Spotlight On: Batman: Arkham Asylum PC (With PhysX)

We just had a chance to look at the PC version of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the recently released console game starring the caped crusader himself. While the console version of the game has a lot to offer, it seems like the PC version will have even more, especially if you're running Nvidia...

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We just had a chance to look at the PC version of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the recently released console game starring the caped crusader himself. While the console version of the game has a lot to offer, it seems like the PC version will have even more, especially if you're running Nvidia hardware. Be advised that this story may contain spoilers.

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Get ready for explosive special effects in the PC version of Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The demonstration we watched took place on a machine with video cards set up in SLI. While users with lower-end setups will be able to enjoy some of the higher-end graphical effects, Nvidia suggests that the best way to enjoy all the graphical bells and whistles, particularly the game's implementation of PhysX, is to have an SLI setup with one card rendering graphics and the other set to handle the in-game physics. To have the best experience, the hardware manufacturer also recommends you use its handy-dandy 3D vision goggles, which have additional depth-of-field and out-of-screen effects similar to other games that support it, like Resident Evil 5.

We sat through a demonstration of some of the earlier levels in the game, which showed the way that the PhysX rendering will enhance all particle effects, while 3D vision will make them pop out of the screen. Batman looks good beating the stuffing out of thugs, but when the time comes to pry a grille out of a wall, the bolts will pop out of the screen, and the cobwebs in the air vent will sway procedurally to and fro. Batman uses his grapnel to vault up onto gargoyles in the shadows, and bits of stone and rubble go bouncing out of the walls each time the hook hits home.

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Batman, his enhanced volumetric fog, and all his PC-exclusive special effects will ship out on September 15.

The physics rendering provides a lot of subtle visual effects, but there are also parts of the game where they're used to great effect. At one point, Batman rescues a team of Arkham therapists who have been gassed by the Scarecrow, who appears in the game as a gaunt figure with glowing eyes and syringes for fingers. It soon becomes clear that Batman has also been gassed as he begins to hallucinate about a dead Commissioner Gordon, the corpses of his parents returning to cuss him out, and an eventual attack by a giant-sized Scarecrow. This last encounter takes place in a hallucination-enhanced version of the asylum's morgue, where the walls and ceiling and floor have been all but torn away, and the room floats in midair. As regular-sized Batman, you need to sneak around the shattered room without attracting your enemy's attention to get to a bat-signal flood light and shine it on him to banish him, constantly staying on the move by hopping across floating floor fragments to avoid his gaze. In the meantime, surgical instruments and dozens of wall tiles swirl dramatically in the air as the gigantic Scarecrow peers over the fragments of the wall trying to hunt you down. The effect of the floating debris is pretty spectacular, and it's a shame it'll be exclusive to the PC version, which is scheduled for release on September 15.

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