- "Plans, plans, plans. They always have their plans. But the problem with their plan is that when you take an insane person to the asylum, you're just taking him home. The very place he knows best."
- ―The Joker, Batman: Arkham Asylum "Play as Joker" trailer
|Batman: Arkham Asylum|
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
NA August 25, 2009
|Genre||Action-adventure, beat 'em up, stealth|
|Rating(s)||Template:W: Teen (T) for Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco and Violence|
|Input method(s)||Gamepad, keyboard & mouse|
|Preceded by||Batman: Arkham Origins (in-universe)|
|Followed by||Batman: Arkham City|
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 2009 action-adventure style video game developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. It was released for consoles in North America on August 25 2009, and the PC version following on September 15.
The game was written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini and involves long-running voice actors; Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin reprise their roles as Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn from the DC Animated Universe respectively. It revolves around the Joker's elaborate attempt to escape from Arkham Asylum and unleash chaos on Gotham City. Trapped in the asylum, Batman is forced to fight his way through inmates and supervillains allied with the Joker and put an end to his plans.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure game viewed from a third-person perspective. The player takes control of Batman as he makes his way through Arkham Asylum, the high-security prison and rehabilitation center for the criminally insane located on an island just off the coast of Gotham City. The opening sequence serves as a linear tutorial, introducing several mechanics and important features to the player. However, once the player emerges onto the island, they are free to explore the game world at their leisure, with more locations becoming available as the story unfolds.
The player has a feature called Detective Mode at their disposal. This is used to provide contextual information on Batman's surroundings, and highlights objects that can be interacted with or are otherwise notable. Detective Mode also displays how many enemies are in the immediate area, their location, and whether they are armed or not. It can also be used to solve puzzles or identify DNA samples in crime scenes during the story, enabling Batman to follow specific trails.
The player also has access to several of Batman's gadgets which can be used in exploration and combat. The Batarang is a thrown weapon that can be used to briefly incapacitate foes and trigger devices from afar. Batman also has access to different varieties of Batarang, including the Sonic Batarang – which can be used to attract thugs wearing monitoring collars – and the Remote Controlled Batarang, which can be steered and directed to hit several enemies once thrown. Explosive Gel can be used to blast through structurally weak surfaces, allowing further exploration and takedowns. The Batclaw is a grappling device that can be used to pull enemies toward Batman or interact with distant objects, such as vent covers. The Line Launcher is an exploration device that allows Batman to quickly traverse between two horizontal points. The Cryptographic Sequencer is used to override security gates and open up new paths, as well as disabling other security functions. There are several areas in the asylum that cannot be accessed until a certain gadget is acquired.
Exploration of the game world involves finding and solving puzzles left by the Riddler, who has hacked into Batman's communications in an attempt to outsmart him and prove his own intellectual superiority. These puzzles are often in the form of riddles that point to an object or location that can be scanned with Detective Mode. There are also several items that can be collected as part of the Riddler's challenge; these trophies hidden in obscure locations by the Riddler, chattering teeth utilized by the Joker, interview tapes that can provide psychological insight into Batman's enemies, and cryptic messages left behind by "the spirit of Amadeus Arkham" that explore some of the facility's dark past. Finding and solving these challenges award the player with experience points – which can be used to upgrade Batman's abilities, gadgets, and health – and other in-game content, such as challenge maps, biographies of characters appearing in the game, as well as 3D trophies of characters and vehicles.
Players can overcome enemies with Batman's combat abilities. The game's "freeflow" combat makes use of four main functions: evade, attack, counter, and stun. This system makes it simple for the player to move quickly between enemies, chain attacks, and build up combos. Using these four functions in tandem is vital to ensuring that Batman is able to attack effectively whilst avoiding being attacked himself. The higher the combo that the player amasses, the faster and stronger Batman's attacks become, and special moves – a throw technique and a special takedown that instantly incapacitates a foe – become ready for use. Combat will always award experience points, and forming higher combos and using as many moves as possible will increase the total earned. The majority of enemies can be attacked and countered, and a warning icon will alert the player to incoming attacks and indicate that they can be countered. However, some enemies require different techniques to bring down. Enemies armed with knives must be stunned before they are susceptible to attacks, and enemies with electric stun batons must be attacked from behind. Should the player take any damage during a fight, Batman's health will always regenerate to its maximum once the fight is over.
