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Batman: Arkham Asylum puts you behind the cowl of the iconic Dark Knight, fighting his way through Arkham Asylum to stop the Joker from enacting a sinister plot that would have grave consequences for Gotham City.
The story for Batman: Arkham Asylum was written by Paul Dini, the writer, producer, and editor for Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. However, inspiration for the game and its ideas draws from the 1989 Grant Morrison graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
Before the game begins, depicted in a limited-release comic book put out as a promotional tool, the Joker starts a fire at BlackgatePenitentiary and invades GothamTown Hall, which results in his capture at the hands of Batman. The fire at Blackgate forces authorities to transfer the Blackgate prisoners to Arkham Asylum. Batman begins the game by escorting the Joker through the hallways and corridors of the mental hospital itself, passing some of the facility's inmates along the way, most notably a vicious Killer Croc, who is seen shackled in heavy chains and surrounded by multiple guards. Eventually, Batman hands the Joker over to the guards and orderlies of Arkham and shares his concerns with Commissioner Gordon. Batman is uneasy because the Joker essentially allowed himself to be caught.
Still suspicious, Batman watches from an observation room as the Joker is escorted by the Arkham staff to be incarcerated, but escapes his restraints, at which point it is revealed that the Joker's equally psychotic sidekick and quasi-girlfriend, Harley Quinn, has total control over the asylum's extensive security system. The Joker taunts Batman for falling into his trap and flees deeper into the asylum, as the Blackgate prisoners, who are revealed to be in collusion with Joker, are freed from their cells.
As Batman travels further through the facility, he finds that Victor Zsasz has escaped confinement and taken a guard hostage. Batman uses stealth to knock out Zsasz without causing collateral damage. A bit later, Batman hears about Arkham guard Frank Boles, who has been working for the Joker, and has now helped him escape. Within the observation room, Batman picks up a flask of alcohol dropped by Boles and syncs his cowl vision to detect trace amounts of alcohol in the air from Boles' breath. His trail leads Batman back to the entrance of Intensive Care, where he find Boles has been murdered, his corpse left on a cot upright with green paint around his mouth, and a sign on his chest reading, "Dead End." Immediately after, a familiar voice comes over Batman's earpiece in the form of the Riddler, who, though not physically present at the Asylum, had previously set-up a little game in the Asylum and the surrounding island, should Batman choose to accept it. This opens up "The Riddler's Challenge" section of the game, where the player may follow clues in each area to discover hidden trophies, biographies, audio logs, etc. Batman immediately starts a trace program and continues after the Joker.
Batman soon hears that the Joker claims to have placed bombs throughout the city, and is threatening to detonate these bombs if anyone outside Arkham Island tries to enter. Also, he discovers that Joker has abducted Commissioner Gordon, and instructed Harley to hold him as a prisoner.
Before Batman can reach the room where Harley is keeping Gordon, he is confronted by Scarecrow, who uses his fear gas to make Batman believe that Gordon was killed. He also hallucinates the bodies of Thomas and Martha Wayne, his dead parents, inside of body bags in a morgue. As Batman exits the room, he finds himself inside a nightmarish world along with Scarecrow, who has taken on a monstrous, gigantic form. Batman defeats Scarecrow, which allows him to escape the drug induced vision and back to reality. He then locates and disables Harley Quinn, frees Gordon, and barely survives a surprise encounter with Bane by remotely ordering the Batmobile to run him over.
Batman heads to a secondary Batcave he built on the island some time ago to analyze data provided by Oracle on Dr. Penelope Young, one of the chief architects of the Titan program. Young was experimenting on prisoners using a heavily-modified form of Venom, the drug that gives Bane his power, in order to increase the toxin’s potency and can transform anyone similarly to the way it effects Bane, though stripping away their intelligence, leaving them a mindless, aggressive monster. Batman leaves for Arkham Mansion to find Dr. Young, who had returned there with Aaron Cash to recover her research notes.
