Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure stealth video game based on DC Comics' Batman for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. The PS3 and Xbox versions of the game were released on August 25, 2009 in North America and August 28, 2009 in Europe, and the PC version was released on September 15 in North America and on September 18 in Europe. Written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini, Batman: Arkham Asylum is based on the long-running comic book mythos, but follows an original story rather than adapting a pre-existing storyline.
The Joker, Batman's archenemy, has instigated an elaborate plot from within Arkham Asylum, where many of Batman's other villains have been incarcerated. Batman investigates and comes to learn that the Joker is trying to create an army of Bane-like creatures to unleash on Gotham City, and is forced to put a stop to the Joker's plans.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a third-person perspective, action-adventure game with a primary focus on Batman's combat abilities, his stealth and detective skills, and an arsenal of gadgets that can be used in both combat and exploration. The player controls Batman as the vigilante fights to restore order to Arkham Asylum. In addition to running, jumping and crouching, Batman is also able to glide from heights using his cape, and use his grapple gun to ascend short heights or escape and hide from foes on gargoyles. In order to track Joker and other enemies, the player can switch in and out of "Detective Mode", an augmented reality generated by Batman's cowl. In this mode, most of the game world is rendered in darker colors, but objects of interest and people are highlighted, including limited X-Ray vision to detect people's locations. Special objects that Batman can interact either directly or with a number of gadgets that are gained over the course of the game are also highlighted. The detective mode can automatically be switched to special scanning modes to track the presence of compounds, fingerprints, and other unique data, which are used to direct the player to the next location to explore.
Gadgets include the Batarang, an explosive compound sprayer and detonator, grappling gun, and a frequency scanner that can be used to overload security panels. Some of these can be used both during normal exploration of the game world as well as in combat. The game world, though presented in a linear path, allows for exploration at any time, and recently-acquired gadgets can often be used to access areas that were previously out of reach. Exploration of the world is prompted by items and clues left by The Riddler for Batman to find; in addition to objects to be collected, some of the Riddler's riddles require the player to scan certain elements in the environment, in effect "solving" the riddle. Solving these riddles unlocks special content for the game, including challenge levels that tests the player's skill at the game's free-form and predator combat systems, as well as character bios, patient interviews and detailed character trophies. Riddles, as well as defeating foes, also lead to experience points, which can then be spent on several possible upgrades to Batman's arsenal, as well as his health and moveset, at any time.
The game uses a "Freeflow" combat system, accomplished by using three primary moves: attack, stun and counter to emphasize the primarily-physical system of combat that Batman employs. By chaining regular and counter-attacks in combos, the player can build up a special experience point multiplier, which increases further if timed well. When this surpasses a specific threshold, the player then has access to an additional special attack that can quickly take down a single foe.Batman is able to use Batarangs and his Bat-Claw as supplemental combat tools which can help to extend combos. Countering opponent's attacks can also extend this combo; a brief indicator is shown when playing at easy and normal difficulties to indicate when an opponent is ready to attack. Batman can take damage from his foes, and can be knocked out/killed should his health fall too low; when combat is completed, Batman regains a portion of his health proportional to the experience earned in combat. As the game progresses, Batman will come up against opponents with knives and stun batons that require different tactics to deal with, as well as TITAN-enhanced enemies which function as bosses. Certain enemies will also try to get their hands on guns, requiring Batman to stop them from doing so.
The game also features "Predator" combat, a stealth-oriented combat used for scenarios in which Batman cannot face enemies directly. This includes silent takedowns by sneaking up on foes, dropping from overhead perches and snatching a foe into mid-air, or using the explosive gel on destructible objects to knock foes off their feet. Some areas feature sections that require the player to employ these tactics to avoid alerting Joker's henchmen and failing to meet an objective. Harder areas, such as the Extreme challenge maps, put explosives on gargoyles generally used to escape out of sight, requiring players to find alternative hiding spots.
The story begins with Batman taking the Joker to Arkham Asylum after the latter held the mayor hostage at Gotham City Hall. Due to a fire at Blackgate Penitentiary, which holds most of Gotham's criminals, the most dangerous Blackgate inmates, primarily Joker's henchmen, are brought to the asylum as well. Upon arrival, Batman escorts Joker to Intensive Treatment, suspecting that the Joker allowed himself to be captured, suspicions which are quickly confirmed: aided by Harley Quinn, who has taken control of security, Joker quickly escapes custody and runs into the facility, killing everyone in his path. As Batman chases after, more inmates, including the Blackgate inmates and serial killer Victor Zsasz, break loose and wreak havoc. The Joker shuts off the asylum's connections and sends a bomb threat to the Gotham Police to keep anyone from approaching Arkham Island. Quincy Sharp, Arkham Asylum's warden, is kidnapped by Harley Quinn during the chaos.