There are several instances in the game in which stealth is required. Players can utilize several different methods – including silent takedowns from behind, inverted takedowns from gargoyles, and creative use of gadgets – in order to defeat enemies. Most, if not all, "predator" areas have several gargoyles that Batman can use to remain undetected; Batman can use the grapnel gun to reach these gargoyles and gain a tactical advantage over enemies and plan out his attack.
After an attack on Gotham City Hall and abduction of the mayor, the Joker is apprehended by Batman and escorted to Arkham Asylum. The asylum is temporarily holding many of the Joker's gang, as a recent fire at Blackgate Prison has rendered the facility unusable. Suspicious at the fact that he was able to capture the Joker so easily, and convinced that something was not right, Batman personally accompanies the Joker inside the asylum. Almost immediately after Batman is unable to follow any further, Joker reveals his plan as he escapes his guards and Harley Quinn gains command of the building's security. Contacting Oracle about the situation, Batman learns that the Joker has threatened to detonate random bombs hidden around the city if anyone tries to enter the island, forcing Batman to work alone. Batman immediately pursues his foe, and eventually makes his way to the entrance of the Extreme Isolation section, where he finds the Joker. Joker unleashes a strange mutation against Batman, though it dies due to heart problems during the battle; Joker quietly laments the fact the needs stronger test subjects. Joker flees, and reveals via a terminal that James Gordon has been kidnapped by a corrupt guard and is being escorted to Harley Quinn.
Batman is able to track Gordon to the Medical Facility, though he is attacked by Scarecrow and suffers the effects of his fear gas. Batman witness Gordon's death, and sees the corpses of his parents reprimanding him for his inability to save them. Upon fighting off the effects of the toxin, Batman realizes that it was not Gordon that died, but an Arkham guard, and resumes his search. Batman finds Harley and Gordon and successfully rescues him while avoiding being detected by Joker's thugs. Gordon informs Batman that there is something in an experimental chamber. Investigating, Batman discovers Bane, who has had the Venom drained out of his blood by Penelope Young. Joker appears on a terminal and informs Bane that Young will be taken care of, and releases Bane and pumps the Venom back into his system, enraging Bane and sending him into a frenzy. Telling Gordon to run, Batman fights Bane alone, and defeats him after removing several of the tubes pumping Venom into his blood and remotely crashing the Batmobile into him, sending him into the sea. Sending Gordon away from the island to ensure his safety and defuse the panic in Gotham, Batman decides to investigate Dr. Young's experiments on Venom, as he believes that Bane used a stronger variant during their fight.
Arriving at the secret Batcave below Arkham Island, Batman looks through Dr. Young's files, and discovers notes on a variant of Venom called TITAN that causes a stronger reaction and does not require the storage tank that Bane is forced to use. However, the formula is missing from these notes. Quickly realizing that Joker intends to create an army of "a thousand Banes" with this formula, Batman rushes to find the notes before Joker does. He also discovers that Joker had been manipulating Dr. Young's project from behind the scenes over several months, and allowed himself to be incarcerated inside the asylum so that he could find the formula.
Breaking into the mansion on Arkham Island, Batman discovers that Joker has already sent his men throughout the building on a hunt for the TITAN formula, and begins his own search. Arriving at her office, Batman finds that Dr. Young has already taken the formula and hidden it. Following a trail of fingerprints, Batman recovers the formula inside the library. Batman destroys the formula, but knows that this will not be enough to stop Joker's plans. Attempting to leave, he is once again attacked by Scarecrow and exposed to his toxin. This time, he recalls the murder of his parents in a vivid hallucination. After recovering from this attack, Batman makes his way to the warden's office, and finds that Dr. Young has been captured by Victor Zsasz in attempt to interrogate her for the location of the formula. Batman easily defeats Zsasz, and Dr. Young begins to desperately plead her case and tell him about Joker's plan. Before she can finish, however, she is killed by a trap set by the Joker, and Quincy Sharp is taken by Harley Quinn to another location. Batman decides that the only way that he can find the Joker's TITAN production facility is by obtaining Sharp's access codes for the facility.
