Review by MisterMarioMan
"Only for the true fans of the Bat."
Arkham Asylum was a much-anticipated game. Everyone wanted it and thought it would be great. Don't get me wrong: It's worth a play-through. It's a really decent game, and you'll have a lot fun. But unless you really, really love Batman, you see the game for what it is: 8 hours of the creators just trying to please the fans.. When you really get down to it, the game has a lot of flaws. The story telling is almost as good, nay, BETTER than the Dark Knight, but the game play and other things really limit the greatness of this title.
Lets start with the good: The voice acting. Oh my god. Rarely do you come across something that you have to stop and say "Wow, they really captured that character," but dammit, this is it. Mark Hamill does an outstanding job as the Joker. It's not completely out of the blue; he has played the Joker quite a few times before. But he provides just enough of the psycho of the character with the humor of the character to really pull out with an amazing performance. I could not believe that he did such a great job. Kevin Conroy does an alright job with Batman, but compared to Christian Bale he somewhat falls flat. He managed to keep up with Hamill though, which is pretty much all you can hope for. Arleen Sorkin reprises the role of Harley Quinn, a role she's also had a lot of experience with, and also does a fantastic job, really capturing the essence of the character. The voice acting is one of the best parts of this game, and it was always fun to hear people speak.
The other great thing that really stands out in my mind is the story-telling. Being locked in Arkham Asylum was the perfect situation to put Batman in. The place is not only creepy, enough to get you worried, but you know that it's full of his worse enemies, such as Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy. It gets to a point where you never know whats gonna happen next, but you're excited. Things can happen out of nowhere; maybe you'll walk into a room where Bane will attack, or perhaps you accidentally walk into the Scarecrows fear gas(without knowing it!) It was a great concept and it was presented really well. A couple of scenes can really stick out in my mind for the excellent cut scene direction they took, which rarely happens to me in video games. This was definitely and enjoyable experience, and rivals if not BEATS the Dark Knight.
One of my only complaints of the story was that they limited the number of villains heavily. With only the Joker, Harley, and about 4 other major villains, you end up expecting a lot more, especially if you're a huge fan. Ah well, perhaps the sequel will feature more. More villains would have really helped the game with it's shortness factor as well, because at only eight hours, this is a fairly short title.
The games graphics are pretty damn good as well. Rarely I found myself stopping to look at something, but everything was nicely detailed and did a great job of showing off the environment. I have no real problems with the way the game looked, but I do have a few compliments. The music in this game was also just fine. They took most of it from previous Batman works, but hey, if somethings not broken, why fix it?" The music was good to the ear and did not feel out of place at all.
Now we move on to the game play, where the game starts to fall apart. Basically, the developers wanted to give you two options when you come to a room full of baddies. You could stealthily take them down, one by one, without ever being detected, or you could do a mad rush in there to take 'em all on at once. The first issue comes from this: You CAN'T do a mad rush in there, because you will be slaughtered if they have guns. So already, a major element from the game is out. So lets try the stealth method. 9 times of out 10? You take someone out, and at least one guard will see you. On the off chance you can successfully kill someone undetected, you'll have to get out of there in about 2-3 seconds, which is very little time at all. If you pull this off, all the guards will come to the location of the dead guard, stare at him for ten seconds, then walk away. What kind of stupid guard would walk away? So the process repeats itself. It's a shame that if you do end up getting detected, you're pretty much screwed, as they'll take anywhere between 75-100% of your health before you return to being undetected(again, just because you can't seem him, doesn't mean Batman isn't there anymore!) If you do end up getting killed, you must start the room over again, and some rooms can have as many as 8 armed guards. Trust me, it gets tedious, and really annoying after a while.
The game also offers some Riddler Challenges, which range from solving riddles to finding hidden trophies to listening to old tapes. I really liked this, as it provided some fun puzzle-solving to the game. I only have one real problem with this. Now this wasn't a problem for me, due to my love of everything Batman related, but if you don't read the comic books avidly, you're pretty much screwed out of 10% of the challenges, as some of the them deal directly with stuff from the comic books. Heres an example: the riddle was "What would a bird need in the rain?". Obviously, this a reference to the Penguin, who always carried around an umbrella. I knew that. However, if you don't read the comics, chances are you won't know that. There are a lot of times like that.
This doesn't really belong in any section, but I feel I should comment on this anyway: The game-over screen(which you will see a lot) Is extremely well done. The villain you're currently fighting(usually the Joker, but it could Harley, Bane, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy...) will come and taunt you while your done. There's quite a few different taunts, so you won't be too pissed off when you die. I really enjoyed that.
In the end, Batman: Arkham Asylum is basically just 8 hours of giving the fans what they want: butt-kicking action courtesy of the Bat. You won't hate this game if you buy. You'll probably like it a lot, even if you don't read the comics. If you do read the comics, then you'll absolutely love this game, more than likely. It is a good game; do not get me wrong. But the game play really hinders it. Plus, you can easily beat it in one renting( I beat it in one all-nighter) so you may not want to buy this, unless you really want to find all Riddler Challenges. Really, play this game for what it should be: An excellent Batman story with a few annoying parts in the middle.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/08/10
Game Release: Batman: Arkham Asylum (US, 08/25/09)
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