Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 2009 action-adventure video game based on DC Comics' superhero Batman. Released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows, it was developed by Rocksteady Studios in the United Kingdom and published by London based Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The PS3 and Xbox 360 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, 2009 in North America and on September 18, 2009 in Europe. The Mac OS X version of the game was released by Feral Interactive in November 2011.
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 arch enemy, 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 to threaten Gotham City, and is forced to put a stop to the Joker's plans. The game's main characters are voiced by the actors from the DC Animated Universe, namely Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin reprising 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 uses detective mode to solve puzzles and track enemies throughout the game. Enemies with firearms are identified by red x-ray images.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game.The player controls Batman as he makes his way around the island and structures of Arkham Asylum. In addition to running, jumping, climbing, and crouching, Batman is also able to glide from heights using his cape and use his grapple gun to ascend short heights or escape to higher ledges. 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 with which Batman can interact, either directly or using various gadgets gained over the course of the game, are also highlighted. In some sections of the game, the detective mode is augmented to detect compounds, fingerprints, and other clues, which are used to direct the player to the next location to explore.
Gadgets include the batarang, an explosive gel compound sprayer and detonator, grappling gun, Batclaw, zip-line launcher and a code sequencer that can be used to disable 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 encouraged 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 out a certain area related to the answer to a riddle and scan it with Batman's visor.Solving these riddles unlocks additional content for the game, including challenge levels that test the player's skill at the game's combat system, as well as character biographies and detailed character trophies. Experience points are gained by solving Riddles and defeating foes; once Batman "levels up", upgrades to Batman's arsenal, armor, and abilities can be selected.
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 that can extend combos. Countering opponents' attacks can also extend a combo; a brief indicator is shown when playing at Easy and Normal 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 his health bar fall too low; when a combat sequence is completed, Batman regains a portion of his health relative to the experience earned in combat. As the game progresses, Batman battles opponents with knives and stun rods 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 obtain firearms.
The player can also employ "Predator"-type tactics through stealth to tilt the odds to 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 gel 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 find other means of taking down opponents with stealth.
The PlayStation 3 version of the game allows players to control Joker on special combat and predator maps, using weapons and attack moves of his own.
The game received high praise from critics, earning a 92% average on GameRankings, a game review aggregator. The game also holds a Guinness World Record for "Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever", with an average score of 91.67 from reviewers. Several awards were given to Arkham Asylum, including a Spike Video Game Award and the Best Game BAFTA Award. A sequel, Batman: Arkham City, was announced at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards and was released in 2011. On May 11, 2010, a Game of the Year version of Arkham Asylum was released in the United States. This edition includes four new challenge maps and is packaged with a pair of glasses which may be used to play the game in 3D on any regular 2D television, using TriOviz, a new kind of anaglyph image technique.
The Joker attacks Gotham City's Mayor's office but is foiled by Batman, who escorts him to Arkham Asylum. Due to a recent fire at Gotham City's Blackgate Prison, many members of the Joker's gang have been temporarily relocated to Arkham. As Batman accompanies the guards taking the Joker inside, the asylum's security is overridden by Harley Quinn, allowing the Joker to escape and take control of the facility. Batman quickly realizes that these events have been part of the Joker's plan and that the Joker had bribed a security guard to help him escape and kidnap Commissioner Gordon. The Joker threatens to detonate bombs scattered around Gotham City should anyone attempt to enter Arkham, forcing Batman to work alone; he is able to rely on Oracle who helps guide him through the asylum over the radio. However, after inhaling a psychotropic gas by Scarecrow, Batman begins to hallucinate, believing that the missing Gordon is dead and that the bodies of his dead parents are talking. After fighting Scarecrow and waking up, he realizes it was all a nightmare and that Gordon is not dead. Afterwards, Batman gains access to a Batcave he created on the island and collects new weapons in the process.
After being rescued from Harley Quinn, Gordon reveals to Batman the location of Bane, who has been experimented on by Dr. Penelope Young, one of the Asylum's doctors. Following a fight with Bane, Batman learns that the Joker is seeking a chemical called Titan created by Dr. Young that is being produced at the asylum. The compound is based on the Venom drug that gives Bane his super strength, though the Titan formula is much more potent. The Joker plans to use the Titan formula on the various Blackgate inmates to create an army of abnormally powerful henchmen.
Batman discovers the location of the Titan formula, but after failing to save Dr. Young, sets out to rescue Warden Quincy Sharp, who has been taken hostage by Quinn. After saving the Warden and defeating Quinn, Batman meets with Poison Ivy to discover the cure to the Titan strain. Ivy reveals that the plants used to synthesize the cure are stored deep in the underground lair of Killer Croc. Before reaching Croc, Batman is attacked once again by the Scarecrow and falls into another hallucinogenic nightmare. He escapes from the nightmare and pursues Scarecrow into Croc's Lair, where Scarecrow is attacked and dragged away by Croc. There, Batman acquires the ingredients for an antidote while avoiding Croc's attacks. Back at the Batcave, Batman only has enough time to synthesize one dose of Titan antidote before Poison Ivy's Titan-infused plants destroy the Batcave's computer.
