Batman: Arkham Asylum on Playstation 3 Hands-On Impressions.

Hyped as the definitive super-hero game this generation early into its development, the game has always had a hard task ahead of it. With a number of delays to ensure quality behind it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is finally gearing up to release. Can it ever live up to the hype?

From what we've played, it's certainly a possibility.

The game opens on a glum, washed out Gotham City scene, when the Batmobile speeds through the streets and towards the cities local nuthou,e; Arkham Asylum. Batman is returning the Joker to his rightful home after a successful, but suspicious capture. It's here that the game kicks in. The Joker ceases contol of the Asylum and locks Batman inside with him; flinging Batman into a Bioshock type scenario — you're a hostile in an unknown environment filled with nutters.

Joker wastes no time trying to orchestrate Batman's demise. Hollering over the tannoy he erupts "Round One" when the room fills with misfit thugs. The combat is relatively simple but it feels extremely awesome. In its simplest form you're simply pressing Square to pound the opponents, but we're sure as the game opens up so does the combat. The combat feels satisfying due to some great animations on Batman and his opponents. Hitting enemies slows time slightly so you get the full effect of the impact, and takedowns are detailed intricately up-close. Arkham Asylum is a relatively mean-going game — the atmosphere is foreboding and the combat gritty; it's certainly taking its props from the Christian Bale era Batman, with perhaps some of the noire of the Animated Series.

The area we played seemed relatively open-ended but it will be interesting to see how much Arkham Asylum opens up throughout the game. The luxury of a focused area is that the developers can give a lot of incentive to explore, without worrying about the player getting too lost or going "too far". Hopefully Arkham Asylum is filled with as many layers as we expect.

Our playtime culminated with some prompt use of Batman's Detective Skills. Hitting L2 allowed us to scale the environment and look for platforms to clamber upon. We were then able to use this tactic to sneak up on enemies and attack them unaware.

Arkham Asylum could end up being the definitive Batman game. It all depends on how the game stands as a whole. We've seen signs of an intriguing environment, satisfying combat and a strong storyline; if it can carry over into a full 8 hour experience then we'll be both impressed and elated.