Review by nzjoel
""Holy strawberries Batman! We're in a jam!""
Don't tell me. A franchise game that is actually good:
Normally I would steer clear of any franchise games that come onto the market. For example the incredible hulk, Spiderman, batman and wolverine. Wait, batman..... Surely not. A franchise game that is actually good and playable. It's near unheard of. Not only is this game good but I will rank it with the top games of 09. What a surprise it was to play this title. I read a few reviews on it 1st before looking into it and the bulk of the reviews were good with a few people only ranking it 7/10. Looking through a brochure I saw that it was on special for only $88 bucks NZ. (That would be very cheap everywhere else around the world) Off I went to buy it and I don't consider myself to be a hardcore gamer but this title wound me in and I couldn't stop playing it till I had my platinum trophy.
It's Alfred's emergency belt-buckle Bat-call signal! He's in trouble! Batman
Starting off with a very nice film clip of batman driving the joker to Arkham Asylum you enter the asylum with the joker in chains being escorted away. But something's not right is it; the joker has never let himself be caught this easy so of course batman helps to escort him through the asylum. When all of a sudden the joker outsmarts an extremely dim-witted guard and doctor and is free to run rampart on Arkym Island. It's now up to the dark knight himself to bring order to Arkym and lock all the mentals back in there boxes.
Holy Long John Silver, Batman! Robin
The Graphics in this title are fantastic in my opinion. Everything seems so dark and eerie and you really get that feeling you are in this asylum with all these nutcases. One of the great perks of this game is the fact the dark knight can look through his bat vision which changes the whole screen and you will pick up hostile and friendly targets by a sensor. You can even pick them up through walls so you will always have the upper hand. The animations of batman and all the henchmen seem well done too. If anything after playing a few combat challenges and predator challenges the henchmen seem a little predictable in what they are going to do. The super villains also look rather well done, poison Ivy is all green and veiny, Harley Quinn (as annoying as she is) looks really good, Scarecrow is great and looks the part of fear very well. Croc is massive and in the opening scenes you will see him for the first time before foolishly venturing into his lair at a later stage in the game. Can't go past the joker, looks just fantastic and is voiced by the great Mark Hamill.
"Holy strawberries Batman! We're in a jam!" Robin
The fighting mechanics are great as you play it in 3rd person perspective as batman. The dark knight can sneak around without being heard, stalk enemies, swing from gargoyles above enemies, hide in grates underground and go through ventilation systems so there is multiple ways to take down your foes. This game really makes you feel like you are Batman and is nothing like any previous batman title before it. The combat system is great too, not too hard to master or get the hang of it and the closest game I can think of to its combat mechanisms would be the original god of war. One button does the bulk of the combat whilst other buttons are for stunning, bat-a-ranging, grappling, dodging. Throughout the story there really are only 2 types of encounters. Predator and combat. In predator encounters you will take down a room of armed thugs without them noticing you. It is a stealth game with a bit of strategy involved as if you are spotted the enemies will open fire and one thing batman isn't is bulletproof. Bullets really hurt batman so it's best to go around the level taking out thugs one by one or more with gadgets without being spotted. The combat encounters are quite different as it's more or less a brawl. You will be pitted up against a group of enemies some armed with knives, bats, stun sticks and sometimes guns. Best thing is batman can take on a group of 20 thugs no problem especially with the combat system they have set up. Building combos is your biggest priority here as with combos you can use specials and so on. The dark knight whilst in combat just seamlessly moves from target to target attacking, breaking limbs, throwing enemies over edges. There is really quite a lot you can do to your enemies. The dark knight won't kill anyone but it sure as hell won't stop him snapping limbs, putting henchmen into comas or throwing them over a cliff.
The boss battles are also another great aspect of the game as they are all different. Batman uses his wits for most of them as going up mano a mano against the croc would be just suicide, so a trap must be set. The scarecrows battles are more a gauntlet to get through without being spotted. Poison ivy is more a platform boss fight where u will throw bat-a-rangs at her whilst she is being hoisted by a big flower plant thing. The boss battles are fun but people may not be happy because there are quite a few villains who are left out but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them make an appearance in arkym asylum 2.
... You ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light? Joker
Playing through this game you will realize how much thought and time must have gone into making this great title. During the game you will come across certain items, like trophies, photo opportunities, interview tapes and so forth. These are all part of a massive side quest to solve riddles that the riddler has left all around arkym. There are over 200 riddler challenges to decipher and find and this adds quite a lot of game play to the title. As it is you could finish this game in 6-8 hrs just by rushing through it but if you want to find everything, level up and unlock all new skills and upgrades the game will take a little longer to finish. It's not a real long game but it's not short either and personally I think it is about the right length for a night in a mental institution. A big part of the game lies in the challenges in challenge mode. They are called challenges for a reason and yes some of them are rather hard to do. Predator challenges are not too bad but the combat challenges will test your fighting skills to try to get the score for trophies. I finished arkym asylum in a week of casual play but it took another 7 days to master the combat challenges. So it does add a bit of challenge to the game as well.
"I make art until someone dies. I'm the world's first fully functional homicidal artist" Joker
The gadgets are another thing I want to talk about in this game. They are fantastic to use and really give you the feel of being the dark knight. You start off with a standard bat-a-rang but you can upgrade it to a double or even triple as you level up. That means you can knock 3 people over in one throw. Very useful in predator and combat challenges. Batman also comes equipped with unlimited explosive gel which is used to blow down walls, use it as a mine for enemies, and blow enemies up through walls. Quite a few good things to use it for. The grapple hook is handy to rip off vents up high and when upgraded it can take out walls. It also pulls enemies towards you kind of like scorpions grapple hook in mortal combat. This is also handy when you want to pull enemies off 2 or 3 story ledges. There is a remote control bat-a-rang and also a line zipper which allows you to travel over distance by way of a flying fox. All these gadgets really give you the feel of playing the dark knight and when used properly can really give you the edge in any combat situation you find yourself in.
Crime hasn't been all that good to me of late. I've been spending more time in Arkham Asylum than out joker
Overall this is one title I wouldn't recommend skipping. The game play is just fantastic and you really do feel like you are playing as the dark knight himself. It does not feel repetitive at all as you are always moving about to a different part of the island. The riddler challenges add a very nice touch to this game as you unlock quite a few different things by solving them such as character trophies, biographies and challenge's for challenge mode. The only real downside I can think is if you are not a batman fan you probably won't enjoy this title as much. It really is made for the fans and more so for the older fans as it has some dark humour and scenes to it. The developers of this game have just done wonderful in creating such a brilliant and fun game, the voices add a great touch and Mark Hamill doing his joker voice really adds the icing to the cake. The other downside to the voices is that of Harley Quinn. God her voice just drives you up the wall. But that's just me and to some I am sure her voice is the voice of an angel, especially if you are deaf or have a thing for cartoon clowns. My overall score for this game is a 10 as I can't really flaw it on anything else, had a great time playing it and I am sure it will be up for some awards. If you are a batman fan than buy it, if you are unsure than hire it. It's not a game to be missed.
This is my 1st proper review so I hope it has not bored anyone. Will practice on some other games as I complete them.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/27/10
Game Release: Batman: Arkham Asylum (AU, 09/03/09)
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