After entering the mansion, Batman learns from Oracle that funding received by Young came from the Joker, but Young attempted to back out of the deal—which caused Joker to formulate his plan to break into Arkham and steal the Titan formula. Batman reaches Young’s office, but the doctor has already been captured. By isolating her recent fingerprints, the Dark Knight is able to track Young to a library. He finds her research notes hidden in a book and destroys them, then continues to track the doctor to warden Sharp’s office.
Young is being held prisoner by a newly re-escaped Mr. Zsasz, but Batman successfully knocks him out and frees Young. Penelope informs Batman that she worked out of a lab in the Botanical Gardens, but is promptly killed by a booby trap left by the Joker. Batman uses a piece of Sharp’s cane to bypass the security doors and enter the cell block. He meets an imprisoned Poison Ivy, who is deeply distraught over the “pain” she feels from the local plants, which are being trampled and burned as the prisoners run wild across the island. Batman rescues warden Sharp and tracks down Harley Quinn, dispatching her guards and locking her in an isolation cell.
The Dark Knight uses Quinn’s fingerprints to locate the Titan lab in the Botanical Gardens. He confronts the Joker and engages in a fierce battle with a pair of Joker’s thugs injected with Titan. Batman succeeds in destroying the production facility, however, and seeks out Ivy to help create an antidote for the Titan.
Ivy, having been released from her cell by Quinn, sends Batman to Killer Croc’s lair to collect spore samples. While Batman is in transit, Joker injects Ivy with Titan, causing her plants to wreak havoc throughout the island. After meeting Cash in Arkham Mansion to determine the location of Croc’s lair, Batman returns to Intensive Treatment and is once again attacked by Scarecrow. The Dark Knight resists the evil doctor’s toxin long enough to enter Croc’s lair, where the rabid criminal attacks Scarecrow and drags him into the sewers.
Batman journeys through Croc’s lair and gathers spore samples, all the while avoiding Croc’s repeated attacks. Once he has collected enough samples, Batman makes his escape by blowing up a section of the floor and plunging Killer Croc into the bowels of Arkham. Batman returns to the Batcave to formulate the Titan antidote, but is forced the leave prematurely after the cave is attacked by Ivy’s mutated plants. The World’s Greatest Detective heads back to the Botanical Gardens for a final confrontation with Ivy.
On his way through the sewers, Batman learns that Joker is filling the reservoir with Titan and plans to pump it into the Gotham River, contaminating the city’s water supply and transforming most of Gotham City's residents into vicious Titan mutants. Batman succeeds in shutting down the pumps that control the water flow and continues to the gardens to take care of Ivy. The deranged villainess confronts Batman from within a giant, carnivorous plant. Eventually, the Dark Knight succeeds in blasting Ivy out of her pod and injecting her with the Titan antidote, causing the plants that have infected the island to wither and die.
With only one loose end left to tie, Batman is invited by Joker to his “party,” where Batman is set to be the guest of honour. After defeating a number of Joker’s thugs, the Clown Prince of Crime reveals that he has again captured Commissioner Gordon. He tries to shoot Gordon with a Titan-filled dart, but Batman dives in front of the bolt and takes it himself. Despite the Joker's encouragement to turn into a monster, Batman manages to fight off the transformation through sheer force of will. Joker, frustrated that his perfect night has been ruined by Batman, injects himself with Titan, transforming into a pale monstrosity with razor-sharp claws and a wicked green Mohawk.
The Joker brings Batman and Gordon to the roof, where they battle in an electrified combat ring. Batman uses the last of the antidote on himself, leaving Joker in his transformed state and forcing them to do battle mano-a-mano. Eventually, Batman succeeds in eliminating the Joker with an explosive punch to the face, leaving the insane criminal to be carted away by Arkham security (after the transformation wore off, that is) and put back in his cell. As the night ends, the Titan-infused inmates begin to return to normal and the escaped prisoners are locked up. Gordon is reunited with his daughter via radio and thanks Batman for his service to the city. The Dark Knight climbs into the Batwing and flies off into the night, ready to face whatever evils Gotham throws his way.
A post-credit shot features a box of Titan floating in the bay, where the hand of either Bane, Scarecrow, or Killer Croc reaches up from the water and grasps the box.
