Batman: Arkham Asylum Updated Hands-On

We travel deeper into the halls of the DC Universe's most famous penitentiary in our latest look at this crime-fighting adventure game.


You couldn't ask for a richer setting than Arkham Asylum in a Batman game. In developer Rocksteady's upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum, you'll be exploring every nook and cranny of Arkham Island as you guide Batman through an adventure fraught with two-fisted action, plenty of detective work, and encounters against some of the caped crusader's best-known villains. This week, we spent some time with a recent build of the game, plunging a bit further into Arkham's depths to see what awaits Batman.

Hands off the paint job, dude.
Hands off the paint job, dude.

By now, you're probably familiar with the opening sequence of the game, which features Batman delivering his archnemesis, The Joker, to the authorities at Arkham. From the outset, however, Joker's capture seems like a setup, and as you guide Batman down the halls of Arkham's entrance with the shackled, cackling Joker in tow, the feeling of impending doom only increases. Eventually, once Joker and Batman are separated, Joker's trap is sprung when he overpowers his guard and escapes into the bowels of Arkham with the help of his trusty sidekick, Harley Quinn, who has taken control of the Asylum's computer-monitoring systems.

From there, Batman kicks it into gear; first, by stomping on some bad guys. The game's fighting controls are as simple as can be: X (on the Xbox 360 version) is for kicking butt, Y is for countering moves and then kicking butt, and B is used to stun an opponent, which gives Batman enough time to collect himself before continuing to kick butt. The simple controls are tied to some truly cool fight animations, with Batman twisting and flipping in midair as he lays out enemies and performing more than a few slo-mo bashes for good measure.

With Joker on the prowl, Batman's problems begin to mount as he travels deeper into Arkham, not the least of which are the guards, whose lives are in danger because of the freed criminals. Freeing the guards will require Batman to make the most of his gear, such as batarangs, which he can toss to stun opponents or activate switches from a long distance, as well as a grappling hook that will turn out to be one of the most effective tools in Batman's array. By aiming and pressing the right bumper, you can shoot the hook to swoop Batman up in midair and let him perch on ledges, which is a perfect vantage point for taking bad guys by surprise. The hook will also save you in desperate situations; for example, when you miss a jump with Batman, a quick press of the RB button will reset you to a safe spot nearby.

The Batman of Arkham Asylum is more than just a fighting machine with loads of cool gadgets; the game plays up his detective aspects as well. For example, when Commissioner Jim Gordon is double-crossed by guards early in the game and hauled away into Harley Quinn's custody, Batman has to track down clues that will lead you to Gordon's whereabouts before Quinn can finish him for good. The first clue involves tracking down the guard who betrayed Gordon. To do so, you first enter detective mode by pressing the left bumper, which then overlays information about Batman's surroundings. When you find a clue on the ground--in this case, the guard's nearly empty bottle of booze--you can investigate it more closely by holding the A button.

With the flask analyzed, Batman can now track the guard's trail by detecting the trace amounts of alcohol in the air. This results in several more encounters with Arkham residents and more opportunities for Batman to save innocent victims before making his way out of Arkham's main entrance building and into the outdoor island. Arkham's main structures are placed around the island, and presumably, you'll visit them all as the game's narrative progresses. Our first goal upon reaching the outdoor area was to rescue the Batmobile, which was under assault by a group of thugs. After dispatching the enemies, Batman grabbed another piece of gear from the Batmobile's trunk, a small pistol that squirted explosive gel, which quickly proved to be handy.

By squirting a small amount of gel on a weak point in a wall (which you can identify by using detective mode), Batman can blast an entrance or use the explosive gel to bring down walls on top of criminals. During one mission--as Batman works to free three doctors that are being held captive in Arkham's medical facility--you'll place the gel on two separate walls and then blow them up in succession, without the bad guys even knowing you were there.

