So, it was with great personal interest that I downloaded the demo of Batman: Arkham Asylum. The demo begins with Batman hauling The Joker to the asylum, where the sickest and most twisted of Gotham City's criminals are held and treated--sometimes for up to a week--before they manage to escape again. Therefore, it's not much of a shock when, roughly four seconds after being admitted, The Joker has taken complete control of Arkham, turning it into a funhouse of armed thugs.
Sure, Batman is busy, but he always finds time to enjoy some clown porn.
As Batman, I'm charged with mastering the complex art of hand-to-hand combat. To attack a thug, I press the left mouse button, and to counter a thug's attack, I press the right mouse button. I know, it's a lot to keep track of. My reward for mopping up the floor with the first set of goons I face is acquiring the character bio of Commissioner Gordon. I dutifully read the file, discovering Gordon weighs 180 pounds and, while his hair is currently white, it used to be brown! I'm certain this key information will help me navigate the dangerous gothic labyrinth of the asylum.
When gadgets fail, Batman falls back on armpit funk to overwhelm his enemies.
Soon after, I acquire the bio of an inmate named Mr. Zsasz, which informs me he is a criminally insane killer, something I had already gathered by the fact that he is locked in an asylum for the criminally insane, plus he's just killed some guards and is threatening to kill another. This gives me a chance to check out Batman's "Detective Mode", which allows me to see through walls, just like a real detective. It also highlights objects I can interact with, such as overhead stone gargoyles that can be targeted with my grappling hook. I'm not sure why they built stone gargoyles on the inside of the building, instead of the outside like you might expect, but who cares? Grappling hook! /Now/ we're getting into some real Batman shit.
Detective mode delivers important information. For example, we can see this guard's genitals are nervous.
Being positioned behind or above enemies thankfully opens up some new combat options, like using cover and executing silent take-downs. In fact, most of the demo from that point consists of me happily swinging around on stone gargoyles, hanging upside down, dropping behind my enemies, and silently crushing the life out of them. You'd think by now the crooks of Gotham would be onto the fact that Batman likes to swoop in from above, but these thugs never got the memo. Most of them appear to spend long moments waiting for me to burst out of solid concrete walls directly in front of them, which allows me ample time to creep up behind them and smother them to death with my muscular armpits.
Despite the goons lacking the ability to look up, it's still a lot of fun to dispatch them. I feel pretty badass hanging upside down, waiting for them to slowly, stupidly walk into position, swooping down upon them suddenly, pulling them up into the darkness, and leaving them hog-tied, dangling from the ceiling. That's what Batman is all about, really: yanking dumb criminals away from their buddies who are powerless to do much but ask "What was that?" and "Did you hear something?"
I think it's gonna take more than group therapy to get to the root of this monster's issues.
The demo ends rather abruptly with The Joker heckling me from a few feet away while I vow to find him (even though he's, as I said, a few feet away), and then opening a steel cage and releasing some sort of mutated ogre at me. I'm not sure what this horrible monster is doing in a psychiatric hospital: sure, it's noble to try to rehabilitate mass murders and serial killers, but monsters? Shouldn't they be in a zoo or on some sort of monster-themed island, or maybe executed or something? Whatever, I'm no social worker. I'm Batman.
Download the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo on FileShack.