Darkness descends on Gotham City. The night sky is obscured by dark clouds lashing rain over a dark Gothic cityscape. Moonlight pierces through this gloomy curtain, illuminating a deserted road — the Dark Knight approaches.
A Serious House on Serious Earth
The Joker has a party planned for The Batman and the venue could not be any better than Arkham Asylum. The asylum is a mansion on a virtually isolated island with a dubious reputation of ‘treating’ some of Batman’s deadliest foes and The Joker has most of them on his party list. These guys are not the ones to resort to crime as a means to an end as they seem to have transcended beyond the petty criminal; proposing an alternate, almost dystopian view of the world.
The Joker is escorted by Batman to Arkham Asylum after a failed attempt to attack the Mayor’s office. Around the same time, a mysterious fire breaks out in the city’s penitentiary, the Blackgate Prison and all the inmates are evacuated into the asylum. The hospital turns into a real madhouse after Joker, along with Harley Quinn, takes control of the security systems and sets all the inmates loose. It is a long and testing night for Batman as he works to regain control of the facility and unravel The Joker’s real plan.
The Dark Knight Returns
The game is played in a third person perspective with an over-the-shoulder camera system. With a push of a button a special visor in Batman’s cowl is activated, switching the worldview to Detective Mode. In this mode, points of interests are highlighted in stark contrast while everything else is darkened with a dark blue hue. This also helps Batman preempt enemy encounters as he can see through walls at a limited distance, with enemies and guns that they may be wielding getting highlighted. This game will sometimes present opportunities to use Batman’s stealth skills along with his arsenal of gadgets to isolate and take down the inmates with stealth. Such sequences are typically set in a room with a handful of Joker’s henchmen patrolling. Switching to Detective Mode will highlight vantage points and hiding places, helping you to plan your course of action.
There are a variety of ways in which Batman can take down his foes without being detected, like inverted takedowns (as seen in the movies) and using a Sonic Batarang to lure enemies into traps. Fear is something that Batman has always used against his enemies to great advantage and you will find scared and isolated enemies firing at nothing, out of sheer nervousness.
Journey into Knight
The game uses to the famed Unreal 3 and PhysX engine along with other technologies like SpeedTree, IDV, ScaleForm, etc. to render the dark and gloomy landscape of Arkham Asylum, with a slick vector based heads up display (HUD). Along with the customary health display, the HUD is also used to access and switch between gadgets in Batman’s utility belt. If you cannot find your way to the next objective or locate that last secret in a location, the game menu can be used to bring up a 2D schematic of Arkham. Although the game characters might seem a little buffed up, they are modeled with an uncanny resemblance to some of the comic book art. The Joker constantly tries to breakdown Batman’s psyche by mocking him using the facilities video feed and the PA system. And The Joker is only one of Batman’s problems this night along with The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Bane and Mr. Zsasz.
Due to Batman’s training and conditioning tt may not be easy to break his constitution, but the effects of this grueling night are clearly visible on him. The artists of the game have used certain artistic license to deliver the visual feedback. As the game progresses Batman sports a stubble, his cape has holes in it and there are cuts and bruises through his armor.
You are having so much fun playing this game that the Story Mode may seem a little short lasting between eight to ten hours. After you beat the single player mode, there are a couple of other things to keep you busy. The Riddler also has a challenge for Batman this night and he has hidden away secrets throughout Arkham. These are sometimes placed in plain sight while others are hidden away behind grates and breakable walls. These secrets come in various forms like the Riddler’s Trophy, Patients Interview Tapes, The Chronicles of Arkham and some more. The game measures completion of your game by the progress you’ve made in the Story Mode along with the number of secrets you have discovered. All of these secrets are not accessible from the beginning of the game as they may require gadgets that become available at a later stage of the game. This means that if you want to achieve 100% game completion, you’ll have to do some back tracking with a complete arsenal of Wayne Tech equipment. As mentioned earlier, progressing through the game and locating these secrets will unlock a bit of Batman lore. In addition to this however, it will also unlock challenge mode stages. Just like in the game, there are two types of scenarios—stealth and combat. There are a total of four combat challenges and four stealth challenges available to be unlocked. Each of these stages also has an “Extreme” mode, effectively taking the total number of challenges to 16 stages. On completion of these challenges, your total score for that stage is calculated and uploaded on the online leader boards.
It is not easy making a crossover game, especially ones based on a superhero and understandably solid games in this genre are few and far in between. The good news is that Arkham Asylum is easily one of the best games ever made in this category. In fact, even if you are not a big fan the Batman mythos you’ll still enjoy this game. With the exception of gunplay, this game has something for every typical gamer. There are sections of the game that require stealth and patience and works well for those who look for a bit of strategy in a game. The combat system is robust and free flowing that at times warrants good reflexes with the gamepad, especially in the later part of the game and in Challenge Mode. And for those gamers that enjoy exploration, there are secrets to be found and rewards to be unlocked. Arguably, the only things that go against this game is it's short length and somewhat disappointing boss battles.
OS : Windows XP SP2/Vista SP1
CPU : P4 2.8 GHz/Athlon 64 3000+
RAM : 1 GB
Free Memory : 12 GB
Graphics : NVIDIA 6800/ATI X700
Genre : Action, Stealth, Beat ‘em Up
Platform : Microsoft XBOX 360, PlayStation 3
Developer : Rocksteady Studios
Publisher : Eidos Interactive and Warner Brothers/DC Comics
Distributor : EXpress
Price : Rs. 2,499
Score : 8.5/10