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While at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival this year, we did some Bat-like investigating into the Batman: Arkham Asylum Xbox 360 booths and discovered we could play Challenge Mode – a feature not available in the demo. There were three challenge rooms to play: Silent Knight, Sewer Bat (Extreme) and Intensive Treatment.

Challenge Mode pitches Batman against inmates in a number of timed rounds – there were four in the demo – which vary in difficulty. With no multiplayer in the game, it’s vital that this mode keeps us swinging back to the Bat past the single player.

The first of these maps was Silent Knight. It’s not too dis-similar from the room featured towards the end of the Batman demo, where you must use stealth and cunning to take out each criminal individually. Although easy to just run in and try your best against Joker’s fully-loaded henchman, it doesn’t really work.

Batman is not superhuman and you must treat him as such. Stealth is key on this map with plenty of routes available to to help in taking your enemies down, including grates in the floor to pop up from and grab them. Despite the stealth, a healthy dose of aggression will do you no harm when the inmates work out where you are located. All in all, it felt like a fast-moving agile version of a Splinter Cell game.

Many gamers cited their disappointment with the lack of combat in the demo. While I was one of them, I had more than enough exposure to the system after playing Sewer Bat (Extreme). This map pits Batman in a sewer against Blackgate’s toughest prisoners who have been, story-wise, transferred to Arkham after a fire destroyed Blackgate Prison. This map is just an absolute all-out brawl with what will surely be some of the toughest opponents in the game.

While I only had a brief play of this map, I had to restart it twice and only made it as far as the second round due to the sheer difficulty of the enemies. This is certainly one that’ll appeal to the combat fans as there is no flight, only fight. During this map I also noticed some of the new takedowns Batman will perform. They’re not too different from what we’ve seen Batman do in the past, covering various styles of Martial Arts.

The last map I played was Intensive Treatment. It’s essentially a scaled-down version of Sewer Bat (Extreme) – minus the extreme. It is pure combat, but the villains are a lot easier to handle and I managed to complete all four rounds. I started to get to grips with the fluidity of movement between Batman’s strikes while on this map; countering is so vital to chaining attacks together – not to mention it looks damn cool too.

In summary, I was happy with the maps on show but I couldn’t help but feel that there may not be much variety  in the final game. Still, it’s a nice little extra that will, at the very least, guarantee a couple of hours of playing time on top of the single player game and will be great for those who just want to pick-up-and-play Batman: AA without the story.