Following a DNA trail, Batman is able to track Sharp and Quinn to the Penitentiary. After finding and freeing Sharp inside the control room, he witnesses Quinn releasing Poison Ivy from her cell, and the Joker releasing all of the building's prisoners from their cells. Now in possession of the warden's codes, Batman turns his attention to Quinn, and is ambushed by a large group of prisoners. Her plans failed and being put off "the party list" by Joker, Harley becomes distraught and attempts to assault Batman in a poorly-thought-out attack, only to be apprehended and locked into a cell. As she taunts Batman, Quinn accidentally reveals that the Joker is manufacturing TITAN inside the Botanical Gardens. Deciding to investigate, Batman scans Quinn's fingerprints so that he can find the production lab.
Arriving at the Botanical Gardens, Batman discovers that Joker has not yet perfected the TITAN formula, and is using random chemical combinations in an attempt to find a suitable result. Batman follows Harley's fingerprints to the secret lab and saves several members of Arkham staff in the process. Inside the lab, he is greeted by the Joker, who decides to show Batman what he has "cooked up". Drugging two of his henchmen with TITAN, Joker leaves Batman to battle his new monsters. Upon defeating them, Batman destroys the facility, but realizes that Joker has escaped with enough TITAN to cause problems. Knowing that the TITAN venom is produced by genetically engineered plants, Batman believes that Poison Ivy can help him find a cure. After receiving warning that every plant on the island will suffer unless Joker is stopped, Ivy confesses that a cure can only be developed from a rare spore found in Killer Croc's lair. Not knowing the location of Croc's lair and, unable to find any record of it, Batman concludes that Aaron Cash can help him find it. As Batman leaves the gardens, Joker announces that he has supplied Poison Ivy with TITAN, causing her plants to grow rapidly, covering the island and creating several flowers that produce deadly spores. With precious time to spare, Batman hurries to find Cash in the Arkham mansion.
After learning that Killer Croc's lair is located in an old sewer directly beneath the Intensive Treatment building that Joker originally escaped from, Batman enters the facility via the roof. Making his way through the building, Batman is once again attacked by Scarecrow and enters a hallucination. This time, Batman re-imagines the beginning of the incident, with his role switched with the Joker. After Batman emerges triumphant upon being subjected to several doses of toxin, Scarecrow is shocked, and flees into the sewers.
Following his enemy into the sewers, Batman locates a spore containing the anti-venom, but is interrupted when Scarecrow threatens to drop a large supply of the toxin into the water, filling the cave with Baman's "deepest, darkest nightmares". Before he is able to do so, Killer Croc emerges from the water and grabs Scarecrow, preparing to eat him. Batman hurls a Batarang at Croc's security collar, saving Scarecrow's life and sending Croc away. Venturing into Croc's lair, Batman moves as slowly as possible in order to avoid attack, and gathers all the spores he requires to produce an antidote for TITAN. As he leaves, however, he is attacked by Croc, but is saved when Croc falls into a trap set by Batman earlier, and plummets into a chasm. Now armed with all he needs, Batman heads to the Batcave in order to create the antidote.
Batman is able to produce a small amount of the TITAN antidote, but remarks that "the process is slow, difficult, and doesn't produce much antidote." Deciding that he has to leave and stop Ivy's plants while leaving the Batcomputer to create more antidote, Batman prepares to head back to the surface. Before he has a chance, Ivy's plants burst into the cave, destroying the Batcomputer and halting the antidote's production. With little choice, Batman takes what little of the antidote he has and exits the Batcave. While he is exiting the sewers, Batman discovers that Joker has pumped the waste product from TITAN into the main sewer junction, preparing to unleash the toxic liquid on Gotham. After tracking down four pumps and disabling them, the process is halted, and water flows into the junction as normal. Upon returning to the surface, Batman observes that Ivy's plants have taken an even firmer grasp on the island, and hurries to the Botanical Gardens to stop her.