Rescuing those doctors from harm becomes a big part of the next portion of Arkham Asylum's plot. After rescuing a certain Dr. Young from harm, she informs you that there are three other doctors being held captive in the medical facility. Each rescue scenario is a bit different. In one, you're simply beating up waves of thugs; in another, you're blowing up walls with the aforementioned explosive gel; and in a third, you're carefully navigating a room filled with the Joker's patented deadly laughing gas. To save the doctor, Batman must use his batarangs to activate a series of fans in the room that will suck the toxic fumes out.

Having a 'discussion' with Bane.
Having a 'discussion' with Bane.

As the game progresses, you'll lead Batman throughout the many buildings of Arkham, on the trail of Gordon. Eventually, you'll catch up with Harley Quinn, who's holding the Commissioner hostage in a small office overlooking a machine room teeming with the Joker's henchmen. The Joker--true to his prankster namesake--has instructed Harley to execute Gordon on the spot if she even suspects Batman is attempting a rescue. With the threat of Gordon's death hanging in the air, Batman must get stealthy, quietly taking down the bad guys by sneaking up behind them and performing a silent takedown (with a press of the Y button).

After finally sneaking in and knocking Harley out, Batman and Gordon escape. The pair then encounter Batman's muscular nemesis, Bane, who is strung up by the hoses that feed him the venom that grants him his incredible strength, and he is looking decidedly nonthreatening. Bane mentions that Dr. Young, one of the doctors Batman rescued earlier, is responsible for his predicament. Just as he asks for Batman to cut him free, the Joker manages to remotely pump Bane full of venom, which bulks him up and enrages him in the process. A quick boss battle between Batman and Bane (and a few more Arkham inmates thrown in for good measure) follows. After Batman beats Bane, it's off to explore the rest of Arkham Island and discover the connection between the Joker and the mysterious Dr. Young.

That's all we're able to report about Arkham Asylum's plot for now, but there's obviously much more to play and see in the game. Stay tuned for more reports from inside Arkham's confines in the coming months as we lead up to its release in late August.

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Avatar image for centruroides

seem to be as the dark knight is suposed to be...a "normal" super human with a good balance between brute force-agility-speed n his bat-stuff, no movie based! no cartoon based!, this is a DC BATMAN im absolutely getting this game,

Avatar image for gearsofwar98

The graphics look amazing. This going to be the best batman game ever created so far. Can't wait to buy it. It's going to be epic.

Avatar image for jakotatio

two thumbs up. Everything about this game seems spectacular, except the joker, after seeing Heath Ledgers joker in the Dark Knight it is just hard to take the normal comic book joker seriously. When are they going to release the demo on xbox live? target already has a demo, why cant they just put it online yet?

Avatar image for cloud121

the detective mode is so hot authentic batman right there

Avatar image for batmanboy11

Can't wait! I wonder when the demo they claim is coming is coming out.

Avatar image for jokers-R-wild77

I played the demo at target,yes at target and what i played was amazing! the way that batman take's out the bad guys (POW!,Bam!) it look verry cool and they did a great job with his cape,you know how they make it look just like a small cloth thing well in this one the cape cover him it look's verry awesome. all of you batman fan's I really do belive this game is going to kick some ash.................see madness as you know,is like gravity all it takes is a little push Ha HA HA HA HAhaAH!

Avatar image for Skullcraft

Yeah, this game looks really promising.

Avatar image for advocacy

The crowning moment for the Dark Knight! This game will probably be the most realistic Batman game ever made.

Avatar image for malsin187

why so serious....?

Avatar image for rpgnutt

i hope they push it back to add more villains its a prison with batmans most hated enemies why only 5. the game looks great cant wait to play it, might pre-order it but its to many games i want.

Avatar image for rpgnutt

u should not wait for a review from GS because there not always right and you should play the game for your self be your own gamer!!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for redness19

This game is looking extremely good, combat looks flowing and fun, the stealth mechanics look great, VA and presentation seems A+. Good be a contender for best game of the summer or biggest let down.

