The Full Attempted Review of Batman Arkham Asylum

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 10:03 AM


DC Comics’ Batman has been recreated in countless movies, TV shows, books, toys and video games. Whilst the TV shows, toys and latest film The Dark Knight have been hugely successful both critically and financially the video games wing of the Batman universe has lagged behind. Rocksteady Studios are looking to change that with their game Batman Arkham Asylum.
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC
Genre: Third Person Action
What It’s All About
Batman Arkham Asylum takes place solely at Gotham’s home for ‘colourful’ criminals “Arkham Asylum” after Batman has once again apprehended his arch-nemesis The Joker. Batman senses things are a little suspicious this time around, his nemesis surrendered a little too easily, so he decides to escort him to his cell. Along the way The Joker, voiced by Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill, gives an amusing commentary on the employees of Arkham while pretty much informing everyone he has something up his sleeve. Just as he’s about to be taken to his cell and with Batman unable to interfere The Joker, with the help of his part time lover Harley Quinn, takes over Arkham Asylum. Criminals spring from everywhere to overrun the guards and Batman is the only hope for wrestling back control of Arkham from The Joker.
After all hell breaks loose the player takes control of The Dark Knight and his three distinct sides. There is the general ass-kicking Dark Knight who dishes out some serious pain to the various baddies running around Arkham. There is the fear inducing Dark Knight who uses stealth and intimidation to pick off enemies one by one and finally Rocksteady acknowledges that the Dark Knight is a detective at heart, so there is the super modern Sherlock Holmes-esque Batman who is capable of deciphering the clues as to why Joker has taken over Arkham through Detective mode, a cool X-ray vision feature Batman uses to look through walls and isolate clues. The three roles work together nicely as you make your way around Arkham and you will need to master all three to be successful in the game. I won’t go too much into the game’s story because it is brilliant and half the fun is in uncovering the next clue.

What it Did Well
The game looks brilliant whether it’s the use of dark lighting, the creepy gothic inspired architecture or the little details they added to each building like missing tiles or writing on cellblock walls, it’s what a next gen game should look like. The character design is quite stunning as well. Each character from the comics is instantly recognizable, The Joker in his purple suit and Killer Croc looking like, well a human crocodile, and it’s a credit to Rocksteady for capturing the feel of the comics. Speaking of The Joker, the voice acting by Mark Hamill is amazing, a standout feature for me, and he demonstrates why he is many people’s favourite Joker (he’s worked on Batman cartoons). He commentates the entire time through the many televisions placed in Arkham and his sadistic wit and charm are hilarious and obviously well thought out. Batman also receives voice acting from his cartoon alter ego Kevin Conroy who eliminates the somewhat annoying lisp that Christian Bale adopted for The Dark Knight and gives a solid performance.
This version of Batman is also seriously buff, making his movie counterparts look small in comparison.  This figure helps to show that Batman means business even though he doesn’t kill people. That’s right, Batman doesn’t finish the job so to speak so how do you make an action game where the main character doesn’t kill anyone? Well, you give him some seriously kick ass fighting moves ala The Watchmen movie so he can beat his enemies to a pulp. Seriously, the combat looks great with the Bat dishing out some painful combinations which are finished off with a nice slow mo shot when you take out the last villain. He also has a multitude of gadgets and devices to choose from like Batarangs and Explosive gel which add some variation to both the combat and game play as a whole.
There’s a lot of depth to the game as well. Many favourites of the Batman universe appear as boss battles like Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Bane and The Joker himself whilst Harley Quinn and Scarecrow are ever present. It’s a credit to the game that you are left wanting more confrontations with these super villains. Rocksteady have clearly tried to make a complete Batman experience with plenty of information about many of Batman’s friends and foes hidden throughout the game which services Batfans and the uninitiated equally. The Riddler challenges; destroying Joker Teeth, findings trophies and solving riddles, will bring out that obsessive quality in all of us as you strive to get 100% completion for the game and add plenty of hours to the games already exhausting story mode. Throw in some extra challenges aimed at combat and stealth that you unlock via completing various parts of the game and you have a hefty package which will take some time to fully complete.  
Finally, the game has some nice realistic touches. As you sneak around Arkham you spend a lot of time in ventilation shafts. When you open a shaft that’s in a room full of bad guys Batman makes sure to open it quietly, carefully placing the grate on the floor so it doesn’t make any noise. Also, as we are supposed to believe this has all taken place in one night, Batman’s outfit starts to slowly deteriorate as he takes damage. It’s a cool touch as you can look at all the tears and scratches in his suit and think ‘when did he get that?’

What it Didn’t
For the most part I thought Arkham Asylum was a great game, exactly what a superhero game should be, but it wasn’t perfect. The most annoying part for me was Harley Quinn’s voice. It was so nasally and whiny. I just wanted Batman to punch her in the face, which didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked. She was such a prominent part of the game as well, so it was a shame her voice was annoying.
Whilst the combat looked great it was probably a bit too simple for my liking. It reminded me of Assassin’s Creed as you have one attack button, a stun button and a counter button. The player performs combos in the sense that you manage to hit enemies consecutively without them hitting you back but there aren’t many button combinations so the combat is quite simplistic. Also the above mentioned slow mo finishing moves are great but occasionally the camera goes haywire and shoots it from a terrible angle resulting in a shot of Batman’s cape or it just spinning around aimlessly.
Finally the game features Scarecrow and his fear formula. Whenever Scarecrow appears Batman is transported into this alternate fear reality where Scarecrow is this massive being who can squish you with a single blow. The levels looked amazing, presenting a warped reality, and they changed things up a little as they were always unexpected, but the view changes to a side scrolling adventure perspective and after playing in the normal third person it was difficult to get accustomed to the new angle. It resulted in some frustrating times when Batman wouldn’t go where you wanted him to and he ended up being turned into a Bat pancake by Scarecrow.   

Oh Snap! Gaming Moment
Batman rescuing a goon who was hanging onto an air vent and punching him in the face in one swift move before the goon could getaway. It was unexpected to see Batman rescue this guy but it was very cool to see him turn around and knock him out in one blow, plus it was an achievement too!

What It All Means
Batman Arkham Asylum is probably the best superhero game ever. There are a few MINOR issues but on the whole the game looks amazing, the cast adds an authentic and entertaining element, the story is exciting and well thought out and there is so much content that you’ll be playing this one for a while. Batman Arkham Asylum gets 8 and a half Batarangs out of 10.

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