Review by paleselan

Reviewed: 03/10/11

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

It’s not that often when comic book games are released. When they are, they are usually atrocious. Something is always missing or not working. Rocksteady studios has aimed to changed this norm and create a game that is full of suspense, fighting, stealth, puzzles, and just plain fun. Aside from a few issues, Arkham Asylum succeeds in raising the bar for all comic book games to come.

The story starts as batman is escorting Joker to his cell. For some reason he is behaving extremely well, but the scene looks very suspicious. Of course, Joker escapes and you are thrust into a night full of evil and enjoyment, that is, for the player.

As the story unfolds Batman faces many villains and meets many characters. Each character really starts to develop a personality and voice with their dialogue and look, from Joker’s witty humor, to Batman’s serious crime solving. The story gets bigger and bigger as Batman dives deeper into the haunted streets and buildings of Arkham Asylum, the home of Arkham’s crazies.

The gameplay has many parts. There are fighting parts where Batman chains together moves to form combos. These fighting sequences really show off the game. The finishers are beautiful, and, in slow motion are really enjoyable to watch. Batman can also use tools he has collected, such as the batarang, to help knock out enemies.

Although there is a lot of hand to hand fighting, stealth also plays a huge role in this game. Many of the missions have Batman taking out armed guards. Batman could fight them, but gun power takes down your health incredibly fast. So, Batman has to get onto gargoyles and take down the guards silently, whether it is a glide kick or an inverted takedown, all these moves are satisfying to perform. In addition, just like the finishers, these moves are shown in beautiful slow motion.

The only gameplay mechanic that isn’t amusing to use is detective mode. This mode requires Bamtan, in some points of the game, to search for microscopic pieces of evidence which take forever to find. In addition, everything turns to black and white, the people to skeletons, and it really isn’t enjoyable to look at. The detective mode also analyzes most interactable things you see. It shows where enemies are and if they are armed, which I guess is useful. Overall, detective mode has more poor qualities than good, and I just see it as an unnecessary gimmick.

Many useful tools become available to Batman as he progresses through his quest. All of these tools are incredibly entertaining to use in battle and can really help you devise takedown strategies when you are trying to be stealthy. As Batman earns XP, these tools can be upgraded to become stronger.

The bosses in this game are unique in that a lot of the bosses you don’t actually battle. There are clever one on one fights with some bosses. In other battles, it is more the process of getting to the boss that is challenging. For example: In some bosses Batman has to be stealthy while keeping behind walls trying not to be caught and to get to the top of an area. This may sound boring, but it is a huge blast.

The music and voice acting is also superb. The music fits in with whatever is going on while you are playing. Chaotic, spooky, suspenseful, and upbeat music is all included. The developers did a great job setting the mood with the music; it really fits whatever Batman is doing at the moment. The voice acting is also top notch. I could listen to the Riddler’s and Joker’s witty humorous talk all day; they really do a good job lightening the mood, especially if Batman just died.

Just like the stylistic gameplay enhancements, such as the finishers and take downs, the game looks great. Unless in detective mode, the game really does a great job creating an environment that looks good and creepy at the same time. There are also many minor stylistic enhancements that really improve the realism. For example, the farther you get into the game, the more torn Batman’s cape becomes. At the beginning of the game there are no tears, but towards the end it looks like a cat tried to rip it apart.

The game takes about ten to twelve hours to beat if you did a straight run through. Usually that is not the case. There are 240 riddles to solve, trophies to find, and interview tapes to collect (tells a little biography about the characters). There is plenty to unlock and find in the main games.

In addition, there is a challenge mode where Batman can face off against many enemies at once, as well as complete stealth missions. These challenges can be unlocked as you progress through the game. It may be somewhat easy to complete a challenge, but when you look at the high scores table you really find something to reach for. When you are connected to the internet you will find a high scores table. If you really want to get a high score, then it will take increased skill and time to master the skill of Batman. The high scores table is not for the weak-willed.

There is no perfect game, but Batman: Arkham Asylum comes pretty close. Aside from the detective mode, which I can forgive, Arkham Asylum is an incredibly enjoyable experience. Since it’s been out since 2009, it is probably pretty cheap to buy right now, and it is definitely worth the purchase. If you just want to speed right through the incredible single player campaign, then I suggest a rent. This game is a definite must play, no matter how you get a hold of it. I think it is safe to say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best superhero game out… for now. We’ll just have to wait and see how the sequel, Batman: Arkham City, will turn out.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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