Exclusive: First Look at ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’

Batman: Arkham Asylum has been a video game property shrouded in mystery as of late. Up until now, the only exposure the public had with the game was the opening cinematic but we were recently given some time to play through the early part of this Batman adventure in what looks like it could be the first game to finally do the character justice.

Pulling from seventy years of Batman history, the developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum had a breadth of material to pick and inevitably chose the elements they thought would work best for the game. Arkham takes a much darker tone than previous Batman games, taking some influence from the relaunched movie series.

Though not tied in to the movie, it’s hard not to see a resemblance between the character models and gritty overtones of the game and those of the movies. The game starts with Batman bringing the Joker in to custody to Arkham Island. Things go awry and the Joker escapes and in the process unleashes the other denizens of Arkham Asylum.

The Joker’s grand scheme is not revealed right away but slowly unveiled through the course of the game. Aside from the Joker, Batman’s rogue’s gallery in this game will be well represented by Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Bane, Poison Ivy and Victor Zsasz, amongst others. Various villains such as the Riddler will also be hinted at throughout the game with different subtle hints around Arkham or other methods like various “Riddler Challenges”. Also, through the game character bios and artwork will be unlocked as the player progresses.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum will feature the voice talents of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. This duo worked together on Batman: The Animated Series and are considered by some to be the best pairing of voice actors to ever grace the two characters. The story of Arkham Asylum is penned by Emmy Award winning Paul Dini, who also wrote Batman: The Animated Series. Dini is currently writing Gotham City Sirens and Batman: Streets of Gotham for DC Comics.

The game itself has three key elements at play. The first is Free Flow Combat where players hit different button combinations to chain as many attacks in a row together. Unlike some games which follow a present combo method, Arkham Asylum allows for continuous combos that flow in and out of each other easily without delays to leave the player vulnerable. The second core style is Detective Mode.

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Detective Mode allows a player to hit a button to activate Batman’s keen detective skills which highlight certain objects around the level that may help him traverse around the level, take down opponents or find clues to advance the story. The third and newest style added to a Batman comes from Invisible Predator. Imagine Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell with a faster, more exciting pace and Batman’s much cooler gadgets and that’s the gist of Invisible Predator.

A great example of Invisible Predator came during our demo when the first villain, Victor Zsasz was holding an Arkham security guard hostage proclaiming that if he saw anyone try to make a move on him, it’d cost the officer his life. Batman must scale around the room unseen to complete his objective of taking down Zsasz and protecting the innocent guard.

Below, you’ll see a video from Batman: Arkham Asylum that shows a combination of all three of the game’s modes working together as Batman enters a room loaded with well armed thugs that he must defeat in order to advance.

Batman: Arkham Asylum hits stores August 25th for the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and PC from Warner Bros. Interactive.

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