After arriving at the gardens, Batman attempts to inject her plants with his antidote, only for Ivy to interrupt and voice her realization that TITAN has made her plants evolve and become stronger, contrary to her original beliefs. She summons an incredibly large plant through the floor, and uses it to do battle with the Dark Knight, and instructs hypnotized guards to aid her. Batman is ultimately able to defeat Poison Ivy without the use of the antidote, and her plants diminish once the fight is finished. As the room begins to collapse, Batman grapples out in order to escape.
Immediately after his escape, Batman is contacted by the Joker over the loudspeakers across the island. Joker informs Batman that his "party" at the Visitor Center is underway, and invites him to witness the "final surprise". Upon his arrival, Batman is heralded as the guest of honor and allowed entry to the party. Batman finds the Joker atop a throne of mannequins flanked by more TITAN monsters, and the two exchange words. Joker expresses annoyance at the fact that Batman has foiled several of his schemes, overcoming all supervillains and obstacles involved in the Joker's plans, but also states that his true plan "hasn't even begun". Batman is forced to fight several thugs as well as two TITAN monsters, but is able to overcome them. Joker congratulates his oldest foe, and bestows Batman with a "prize" – Commissioner Gordon. Joker attempts to inject Gordon with TITAN, in order to "pep him up", but Batman leaps in front of the dart and takes the dose himself. Resisting the change, Batman fights off Joker's attempts to goad him into giving in and accepting the mutation. Infuriated, Joker declares that his entire night is ruined, and laments that his months of planning have been for naught. Stating that he has nothing to live for, Joker turns his gun on himself, and fires a TITAN dart into his jaw, causing him to fall to the floor. When he opens his eyes, they have turned a venomous green.
Several news helicopters flock to Arkham Island, as Joker sent a broadcast to all new channels, ordering them to come and "witness the final destruction" of Batman. A now-TITAN-enhanced monster, Joker emerges onto the roof – where he has set up a makeshift arena – holding a helpless Batman in his hand. Hurling Batman into the arena, Joker taunts him to give into the TITAN and transform into a monster himself, declaring that there is no other way for Batman to defeat him. Refusing, Batman uses his only sample of the antidote on himself, removing the TITAN from himself. Amused, Joker hurls Batman away, but remarks that his fun has been spoiled, and threatens to "paint Arkham with [Batman's] blood". After a lengthy battle, Batman uses the Ultra-Batclaw to send Joker crashing through the floorboards and into an electrical generator. Despite this, Joker still gets up, and taunts that he can take anything Batman can do to hurt him, and is overjoyed that, for once, he is actually going to win. Thinking quickly, Batman sprays Explosive Gel onto his fist, and makes use of its auto-detonation frequency to deliver an incredibly powerful punch to the Joker, which launches him backwards and leaves him unconscious.
In the aftermath of the battle, Gordon relays to his daughter that the GCPD has regained control of the asylum and rounded up the inmates. Those who were transformed by TITAN have reverted to normal, though the Joker is obviously severely damaged by his overdose, and is bruised and weakened. As Batman meets with Gordon, he overhears on the radio that Two-Face has robbed a bank and is fleeing the scene. After saying his goodbyes to the commissioner, Batman speeds away on the Batwing to apprehend yet another foe.
