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Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
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Batman: Arkham Asylum (360,PC,PS3)

The Dark Night

Batman and videogames have not had the most romantic of outings as even the most highly praised iterations of the caped crusader end up being nothing more than run of the mill, middle of the road, average games that you really don’t want to boast about being in your collection. That is until Rocksteady got their hands on the near 70 year old franchise, the previews certainly looked incredibly promising, but is the Dark Knight’s new outing a must have, or something to fear for all the wrong reasons.

There’s a doin a transpiring

Batman has captured the Joker, albeit under rather pedestrian circumstances and is hand delivering him to Gotham City’s institution for criminals and the insane, Arkham Asylum. Once left under the control of the in house guards and watching from the confines of a security room, Batman can only watch on as the laughing man breaks free of his bondage and releases the inmates of Arkham. Yes the Joker letting himself being caught was all an elaborate scheme to get Batman within the confines of the Asylum, full of inmates who are dying to get even with the man who put them there in the first place. After locking off the island, and in partnership with Commissioner Gordon sets out to put all the inmates back in their cells, rope in the Joker and set everything straight.


New York is that a way man!

Not only is the Joker the mastermind behind the most daring move against Batman, but he has a whole Asylum at his disposal and a group of some of the most dangerous super villains in history, be it the cunning Bane, the femme fatale Poison Ivy, the savage monster Croc, or the strangely sexy Harley Quinn, all of which have had a make over and look quite stunning. Batman is quite well designed, with a culmination of the classic look combined with one very aggressive face mask (and chin to match) as well as some solid armour on his gauntlets and boots. Joker as well has had a bit of work done, with his slender frame, insane face and trademark pointy chin. Harley however has seen the most radical change, representing that of a Halloween sexy nurse and will no doubt be quite the fan favourite. Gone are the days of the Bat 2 C and pure West muscles, this is one serious grown up affair.

It’s all in the mind

Joining Sam Fisher in the third person sleuth em up we take charge of Bats after losing the Joker and from the third person perspective are immediately thrown into his combat shoes against two rather simple goons which introduces us to what must be the most simple of combat engines to get a grip of. There are only two buttons which we really need to worry ourselves with, the attack and counter button. Wailing on the attack button will see Bats unleash his fury on whoever is closest to him until he either knocks them down to the ground temporarily stunning the baddy, or when prompted to with some rather obvious lightning bolts on top of an attackers head, a simple click of the counter button will see Bats counter with ease.


“Left, Right, Left, Right......this modelling thing is hard”

Once a foe has been temporarily knocked out it won’t be long before he wakes up, this is where the finishing techniques come into play, simply hold down a contextual button while making a counter attack, Bats will jump onto a downed opponent and knock him out once and for all. This opens him up for attack, which is where combo chains becomes the main objective of combat. Once Bats opens up a combo chain high enough, he can make an instant unblockable take down and continue his combat chain later. If you manage to get hit however, your chain will be broken, effectively making combat take all the while longer. It certainly is a simple system, almost too simple but it works so effectively and keeps the flow of the game. If you find the combat too easy however, try the hardest difficulty, as it removes any of the prompts, leaving

Full on combat as fun as it is however is only a small component of a well oiled machine, with the main body being utilisation of the environment, and a myriad of Batman’s utilities, a dynamic duo intended to be used to strike fear into the hearts of your prey and when used right, makes you feel like a true force to be reckoned with. Zip-line to a gargoyle in the shadowed rafters of an arena gives you a birds eye view as to how you wish to initiate your stealthy attack on some unsuspecting thugs. The brilliant thing is with the amount of tools on hand, be they explosives, batarangs, silent takedowns, noise traps or the ever so reliable inverted takedown there are plenty of methods to clear any room, all without ever making yourself visible to your foes. Its executing your well thought plan of attack however that makes things all the more rewarding, especially with Joker barking over the announcement speakers telling his goons to look up. Hilariously they never listen.