Batman: Arkham Asylum's gameplay focuses on the three key concepts that the title character is most famous for: his prowess in hand-to-hand melee combat, silent elimination of enemies from the shadows, and genius skills in investigation, which have earned him the title "the world's greatest detective."
The combat in the game relies on players combining different movements and attacks to help them take down a small and large groups of enemies in a free flowing and fluid combo system that allows players to pick and choose between targets at will. For example, stunning an enemy by swiping them in the face with Batman's cape will give the player time to counter an incoming attack from another enemy, which may result in Batman delivering a takedown maneuver with some gymnastic style as he moves to deal with the next enemy. Combining attacks, stuns and counters allows players some diversity in how they handle multiple enemies and combat in general.
Additionally, the combat contains some RPG elements in the form of experience points which are gathered by fighting and performing various combos. Accumulating experience points helps towards upgrading Batman's arsenal of gadgets and obtaining more advanced fighting techniques. There is a circular meter running underneath the health bar which fills up as the player gains experience points, so players are aware how close they are to their next opportunity to level-up. The health bar appears only during combat and will replenish itself whenever Batman gains experience points; nearly all enemy encounters will reward enough XP at the end of the fight to fully replenish Batman's health, but there are a very small amount of environmental hazards that can damage Batman and then leave him with no immediate way to regain his health.
A stealth gameplay mechanic is featured in certain sections of the game, but the player is encouraged to do more than simply avoid contact with enemies. The stealth gameplay has been dubbed "predatory" gameplay, where the player's goal is to intimidate and strike fear into their enemies, to hunt them from the shadows rather than merely hiding from them as in the traditional stealth genre. Players may eliminate enemies using silent takedowns, explosions, and environmental fixtures such as gargoyles, fragile walls and glass ceilings.
Players can use the bodies of enemies or their cries for help to attract the attention of other enemies in the area (or, later in the game, special collars that create an alarm as soon as an enemy is unconscious). This can allow Batman to slip through a doorway without being noticed, or stalk and lay a trap for enemies that have come to inspect a fallen comrade's body .
Players will be able to use Batman's visor and turn on Detective Mode, which will tint the screen blue and highlight points of interest such as door switches that Batman can interact with. Detective Mode also identifies enemies, even if they are behind cover and informing the player whether the enemy is armed, or about to attack. Using the visor will provide players with a tactical advantage and the ability to plan out a course of action before engaging enemies in combat. The visor also identifies vulnerable areas in the environment that Batman may interact with using his various gadgets, allowing the player to complete the various puzzle solving aspects of the game as well. Detective Mode was one of the few points of the game that was met with criticism, as leaving it on at all times was the most straightforward way to play the game, but left the player viewing the world with a blue, artificial tint, with the carefully modelled features of enemies obscured by the image of their skeletons.
Batman collects a multitude of gadgets throughout the game, many of which may be utilized both in combat and exploration.
The Grapnel Gun is a gas-powered pistol that fires a piton attached to a high-tension wire, which has the ability to retract that line while accommodating the weight of the user. It has the ability to penetrate or affix itself to most surfaces and provide a stable anchor for the Dark Knight to elevate himself to a more desirable position.
One of Batman's signature devices, the Batarang is a boomerang-like throwing weapon shaped like a bat. The player begins the game with a single Batarang. During exploration, the Batarang may be used to stun enemies that are not aware of Batman's presence, to activate otherwise inaccessible buttons, or to cut down hanging enemies. During combat, striking an enemy with a Batarang stuns them for a brief time, allowing Batman to continue a combo or move on to another foe. The Batarang may be upgraded over the course of the game into the Double- and then Multi-Batarang, eventually allowing Batman to carry and throw up to three Batarangs simultaneously. A fully-upgraded Multi-Batarang may be used to stun up to three enemies at a time.
