Over the years, there have been several Batman games on various platforms; while some are better than others, they’ve mostly been average. So far most of them have eschewed the darker side of the Caped Crusader’s mythology. However, since the success of the last two Nolan movies and their characteristic tenebrous feel, it is apparent that the public is not just after safe, comic-styled interpretations. Rocksteady Studios is bringing us a deeper, more visceral game based on the 70-year-strong Batman storyline with a new third-person action title. Many significant industry names are associated with the project, hopefully ensuring that Batman: Arkham Asylum will be innovative yet faithful to the franchise. Those familiar with the animated series will recognise plenty of voices – Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy and others lend their talents to the game characters.
The game takes place in the infamous Arkham Asylum – Batman has captured the Joker at last, and is in the process of ensuring his incarceration. However, things go awry and the green-haired maniac escapes while you watch on helplessly. You find yourself trapped in the building with no choice but to hunt the Joker down once more. This won’t be easy, as he has an army of freed psychotic inmates at his disposal, and the assistance of Harley Quinn. Other antagonists include Killer Croc and the nihilistic Victor Zazsz, both long-time residents. Other regular “guests” of the Asylum will no doubt make appearances, but you’ll have to play the game to find out who. All of the villains have undergone minor cosmetic changes to make them better suited to the game’s gloomy and visceral character, but the developers have worked closely with DC to ensure that they are all in keeping with the comics.
Arkham Asylum itself is not quite as intimidating and twisted as some of the comics have portrayed, but is nevertheless presented as a dismal and foreboding structure. The Joker and his underlings have scrawled their marks all over the establishment, and as you make your way through he will constantly taunt you over the asylum’s PA system. This is not confined to just Batman – the Joker happily mocks his underlings whenever they find themselves at your mercy.