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Batman Arkham Asylum S-3D Review

By Neil Schneider

  • Introduction
  • General Game Review
  • iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • DDD Tridef Ignition Findings
  • Conclusion


    Introduction


    Batman Arkham Asylum, NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 191.07

    I am Batman. At least, that’s what EIDOS Games would have me believe after playing their latest title: Batman Arkham Asylum! Will Arkham Asylum qualify me to be the Caped Crusader? Do I have what it takes to defeat Gotham’s arch villains and bring order to the disorderly? Can I fulfil this responsibility in stereoscopic 3D?

    We will find out!



    General Game Review

    You’d think Batman was going to have a great day! The story begins with The Joker in cuffs being taken to Arkham Asylum by the Dark Knight himself. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, The Joker escapes, and what was supposed to be his prison turns into his personal fortress.

    The entire game is an exercise of exploration, cunning tactics, and patience. It works because it is 100% story driven, and the detailed environment gives an overwhelming sense of authenticity. The coolness of the DC Comic, and the Bad-Ass of the latest Batman movies all rolled up into one!


    Batman Arkham Asylum, NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 191.07

    While Batman grows an inventory of powerful Wayne-Tech gadgets, you aren’t Superman! You can’t hold your own against a shotgun or machinegun fire. Instead, your strength is the ability to strike without warning, and retreat into the shadows. You do this by swinging from ceiling gargoyle to gargoyle, silently dropping down, and knocking your enemies unconscious with ruthless efficiency.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    When it does come to hand-to-hand combat, you can swing and kick with the best of them. It is this smoothness of motion and seamless choreography that makes every battle both fun to watch and to play. You can stun your enemies from a distance with your Batarang (think Ninja Star with batwings), and temporarily yank them to the ground with your grapple. But be quick! You have to finish the job by knocking them unconscious with a head crushing take-down move or they will get right up again!

    While Arkham Asylum was intended to help the criminally insane, its design is intrinsically demented. By using a special "Detective Mode", Batman can see all that needs to be seen. Secret passageways, structure weaknesses, and enemies nearby. It can even create a trail of fingerprints and scent so Batman can track down his next objective.

    Graphics aside, I think the biggest victory behind Batman Arkham Asylum is the story. As hard as I try, I just can’t put this game down because I want to know what happens next. I have already come face to face with The Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, Poison Ivey, Scarecrow, and more.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 191.07

    An important part of the game is to pick up Riddler Clues and interview tapes from the different inmates. It’s entertaining because you get an inside track of what therapy would be like with almost all of Batman’s foes! The Riddler in particular has a unique sense of humour which can’t be repeated here.

    If you have ever seen the more modern Batman cartoons, you will immediately recognize the reprised voices of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker, and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but the voice acting for Poison Ivey was the most memorable.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 191.07

    There is a sequence where you need to defeat Ivey with your Batarang by striking her when she is most vulnerable. Whenever she gets hit, she "oooohs" and "aaaahs" in such a way that seems to yell "Yes Batman! Do it again! I’m a bad girl!" I’m sure a lot of parents are going to be running up to their teenager’s bedrooms wondering what the heck is going on. ;=)

    The big question that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind is this: how is Batman Arkham Asylum in stereoscopic 3D? Let’s find out!



    iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    The iZ3D System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA GTX285
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    iZ3D drivers 1.10

    First, Batman is a great game in stereoscopic 3D. You can easily control the depth and pop-out experience with the iZ3D drivers, and the camera angles are consistent enough from scene to scene that you don’t need to readjust on a regular basis, if at all.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    The performance is also very good, and you could probably get away with a minimum NVIDIA 8800 or ATI 3870 series or better graphics card with reduced settings.

    While iZ3D has an active profile for Batman Arkham Asylum in their latest 1.10 driver release, and you will enjoy it, there are still some bugs to work out. You could see some the leading problems just by running the game’s benchmark and looking at the way the windows black out in one eye, while the other remains transparent, or special effects that occasionally seem to be lacking or discoloured in one view compared to the other. These are not hardware limitations, they are flaws that can easily be seen when viewing side by side images.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    Similar to other Unreal Engine 3 games, iZ3D renders the dynamic shadows at screen depth or with 2D object placement. It could be a better implementation, and there are problems where shadows occasionally don’t sync up with their subjects properly, and this makes things look a bit off.