The Sonic Batarang is a separate Batarang that can be used to attract the attention of guards. Rather than being used to bludgeon and stun enemies, the Sonic Batarang will emit a loud, high-pitched noise once it is embedded in a surface, drawing the attention of curious guards to the area, making it the perfect bait for traps utilizing the Explosive Gel. However, even the Joker's henchmen aren't stupid enough to fall for the same trick more than once, and if a second Sonic Batarang is used in the same Invisible Predator sequence, the guards will simply shoot it from a distance and mock Batman. Once upgraded, the Sonic Batarang can overload the suicide collar of a nearby enemy, knocking him out as well as stunning any nearby enemies.
The Batclaw is a strong grappling hook that Batman can use to pull far away objects towards him. It may also be used to grab enemies and remove ventilation ducts. The Batclaw is later upgraded such that three ropes are used to grab things allowing for Batman to break walls from a distance, or alternately, to grab onto three enemies at once.
The Explosive Gel, as its name implies, is a jelly-like substance that Batman can spray onto walls and floors, and remotely explode later when he chooses to do so. It has three charges and so only three Explosive Gels can be planted at one time. A later upgrade allows Batman to individually explode a planted gel independently of any other planted gels. Although the Dark Knight is almost always a grim, stoic defender of justice, he shows a rare moment of whimsy while using the Explosive Gel; when placing a gel charge on a floor or wall, he sprays it in the shape of a bat.
The Line Launcher is a gas-powered pistol that fires two pitons in opposite directions attached to high-tension wires. Whereas the Grapnel Gun is designed to quickly move the user to a higher position in the environment, this device is concerned with the quick traversal of lateral obstacles. The two pitons bury themselves in parallel objects and allow the user to "zip" between the two points, after which the pitons release and the lines wind back into the device.
The Riddler's Challenge
Optionally, Batman can collect trophies hidden by Edward Nigma a.k.a. the Riddler, by solving various riddles. In addition to trophies, Batman may find interview tapes of the key villains and hidden plaques from "The Spirit of Arkham" that Batman can translate, illuminating the dark history of Arkham Asylum. When Riddler hacks into Batman's communications, Batman immediately begins a trace program.
During the course of the game, Riddler taunts Batman, dismissing his skills as a detective and accusing him of cheating when he solves his riddles. When the player completes 237 of the 240 challenges, a display appears telling Batman the location in Gotham from which Riddler is transmitting. Upon completing the 240th challenge, the Riddler again contacts Batman, angry that the Dark Knight has beaten him. In the background, the player can hear sirens approaching, and before Riddler can complete his supposed backup plan, the police move in and arrest him.
In addition to the 240 main collectibles, there is a hidden message from the spirit of Arkham. This message is only available after finding all of the messages highlighted as Riddler challenges. After identifying all the spirit of Arkham plaques, if Batman returns to the guard control tower in the penitentiary, where Warden Sharpe was kept, the warden is missing and replaced with the final Spirit of Arkham message on the floor. Collecting this unlocks the final message from the Spirit of Arkham in the biographies, and hints at a possible plot point in the sequel.
Combat and Predator Challenges
Collecting and solving Riddler Challenges unlocks 16 arenas outside of the campaign, divided equally between combat and predator modes. In the combat arenas, the player is pitted against enemies over four rounds, the goal being to rack up as many points as possible. How many points the player is able to achieve dictates how many medals are awarded out of a possible three.
In the predator arenas, the player has to take out the armed foes by using his cunning skills coupled with the smart use of gadgets. Successfully taking out enemies in certain ways, for example pulling an enemy over a railing, will count towards the number of medals gained.
The number of medals, combat scores and the time used to complete the predator challenges goes towards unlocking specific trophies/achievements, as well as being listed on a global leaderboard.
During the game of the year podcast, Rocksteady announced that they had hid "many hooks" that tie into the "Arkham-verse" including a hidden room inside of Warden Quincy Sharp's office. The room contained a map of Gotham that has a section quarantined and concept art for the sequel, Batman: Arkham City. It went undiscovered for months because it was not visible on the map, took three explosives to destroy the wall sealing the room, and cannot be seen using detective vision.
