Developed by: Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Available only on: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
INTRO: †Itís looking like it will be a long, long night for Batman. After apprehending the Joker all too easily, he has once again fallen into his trap. Now, Joker has taken over the asylum and all of its inmates, and is determined to finish off the Dark Knight once and for all. Itís up to you to take up the cape and cowl to see if you stop evil from reigning once again.
Can you believe that theyíve made another Batman game? Of course you can! After years and years on several different systems, Batmanís video game legacy has been far less than stellar. With that being said, let me tell you right off the Bat (LOLOLOL) that this game breaks the mold and is worth your time. To the Batcave!
†As some of you likely already know, Iím quite the Batman mark and consider the movies to be some of my favorite movies of all time. The games have always been trouble though, for the most part. Aside from a few worthy entries, almost every game has been rather disappointing. One thing is for sure though, no game has really made you FEEL like Batman, no matter how hard it may try.
†Iím proud to say that Arkham Asylumís biggest accomplishment is that it† captures what it truly feel like to BE Batman. Most of this gameís satisfaction comes from hiding in shadows above rooms, swinging on stone gargoyles as you wait for the opportunity to attack your fear-stricken foes. Then youíll silently glide down onto the catwalk behind him and take him down, which only inspires more fear in the thugs who discover his body.
†I donít want to say thatís the gist of the game though, although it does take up a big part of it. You truly are Batman, and the way you dispatch your foes is really up to you. You can toss a Batarang (or three, or four, or a remote controlled one) to daze them, then run over and take them down. You can spray explosive gel and detonate it when a foe gets near. You can also shoot your grapple gun and wrap it around a bad guyís ankles and pull them away.† Itís so much fun to be Batman.
†When it comes down to fisticuffs, the Freeflow combo system is easy to pick up, but tough to master. It seems like you just jam a button and then when an enemy attacks, you can counter it. The longer you go without getting hit, the more devastating your combo becomes. This can pose a problem later on, as some enemies need to be stunned and some canít be hurt as easily with punches.
†Batman is also a detective, which makes for a huge portion of this game as well. You spend a lot of time searching for clues, which is often done through analysis of something which leads you down a trail (tobacco, whiskey, etc). Youíll be crawling through a lot of grates and swinging from a lot of ceilings, as the Joker has locked most doors. As the game progresses, you blow up walls and eventually explode electronic locks to get where you need to be. None of this is very tedious or challenging, and only adds to the Batman experience.
†Now, itís not all completely awesome. In order to find out what youíre doing, you need to go into Ďwhat the hell do I do nowí mode, known in the game as ďDetective ModeĒ. This is very helpful and well done, as it shows the presence of enemies, their state, and also will show you the trail where you need to go. As I said, this is pretty helpful but itís also disappointing because everything seems to go into Ďblueprintí mode. This wouldnít be a problem, but you spend so much time in Detective Mode that this otherwise beautiful game becomes bathed in a washed out blue for each moment spent in this mode.
Also, I wasnít huge on the boss fights. Most of them are pretty easy, and if you die itís more of an ĎI accidentally nudged the button and got killedí thing than a true challenge. I thought that the final fight was a huge letdown, but that might just be me.
As you go along, you will solve riddles from the Riddler, and pick up challenges from him as well. This adds a lot to the game, although I will admit that I felt as if I was trying to do TOO much on my first play through.
This game is undoubtedly a graphical powerhouse. The textures are so richly detailed, and the environments look absolutely fantastic. The lighting is also spot on and very integral to the gameís look. The characters look unbelievable at times , and I found myself begging that an animated show could be made using these character models. Batmanís suit shows wear as the game goes on and it just adds to the realism. I canít say enough good things about the graphics, I thought they were nearly pitch perfect.
This game sports some incredible, incredible sound. Letís start with the voice acting, shall we? Kevin Conroy IS Batman (Bale be damned), and Mark Hamill IS the Joker. These guys are veterans from the animated series and they both do a fantastic job, as do the other voice actors. You can sometimes just sit behind a wall and listen to guards talk about whatís going on for a few minutes, because the game is that detailed. The orchestral score sounds like itís right out of the movies and is simply beautiful.
This game is amazing. If youíre a Batman fan, you own this already. If youíre just a gamer, you still need to play it. Sure, there are small gripes- Batman has huge forearms, the control can be a little touchy and some of the boss fights are too easy, but that just doesnít matter. This game is the complete package and is a true labor of love that puts many other games to shame.† The menu art, the voice acting, the little in-jokes, everything adds up to make sure you love every second of it. Everything will have you saying 'Wow, what a cool touch'.† Batman fans, rejoice- you finally have a game with Batman in it thatís good on its OWN merits and does proper justice to the franchise.
Final Score: 9/10