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The 2009 Summer Games Preview

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: August 25th

Perhaps the game we’re most looking forward to this year (after the new Monkey Island games, obviously), Arkham Asylum isn’t directly based on either of the recent Batman films, even though it does take Bruce Wayne’s character back to his dark roots.

Set in the titular asylum for the criminally insane, Arkham Asylum is based around the idea of a prison riot, with the just-captured Joker teaming up with Harley Quinn to turn the inmates loose – while Batman and the Commisioner trapped inside. They're also threatening to detonate a series of bombs hidden throughout Gotham if anyone attempts a rescue, so the caped crusader has to face down his old foes one by one before the situation spirals out of control.

Looking to be heavily inspired by games like Escape from Butcher Bay and Condemned, Arkham Asylum will feature both an investigation aspect and fluid combat system that will see Batman using all manner of gadgets and tactics to try and get the upper hand. Stealth will play a huge part in the game too, with the winged one stalking his prey through the asylum's claustrophobic stone hallways before switching into a free-form melee system to bring justice directly to their faces.

The 2009 Summer Games Preview The 2009 Summer Games Preview
Arkham Asylum has some not-very-nice people in it

On top of all this, there’s a rudimentary RPG system included in the game that’ll allow players to upgrade gadgets and abilities as they move through the game by uncovering secret rooms and psych reports on the patients. It’s this combination of RPG, stealth and action genres that, combined with a chance to get a look at one of the most unique locations in the DC universe, has got us so excited about how the game is shaping up.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 10th

The 2009 Summer Games Preview The 2009 Summer Games Preview  At last the reins for the Call of Duty franchise have returned to Infinity Ward, makers of the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the first to bring the COD series kicking and screaming into a modern setting – a move greatly appreciated by most gamers and something that the team has decided to stick with.

Set years after the first Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward’s next title will still follow on from the original by casting players as part of a new SAS unit called Task Force 141 that’s been once again charged with defeating the Russian Ultranationalist group, which has re-grouped behind a new leader and once again is posing a threat to western society. While details on the campaign itself are still a little sketchy, it's been hinted that it’ll be just as breakneck and abrupt as the singleplayer campaign in Call of Duty 4, with some characters from the original game set to reprise their roles too.

One thing that we do know Infinity Ward has been working on is re-designing how players move through the singleplayer game. The aim is to make it more than a case of just fighting off endless waves of enemies until you move through an invisible checkpoint. No word on the exact solution that Activision has gone with – but it’s certainly time that someone tried to inject some fresh ideas into the gameplay. Call of Duty is wonderful and all, but new ideas are always worth a shot when the number of games in your series is about to reach double digits...

There are elements we’re not too happy about admittedly, such as the fact that, according to early previews, there's no co-op, but with any luck that should be balanced out by a new ‘Special Forces’ mode that features new stand-alone missions for players to try.