Modifying the Game
When the demo for Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, many players found out how to modify their Batman character. Players could quickly create their own Batman suit, in any way they could think of. The Rocksteady website had all of the information to change the suit. It is totally legal, and the developers allowed players to use the program called, "texmod", to create a different variant of Batman's suit. Obviously, this modifying can only be done on the PC version of the game. Many players have created Batman Beyond, Red Robin, Adam West Batman, Nightwing, Owlman, Batzarro, Captain America, Batman of Zur En Arrh, and many other variant of Batman's suit. So to see what other players have created, the mind is only the limit while creating a suit. There is a step-by-step information that will allow anyone to create their own Bat Suit.
Special Combo Throw
Allows Batman to perform an unblockable grab and throw after achieving a combo score of x8. Can be directed to inflict damage on multiple targets. Batman can continue to chain attacks after a special combo move.
Special Combo Takedown
Allows Batman to perform an unblockable instant takedown after achieving a combo score of x8. Batman can continue to chain to chain attacks after a Special Combo move.
Special Combo Boost
Allows Special Combo Moves to be executed after achieving a combo score of x5 instead of x8.
Powers up the Batarang during combos so that it can be used to knock down thugs.
Critical Combo Strikes
Doubles the power of normal combo strikes when strikes are timed perfectly. Increases combo score by x2 for each strike, allowing for quicker activation of Special Combo Moves.
Allows Batman to swoop down and grab assailants as they pass under gargoyles and leave them strung up underneath.
Armor Upgrade v1
Military grade spun gara-aramid fibers molded into the Batsuit chest piece provide greater protection from attack. Adds an extra 1/4 to Batman's health bar.
Armor Upgrade v2
Super lightweight nano-engineered polymer plating incorporated into the Batsuit creates a more resilient out shell. Adds another 1/4 to Batman's health.
Armor Upgrade v3
Ultra strong micro plating developed by WayneTech, layered between the regular armor and the undersuit. Adds another 1/4 to Batman's health.
Armor Upgrade v4
Batsuit soaked in top secret prototype formula, developed by Lucius Fox at WayneTech. Durability is massively increased without additional weight while retaining full movement and flexibility. Adds another 1/4 to Batman's health bar, maxing out his health.
Tuned to Resonate at the exact same frequency of the nearest Arkham suicide collar, attracting that henchman. Useful for luring a target into a trap or away from an area of importance. Once thrown, requires a long recharge period before it can be used again.
Sonic Shock Batarang
Upgrade to the Sonic Batarang. Allows this to be detonated once thrown to overload the suicide collar of a nearby henchman, incapacitating him. However, the residual inference will stop any further Sonic Batarangs from being effective in this location.
Multiple Frequency Detonator
Allows selective detonation of Explosive Gel. Useful for advanced Takedown tactics.
Auto Proximity Detonation
Upgrades the Explosive Gel to automatically detonate if nearby threat detected. Temporarily incapacitates targets.
Cryptographic Range Amplifier
Increases effective range of the Cryptographic Sequencer, allowing Batman to override out of reach Control Points and open up access to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Cryptographic Power Amplifier
Increases the power of the Cryptographic Sequencer, allowing easier deciphering of security systems.
Design and Development
Batman: Arkham Asylum takes its design and inspiration from over seventy years of comic book lore published by DC Comics and doesn't focus on any particular comic book story arc or other adaptation of the character. It is an original project with the story being written by Paul Dini who is best known as a writer, producer and editor on the highly praised cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne) , Mark Hamill (the Joker) and Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn) all reprise their respective voice roles from Batman: The Animated Series. WildStorm Productions, a comic publisher founded by acclaimed comic artist Jim Lee, had a hand in designing various characters in the game as well.
The PC version of the game features PhysX technology, the inclusion of which was given as the excuse for why the PC release was delayed. This allows for a very, very slightly more immersive experience with more interactive environments - for example, litter or paper on the floor moving around and being flung into the air during combat, or mist swirling around Batman and other characters as they move through it. The most provident use of the PhysX SDK is inside of the scarecrow sequences, where walls crumble into many pieces and are sucked into a vortex. The consoles versions also use PhysX, though this is limited to only the core features such as ragdolls and rigid bodies.
