Batman Arkham Asylum Demo Preview/Review
By: Jedi Lincoln
For years we have waited, agonized, and prayed for a Batman game free of Legos and possessing the almighty grace to be excellent. Well if there was one game this season that we can willingly expect much of, it is this game. Batman: Arkham Asylum should be a great game. The demo definitely hints at that much.
When starting the demo you are greeted with the Bat signal and we are introduced to the major plot within the game. Apparently the world’s greatest detective has apprehended the Joker and is in transit to the infamous Arkham Asylum for the criminal’s insurrection. Upon arrival we are greeted by Commissioner Gordon and in mid conversation we see that the Joker has one more card up his sleeve, even though he’s not playing with a full deck. Actually he has an entire penitentiary up there, and with the assistance of his gal pal Harley (who is dressed in a very nice outfit) has complete control of the Asylum. What is a Bat to do?
Answer: kick butt and take names dark knight style. Joker escapes and as Batman we must tend to the prisoners that the purple suited psychopath has released. It is here the player is introduced to the concept of FreeFlow combat. The idea here is that instead of the standard punch/kick combo method of 3rd person fighting you can move freely from one baddie to the next with kicks, punches, and palm thrusts in a truly cinematic fashion. Using the analog stick and the attack button, combat it truly entertaining.
There is also a counter attack that can be used when you see blue lines above an enemy’s head indicating that they will attack. Combat is rather compelling and the counter moves can be used to take down an enemy quickly. In fact during one counter move I grabbed my assailant’s leg as they tried to kick me and quickly delivered a boot into his package (I hope the postal puns work for you?). It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Another nice addition to the combat system, besides the free flow fighting, is the takedown. Generally I noticed that combat can be categorized in two ways, dancing and slamming. During the dance you can punch and kick to your hearts content, and while you can defeat your adversaries with traditional brutality; takedowns are more fun. The most practical takedown (TD) during this first battle is the ground TD. After some “dancing” your foe becomes dazed and falls to the ground. Batman stands over a dazed and downed perp, grabs his head, and slams it into the ground. A pleasant cinematic touch when you finish off the last foe in the area is the, cinematic style, slow-motion close up of the attack. It’s a choice that adds a lot of visual appeal to gameplay.
After this short rumble with Gotham’s criminal element you continue your quest to stop the Joker. As you start your journey down an incredibly detailed corridor you are introduced the keystone of Batman’s gadgets, the Baterang. The Joker has very considerately left you with a few chattering teeth to do some target practice and you’ll find that targeting and hurling these throwing star acolytes feels natural and is incredibly entertaining, I challenge you not to break every TV broadcasting Joker’s taunting façade. Below I’ve embeded the gadget trailer that shows the Batarang and other gadgets.
After some exploration we are introduced to Oracle, formerly Bat Girl, who serves as Batman’s equivalent to an information officer. You’ll talk to her a couple of more times throughout the demo. For more information on her and other characters there are character bios that become unlocked as the game progresses.
Eventually you find yourself with a hostage situation on your hands. One of the more dangerous inmates has taken a guard hostage, strapped him to a chair, and has a finger hovering on a trigger that electrifies the innocent officer. As Batman it’s up to you to take him down without him seeing you coming. It is here that we are introduced to the Detective mode. When this mode is activated you can see the world through deeper eyes. You can see through walls, the pulse of individuals around you, destroyable walls, accessible vents, and most importantly grappling/stealth locations. It’s a simple way of showing and making the environment interactive. A few quick hops and swings from gargoyle to gargoyle adventitiously placing you in a position behind your target. You then perform a gliding kick, forcing him to the ground. Effectively stunned, a quick ground takedown diffuses the situation.
After some air vent crawls you find yourself up against some armed prisoners. A direct attack is futile, so we must choose a more discreet method of battle. A few swings later and we are tasked with our first stealth takedown. Crouching and approaching your tango from behind you can stealthily take out enemies with a few choke holds and jabs. This is one of the best aspects of this game so far. When you enter the game there is a lot of no holds bar brawling. I predict that the stealth mechanic will provide a diverse gaming experience that will keep monotony in check.
The next area contains a number of Joker’s henchmen on patrol. Here is your chance to really enjoy the game mechanics. One of the most entertaining takedowns is the inverted TD. While sitting on a perch you can await henchmen to pass beneath you. You can then swoop down and hang him inverted from that same ledge. It’s quite satisfying. I would recommend that if you can play the demo that you explore the targeting options with the Baterang. Targeting legs, heads, or weapons affects your target in different ways that change the combat dynamic.
After you take out the last hired hand a cut scene appears showing the Joker as he releases a deformed human/beast/monster out of a huge cage and as it charges you the screen goes blank.
All in all, in this review/preview, I give this game demo a 5/5. The style of the game is dark and the graphics are fantastic. Arkham is perfectly detailed, there are collectable “Riddler trophies,” and the Baterang design is sleek but practical. There are non-player character interactions and conversations. The Character Bios are fantastic, and this game demo does nothing to disappoint save the fact that it ends. Look for it in stores, 8/25/09. Untill then i sugest playing the demo and watching a wealth of youtube videos.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com