bats is going to have to be careful.

From what I played of Arkham Asylum, the game will feature a combination of melee combat, stealth tactics, and puzzle-solving. When surrounded by enemies, Batman can take them all out with some physical attacks. Of course, he’s Batman, so he never actually kills anyone; he simply knocks foes unconscious. There will be times when just running up and attacking isn’t a viable option, and when that’s the case, Batman needs to find another way to go about his business. However, he isn’t alone in this task; the game implements something called “cowl vision”, which makes objects that can be used for sneaking around stand out to the player. Batman can then use his grappling hook to glide around, or do whatever the situation entails.

The gameplay is intuitive, and works great. I didn’t get to try out any of the special Joker challenges that will be available exclusively to PS3 owners later this year, but from what I played of the actual game, I was very pleased. In fact, I didn’t want to leave the console, but was dragged away by Coop because we had another appointment. Everything about it, from the characters to the design of the asylum, just screams Batman, the way fans have always wanted it. For years, we’ve been asking why no one could make a good Batman game; it looks like we might finally have it.

2 Responses so far
  1. » Blog Archive » Check Out the Villains of Batman: Arkham Asylum Said,

    [...] date of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the more excited I become. So far, everything I have seen (and played) looks and feels exactly like a Batman game should. While the list of baddies in the game has been [...]

    Posted on July 14th, 2009 at 7:33 AM

  2. » Blog Archive » Hands-On Batman: Arkham Asylum Challenge Room Said,

    [...] about the plot and campaign, the heart of what could be the first great Batman video game. After stealthing around the early part of the campaign at E3, I was pleased and impressed, and definitely ready for more. At a Sony event last week, the PS3 [...]

    Posted on August 3rd, 2009 at 9:59 AM

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