Walmart offers exclusive access to Batsuit Armor for the challenge maps.
Both GameStop (USA) and GAME (UK) have a pre-order bonus for all versions of the game (PC, PS3, & Xbox 360) which adds a 'Scarecrow Super Villain Map' and allows players to square off against various villains before confronting the iconic Scarecrow himself. It should be noted that players will only be able to play as Batman in this challenge map.
System Requirements (PC and Mac)
Windows System Requirements
CPU: Intel 3 GHz (Single Core) / AMD equivalent
RAM Memory: Windows XP = 1 GB, Windows Vista = 2 GB
Graphics Card: GeForce 6600 / Radeon X1300 or higher (shader model 3.0 or above required)
RAM Memory: Windows XP = 2 GB, Windows Vista = 3 GB
Graphics Card: GeForce 7900 GT or higher
Note: The game will be enhanced for computers with multi-core processors. It will also feature Achievements, thanks to theGames For Windows–Live integration.
Macintosh System Requirements
OS: Mac OS X 10.6.8
Processor: 1.8Ghz Intel
Hard Disk: 10.0GB
Processor: 2.8Ghz Intel
Input: Game Pad
The following graphics cards are not supported:
ATI X1xxx series, NVIDIA 9400, NVIDIA 7xxx series and Intel GMA series.
The following cards require 4GB of System RAM:
NVIDIA 320M, Intel HD 3000
Both GameRankings & Metacritic have the game ranked with a 92% approval rating based on the reviews of critics across the internet. The average review score of the game is 91.67 out of 100 which secured Arkham Asylum the Guinness World Record for 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever', a pointlessly specific title previously held by Marvel vs Capcom 2 with a score of 90.00 out of 100.
Justin Calvert writing for Gamespot gave the game a 9.0 out of 10 and reported that:
" Batman: Arkham Asylum does an outstanding job of letting you be Batman."
The heading for IGN's review of Arkham Asylum noted 'Behold the greatest comic book game of all time.' and in his 9.3 out of 10 write up, Greg Miller noted:
"This is an adult Dark Knight story that is well-told, packs some truly fun gameplay elements, has topnotch voice talent, and feel like it's part of Batman canon."
Curiously, in the 'Another Take' section of IGN's Arkham Asylum review (a feature often included to present a counterpoint to the review in order to look at the game from differing perspectives on the games quality) Hilary Goldstein was similarly enthusiastic about the Dark Knight's latest outing explaining:
"My gripes are minor [...] [b]ut otherwise, this is one of the best games I've played this year."
Expectations were evidently high during the lead up to Arkham Asylum and as the review scores came pouring in, so did the demo downloads, which the Arkham Asylum official website cited as reaching over 2 million.
Upon the games release, it became an instant hit topping the charts in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Initial sales show that the game has been bought by more than 2 million console owners within the first 3 weeks of release. The Collector's Edition was unavailable at the time of release due to the limited amount produced being sold during the pre-order period.
'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever' - Guiness World Records
Batman: Arkham Asylum won Giant Bomb's best Multi-Platform Game of 2009. The game was also a strong contender for Game of the Year. Unfortunately, the award went to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Game of the Year Edition
On May 11th, 2010, The Game of the Year Edition of Batman: Arkham Asylum was released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. This version included the following DLC, some of which was only available through pre-order;
Scarecrow Nightmare Challenge Map: A combat map for expert players set in the Scarecrow's nightmarish world where players will need to fight against hordes of skeleton henchmen.
Crime Alley Challenge Map: A combat map set in this iconic location from Gotham City that has been overrun by the Joker's henchmen.
Totally Insane Challenge Map: A combat map set in the heart of Arkham Asylum where players will need to fight against waves of lunatics.
Nocturnal Hunter Challenge Map: an Invisible Predator map where players will need to seize back control of the Prison Watchtowers from The Joker's henchmen.
The console games included Trioviz 3D technology, with two sets of 3D glasses included.
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