- Kevin Conroy as Batman and Thomas Wayne
- Mark Hamill as the Joker
- Tom Kane as James Gordon and Quincy Sharp
- Fred Tatasciore as Bane
- Kimberly Brooks as Oracle
- Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn
- Wally Wingert as the Riddler
- Dino Andrade as Scarecrow
- Steve Blum as Killer Croc
- Tasia Valenza as Poison Ivy and Martha Wayne
- Danny Jacobs as Victor Zsasz and Frank Boles
- Duane R. Shepard, Sr. as Aaron Cash
- Cree Summer as Penelope Young
- James Horan as Jack Ryder
Batman: Arkham Asylum was first announced in August 2008, and was developed by Rocksteady Studios with the backing of Eidos Interactive and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Eidos obtained the rights to a Batman game in spring 2007, and approached Rocksteady to present their approach to Batman. By May of the same year, Rocksteady had begun developing the game's concept, with full production beginning in September. Paul Dini, a longtime writer of Batman media, was contacted in late 2007 about writing a story for an original Batman game. Dini agreed, as he found the idea of an original Batman game intriguing, as most were adaptions of movies and television shows. Once he met with Rocksteady, it was decided that their ideas were much the same. By the time Dini joined, Rocksteady was investigating the idea of setting the game in Arkham Asylum, and produced designs of the Asylum being a large estate on an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. While the cast of villains had not been decided on by this point, the fact that the game was to be set in Arkham made Joker's involvement "a given". The game and story were developed side-by-side, with the limitations of mechanics requiring the story to be built around them. The main goal was to develop a game engaging enough for players to spend several hours completing it, without turning away those who were not particularly interested in Batman media. Rocksteady would guide Dini when they thought he was writing too much story or character motivation.
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, a graphic novel written by Grant Morrison, was a major inspiration for the game's story and design. The design team isolated the elements that they felt defined Batman and exaggerated them. Ideas that contradicted these elements were dropped, and Batman's other traits, such as his refusal to kill enemies, were strictly enforced. This provided additional challenges in allowing the player to have complete freedom in the game without transgressing on that fundamental aspect of the character. Arkham Asylum was chosen for the game's setting because it confined players to a hostile environment filled with Batman's enemies, whereas an open city would allow Batman to receive help from his allies, or return to the Batcave.
Rocksteady wanted to include various iconic aspects of the DC mythos and decided to have Conroy, Hamill, and Sorkin reprise their roles as Batman, Joker, and Harley from the DC Animated Universe. Hamill recorded thousands of lines for the game, while Conroy has relatively few in comparison. Upon seeing Rocksteady's designs for the Joker, Hamill decided to portray him as dark and gritty while retaining his trademark clownish nature. Although the game makes references to various elements to both the Animated Universe and comic books, the story does not follow any particular story or depiction of any character, and is its own universe.
The game took approximately twenty-one months to complete; Rocksteady began development with a team of forty people, and expanded to sixty by the game's completion. Rocksteady considered making the combat to be one of the greatest challenges in developing the game. Rocksteady originally developed the game's combat as a full rhythm action game. It was later set in 2D, which involved colored circles crashing into each other during fights; the final system was based on this 2D model. Combat was designed to be unique for Batman, with the simple control scheme reflecting the ease with which Batman could perform moves in combat. Eidos president Ian Livingstone stated that a single developer spent two years programming Batman's cape, using over 700 animations and sound effects to make it seem realistic.
Rocksteady began conceiving ideas for a sequel, which eventually became Arkham City, about seven months before development was finished. Rocksteady developed ideas for the sequel's setting and story so that the two games could be narratively connected. A secret room containing blueprints for the Arkham City site was hidden inside the warden's office in Arkham Asylum. This room remained hidden for six months before Rocksteady revealed its existence.
In developing the game's aesthetic, the main goal was to create designs that would combine comic book style with realism. The environment and characters had to be extravagant enough to represent the Batman universe, but needed realistic textures and detail. A secondary aim was to recreate the dark and Gothic imagery inherent to Batman so that the asylum would feel as insane as the inmates it houses.
Batman's design was influenced by the work of comic artist Jim Lee, who drew Batman as a strong and muscular character who could believably take part in extreme hand-to-hand fighting. His black and dark gray costume was inspired by modern illustrations of the character, and has military influences and an industrial look. There were thirteen concepts produced before Batman's final appearance took form. Artists avoided film interpretations of the Joker, in part due to the fact that Rocksteady only had rights to the original Batman franchise. Instead, the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke served as primary influence for the Joker's design. Harley Quinn was drastically redesigned, with her trademark red and black jester's hat and full-body outfit removed and replaced with a costume containing elements from a nurse's outfit and a schoolgirl's uniform.