Arkham Asylum is mostly a linear affair, planted in a semi sandbox style environment, begging to be explored. To help find any clues along the way, such as finger prints, alcohol or pipe smoke, allowing Batman to follow a trail to his next objective. This detective mode can also be utilized to see through walls and to spot out any thugs in the next room. Arguably this mode can be over used, effectively reducing the difficulty making life easier for the gamer, but to rely so heavily on having x-ray vision diminishes the impact or sense of accomplishment. This detective mode is also required to solve the Riddler’s Riddle challenge of every room, where the Dark Knight must find and decipher a riddle which unlocks bonus artworks, biographies, character models or extra challenges for the challenge mode outside of the main story. It pays to explore and to discover some of these extras, especially the interview tapes of Arkhams inmates, all of which paint a sordid picture of the activities of the rough institution and an even more disturbing insight into the sick minds of those who populate its cells.


“Stupid novelty jam openers”

I got news for ya, this aint makeup!


Pushing the Unreal Engine to its limits Rocksteady have created an absolute visual tour de force, even though it does carry some overly common traits that come with the most popular engine of this era. Never the less it looks stunning, not only are the environments masterfully crafted and incredibly detailed, with some brilliant texturing and moody lighting, it’s the character models that truly push the limit of what we thought a game can produce. Not only are the designs of each character truly magnificent, but the technical execution is absolutely superb. Not only are the models large, colourful and brilliantly animated, the intricate facial details are so good you’d be hard pressed to believe that the whole game isn’t some pre-rendered video, they truly are stunning. PC gamers get a bit of extra frosting with the inclusion of PhysX, which drive the movement of Bats cape, any destructible walls, enhance the character ragdolls, generally making everything looks all the more real. The only real flaw, apart from the obvious Unreal Engine traits is the slow motion knockouts which only highlight any imperfections in the animations.

The audio also keeps up the with the stellar high production values and delivers some of the best voice acting seen this year. Mark Hamill reprises his role as the Joker and has a field day doing it, delivering a performance which goes far beyond the boundaries of the quite solid script and once again makes him a character you can’t help but be infatuated with. Kevin Conroy as Batman also reprises his role from the animated series and too delivers some solid work, not to mention the supporting cast all make their characters feel larger and more alive than the polygons that drive their movement.
That wasn’t in my utility belt

The development time may have been set back by a few months to polish any bugs certainly has done wonders for Arkham as it is awfully hard to find any faults with the game without sounding like a nitpicking hardcore comic fan. As I mentioned before, there are a few minor problems with the slow motion animations looking a bit poor when it comes to collisions, clipping and missing gaps in animation, or the generic look of the Unreal Engine, or the odd occasional low res texture, but when it comes to brass tax Arkham Asylum is one truly polished well executed title save for one rather obvious issue, the combat against bosses, namely Bane, the mastermind who broke the back of the Dark Knight. All this battle boils down to is wait for him to run at you, hit him with a batarang, jump out of the way and watch him run face first into a concrete wall, open to attacks. It seems like a cheap cop out considering the pedigree of the character and one that could have been handled with a bit more cerebral activity. Never the less, this is still one insanely well produced game.


*High-Five*

Boy Wonder

So for the first time in history, Rocksteady have managed to take the Batman liscence and push it to the absolute limit, delivering a solid story, excellent character design, polished gameplay that will last you quite a long time and enough goodies to keep you interested in exploring every nook and cranny of the island. Arkham Asylum truly is one not to miss out on.

Visuals: 96
Audio: 97
Gameplay: 90
Overall: 96


The best Batman game ever and one of the best games this year, here’s hoping Rocksteady let us loose in Gotham itself in the next game.
 

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The one and only
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3,660 Posts
though i dont agree on the score, +1 for the well written review
 

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Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
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7,828 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I got it on PC. I was quite amazed considering my humble P7350 and 9600GT could push everything to high and the game was still extremely playable. Wasn't silky smooth but was very playable.
 

