Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure stealth video game based on DC Comics' Batman for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. The PS3 and Xbox versions of the game were released on August 25, 2009 in North America and August 28, 2009 in Europe, and the PC version was released on September 15 in North America and on September 18 in Europe.
Batman: Arkham Asylum, written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini, is based on the long-running comic book mythos, as opposed to most other Batman games which are adaptations of the character in other media besides the source material. The Joker, Batman's archenemy, has instigated an elaborate plot from within Arkham Asylum where many of Batman's other villains have been incarcerated. Batman investigates and comes to learn that the Joker is trying to create an army of Bane-like creatures that threaten Gotham City, and is forced to put a stop to the Joker's plans. The game's main characters are voiced by actors from the DC animated universe, namely Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin reprise their roles as Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, respectively. The game is played as a third-person perspective action-adventure game with a primary focus on Batman's combat abilities, his stealth and detective skills, and an arsenal of gadgets that can be used in both combat and exploration.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game. The player controls Batman as the masked vigilante makes his way around the island and structures of Arkham Asylum. In addition to running, jumping and crouching, Batman is also able to glide from heights using his cape, and use his grapple gun to ascend short heights or escape and hide from foes on gargoyle statues. In order to track Joker and other enemies, the player can switch in and out of "detective mode" which activates special visors in Batman's Cowl. In this mode, most of the game world is rendered in darker colors, but objects of interest and people are highlighted, including limited x-ray ability to detect the location of people. Special objects that Batman can interact either directly or with a number of gadgets that are gained over the course of the game are also highlighted. The detective mode can automatically be switched to special scanning modes to track the presence of compounds, fingerprints, and other unique data, which are used to direct the player to the next location to explore.
Gadgets include the batarang, an explosive compound sprayer and detonator, grappling gun, and a frequency scanner that can be used to overload security panels. Some of these can be used both during normal exploration of the game world as well as in combat. The game world, though presented in a linear path, allows for exploration at any time, and recently-acquired gadgets can often be used to access areas that were previously inaccessible. Exploration of the world is prompted by items and clues left by The Riddler for Batman to find; in addition to objects to be collected, some of the Riddler's riddles require the player to seek the item in that area that is the answer to a riddle and scan it with Batman's visor. Solving these riddles unlocks special content for the game, including challenge levels that tests the player's skill at the game's free-form and "predatory" combat system, as well as character bios, patient interviews and detailed character trophies. Riddles, as well as defeating foes, also lead to experience points, which can then be spent on several possible upgrades to Batman's arsenal, as well as his health and moveset, at any time.
The game uses a "Freeflow" combat system, accomplished by using three primary buttons: attack, stun and counter to emphasize the primarily-physical system of combat that Batman employs. Additionally, Batman is able to use Batarangs and his Bat-Claw as supplemental combat tools which can help to extend combos. Countering opponent's attacks can also extend this combo; a brief indicator is shown when playing at lower difficulties to indicate when an opponent is ready to attack. By chaining regular and counter-attacks in combos, the player can build up a special experience point multiplier, which increases further if timed well. When this surpasses a specific threshold, the player then has access to an additional special attack that can quickly take down a single foe. Batman can take damage from his foes, and can be knocked out or killed should it fall too low; when combat is completed, Batman regains a portion of his health related to the experience earned in combat. As the game progresses, Batman will come up against opponents with knives and stun prods that require different tactics to deal with, as well as Titans that can be ridden on to attack other enemies. Certain enemies will also try to get their hands on guns, requiring Batman to stop them from doing so.
The player can also employ "Predator"-type tactics through stealth to improve the odds in their favor. This includes silent takedowns by sneaking up on foes, dropping from overhead perches and snatching a foe into mid-air, or using the explosive compound on destructible objects to knock foes off their feet. Some areas feature sections that require the player to employ these tactics to avoid alerting Joker's henchmen and failing to meet an objective. Harder areas, such as the Extreme challenge maps, put explosives on gargoyles generally used to escape out of sight, requiring players to be more stealthy and cautious of their surroundings.
The game received extremely high praise from critics, earning a 92% average on GameRankings, a game aggregator. Several awards were given. Batman: Arkham Asylum won a Golden Game Award, a Spike Video Game Award, and it earned a spot for 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game' in the Guinness World Records.
A sequel, named Batman: Arkham City, was announced at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards.
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