Batman: Arkham Asylum PS3 Demo Impressions

batman

I’m a huge Batman fan, and I’ve been dying to play a video game adaptation of the Dark Knight that does him justice for a long time. Considering the pedigree of  previous Batman games, I came into Arkham Asylum a little more than wary.

Fortunately, I came away more pumped for it’s August 25th release than I expected. First things first, the game is visually striking. I’m one of those folks who have grown tired of the overreliance of Unreal Engine 3 over the past 4 years, but I have to say that developer Rocksteady Studios have made it their own, and AA looks nothing like previous tried and true, Gears of War clones many other UE3 games strive to be.

Textures are sharp, character models are detailed, and the snippet of Arkham Asylum you get to explore as Batman is foreboding and sinister, appearing to house any number of unknown, and more than likely deadly, mysteries.

On the control front, the game feels pretty good. There were a few moments on stairs where I would get hung up, but moving around the rest of the world seemed responsive and smooth.

Combat is what makes and breaks a Batman game, and so far, no game has truly done what Spider-Man 2 did for Spider-Man, and that’s make the player actually feel like they are their favorite superhero. I’m pleased to say that the combat in Arkham Asylum, to put it bluntly, kicks ass. Most of the combat is done with the Square button, but you have a counter on the Triangle button, and a cape stun with the circle. Mixing and matching attacks and counters results in a series of fluid looking takedowns and knockouts. You also gain experience for actions, which will undoubtedly allow players to upgrade their skills, although this feature seemed to have been locked out of the demo.

Besides his fists, Batman had a few tricks up his sleeves during the demo, such as his “Detective Cam” which is basically a high tech visual system in his cowl that pains the world blue, with enemies highlighted in red, interactive objects in a goldish yellow, and stat information on what Batman currently has selected. He also has his trusty grappling hook, which you can use to reach perches, where he is then able to hurl batarangs, glide kick, pounce, and upside down grab enemies.

The game emphasizes stealth over all out action, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by a large number of thugs welding machine guns, so taking them out systematically is often the best approach (and more Batman-like if you ask me).

On top of this, my favorite moment about this game is the return of Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Mark Hamill as the Joker (to name only a few Batman: The Animated Series alumni that are in the game), who offer spectacular voicework, and had me and my wife squeeing over it’s awesomeness.

Music and other audio was also very impressive. Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of the demo, and the game has moved from a potential rent, to a must buy when it releases later this month.

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