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Registered
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Great review, it is a great game. If only more superhero games could be this good and on the PC!
 

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From Love and Limerence
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6,574 Posts
Excellent review, and excellent game. I'm just finishing it up now.

I pretty much agree with most of it. I never noticed it about the animations until you mentioned it, but there not really bad. I have no issues with the "generic" visuals, and it surprised me that you called them that.

I only have two real gripes with the game.

The first is, the AI is overly stupid. They lose track of where you are almost instantly if you grapple above and then to a second or third gargoyle, and they often aren't aware enough as they should of where you are. It is on medium though, but it feels like easy except on a few parts, which feel like medium. I was contemplating going with hard the first time through (it forces you to slow down and do a few things over a few times, making it last longer), but I went with medium. It wasn't short, but I was hoping it'd be just a little longer.

The second is the music, which isn't bad, but isn't superb either (the voice acting, however, is). The music does fit the game though.

Also, for some reason, the FPS on drops to ~30 (29 exact) after a few minutes if I have PhysX on. It doesn't matter if I'm looking straight at the ceiling or a pack of foes, it stays at 29FPS. Before this drop, the frame rate is alright, so I'm not sure what is going on. I've read others having the problem with no real fix (messing with configuration files for the texture streaming, but my problem was fixed by disabling PhysX). With PhysX off, I get a frame rate nearly constant with my refresh rate at least 3/4 of the time. This has forced me to play with PhysX off, much to my disappointment.

Overall though, it's definitely a top game this year, in my opinion.
 

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Premium Member
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Also, for some reason, the FPS on drops to ~30 (29 exact) after a few minutes if I have PhysX on. It doesn't matter if I'm looking straight at the ceiling or a pack of foes, it stays at 29FPS. Before this drop, the frame rate is alright, so I'm not sure what is going on. I've read others having the problem with no real fix (messing with configuration files for the texture streaming, but my problem was fixed by disabling PhysX). With PhysX off, I get a frame rate nearly constant with my refresh rate at least 3/4 of the time. This has forced me to play with PhysX off, much to my disappointment.
I remember having that issue with older drivers. Haven't had that issue with the newer drivers. Although I do run Physx on a dedicated 8800gt..
 

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From Love and Limerence
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6,574 Posts
If I remember right, that was on 190.xx, the second newest official ones at the time. I'm back on 182.50 now. They're old enough to where Batman Arkham Asylum complains that they should be updated, but they run fluidly with PhysX off. I haven't tried it on, but strangely, now when I go to turn it on, Batman Arkham Asylum gives a message saying something along the lines about my hardware doesn't even support hardware PhysX and how performance will be severely reduced? What the hell? not sure if it's because the drivers are older, but that'd be a weird reason. Surely the game worked with PhysX in development with older drivers. I never tried turning it on though.

I'd like to add my old 8600GTS OC in as a dedicated PPU, but the fan on that thing makes such a racket (plus I'm not entirely sure offhand if a dedicated 8600GTS would be much faster, if any, than a 8800GT alone).
 

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God of Douchebagness™
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im using 181.20 with the latest physx update and all im getting is the old driver performance warning (ironic since it runs fine for me with no frame rate drops despite that), nothing about not having hardware physx support though.
 

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The Hunter
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I'd like to add my old 8600GTS OC in as a dedicated PPU, but the fan on that thing makes such a racket (plus I'm not entirely sure offhand if a dedicated 8600GTS would be much faster, if any, than a 8800GT alone).
I think I read that with a card of 8600GT level it is a worthwhile addition for dedicated physics. Any lower was not advised.
 

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Heroes Might& Magic Champ
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Sorry for the late response. Wow fantasticly written review snicko. You should have a part time job as a game reviewer.

After reading that, i definitely gotta pick up this game.
 
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