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Review: Batman Arkham Asylum - Xbox 360, PS3, PC

by Steven Williamson on 24 August 2009, 20:36

Tags: Batman Arkham Asylum, Eidos (TYO:9684), PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Action/Adventure

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Will The Joker have the last laugh?

Version reviewed: PS3

What’s it about?
Developed by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a third-person action adventure that is set against the back-drop of the gloomy Arkham Island, a notorious DC Comic's location which is famed for housing Arkham Asylum, an oppressive psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.

Written exclusively for the videogame, the story begins after Batman apprehends The Joker and escorts him to Arkham Asylum where he faces long-term imprisonment. On arrival, The Joker has other plans and springs a trap that un-cages the prisoners and locks-down the Asylum, putting the villain in total control.

The story-driven gameplay sees The Dark Knight utilise his arsenal of super-powers and detective abilities to see off The Joker’s hench-men and attempt to unravel his master plan. In addition to combat and stealth-based gameplay, Arkham Asylum also throws in some platforming segments, as well as introducing an investigative mode that allows Batman to scan the environment in search for clues and pathways to hidden areas.

As well as using his array of skills and gadgets in combat, Batman also partakes in plenty of environment-based puzzle solving, where he uses the likes of explosive gel to blast through walls, or his batclaw to pull down wall-mounted vents to gain access to ventilation shafts. Among his many other skills, The Dark Knight can also swing around the environment using his grappling hook and glide through the air to drop down on unsuspecting enemies.

Batman Arkham Asylum also incorporates an XP system. By stringing together combos, completing objectives and hunting down collectibles you can spend any hard-earned XP points on a range of impressive upgrades that can increase your skills, armour and weaponry.

Exploration is encouraged with a sprawling game world and variety of objectives, as well as dozens of collectibles to look out for along the way, including The Riddler's trophies and The Riddler's Challenges, where you're given cryptic messages to decipher before scanning the appropriate object to complete the challenge.

By using a blend of close-quarters combat, stealth, and the aforementioned investigative mode, you travel across Arkham Asylum and its grounds completing objectives, taking out The Joker’s henchmen and partaking in big boss battles against some of Batman’s most infamous adversaries, including the likes of Bane, The Scarecrow and The Riddler.

Outside of the main story mode, Batman Arkham Asylum also offers a challenge mode (including The Joker challenge map exclusive to PS3) where you can get plenty of practice at defeating waves of enemies using your close-quarters combat skills or sneak up on them using Batman's array of stealthy maneuvers. Do well and you'll make your way up the global online leader-boards. Do badly and you'll be the new joker in town.

Gameplay impressions overleaf...