Batman: Arkham Asylum

When you’re done with a nice meaty campaign, the credits rolling and that nice big 100+ gamerscore popping up for completion, it’s nice to know there’s even more gameplay left to satiate your cravings. Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries Mode, World at War’s Zombie Onslaught or Mirror’s Edge’s Time Trials; extracurricular goodness with leaderboards and achievements.

So it’s a pleasant surprise that while Batman: Arkham Asylum packs a massive story mode (as expressed in exuberant detail by our tiny correspondent, Shaz), you’ll be given a number of challenges to complete, pushing your skills and understanding of the Dark Knight to the limit.

Up first is a fight-club between the walls of Gotham City’s number one loony-bin, sending a barrage of baddies at the caped avenger (that might be Captain America… I don’t really know anything about comics). He’s now got to survive the onslaught, counter nuisance lead-pipe attacks and punch crudely-lobotomised nutcases into electric fences; just like the film! Batman fights with style and grace, with each attack flowing seamlessly from one to another, attacking from all angles without stunted turns or awkward transitions.

But these thoughtless beat-em-ups are just a side-dish compared to the main event; the absolutely excellent Silent Predator stealth levels, the first of which is called “Silent Kinght”. In a section of the asylum filled with armed guards, our vulnerable and very-much-human hero must hide in the shadows, pick off enemies independently and use his entire arsenal of toys to outwit them.

It turns Arkham Asylum into a strategic puzzle, each level filled with a set number of guards, starting in the same spot, and a number of opportunities for dominance.

I start (and seeing as were only allowed to play a couple of levels, I had my strategy down to a tee by the end of the event) by clambering on top of a gargoyle to survey the area. By tapping a button, Batman enters detective mode, allowing him to spot enemies through walls, see their condition and spy crumbling masonry. I wait for a guard to walk under my predatorial spot before swooping down and strangling him, quickly darting off to a shadow as his colleagues grow suspicious.

Now it’s time to really thin the herd; I spray a crumbling ceiling with explosive gel, and jam a supersonic Batarang into the room below, persuading a nearby guard to inspect. Then I clunk him in the neck with my Batarang to knock him out, making his other two friends appear. Detonate the charge, ceiling falls on all three, Batman wins again!

Achievement Unlocked!
Here’s a tough one to get when the game hits shops; first you’ll want to dangle from a gargoyle and swoop down to grab and unsuspecting goon, knock him out and string him from the statue. When one of his pals comes over to see what’s up, slice the chord with your Batarang and send the dangling henchman crashing down on his buddy! Plink!

It’s about calculation and smart-thinking, a shadowy cape-clad baby of Splinter Cell and Hitman, in succinct five minute bursts. Plus, with three challenges per level and time-based leaderboards, the stealth-based challenge mode is ultra addictive, and I was quickly sharing scores, techniques and anecdotes with the other journalists.

Heck, who needs a campaign when the extras are this good?







4 responses to “Batman: Arkham Asylum”

  1. Van-Fu avatar

    For certain forumers, this will be a required purchase. Good to see that it’s exciting folk who don’t know anything about comics as well. FYI, Captain America doesn’t wear a cape. 🙂

  2. ZeroMark avatar

    I can’t wait for this game. I’m a fan of comic books, so this will be a must buy for me. Good to know its going to have some replay value when i finish the campaign.

    Batman is the Caped Crusader, Avengers are Marvel, Batman is DC…but thats just nitpicking 😛

  3. Michael avatar

    That just looks GORGEOUS!

  4. Lorna avatar

    I’m really looking forward to this game! I like the sound of that achievement too!

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