Arkham Asylum was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles in August 2009, followed by a Windows version a month later. The game received critical acclaim, particularly for its narrative and combat. Upon release, many reviewers called it the \"greatest comic book game of all time.\" It won several awards, including Best Action Adventure game, Best Game, and Game of the Year from various media outlets, and it held the Guinness World Record for \"Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever\". It has been cited as one of the greatest video games ever made. The game received several re-releases, including a Game of the Year edition in March 2010, a Mac OS X version in November 2011, and a remastered version for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October 2016. Arkham Asylum's success launched the Batman: Arkham series, comprising video game sequels and spin-offs, comic books, merchandise, and movies, beginning in October 2011 with its direct sequel Arkham City.
Arkham Asylum features a series of challenge maps separate from the game's story mode that are unlocked while playing, and others are available as optional downloadable content (DLC). The maps focus on the completion of specific goals, such as eliminating successive waves of enemies in combat, and subduing patrolling enemies while using stealth. The methods and variety of abilities used to achieve these goals earn an overall performance score that is ranked online against other players. On the PlayStation 3, the Joker is a playable character in the combat and stealth challenge maps via optional DLC; he must confront the asylum guards and police commissioner James Gordon. The Joker has his own combat abilities and weapons, such as a handgun, exploding chattering teeth, and x-ray glasses which allow him to see opponents through walls.
The game took approximately 21 months to complete; Rocksteady began development with a team of 40, which had expanded to around 60 by the game's completion. Combat was considered one of the greatest challenges in developing the game; the system went through three iterations. 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, and was given a simple control scheme to reflect the ease with which Batman can perform the moves. Arkham Asylum was built on Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. Eidos president Ian Livingstone said one developer spent two years working on Batman's cape, using over 700 animations and sound effects to make it move realistically.
Rocksteady began conceiving ideas for a possible sequel, which became Batman: Arkham City, approximately seven months before development of Arkham Asylum was completed. Rocksteady developed ideas for the sequel's story and setting so the games' narratives could be effectively connected. A secret room containing hints, blueprints, and concept art for the next game was hidden in the asylum warden's office in Arkham Asylum. The room remained hidden for six months following the game's release until Rocksteady revealed its presence. Arkham Asylum's musical score was composed by Ron Fish and Nick Arundel, who also composed the soundtrack for the sequel, Batman: Arkham City.
To develop the game's overall aesthetic, the main aim was to create designs that would combine comic book style with realism. The environmental architecture and characters had to be extravagant enough to represent the Batman universe, but needed realistic texture and detail. The second aim was to recreate the dark, Gothic imagery inherent to the Batman universe, especially Arkham Asylum, so that the structure would feel as insane as those whom it houses. The asylum was considered an ideal location because it can house many of Batman's foes.
Designs for the asylum departed from comic interpretations of a large mansion and instead developed an entire island, with hints of Alcatraz prison, composed of multiple buildings to allow for greater variety and exploration. Each building was designed with a different architectural style to make the facility appear believable and to imbue each location with 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. 40 rooms, 34 corridors, three exterior areas, and three Scarecrow-induced hallucination areas were designed for the game.
Batman: Arkham Asylum was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America on August 25, 2009, and on August 28 in Europe and Australia. It was released for Microsoft Windows in North America on September 15, 2009, and on September 18 in Europe and Australia. A Game of the Year edition was released on March 26, 2010, in Europe and on May 11 in North America. Feral Interactive developed a Mac OS X version, which was released on disc and as a download on November 3, 2011. On the Windows version of the game, the developers used an anti-duplication measure that disables Batman's glide ability and causes other bugs, preventing copied games from progressing beyond a certain point. Although not the first game to implement such countermeasures, Arkham Asylum received media coverage, as this was seen as a novel method of copy protection.
Batman: Return to Arkham, developed by Virtuos, features remastered versions of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City using the Unreal Engine 4 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Additionally, both games include all previously released downloadable content, and feature improved graphics, upgraded models and environments, and improvements in the lighting, effects and shaders for both games. Originally intended for release in July 2016, the collection was delayed indefinitely in June that year in order to give the development team \"additional time to deliver a polished Batman Arkham game experience.\" The collection was released on October 18, 2016.
A sequel was released in 2011 titled Batman: Arkham City. A prequel titled Batman: Arkham Origins was released on October 25, 2013 worldwide. Another sequel, Batman: Arkham Knight was released on June 23, 2015. The movie Assault on Arkham released in August 2014 was set two years before the first game.
Prior to the events of the game, Wayne Enterprises had invested heavily in the asylum's security systems and contributed some of its most sophisticated surveillance equipment towards the revitalization of the existing facilities. This backfires on Batman when Harley Quinn and corrupt guard Frank Boles are able to take control of the security systems and use them to help orchestrate the Joker's escape.
The Collector's Edition Batarang Box Set was released by GameStop and Wal-Mart. The package features a 14-inch (36 cm) Batarang, a 50-page character journal, a bonus disc that includes interviews with the voice actors, and the Crime Alley challenge map. The Wal-Mart regular and Collector's Edition's of the game came with a code for an armored Batsuit for use only in the challenge maps. Additionally, a pre-order challenge map from GameStop was announced called Scarecrow Nightmare. It places Batman under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin, causing him to hallucinate and all the enemies to be seen as skeletons. Both codes are included in their respective editions. A Game of the Year Edition was released on March 26, 2010 in Europe, Australia and Japan and in North America on May 11, 2010. The updated edition features all of the original game, the extra challenge maps Totally Insane, Nocturnal Hunter, Crime Alley, Scarecrow Nightmare, and the ability to play the game in 3D on any regular 2D television using TriOviz stereoscopy glasses.
Arkham Asylum game met with a very positive response from both critics and players alike. Reviewers often marked it as the best Batman experience available at that time, and even as the years have passed it is still a strongly recommended title, especially for the fans of The Dark Knight. Reviewers mostly praised the smooth and fast-paced combat combined with stealth elements, but they also noted amazing graphics, an interesting story, and a great atmosphere.
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