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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Eidos Interactive
Developed By: Rocksteady Studios
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

For more than a decade game developers have been trying to pay homage to the caped crusader known as Batman. Games have come and gone, the most notable ones based of their movie counterparts, however none of them quite capture the Dark Knights true essence. In steps Rocksteady Studios, a game developer looking to create a gaming experience that represents the Batman universe in its truest form, without any sort of compromise. Have they succeeded, in one word YES. Batman: Arkham Asylum gives gamers and fans alike an inside look into the life of Batman and why he has the nickname "The Dark Knight".

Once you officially fired up the game and have chosen your difficulty level, you are immediately greeted within an immersive cutscene, laying the foundation for the rest of the game. The cutscene showcases Batman driving The Joker back to Arkham Asylum after previously escaping the institution for a little fun around Gotham City. Once you arrive at Arkham, you are greeted by Commissioner Gordon as you turn over The Joker to the security personnel. While chatting with Gordon, Batman expresses his concerns for The Joker easily handing himself over without hardly a fight. These concerns turned out to be valid as The Joker escapes the armed guards and proceeds to take over Arkham Asylum with the help of his goons and of course, Harley Quinn. From here, this where Batman: Arkham Asylum truly begins.

With The Joker now in charge of Arkham, Batman has no other choice but to ďput his best foot forwardĒ and take down The Joker once and for all. This is very evident within Batman combat and detective tactics, while he will require in order to traverse the vast lands to which Arkham Asylum rests. In regards to the combat system, Rocksteady Studios did one hell of a job of making The Dark Knight agile, yet deadly to his foes. Batman can pull off various punches and kicks, one move after another in a seamless motion. Add in vicious takedowns and throws, and Batman is fully capable to handle his own against one goon, or nine at any given time.

A nice addition also comes via the counter option, which showcases his skills at ninjitsu. While attacking another foe, if you are being attacked from behind, a prompt will come on the screen asking you to press the triangle button to perform a counter. Utilizing counters can easily allow you to continue to attack one individual after another, without stopping to change targets. You also have the ability to perform silent takedowns, which allow you to take out a foe without anyone else knowing you were there, including your victim. These can be down via sneaking up to them from behind, hanging from a gargoyle and snatching them up, or even hanging from a ledge and you yanking them over the railing. You can clearly see that Rocksteady wanted to create a genuine experience thatís right up Batmanís alley.

Since Batman is only one man, he is assisted by Commissioner Gordonís daughter, Oracle, in order to traverse the island and analyze data for clues. One of the niftiest gadgets at Batmanís disposal is what the game calls Detective mode. By hitting L2, you are able to activate this mode, which allows you to see goons through walls, spot weak points within walls, highlights power utility boxes, gargoyles and vent covers, and all sorts of other things. While you can certainly play the game without utilizing this mode, itís definitely helpful to use even if you only want to distinguish what type of goons you are fighting; armed or un-armed. Batman also has several staple gadgets at his disposal including the batarang, grappling hook, batclaw, etc. Each and every gadget within the game has various uses, which can one up your foes, whether they know you are in the room or not. Last, but certainly not the least is the cape. Batmanís cap allows him to glide from point A to point B and sometimes over gaps that canít be crossed any other way. Heís also about to perform glide kicks, to knock down a foe before taking them out.

Batman is considered the greatest detective and The Riddler considers himself the greatest villain, a battle of the minds takes place throughout Arkham Island. Riddler has tasked you with solving 240 various puzzles littered throughout the entire island in order to test your detective skills. Some are easy to come by and acquire, while others require a bit more attention being paid to the surroundings and the clues he gives. They range from destroying a certain amount of motorized teeth, collecting question marks, taking photos of specific objects, etc. They are not required to do in order to finish the game, however by playing his game; you are able to unlock additions within the Challenge Modes and some nifty trophies to add to your already growing collection.

The Unreal Engine has been utilized for hundreds of games over the years and Batman: Arkham Asylum is THE BEST visual representation the engine has to date. No matter whether you are inside a building, on its roof, underground, or outside among the courtyards, every object is highly detailed and plays its own part in showcasing the Batman universe. This is also evident within the character models. Security guards and doctors look realistic and complain like real people too. The cast of villains, whether they are Harley Quinn, The Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy, etc. are all beautifully rendered. Each character has his or her own personality, which is portrayed perfectly within their design, and how they interact with one another. Each villain has their very own uniquely detailed environment, which isnít seen anywhere else on the island. This game is so mesmerizing; it puts X-Men Origins: Wolverine to shame. Iím not saying that was a bad game, because we loved it, however Batman: Arkham Asylum is simply on a higher plateau.

Complimenting the visual works, Batman: Arkham Asylum boast some outstanding audio work, both within the voiceovers and the musical score. In regards to the voiceovers, Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy return to voice their alter egos The Joker and Batman respectively. These two, along with the voice talent for the remaining bosses help carry the game and set up altercations throughout the game. The remaining voiceover cast did a solid job voicing the remaining characters littered throughout the game, though not on the same level as the main attractions. In regards to the musical score, itís very befitting of Arkham Asylum. Each locale has its own dark and gloomy theme, which plays to the heart and minds of gamers.

When looking at Batman: Arkham Asylum for replay value, there are lots of options to choose from. You can play through the game on all three difficulty levels; task yourself with finding all 240 Riddler puzzles throughout the island, or partaking in the Challenge mode. Within the Challenge mode, you can take Batman into one of 16 levels taken from the game and you are tasked with defeating your foes through many different ways, including hand to hand combat, explosives, silent takedowns, etc. Exclusive to the PlayStation 3 is the ability to take The Joker into these same challenge mode levels for some wacky and entertaining moments. The only difference between Batman and Jokerís route is that Joker only has 8 levels to compete on. As an added note, upon completing the game, you unlock an armored version of Batman, which can be used within the Challenge mode as well. Rocksteady Studios has promised additional DLC in the future, which is sure to add even more replayability to the already jam-packed title.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is of a rare breed that surfaces every few years. While you doní expect too much from the game, you come to find that itís far beyond anything you could have imagined. Rocksteady Studios should pat themselves on their backs a for a job well done. If we could get the same level of creativity out of other developers and Rocksteady, we certainly wouldnít be disappointed with anything we play.


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