Designs for the asylum deviated significantly from the large mansion shown in the comics and instead depicted a large island composed of multiple buildings to allow for greater variety and exploration. Each building was designed with a unique architectural style to make the facility more believable and give each location a history. The medical building was inspired by Victorian architecture and its metalwork structure was intended to inspire feelings of horror. The intensive treatment unit has a Gothic, industrial aesthetic. The catacombs beneath the facility, inspired by early twentieth-century brickwork and Victorian industry, were meant to feel oppressive. The maximum security area was designed to feel claustrophobic and was retrofitted like a bunker, and the Arkham mansion displays a High Gothic style. The designers integrated crooked lines into environmental objects, such as trees and drainpipes, where possible. Forty rooms, thirty-four corridors, three exterior areas, and three Scarecrow-induced hallucination areas were designed for the game.
To bring these areas to life, the level designers produced game mechanic elements using simple room layouts and shapes, while concept artists worked to create artwork for each location, following the art direction. Environment artists would then build 3D layouts based on those designs. The artists found finding a suitable color palette to be a challenge; browns and monochromatic colors were able to depict the dark atmosphere wanted, but the developers also wanted the aesthetic to match the vibrant color scheme of a comic book. To achieve this, they used saturated colors for in-game lighting. Lighting was a vital element in the game, being used to highlight points of interest and to draw the player onward in otherwise boring corridors. In order to maintain the desired level of detail and allow the game to fit into consoles' memory, each area had to be streamed in and out of memory in order to free up memory for textures and geometry. All cutscenes were storyboarded by Rocksteady artists, being visualized in the game engine before the characters were motion-captured. Rocksteady decided that each cutscene should be used to advance the plot and character relationships, and that after each cutscene the player should have their goal changed or the importance of their actions modified. Priority was given to keeping action scenes under the player's control rather than showing them in cutscenes.
In April 2009, it was announced that the Joker would be a downloadable playable character for use in the game's challenge maps exclusively for the PlayStation 3. The Insane Night pack, containing the "Totally Insane" combat and "Nocturnal Hunter" stealth challenge maps, was released on September 17. The Prey in the Darkness pack was released on September 23, 2009, and contains the "Heart of Darkness" combat and "Hothouse Prey" stealth challenge maps. In North America, the Prey in the Darkness pack was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
- Main article: Batman: Arkham series
During the Spike Video Game Awards in 2009, Rocksteady officially confirmed that a sequel to Arkham Asylum was in development. In August 2010, they announced the sequel as Batman: Arkham City, and revealed a 2011 release date. Arkham City continues from Arkham Asylum, and details Batman's attempt to close down Arkham City and uncover a plot by Hugo Strange.
In October 2013, Batman: Arkham Origins was released. It acts as a prequel to the previous games, and tells the story of Black Mask hiring eight assassins to kill Batman on Christmas Eve, all while Batman's fight against crime takes its dark turn. This game was developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal, instead of Rocksteady Studios.
In March 2014, Rocksteady returned to the series and announced Batman: Arkham Knight, the closing chapter in their Batman series. Set after Arkham City, it features Scarecrow returning to Gotham and uniting various criminals to kill Batman. It is scheduled to be released in 2015.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The rest of the story: Batman: Arkham Asylum
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Batman: Arkham Asylum interview with Paul Dini
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Paul Dini Talks Batman: Arkham Asylum
- ↑ Rocksteady's Sefton Hill Unmasks Batman: Arkham Asylum (page 2)
- ↑ Interview: Paul Crocker of Rocksteady on Batman: Arkham Asylum
- ↑ Batman: Arkham Asylum Packs a Punch with Unreal Engine 3
- ↑ Tidbits: What You Didn't Know About Batman: Arkham Asylum
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Rocksteady's Sefton Hill Unmasks Batman: Arkham Asylum (page 3)
- ↑ Eidos expects Batman to score in the 90s
- ↑ Batman Arkham City interview: superhero development
- ↑ Finding The Asylum's Biggest Secret: Arkham City's Blueprints
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 The Art of Batman: Arkham Asylum
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 The Art Direction Of Batman: Arkham Asylum