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June 2 2009
Batman: Arkham Asylum - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
28/9/2009AtariEidosRocksteady Studios
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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Characters in Arkham Asylum look great.
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Batman poses in Eidos' latest game.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum looks great on PS3.
Rocksteady Studios isn't a developer too many of you would likely be too familiar with. In fact, the only game the London based developer has released to date was the mildly entertaining PS2 and Xbox action game Urban Chaos: Riot Response way back in mid 2006. Now three years on and the company is set to release their second, and dare we say vastly more impressive looking, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Sparing no expense, and wanting to ensure authenticity to the source material, the story in Batman: Arkham Asylum is being penned by Paul Dini who has worked on Batman: The Animated Series and Detective Comics. So what's it all about you ask...

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Time for Batman to deal some pain!
Batman: Arkham Asylum begins when you assume the role of Batman as he delivers The Joker to Arkham Asylum. What he is unaware of though is that the imprisoned super-villains have set a trap it now becomes Batman's life and death struggle to escape from the prison with the traps set for the prisoners now working against Batman. As well as trying to survive he must recapture The Joker and the numerous other villains.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a third person action adventure game. Many of Batman's most famous characters will be appearing in the game including The Joker, The Scarecrow, Commissioner Gordon, Mr Freeze, The Penguin, Ratcatcher and more.

One of the cooler features confirmed is that the developers will be balancing the gameplay between action sequences with weapons but also being able to use gadgets to defeat enemies and progress in the game. The game also contains a combo meter which, when the combo ends, will see bats swirling around batman, and points added to an RPG styled skill system. As well as the action sequences the developers will be putting in "stealthy" sections, but rather then be whimpy and hiding from enemies much of the focus is on tormenting them - creating sounds, distracting them, and then taking them out - in much the same way that Batman does in the recent movies. Finally the game includes hidden items which unlocks bonuses such as character bios, and the game will support Trophies on the PS3.

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The game blends plenty of action...
If you've had a look around the surrounding screenshots then you have seen just how visually impressive this game is. Powered by Unreal Engine 3, characters look wonderful and locations, while dark, just as detailed. You didn't honestly expect the prison to look bright and colourful now did you? If anything this darkened look gives the game a similar visual style to the recent movies. The developers have used a motion capture studio to ensure that the games characters all move as realistically and fluidly as possible.

It's not just the visuals that are set to impress with this game, but also the voice talent with Mark Hamill voicing the Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. What is really cool is that while The Joker isn't on screen battling Batman his cries will be heard over the prison loudspeakers providing an even more menacing - and taunting - atmosphere.

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...with plenty of gadgets.
In a major coup for Sony the developers and publishers have announced that The Joker will be playable on the Playstation 3. Now he isn't playable through the main game - or so we believe - but he will be playable in a series of combat rooms. His attack patterns and abilities will also be quite different to Batman's so we expect quite a bit of extra gametime as The Joker and it should push people towards the PS3 version over other systems too.

With the two Christian Bale starring Batman movies considered among the best comic book based movies of all time there is little doubt that any game, even not tied into those movies, is going to generate a lot of interest. In fact, with movie-based games having such a poor reputation this standalone storyline may provide the more entertaining option. We'll find out in a couple of months if this game turns out to be great, but indications so far are positive.