    While most of the game is both playable and enjoyable in S-3D, the Poison Ivey stage is very problematic. There are sequences where there is a glow effect that flickers in one eye as the character moves, and reductions in all settings could not improve this.

    Finally, at the beginning of the game, you will see a problem where the spotlights are disconnected from their light sources. After several hours of play, this error only happens in the first scene, and doesn’t repeat itself.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    While I have given these anomalies their share of attention, it should be made clear that the S-3D experience is still a positive one, and most of the game can be played without distraction. I’m certain that a future driver update can get these issues cleared up.

    In celebration of FRAPS 3.0 having unofficial support for the iZ3D stereoscopic 3D drivers, we created this S-3D video of one of the Batman "Challenge" fight scenes.



    Visit the original YouTube page to get all the S-3D setttings options. Notice the black texture on the ground in one of the views? It’s the little things that hamper iZ3D’s implementation.

    Make sure the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision option is turned off in the game settings because this conflicts with the iZ3D drivers and will create a system error.



    NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    First, special thanks go to NVIDIA for upgrading our equipment for testing the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision solution:

    Maingear X-Cube
    Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ
    6GB RAM
    2 X GTX 275 (SLI)
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Samsung 2233RZ Monitor


    Batman Arkham Asylum, NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 191.07

    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision manages to strut its stuff with Batman Arkham Asylum. The gamer is able to easily control depth and convergence settings, the camera angles are very consistent, and the dynamic shadows are rendered properly. All in all, I had great difficulty finding visual anomalies to report on. NVIDIA recommends that "motion blur" be turned off, but other than that, you should be good to go with this game. Remember to turn on the in-game stereoscopic 3D options for NVIDIA optimization.

    While my system is SLI based, I would expect an NVIDIA 8800 series or better should be able to handle Batman in S-3D.

    It should be made clear that NVIDIA had the biggest advantage of the three driver developers because they were working with EIDOS while this title was being written, rather than having to optimize their drivers after the game was on the shelf.



    DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    The DDD System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA 285GTX
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    Tridef Experience 4.1 Package

    Similar to iZ3D and NVIDIA, the DDD solution also gives the flexibility to control depth and pop-out experiences. You will need to play with the advanced settings in the OSD to get the full flexibility, but it is possible nonetheless.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4

    While the game settings will let you turn the dynamic shadows on, there is a big trade-off! The Tridef Ignition Drivers actually force the shadows off - so you really aren’t getting the full visual experience.

    The only memorable anomaly I could find was the disconnected light source on the first level - just like iZ3D. Beyond that, I could find no visual anomalies to report on with the remaining game settings on full.


    Batman Arkham Asylum, DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4

    You could probably get away with a minimum NVIDIA 8800 or ATI 3870 series or better graphics card.



    Conclusion

    I really can’t say enough about Batman Arkham Asylum. I think it’s a thoroughly enjoyable game, and is a great primer on Batman’s corner of the DC Universe.

    The only caveat is you can’t decide when you want your progress recorded. The game is saved according to markers, and you can’t replay older points in the game. This is a problem because I would prefer to be able to go back and capture screenshots I may have missed. This is also a problem for optimization because S-3D driver developers may need to retest sections of a game for anomalies, etc.

    While NVIDIA was the clear winner for this title, the other driver developers should be equally proud! Without the advantage of a pre-release game developer relationship, iZ3D and DDD both put out playable and enjoyable renditions of Batman Arkham Asylum, and further optimization is expected. So if EIDOS Games is reading this, make a small effort to diversify your support, and your next title will have even more industry-wide compatibility.

    Share your thoughts on this review in our discussion forums, and check out the Bat-Gallery for even more images!

    Game Play
    9/10

    Sound
    7/10

    Presentation
    9/10

    Immersive Nature
    8/10

    How Memorable Is This Game
    9.5/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
    9.5/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
    7/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness DDD
    8.5/10

    NVIDIA Overall Rating:
    8.66/10

    iZ3D Overall Rating:
    8.25/10

    DDD Overall Rating:
    8.5/10