E3 ‘09: Batman Arkham Asylum Hands-On Impressions
Eidos is looking to save Batman’s video game reputation later this summer by releasing “Batman: Arkham Asylum” for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. I had a chance to spend a few minutes with the game, at Eidos’ E3 booth and take on a few of the game’s challenge rooms with both Batman and the Joker. Here’s what you need to know about Gotham’s greatest detective’s next mission.
The Joker has managed to take over Gotham’s own Arkham Asylum, and it’s up to the Dark Knight to take it back. You play as Batman as he works his way into the depths of the home for the Criminally Insane, battling some of his oldest enemies along the way.
The Important Stuff
- The game looks good, and the combat feels solid.
- A huge cast of Arkham’s residents will be appearing to help the Joker, including Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and more.
- Batman gets his own Detective Vision Mode where he can “see” everyone in the room, even through the walls.
- When you’re fighting, it really feel like you’re fighting as someone that can anticipate his attacker’s moves, because each character has a tell for when he is about to swing at The Bat, making it easier to counter.
- It comes complete with unlockable challenge rooms that add quite a bit of gameplay to the game. They’ll help you sharpen your skills, as well as prove that you make the best bat, as you can upload your high scores, and fastest times to leaderboards.
The Noteworthy Stuff
- The game slows down a bit during combat, putting emphasis on each punch, kick, and takedown. It makes it somehow feel a bit more “realistic,” at least in terms of comics, and at the same time, it feels like it breaks up the combat sequences.
- The controls are a bit complex, relying heavily on shoulder bumper button combinations.
The Awesome Stuff
- “Arkham Asylum” might be a game finally worthy of the Batman name. Bruce Wayne has starred in a ton of games, but none of them have been really great since the NES days.
- The Joker’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. If, while you’re fighting, you manage to string together five hits in a row, you have the option of performing a takedown, and the Jokers are pretty badass. One has you whipping out his joy-buzzer and electrocuting his attackers, and another one has you jumping on their heads and bashing them in. And the hilarity ensued.
- The Limited Edition comes complete with its on batterang, on top of a whole bunch of other content…
The Not So Awesome Stuff
- … the cost of the Limited Edition. It’s damn cool, I mean who doesn’t want an actual baterang, but it’s still pretty costly for a game.
- Eidos also has yet to announce the entire cast of the game. Sure, that leaves something for everyone to discover when they play the game, but I want to know if the Penguin made the cut.
- The Joker’s PS3 exclusivity - not so awesome for 360 owners.
- The delay was a little less than awesome as well, but hopefully that means the game will be a bit more polished when it hits stores in August.
“Arkham Asylum” could be the Batman game that fans of the series have always been wanting to play, and it could prove that there is a video game future for Batman. It has, what appears to be, a healthy balance of stealth and action that makes the game feel like the complete package, not favoring one over the other like other Batman games of the past. If you can get past the controls, which could just take more than 20 minutes (I had to play) to get used to, then this “Batman” could make for a fun action game.