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Additionally, the implied violence is much more sinister. Killer Croc is heard saying he wants to eat his doctor; the Riddler offers a grisly conundrum featuring a dismembered child; and if the player makes a mistake when rescuing Commissioner Gordon, Harley Quinn nonchalantly opens fire with a machine gun. (The commissioner is off-screen.)

Read all about it: DC Comics released the seminal graphic novel, “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth” ($29.95) in 1989. Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Dave McKean, it is one of the key sequential-art stories of the Batman library.

Those confounded by the game can grab BradyGames’ Signature Series Strategy Guide ($19.99). However, I would use it only to help uncover Riddler’s challenges rather than to solve the story.

Pixel-popping scale: 9.5 out of 10. Imagine living in a universe animated by comic-book legends John Bolton and Simon Bisley. Comic-book fans will consume the absolutely dark and realistic beauty of this masterpiece. The design of the world and characters is so compelling, this superfan at certain points had to let someone else play the game as I was too mesmerized to continue.

Extras and unlockables:A collection of 240 Riddler challenges can be found as floating question marks, items and trophies throughout environments.

Also, the player eventually accesses biographical information on 42 characters. Information includes first appearances in comics and offers interview recordings of every major inmate in the game.

Additionally, a multitiered challenge mode enables the player to really let loose. Play as Batman, or PS3 owners can download and play as the Joker, taking on waves of enemies in a three-dimensional fighting-game setting.

PS3 owners also get multiple high-definition featurettes highlighting the design of the game and some of the major villains.

Star power: Emmy- and Eisner Award-winning writer Paul Dini, a close chronicler of the Bat as well as co-creator of Harley Quinn, provides the story.

More incredible, actors who have brought the animated exploits of Batman to life also lend their voices. They include Kevin Conroy, the man behind the cartoon Caped Crusader; Mark Hamill as the Joker; Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn; and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred. By the way, Mr. Hamill’s performance is stellar. Somebody nominate this guy for something.

What’s it worth? Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best licensed comic-book video game ever made. Read that and weep, my friends, as it will take a lot for me ever to write that again.

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