With the stability of Arkham Island hanging in the balance, Batman ventures to the Botanical Garden to defeat Poison Ivy and prevent further destruction of the island. After destroying the mutated plant life and defeating Ivy, the Joker invites Batman to his "party" at the visitor center. The Joker then reveals that he has recaptured Gordon and attempts to shoot Gordon with a Titan-filled dart. Batman jumps in front of it, taking the injection himself. Batman attempts to resist the change, after which an upset Joker shoots himself with the Titan gun, becoming a massive monster. In his new form, the Joker proudly displays himself to news helicopters and publicly challenges Batman to fight. Batman refuses to change into a Titan monster and uses the antidote on himself. The Joker, confused but amused by his decision, begins his assault on Batman with a slew of henchmen and even fighting him personally. Eventually, Batman defeats The Joker, and all those affected by the Titan strain revert back to their original states. Joker is taken back to his cell and armed Gotham police officers slowly regain control of the asylum. As Batman is leaving Arkham, a call about Two-Face is overheard on the radio. In a post-credits scene, a crate of Titan formula is shown floating in the water when a hand pops out and grabs it.
Batman can perform various combat moves, including expanding his cape and descending onto an opponent, as seen here against Victor Zsasz.
Batman and his allies Oracle and Commissioner Gordon appear in the game. In addition to the Joker, Batman encounters other foes. He must defend himself from an enraged Bane; sneak up on Zsasz before he can harm guards and doctors;battle his way through three hallucinogen-induced nightmares created by the Scarecrow (which show Batman's "worst fears" and nightmares); and silently collect plant samples from Killer Croc's lair.Batman also battles female antagonists Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.The Riddler does not physically appear in the game, but communicates with Batman and challenges him to find the hidden clues he has placed around the island.
Other Batman allies and enemies are presented in the game as character information that can be unlocked from finding the Riddler's clues, often by finding objects or areas based on that character such as a collection of umbrellas (representing The Penguin). Jack Ryder can be heard reporting about the Arkham crisis. Though not visible himself, Mr. Freeze's special frozen cell can be found in-game, with previous mentions to his escape from the asylum; similar cells can be found for characters such as Two-Face and Calendar Man. Clayface makes a small cameo, but never in his true form as he is seen pacing around his cell disguised as other characters, trying to trick the player into releasing him. The body of Ra's al Ghul can be seen in the morgue, however if the player returns to the room later in the game, they find his body missing. Scarface also makes three small cameo appearances, once in one of Scarecrow's hallucinogen-induced nightmares, a second in a display case in Arkham Manor, and a third time alongside the Joker near the end of the game. The Mad Hatter almost appeared in the game, though he was ultimately taken out.
Three voice actors reprise their roles from the DC Animated Universe TV shows. Batman is portrayed by Kevin Conroy,the Joker by Mark Hamill,and Harley Quinn by Arleen Sorkin,who played these parts in Batman: The Animated Series, and most subsequent cartoons. Additionally, veteran voice actors Steven Blum, Cree Summer, Tom Kane, Dino Andrade, Tasia Valenza, Wally Wingert, Fred Tatasciore, and James Horan portray Killer Croc, Dr. Young, Commissioner Gordon, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Bane, and Jack Ryder, respectively.
Development and marketing
The story was written by Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics), while Wildstorm crafted the appearances of the characters.The game is based on the 70-year Batman franchise as a whole rather than being tied to any particular media adaptation. In developing the game combat, Rocksteady originally formed it as a full rhythm action game. It was later set in 2D, which involved colored circles crashing into each other whenever there was a fight; the final system was based on this 2D model.Arkham Asylum runs on Epic Games Unreal Engine 3.The Windows version makes use of Microsoft's Games for Windows service, allowing players to earn gamerscore, and also uses nVidia's PhysX engine for improved physics.This technology allows things such as dynamic per character interaction with paper and leaves, surfaces which can be scratched and chipped, and dynamic destructible cloth elements such as banners and cobwebs.To combat software piracy in the Windows version of the game, developers implemented an anti-piracy measure that disables Batman's glide ability and causes other bugs, thus preventing a player using a pirated game from progressing beyond a certain point.
Although not the first game to implement such countermeasures, Arkham Asylum received media coverage, as it was seen as a novel method of copy protection.
In April 2009 advertisements began appearing in the PlayStation Network service advertising the ability to play as the Joker.
IGN later confirmed that the Joker would be available for the PlayStation 3 as a free download from PlayStation Store,but would only be playable in the challenge maps.PlayStation 3 players can unlock the Batman: Arkham Asylum Batcave Outpost, a personal apartment with displays of Batman's suit, gadgets, the Batmobile, and the Batwing for PlayStation Home.A demo of the game was released on the PlayStation Store on August 6, 2009 and on Xbox Live and PC on August 7, 2009.The Insane Night map pack was released on September 17, 2009 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and features the Totally Insane "FreeFlow" combat map and the Nocturnal Hunter "Predator" map. The second free pack, Prey in the Darkness, was released on September 23, 2009 for PlayStation 3 in the North America, and both consoles in the EU, and features the Heart of Darkness "FreeFlow" combat map and the Hothouse Prey "Predator" map.
