Some might say we're late to the party with the face-off coverage of Batman: Arkham Asylum, but we've got two very good reasons to explain the delay. First up, our demo showdown did a fairly effective job of discerning the key talking points with the console versions. Secondly, developer Rocksteady has put a great deal of effort into the PC build and we wanted to cover that in-depth too. Since Eidos wouldn't supply PC or indeed PS3 code, we ended up buying them, which meant waiting for the official release like everyone else.
In many respects Arkham Asylum is a perfect convergence of technology, art and design. While some developers have managed to break free of its stylistic shackles Rocksteady has instead embraced the core look of the Unreal Engine 3 technology, with a hardcore-pleasing rendering of Batman and his world that looks fantastic. On a similar theme, the gothic renderings of Arkham Asylum often have echoes of some of the architecture seen in Epic's own games featuring UE3 technology.
Combine this with a game design that truly reflects the character of the Dark Knight, the key voice actors from the animated series plus a great story from Paul Dini, and it's pretty easy to see why Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the best games of the year.
In terms of the usual face-off shenanigans, it's no secret that the Microsoft platform has clear advantages in terms of performance and image quality - but the variation between the two games is nowhere near as pronounced as some other Unreal Engine 3 projects. You can see for yourself in the 720p and 1080p comparison galleries we've put together. The 720p area offers up like-for-like shots from all three versions of the game, while 1080p pitches the upscaled 360 image against the PC's native 1080p mode at nigh-on max settings.
Here's the obligatory Xbox vs. PS3 Face-Off video, and be sure to check out the HD version available via the EGTV clickthrough, which has more clips, more pixels and is generally a much more comprehensive way to check out the differences between the two console games.
First up is that perennial old favourite: anti-aliasing. In common with most UE3 games the Xbox 360 version does have smoothed edges, significantly reducing the "jaggy" factor. However, the 2x multi-sampling (MSAA) effect is not quite so obvious as it is on other games. It seems to be the case that the AA is selectively deployed. The best theory to explain this is that additional processing is undertaken after the AA is applied, and the effects of that are not edge-smoothed.
Regardless, the PS3 version still manages to hold its own. In a dark game like Arkham Asylum, the edge artifacts are naturally diminished - certainly in the demo, the overall image quality of both games was pretty much like-for-like.