Review by VesicalThanatos

"An Actual Batman Video Game"

For many a year have nerds been waiting for a real, true-to-life modern adaptation of the Batman comic books. Certainly, we've had film and animation adaptations, but not since the SNES days have we had a real Batman video game. Well, that is just what Batman: Arkham Asylum is.

Story- Batman: Arkham Asylum offers an original story that nevertheless feel like something straight from the graphic novels. The Joker once more has an insidious plan to take over Gotham, and this time hes doing it from the relative safety and comfort of Arkham Asylum. That's right, the Joker has once more taken over Arkham, and it is up to the World's Greatest Detective to take him down. Many of our favorite characters have been faithfully put on display here, from the dark and moody Dark Knight to the light hearted and jovial Clown Prince of Crime. Many new characters have been brought to the table as well, such as the stuffy Warden Sharp and the mysterious Ghost of Arkham. This is Batman as you've seen him a hundred times, and who would have it any other way?

Gameplay- Batman: Arkham Asylum's gameplay is fresh and inventive. It is nothing we haven't seen before, but it is implemented in an ingenious way. The controls are simple and easy-to-learn, and the HUD takes little getting-used-to. Now, where Arkham Asylum really shines is its free-flowing combat system. Batman has an amazing arsenal of moves, and all it takes to implement them is a light tap of the attack button. As Batman masterfully takes down one baddy, he may gracefully about face and begin wailing on the next. It is so smooth and simple, it feels as though you don't hardly have too do anything to defeat your foes. This, however, can also be a con. While beefy clown henchmen and psychotic inmates are the order of the day at Arkham, the Joker has a few other tricks up his sleeve, and when you've grown accustomed to beating up lowly henchmen at the press of a button, it can be a sudden shock when you actually have to strategise to bring a baddy down. Yes, the free-flowing melee combat system can become overly simplistic and indeed redundant, but luckily Batman has a good many other tools at his disposal. From batarangs to bombs to grappling hooks, the Dark Knight can always find a way to defeat his foes. Also frequent in the game are stealth missions, areas where Batman must blend in with is environment, swinging across rafters and crawling under floorboards to secretly dispatch his foes.

Graphics- Never did Batman look so formidable, the Joker so creepy, as in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The sheer attention to detail in each character model is astounding. From Batman's flowing cape and menacing cowl to the Joker's sweaty brow and tortured smile, every aspect of your favorite characters is presented in full, detailed three-dimensional graphics. Light cell-shading gives the characters a sharp, edgy graphic novel look. And who can complain about a monstrous Killer Croc or a very scantily clad Poison Ivy? The environments in Arkham Asylum are lovely and artistic, but can get bland and depressing after awhile. You can only sneak through so many dusty hallways before they begin to just get old. Sure, there is the dark, decaying greenhouse and dreary grounds to mix things up, but it all gets rather repetitive.

Sound- With veteran voice actors from the award-winning animated series returning to voice Batman, The Joker, and Harley Quinn, what can go wrong? Not much. The Joker steals the show as he follows Batman across the Asylum's many speakers and monitors, mocking and teasing him. This is the Joker as we know him best. Batman is just as serious and moody as ever, and the supporting cast pull their weight well. The only acting that I truly could not stand was Harley Quinn. She is supposedly the same actress that provided her voice in the series, but I don't recall Harley ever being so damn annoying in the show. The music is fine and provides suitable ambience, but isn't particularly memorable.

Re-Playability- this is what really hurts Arkham Asylum. Though it has many puzzles to solve, side quests to complete, and an endless supply of collectibles, it is just so darned long. By the time you have completed Arkham Asylum, you are truly glad it is finally over. I can't see anyone wanting to ever play it a second time.

Pros- An excellent plot
creative if not innovative gameplay
beautiful character designs
overall excellent voice-acting

Cons- overly-simplistic combat
repetitive environments
the most annoying female antagonist in video game history
an unholy length

Verdict- This is truly the Batman game we have all been waiting for. It is not perfect, but it certainly satiated my appetite. With pitch-perfect comic book visuals, original gameplay, and a plot straight from the pages of Batman graphic novels, this is a game that any Bat-fan surely should not miss. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/24/10

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

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