A Collector's Edition Batarang Box Set was released by GameStop and Wal-Mart. The package features a 14-inch (36 cm) Batarang, a 50-page character journal, a bonus disc that includes interviews with the voice actors, and the Crime Alley challenge map. The Wal-Mart regular and Collector's Edition's of the game came with a code for an armored Batsuit for use only in the challenge maps. Additionally, a pre-order challenge map from GameStop was announced called Scarecrow Nightmare. It places Batman under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin, causing him to hallucinate and all the enemies to be seen as skeletons.Both codes are included in their respective editions. A Game of the Year Edition was released on March 26, 2010 in Europe, Australia and Japan and in North America on May, 11, 2010. The updated edition features all of the original game, the extra challenge maps Totally Insane, Nocturnal Hunter, Crime Alley, Scarecrow Nightmare, and the ability to play the game in 3D on any regular 2D television using TriOviz stereoscopy glasses.A comic book titled Batman: Arkham Asylum - The Road to Arkham was released along with the game as a pre-order bonus from Amazon.com and has since become a free digital download comic on the PlayStation Network. It was written by Alan Burnett with illustrations by Carlos D'Anda.
A Mac version was released on November 3, 2011 on the Mac App Store.
Arkham Asylum received universal acclaim from critics, and holds a 92.12% at GameRankings, with the PC version, a 91.89% for X360 and 93.07% for PS3.And 92% at Metacritic.GameStats currently holds the game at 9.1/10.The game also holds a Guinness World Record for Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever with an average score of 91.67 from reviews around the world.The previous record holder, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, had an average of 90.0. Two million copies of the game were sold in the first three weeks after release on consoles.
The first review of the game was published by GamesMaster. The magazine awarded Arkham Asylum a 96%.Electric Playground declared that the game "simultaneously breaks the Batman videogame curse, and gets on track to become one of the best games of the year."Game Informer praised the game, stating, "Batman: Arkham Asylum this year's BioShock, not just from the connection established with the world, but from its ability to innovate where new ideas are needed, and moreover, deliver an adventure unlike any other." It was rated 9.5/10.OPM gave Arkham Asylum a 9/10, citing "Arkham Asylum is comfortably the best comic book game that PlayStation's ever had, and is up there with the system's best actioners, full stop." OPM summarized the game as "a class act".
Xbox World 360 scored Arkham Asylum 95%, stating "a massively impressive licensed game."IGN's Greg Miller gave the game a 9.3 out of 10, praising the voice acting, the story and overall gameplay and called it "the greatest Comic Book game of all time."Eurogamer also praised the game, stating "this isn't just the best grown-up Batman game, it's the best superhero game, bar none", and scoring Arkham Asylum with a 9/10.1UP.com's Thierry Nguyen gave the game an A-, stating that developer Rocksteady "manages to combine combat, stealth, storytelling, and cartoon voices into the best digital Batman simulator we've seen to date."GameTrailers praised the game's "little details that truly bring Arkham Asylum to life", and that consumers should "know that this is a game worth playing", giving Arkham Asylum a 9.0/10.
In a more critical review, Zero Punctuation noted that while the game is "quite good" and the "complaints are still just minor fissures", the boss fights "aren't up to much", and the sequence with Killer Croc is "the absolute low point of the whole game".
Arkham Asylum won several awards along with its commercial and critical success, including multiple Game of the Year awards. British game critic Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of The Escapist named Arkham Asylum Game of the Year, and also awarded it the Golden Dog Biscuit Award for Genuinely Best Game of 2009 in his weekly episodic video blog, Zero Punctuation.Game Informer named Arkham Asylum "Game of the Month" in its September 2009 issue.Giant Bomb awarded Arkham Asylum their Multiplatform Game of the Year 2009.Games Radar awarded Arkham Asylum the Game of the Year award, narrowly defeating Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. GameTrailers named the title both Best Action-Adventure Game and Biggest Surprise of 2009.It won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Game of the Year as well.
The game won the "Outstanding Character Performance" (for the Joker), "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design", and "Outstanding Achievement in Adapted Story" awards for the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Animation", "Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition", "Adventure Game of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction", and "Overall Game of the Year".The video game was also nominated for several Game Developers Choice Awards including "Best Game Design", "Best Writing", and "Game of the Year".GameSpot awarded Arkham Best Atmosphere and Best Use of a Creative License in their Best Games of 2009 Awards.Additionally, developer Rocksteady Studios won Studio of the Year at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards.
Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to Arkham Asylum, was developed by Rocksteady Studios, distributed by Warner Bros. and released in October 2011. After Arkham was ravaged by Joker in the first game, Quincy Sharp (now the mayor of Gotham) bought a large area of Gotham City, transformed it into a superprison, and relocated the villains there. Batman must infiltrate Arkham City and shut it down. The sequel features many new heroes and villains not present in the first game, including Catwoman, Ra's al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Two-Face, and Hugo Strange.
Batman : Arkham Asylum - Official Launch Trailer