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Batman:Arkham Asylum Preview

Batman:Arkham Asylum Preview



Developer Rocksteady has been working in the background for quite some time on the new Batman game titled Arkham Asylum and we were allowed a look at the game before release.

The snippet we seen was when Batman hauled the Joker back to Arkham in the passenger seat of the Batmobile. This story doesn’t directly relate to any movie and it is instead set inside the Batman comic book universe. We were told that Jim Lee’s Wildstorm were involved and have created original character designs for the game. That said, things are that radical and all the characters, vehicles and weaponry all have a similar look to what we know and love.

The first thing that hit me was the environment, in that Arkham is a very atmospheric adapation of the Batman universe. The game is set on an island which was the home of a Mr Arkham but over time it was changed into a massive facility. Once Batman manages to get the Joker to Arkham they then strap him to a restraining dolly and the dark knight (accompanied by three guards) take the Joker to the Intensive treatment section.

The voice acting is marvelous with Kevin Conroy handling the voice of Batman and the Joker is masterfully depicted by Mark Hamill.

On your journey with the Joker in tow you have to get him down to the very depths of Arkham. On the way you have to fight through guard stations while using elevators and corridors to transverse the environment. Meanwhile the player is presented the story: The Warden is called Sharp and he seems to be slightly unstable due to the work he is handling. All thanks to the Joker, as he previously burned down part of Blackgate Prison which housed hundreds of the most violent criminals to Arkham. This means the prisoners already have affection for the Joker and as you progress you can hear them cheering him on.

A while later Batman bumps into a chained Killer Croc who threatens to kill Batman but the guards silence him by turning on the electric collar around his neck – the entourage make it to the section they are looking for and find Commissioner Gordon. The guards then take the Joker past a patient only door and within seconds the Joker has attacked the guards and is strangling one of them with his own handcuffs.

Batman then attempts to revert the situation by punching through glass to get to the Joker who is escaping down a hallway but he is stopped by two thugs who are clearly on the Jokers side. The downside to this is that during the chaos, all the doors were opened in the Asylum, letting out all the criminals – who are now running amok inside the facility.

Now we have the basic storyline out of the way, developer Rocksteady are focusing on their Freeflow combat system which basically means that Batman can engage up to 15 separate enemies without being overpowered. This really makes you feel like you are taking control of a superhero especially when you have a diverse range of attacks at hand. The face buttons are strikes, counters and grapples and these buttons allow you to throw and stun the bad guys in your vicinity in various ways. Taking out enemies in cool ways, such as knocking them unconscious or performing floor takedowns means you get health boosts and experience points. These points mean you can unlock moves later on as well as various styles of power up. These power ups are tracked by a circle style meter in the top right corner of the screen and when you take out a foe or earn XP in another manner then this little circle will fill up slightly more. Above this is a Health meter which only appears in combat situations and it applies to the specific fight you are currently in. Batman heals rather quickly so you don’t need to be running around constantly chasing health packs or pork chops to repair damage.

Batman as always has a ton of gadgets at hand such as the grappling hook and Batarangs.You get unlimited Batarangs and they can be fired with the shoulder buttons in freestyle or auto lock mode. Additionally Batman’s cape can be used as a glide when falling from distances (his cape can get damaged over time however and this affects his gliding). Interestingly the developers have added investigation style googles which turns the screen blue and can detail a lot of useful information with an X ray style display.

An interesting section revolves around a decontamination chamber in which Batman has to use his grappling hook to navigate over the poisonous gas below. Some of the guards in this level are hanging onto ledges trying to escape the gas in the room. It is in your hands to either let them live by helping them up or by ignoring them and letting them die.

We weren’t yet told of all the characters that will be included in the game but we know that Alfred isn’t going to be making an appearance and instead Bruce Wayne liases with Barbara Gordon aka Oracle. A character which will be recognisable to the comic book readers.

Obviously it is too early to tell if this game is going to be a classic but it is shaping up already into a very interesting and rather stylish look at the Batman universe. Keep your eyes peeled on Gamingheaven for a review nearer the time when the game is released in the summer.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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