Review by the ultimate68

"Coming from a guy who doesn't enjoy superhero stuff"

I typically don't care about superheros in any way--I never read the comics as a kid, I don't watch the movies, I don't usually play the games. But I got this game bundled with my PS3 and figured it would be a waste to not play the game.

Batman: Arkham Asylum, developed by Rocksteady Studios, exceeded any expectations I had, which were admittedly very low. But the game kept me entertained throughout the whole story, and in the end that's what matters.

The combat was fun at first, but unfortunately became stale after awhile. Hitting the square button will attack a nearby enemy, and you can chain attacks together on multiple baddies by aiming in the general direction of another guy and hitting square again. After three hits the game uses slow motion to show Batman doing a really powerful move. If someone is about to attack you, hitting triangle will counter their attack. This all felt very polished to me. The problem is that this is the bulk of the fighting, smashing square and hitting triangle occasionally. That got old. There are a few other things you can do during combat, but none that you will use nearly as much as these basic attacks.

When you're not fighting, you'll probably be running around trying to get to your next destination. As the game goes on, Batman acquires several tools to help him get around to new places. I won't spoil any of these tools, but some of them are fun and interesting. This has the same flaw though--eventually, the puzzles that you're forced to solve with these tools get so repetitive, because you've seen them repeatedly.

Controls were fantastic except for one thing: you have to hold X to run. This is annoying because you use the left analog stick to move around and the right analog stick to move the camera. So many boss fights I was forced to run backward, facing the boss, with my right thumb on the analog stick keeping the boss in view and with my index finger holding the X button. Think about how awkward that is. It seems like poor design to me. 99% of the time I wanted to run, so why not let me toggle run on/off?

One major complaint I had was with the detective mode. Batman's cowl lets him see secrets all around him, such as weak walls, secrets, etc. Since you won't want to miss these things, you will want to constantly be in detective mode. And I mean always, since this game has hundreds of hidden secrets that you probably would like to find. So, since you're always in detective mode, the colors of the world are drastically changed, and everything looks weird. I probably spent 90% of the game looking at weird colors. How is that good design? It was just annoying.

The game is easy. Every time the plot moves forward, it will give you a new point on your map and radar telling you exactly where to go. No guesswork involved here. I only played on normal difficulty, so I don't know how difficult the bosses are on hard, but nothing gave me too much trouble on normal. Sometimes I would die a few times, but by that time it was just a matter of figuring out how the boss moved and how it could be damaged. If you ever die, the loading screen as you're waiting to come back specifically tells you how to do better.

Predator mode I have mixed feelings about. This is where you sneak around all nimbly bimbly like trying not to be seen while you incapacitate people. Sometimes this was a lot of fun. It was nice to not just run into a room smashing square. But also, this could be really annoying. Often, the enemies would put themselves in position that would make it hard to get to them without being seen by others, so I ended up standing in the shadows for minutes waiting for them to get to a more secluded spot. So sometimes these rooms were fun, but others I spent way too much time just sitting around waiting, which was frustrating and boring.

The story works, and that's about the best way I can put it. The Joker lets himself get caught by Batman, who brings him to Arkham Asylum. At this point, the Joker's minions bust him out and they all take over the island, leaving Batman to restore order. Really my only complaint here is that the Joker seemed to always have such intricate knowledge of the entire island.

The graphics were definitely pleasing. Arkham Asylum looked dreary and depressing, which I'm sure is exactly what they were going for. The resolution is 720p, so no 1080p, but it's hard to complain about them any. The cut scenes looked especially good.

The voice acting was superb. Voice acting usually annoys me. I was never put off by any of it in this game. That's very impressive to me. Sound effects were sound effects--nothing special.

This game is short. You can definitely beat the game in 10 hours. Finding all of the hidden stuff will add a little to your total, but not a whole lot. To me, this seems like it's because you never leave the island. On a scale of 1 to epic, this game gets a flat 1. Arkham Asylum only has around seven or so buildings. This is an entire game based on a handful of buildings on a single island. They squeeze out more playtime by making you go through each building multiple times. In addition, I see no real reason to replay this game, besides maybe playing it on hard for the trophy. If you're going to want that trophy, though, you might as well play it on hard the first time through. So in my opinion, this is a prime candidate for a rental. Spend a weekend playing through this title for a fraction of the cost of buying it.

All said and done, this is a superhero game that kept me, a guy who doesn't like that stuff, entertained. So if you are a superhero type of person, and especially if you like Batman, I bet you'll probably really enjoy this game. Give it a shot why don't ya.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/21/10

Game Release: Batman: Arkham Asylum (US, 08/25/09)

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