Batman eventually catches up to the Joker, who unleashes a grotesquely mutated Blackgate prisoner on Batman. The inmate dies unexpectedly during the fight, but the Joker escapes. Shutting off the passageway behind him, the Joker threatens to kill Commissioner Gordon (who was kidnapped by a corrupt guard on Harley Quinn's orders) if Batman follows him. Batman postpones his hunt to search for Gordon, fighting his way through Joker's thugs (some of whom have stolen guns from the asylum's armory) and Harley's efforts to keep him trapped in Intensive Treatment. Batman tracks Gordon to the Asylum's medical facility, where Joker's men are rounding up the doctors. After Batman saves the doctors, one of the doctors, Penelope Young, insists on retrieving her research notes from the Arkham Mansion. When Chief of Security Aaron Cash offers to escort her, Batman reluctantly allows them to leave. Descending into the facility's lower level, Batman is exposed to Fear Toxin created by Scarecrow, causing him to hallucinate until he fights off the toxin's effects. After saving Gordon, Batman discovers Joker's next surprise: a weakened Bane strung up for experimentation. Bane reveals that Dr. Young is responsible for the experiments before the Joker restores and frees him. Batman is able to fight him off, but Harley Quinn escapes during the scuffle. Making his way to a secret Batcave located within Arkham Island, Batman determines that the Joker has come to Arkham Asylum to get his hands on TITAN, an experimental drug being developed by Dr. Young. Derived from the strength-enhancing Venom in Bane's blood, the modified formula is several times more potent, with a single dose being enough to trigger a Bane-like transformation. In Joker's hands, TITAN could be used to create an army of a thousand Banes.
Batman races to Arkham Mansion to find the notes before Joker. When he finds and destroys the formula, Joker responds by having Zsasz torture the formula out of Dr. Young. Delayed by another Scarecrow-induced hallucination, Batman manages to save Young from Zsasz, who informs of a Titan Production Facility hidden within the Botanical Gardens, but is killed by a trap when she tries to access a code generator. To access the facility, Batman finds and rescues Warden Sharp in the Penitentiary, retrieving another code generator to find the facility. He manages to apprehend Harley Quinn, but not before she releases Poison Ivy, while Joker unleashes the asylum's most deranged lunatics.
Batman locates the Production Facility, but by this point Joker has already created a substantial portion of TITAN, and unleashes two TITAN-enhanced inmates on Batman in order to make his escape. Once Batman defeats the behemoth thugs, he finds Poison Ivy and coerces her into helping him create an antidote. Ivy grudgingly tells him the spores he needs can only be found in Killer Croc's lair. While Batman heads to find the lair's location, Joker injects Ivy with TITAN, amplifying her chlorokinetic powers. Ivy unleashes gargantuan mutant plants across the island, which quickly grow out of control. En route to Croc's lair, he is subjected yet again to Scarecrow's toxin. When Batman manages to overcome several doses of the toxin, the enraged Scarecrow heads to the sewers nearby Croc's lair. Before he can release a supply of Fear Toxin into the water, Scarecrow is attacked by Croc and taken underwater. Batman reaches the lair and collects a supply of the spores, subduing Croc when he attempts to attack Batman.
Batman returns to the Batcave to develop the antidote, but is only able to produce a single dose before Ivy's plants breach the cave and destroy his computer. With time being short, Batman returns to the Botanical Gardens, stopping Joker's thugs from poisoning the Gotham River with TITAN residue along the way. He reaches and defeats Ivy, halting the growth of the plants, and finally confronts Joker. Revealing that he has once again kidnapped Gordon, Joker aims a TITAN-filled dart at the Commissioner. Batman takes the dart for Gordon, but manages to resist the transformation. Finally fed up with Batman's interference, Joker injects himself with TITAN and turns into a massive monster. Batman uses the antidote on himself, and engages Joker in a battle atop the asylum. Eventually, Batman emerges victorious.
As the GCPD takes control of the asylum, returning the supervillains to custody as the TITAN serum begins to wear off on all injected. Meanwhile, Gordon advises Batman take the rest of the night off, but the Dark Knight returns to duty when reports come in of Two-Face robbing a bank.
As Batman returns to Gotham, a crate of TITAN is seen floating in Gotham Bay. The hand of a supervillain (either Scarecrow, Bane, or Killer Croc) emerges from the water, grabbing hold of the crate.
Eidos got the rights for a Batman game in spring of 2007. The then-obscure Rocksteady Studios was chosen based on the quality of their game prototypes, and veteran Batman writer Paul Dini was chosen later that year. Arkham Asylum was chosen as the game's setting, as it provided a logical reason for several of Batman's enemies to be within an area, as well as its prominence with the comic books. To ensure they could create a game enjoyable to Batman fans, Rocksteady Studios read whatever Batman material they could find.
In designing Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady took inspiration from historical European architecture, such as the Gothic and Victorian eras. Different time periods were used in designing different areas, in order to provide a sense of history to the island.
The game received praise from critics, earning a 92% average on GameRankings, a game aggregator. Several awards were given. Batman: Arkham Asylum won a Golden Game Award, a Spike Video Game Award, and it earned a spot for 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game' in the Guinness World Records.
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