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Batman: Arkham Asylum Demo Hands-On

I was lucky enough to get to play a demo for this much anticipated game this weekend at the London MCM Expo. I was there under the Gamehounds banner and got a great little interview with Eidos community manager; Mike Oldman, which I’ll be transcribing for P.N. in the next few days.

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The demo was a series of survival matches against rooms full of thugs. There was none of the swinging around and promised predatory gameplay, but considering how many people were jostling to have a go, that was actually a good thing. This was purely a quick session so we could see the graphics, textures and movement up close and get to grips with some of Batman’s basic moves. Fighting is so fluid and responsive in this game, it feels a little like Assassin’s Creed in terms of making you look cool with minimal button-mashing. I’m assured that while this will ease you in on early sections, the later denizens of Arkham will require more tactics, so it won’t be a case of being held by the hand.

Batman’s cape swishes about him with the eye-catching grace of Nariko’s hair in Heavenly Sword. In fact, it’s the best cape I can recall in a game. The Dark Knight moves somewhat similar to the recent Christopher Nolan movie incarnation, with short, sharp, economical blows, rather than the sweeping movements of the Animated series. Fans of the Hush storyline will appreciate how technical he is as a fighter and it feels like he’s making split-second combat decisions rather than just mashing punches together. Textures glisten with that Unreal sheen and the character models, body structure and sound effects pack the same meaty punch as Gears of War and similar gritty, physical games from that engine’s family.

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I, personally have been looking forward to this for a long time. Aside from the SNES version that made an excellent platform beat-em-up of the Animated series license, this is a classic comic-book and movie character who has never had a decent, contemporary incarnation in a video game. Now it looks like this may be that long-overdue, menacing, adult representation he deserves. Playing the demo only made me thirst for more.

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