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Hands-On Batman: Arkham Asylum Challenge Room

Posted by Sarah LeBoeuf On August - 3 - 2009


We got to spend some time with one of the challenge rooms of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Check out more impressions of the Dark Knight’s upcoming game.

When details about Batman: Arkham Asylum were first being made available, I wasn’t that excited about the challenge rooms. The promise of additional content pleased me, don’t get me wrong, but I was much more concerned 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 version of Arkham Asylum was on display, and naturally, I couldn’t resist a chance to play it again. This time, I checked out one of the challenge rooms to see what I was getting into. While I still firmly believe that they will be secondary to the campaign, the challenge rooms appear to be pretty entertaining, and could potentially add hours of additional gameplay to the title.

Though the challenge rooms will take place in different environments with separate objectives, the one I played was fairly straightforward: in the medical ward of Arkham, wave after wave of increasingly brutal enemies came at me, and I knocked them out one by one (because Batman doesn’t kill, naturally). It started out simply, with a few low-level minions of the Joker clumsily trying to bring down the Dark Knight, but after taking out a couple of waves, foes became smarter and better armed. Despite having a good amount of stealth gameplay, Arkham Asylum also has an intuitive combat system. I actually remembered how to pull off combos and counters from my time with the game at E3, and it wasn’t long before my foes were floored.

In addition to simply punching villains until they fall, Batman will have to use some properly timed counterattacks and special moves if he wants to survive when surrounded by foes. While enemies in the first wave or two could be taken down rather easily, I found that timing and being aware of enemy placement were crucial after that. There really is more strategy involved than just straightforward brawling, which was kind of what I thought this particular challenge would be. If the rest of the challenge rooms also offer a decent amount of variety and, for lack of a better word, challenge, I can see myself getting addicted to the extra content Arkham Asylum is providing.

Though I was giving the PS3 version a test drive, I didn’t get to play as the Joker, who is exclusive to Sony’s system (for now, at least). However, I was pretty much already sold on the game based on my E3 hands-on, so it’s not like one challenge room was going to change my mind unless it was straight-up broken. It’s still good to know that there will be more to do when the game is beaten, and now I have even more reasons to look forward to it. Let’s hope Batman: Arkham Asylum doesn’t suffer another delay and makes its August 26 release date.

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