by Bryan Del Rizzo

At NVIDIA, we want gamers to feel the thrill of ultra-realistic gaming environments. For total immersion, gaming environments have to look and feel as real as possible and characters must be able to move and interact with the objects that have a dramatic impact on game play. For London-based RockSteady Game Studios, developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum, only NVIDIA PhysX technology provided them the right development platform to make the comic book environment of Arkham Asylum come to life.

Based upon the long-running mythology of DC Comics’ world’s greatest crime fighter, the game features Batman trapped in Arkham Asylum, the nightmarish sanitarium that holds Gotham City’s criminally insane. To get out, he must face the super-villains he helped put away, including his archenemy the Joker. Players assume the role of the Dark Knight and navigate the Asylum’s foreboding environment, avoid the Joker’s famously fiendish plots, and ultimately recapture its infamous inhabitants to make Gotham City a safe place once again.

For the deepest level of immersion, Batman: Arkham Asylum features highly interactive environments that not only add to the overall look of the game, but also impact actual game play and character interaction. Game levels have been enhanced to incorporate high levels of destructible objects, including chippable walls, tiles, stone pillars, and statues, persistent physical particles from breaking glass and windows, and falling debris. The game’s aesthetic features include particle systems for fluids and fog, tearable cloths, and realistic foliage, all of which are accelerated by NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, when present in the system.

Based on its Metacritic score of 92, it’s clear that Batman: Arkham Asylum is a great game on any platform. But only when you play on a PC with a GeForce 8800 GTX series GPU or better, can you experience some of the most realistic physics effects in gaming.

If you’ve never played a game with PhysX before, you are in for a treat. With PhysX and NVIDIA GPUs, you can experience:
• Fog and smoke swirling around you and react realistically with the environment.
• Objects shattering when you throw your criminally insane opponents into them. Floor tiles pop up and go flying, wall tiles chip and break, pillars crumble on impact, glass and debris break into pieces as they fall.
• Loose papers shuffle and flutter as you move through them. Outside, falling leaves react to your movements.
• Creepy cloth banners sway in the air or get shredded by your Batarang.
• Explosions are bigger, brighter – better.

You can see all these effects and more in this video.  Of course, it takes real-time computing of complex physics algorithms to make it all happen. As processors get more powerful (like, say, when GPUs built on the new Fermi architecture are out), these immersive effects are only going to get more pervasive—and impressive.

For now, Arkham Asylum is a creepier, gloomier place thanks to PhysX.  And for an even deeper 3D immersive experience, you might want to try Batman: Arkham Asylum with NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. Either way, enjoy your trip to the loony bin, and let us know what some of your favorite features are in the comments.