'Arkham Asylum' Explores Batman's Angry Side

Chris Morris|Special to CNBC.com
Thursday, 28 May 2009 | 4:05 PM ET

Superhero games on the whole have a pretty sorry history in the video game world. Batman, in particular, has had to endure some really crappy titles bearing his name.

That inauspicious streak could end with "Arkham Asylum," though. Adopting the same gritty tone that made "The Dark Knight" film work so well, this game explores the brooding, angry side of the Caped Crusader. And, as a standalone title, it’s not forced to work in conjunction with a pre-ordained Batman story from another medium.

The story focuses on the eternal battle between Batman and the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime has taken over Arkham Asylum, which just happens to be filled with allies and other crime lords.

A third-person action/adventure title, the game focuses on combat (Batman will face up to 15 henchmen at a time) and stealth. Running blindly into a fight will get innocents killed—a big no-no for Batman.

Warner Bros., which is developing the game for Eidos, plans to include several nods to fans of the comic, with cameos and several major characters from the Batman universe, including Barbara ("Batgirl") Gordon, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.

The game looks fantastic and the very limited hands-on time Warner has let journalists have with it has resulted in largely positive initial impressions. That’s encouraging, but it doesn’t ensure the game will be as impressive.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Still, the buzz factor is high—as are sales expectations.

"The sales numbers on this one are so far modeling up pretty high. This could be one of the Top 10 games of the last part of the year," says Scott Mucci of GamerMetrics, a forecasting group that tracks the hit potential of titles based on gamer interest on the IGN enthusiast Web sites.

We’ll have a chance to find out in late summer—likely toward the end of September.

Video: CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Explores the Cost of Being Batman

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