Review by Lord_Jack
"Game of the year contender? Very much so"
Well here we are, a few days after the release of the much anticipated comic book game adaption Batman Arkham Aslyum. With much to live up to, Arkham Aslyum delivers on every level, very nearly a flawless 10/10 masterpiece.
Arkham Aslyums story is one of its strong points. In short, when returning the Joker to the Asylum after recapturing him, Batman learns that the Joker and his sidekick, Harley Quinn, have devised a plan to put the entire Asylum into chaos and unleash hell upon Batman as he tries to stop Joker and his diabolical plan that threatens Gotham at its very core. The story intertwines the games main villains with relatively smoothly, each one serving its purpose. Though some great villains are left out from the action, the cast chosen is still very good. The story manages to stay interesting and original without disappointing. I speak however as a Batman novice, my knowledge of the universe is very little, but it seems to do the series justice. Despite the stories quality, it sadly does not last very long, leaving much to be desired. Its a game you never want to end but it ends up stopping quicker than you would like. Still a clever story with a reasonable ending.
As you can see from a mere few screenshots, the game looks gorgeous. Every bit of Arkham is meticulously detailed building a real sense of involvement in the environment around you. Inside, Arkhams crawling corridors feel alive but more importantly, the buildings seem vastly large despite the fairly linear designs. Outside, the views and environment are breathtaking and again are created with incredible detail. Character models are very intricate and detailed from the sadistic face paint on the Jokers henchman to the dead flower on the Jokers pinstripe suit. The character designs are absolutely brilliant and bring out the character in all. These new designs give Arkham Asylum a unique feel when compared to comics or films. Having played the game to 100% completion, the only issue I noticed was the occasional bad texture which appear infrequently. Other than this minor niggle, the graphics are flawless.
Music is definitly a background player in the games atmosphere occasionally popping in on certain moments to heighten the atmosphere, which works brilliantly. This uplifts the mood whilst your exploring the Asylum or escaping the clutches of fear itself. The real winner here however is the incredible voice acting from Kevin Conroy as the Bat himself and Mark Hamil as the Joker. These two voices are fantastic, particularly Hamils Joker that make the story thrive. Just listening to Jokers wise cracks and hilarious gags as you slowly cleanse the asylum is an experience itself. Thats not to say however that the other voices arent good as each one is brilliant in each way to complete the experience. The sound in this game is just another crucial part to the complete experience
Arkham Asylums gameplay is hit and miss. Some people like it, some dont. It is incredibly simple. Square is a basic strike used to hit enemies, triangle counters enemy attacks when timed correctly, circle stuns enemies and X evades away from or over enemies. You will unlock new moves like throws and instant kills but that is the basics. Once mastered, you can perform amazing fluent combos with ease. Its simple fun to just mash away at some thugs and watch the wizardry unfold in front of you. Personally, I love the combat system as it is simple to execute but very difficult to master rewarding more experienced players. The exploration element of the game is well executed in particular the Riddlers challenges. 240 challenges are scattered around the Aslyum in the form of collectables and riddles including references to other Batman villains and interviews with the villains. These work as excellent distractions from the main story and also give you plenty to do after you have finished the main game. The challenge maps are also fantastic fun and provide a very tough challenge to experienced players. The leaderboards mean a competitive player could play for hours trying to get a better position. Whilst the game wont last forever it will give you some good hours and an amazing experience to boot.
PS3 Exclusive: The Joker challenge maps
I felt that this was worth mentioning in detail as its such a great extra. From the playstation store you can download (exclusively may I add) the Joker for the challenge maps that you have unlocked as Batman. The Joker has his own moves that match batmans play style. His prank like moves are brilliant to watch as he slaps, pokes and shoots his way through Arkham guards and even Commissioner Gordan on some occasions. Jokers unique moves and gadgets give him a different feel to batman, specifically in the predator challenges which are much harder with Jokers reliance on the Hypno glasses gadget (harder to use equivalent to detective mode). There is a lot of fun to be had with the Joker alone as an excellent distraction from the main story. I feel priveledged that PS3 was treated to this exclusive and its definitly worth choosing the PS3 version over the XBox or PC versions.
Batman is easily the best game I have played on the PS3 console. Yes, better than Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank, Fallout 3 or GTAIV. It delivers a very unique experience and finally does a comic book justice. The combination effort of voice acting, gameplay, amazing graphics and sound creates a totally immersive experience that I feel is unmatched. The attention to detail is astounding as a lot of care went into this games development. I feel that this really paid off to create an absolutely breathtaking game. I really wanted to give this game a perfect 10, but its length, though understandable, was a real issue for me. I felt like it needed to longer, obtaining the platinum trophy in roughly four days. However, do not let that put you off from experiencing one of the best games this year.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/02/09
Game Release: Batman: Arkham Asylum (EU, 08/28/09)
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