Batman Arkham Asylum Hands-On Preview (PS3)

By BlueZeroBlueZero

I had the great fortune to be at a electronics store last weekend and I got some hands on time with the Batman Arkham Asylum Demo that seems to be exclusive to the PS3 kiosks. The Batman demo only showed off the challenge rooms, which are the equivalent of Batman fighting waves of Joker's goons. I played the challenge room shown at the start of this trailer and shown frequently up to the minute mark. The demo didn't have any other levels to pick or bosses to fight so I am just referring to the trailer above to help understand the challenge room setup.

When I first started playing the demo, I naturally had no time to look at the controls because they were only shown during the brief load. Batman has five moves he could use in the demo which is probably all the moves he has in the game. To start off, Square is a punch attack. Triangle is a counter attack. Circle is his cape stun. X is a jump or holding it runs. The controls said Batman could duck, but I didn't find that useful. L-1 was the Batarang which didn't seem too effective.

Here is how the flow of combat works: Batman goes crazy punching with Square until one of Joker's henchmen decides to attack at which point a little icon appears over the henchman's head. At this point, Batman wants you to push Triangle to do a counter attack before he nicely flows back into punching. Throw your cape around with Circle and the enemies are stunned for a few seconds. Maybe one of the henchmen has an unblockable attack (red icon appears) so Batman better get out of the way. Batman pushes X to jump over the attack or hopefully runs away by holding X.

Batman's combat has been implemented well. While punching one enemy, you can switch to any nearby enemy you want by pushing the control stick in their direction with a punch. This means that I was able to punch people around the edges of a circle. The counter move is very responsive with a large window of opportunity to press it. Batman 'tarded out when he hit the electric force fields closing off the rooms, but it didn't seem to do him any damage. Dispatching the last guy left in the room ends when a slowmo attack. Many times I watched a punch or kick not completely connect with the enemy. It's kinda nitpicky, but I know that Eidos won't be fixing it.

An example of a counter move was Batman grabbing a leg that would have kicked him in his back, and then following up with a manual punch. (Batman's back is already in bad shape so he needs all the counters he can get after he failed to counter Bane's backbreaking punch in the mythos) Another counter was Batman grabbing a swung pipe before hitting the enemy with his own pipe.

Batman was completely without anything to say while he was beating enemies to a pulp. He did give out some grunts and other fighting related sounds, but he doesn't have any great one liners. I bet he is saving them for Joker in the single player. Joker did speak at the beginning and the end of each round. The Joker, being voiced by Mark Hamill, sounded as great as I remember from the TV show. His dialogue was good but I heard repeats in this mode.

I can see combat getting repetitive so this game is at rental level. There were more moves like some sort of flip move if I pressed two buttons at once, but I was only able to pull it off once with my ~15 minutes of game time. If you don't like my hands-on preview of the game's Challenge Rooms, then by all means head out to stores and play it for yourself.

One Moooooore Thing (In the tone of the wise Uncle): Never dare utter the words "DLC" or add-ons when the game is still in development. There was no reason for Eidos to even mention DLC for this game. Playing as the Joker shouldn't be some sort of bonus for the PS3 version, it should be part of all the games if it is substantial. If you are already thinking of DLC, then either you cut it from the game to charge later or the focus isn't on making the game the best it can be. Quality DLC does not impact the trade-in market.

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