In previous discussions about their game Batman: Arkham Asylum, both developers Rocksteady Studios and co-publishers Eidos Interactive and Warner Brothers Interactive have talked about how the game wasn’t just a brawler, but had elements of stealth and detective work as well. But it wasn’t until the WB had a preview event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago that we got to see these latter elements in action.
In one of the two sections of the game they showed up, Batman enters a library where some bad guys are holding two people hostage. But rather than just jump down and start cracking skulls, the developer had Batman do his best Sam Fisher impression. While perched high above his adversaries, Batman used noise and other distraction techniques to his advantage, getting bad guys to wander off by themselves where, like sexually active teens at Camp Crystal Lake, he would pick them off one by one until they were all immobilized or unconscious. And then he saved the day.
Of course it helped that Bats has his always handy utility belt, as well as some different filters on his cowl’s eyepieces that helped identify things in the room he could use. It’s not for nothing that the person running the demo likened this part to the movie The Predator (which makes us wish Rocksteady would next make a Predator game).
The next part of the demo was largely shown to illustrate how Batman is a world class brawler. Which, of course, is a given for any Batman game, though in this one he does get a bit more brutal, a bit more bar fighter, than he has in other games. But this part — in which Batman drops in on some guys who are trying to trash his ride, and then has to locate Commissioner Gordon — was also included to show off how Batman’s detective skills would be a part of the game as well. Granted, they mostly did this by showing how he could use the aforementioned lenses in his cowl to locate footprints that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye, kind of like you did in the first Condemned, but it was still more interesting than just having Oracle say, “He’s over to the right. No, you’re other right.”
But the most striking thing about Arkham Asylum is how Rocksteady, Eidos, and Warners aren’t shying away from the dark version of Batman. The gritty graphics not only recall the character’s recent biopic The Dark Knight, but also the art deco/goth feel of Batman: The Animated Series (a fitting motif given that Bats, The Joker, and Harley Quinn are all voiced in the game by the same actors who did their voices for that show: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin, respectfully).
Even cooler, it looks like the game will actually fulfill the promise made by the Batman Begins game four years ago, which was going to be like a Splinter Cell but with Batman, but wussed out at the last moment. We’ll know for sure when Arkham is released on the 360, PS3, and PC at the end of the summer.