Avatar image for Gadeos

I'm sure this one's gonna make history baby, can't wait to get it!

Avatar image for jokers-R-wild77

Wow! this game looks so freakin awesome the voices,the grapics and where it take's place....cant breath.... but really its been a great while that a batman game has come out so i hope for the best and ill keep my fingers crosed...bring it on Bane!

Avatar image for slimshady124

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for slimshady124

Already pre-ordered months ago. What took you guys so long? ;)

Avatar image for TheWarrior_94

shabulia: Where did you play a demo?? This game looks awesome and I hope it comes out on the 28th August like it says! NO MORE DELAYING!!!

Avatar image for Night_dude

dude i dont get batman games yes they are sometimes good but they are all the same most of the time and u make 1 thing new and keep it along all the game

Avatar image for shabulia

Played a demo of it... pretty fun.

Avatar image for kvan33

I normally don't give superhero games a second look, but this one is at the top of my list for the summer.

Avatar image for NandoSupes

every time I look at this game,it impresses me more and more. man I might have to pick this one.

Avatar image for SeanD72

This game looks phenominal. The story seems a little conveluted at first but if its done right it should be a great game. Im really looking forward to seeing and hopefuly beating all of Batmans old rivals in this one.

Avatar image for JoeBobKill25

Sounds a lot like the original splinter cell, which was just as awesome. I am sorely tempted to pre-order it. Best part is that none of the inmates or villians "die".. staying true to the non-lethal aspect of Batman.

Avatar image for jokerzrus

Looks good can't wait..already pre-ordered it =D

Avatar image for Petercairns

OMG...i cant wate for this one, finaly a dark looking type of batman game!!

Avatar image for Bringerofpwnage

@ dark_apprentice Unfortunately Spider-man games (in my opinion) are repetitive, boring, and filled with glitches and bugs, and I think that this game finally nails and captures the spirit of what a true Batman game should be like.

Avatar image for ChidoriBoyU

i agree with dark_aprentice

Avatar image for noobsfolife

they're really excited about this. the concept's pretty cool but I don't know, realistically it could be dull.

Avatar image for Vonboon

have to rent it sometime looks fun

Avatar image for Molezzi

I too Pre ordered already!! SO I HOPE IT DOESNT LET ME DOWN!!!!

Avatar image for slayersdeath200

Already preordered special edition oh yea :D:D looks so Awesome

Avatar image for remitertribatov

batman...kaulah idolaku...BATMAN!!!!

Avatar image for remitertribatov


Avatar image for __exoDuS__

this looks so cool for a game! But if you keep going deeper in the story try to advice "spoiling"

Avatar image for Letmekilluplz

The first game was great on PS2 can't wait for a next-gen sequel!

Avatar image for I_am_theOpus

sounds cool, I'm gonna try the demo now. :)

Avatar image for jayc98

Played the demo. It's crazy!

Avatar image for Craze_Maniac

this is damn cool ...i am sure this will be a great game just like we expected ..

Avatar image for beak1313

Holy smokes bane looks crazy!! So far everyone in this game looks awesome!! I can't wait. superb indeed!!

Avatar image for Skullcraft

Spread the word about this game. It's superb!

Avatar image for simonsworld

yea it super duper looking,am excited still

Avatar image for Unheard-Volume

This game just keeps sounding better and better!!!

Avatar image for blu329

it looks so sweet!

Avatar image for Thetrueoverlord

cant wait 4 it 2 come out its gonna be sweet

Avatar image for RedReckoning

Arkham Asylum looks so amazing!! Predator mode looks tasty and I like how you'll be able to use all his gadgets. This is gonna be sweet.

Avatar image for Skullcraft

Can't wait for Arkham Asylum!

Avatar image for Mr_Fujiv1

getting this for my birthday =]

Avatar image for DefiantDeer

hahah awesome. According to that IMDB site Mark Hamill is voicing the Joker. "but I was going into Tosche station to pick up some power converters"

Avatar image for Joshuayeah