Batman: Arkham Asylum review
The Dark knight finally gets a good game
Arkham Asylum is one of the most interesting enviorments in recent game history
The graphics are great, and really capture the feel of Batman
The Combat and Predator systems really make you feel like Batman
The voice acting is outstanding with Mark Hamill being the standout
The audio and music really sets the tone
The story feels like a classic Batman story
A bit on the short side
Almost every boss fight is underwhelming
Enemy models are repeated way to much
Gargoyles are conveniently located like pipes over lasers in old Spliner Cells
Batman Arkham Asylum is the most effective use of a license I've ever seen in a video game. The developers of AA are obviously big fans of the caped creator because everything about this game is spot on in terms of Batman mytho. From the numerous nods to Batmans various villians, to the story this is classic batman through and through that uses the 70 year history of the Dark Knight to great effect.
The story is classic Batman. Joker intentionally gets himself tossed into Arkham so he can spring a trap to finally bring down the Batman and prove that he's as crazy as the villians he fights so desperatly to stop. It feels like a classic batman comic, and Batman fans will notice many influences from specific comics most notably (IMO) the Killing Joke.
This would be a great time to mention that for a rated T game, it gets surprising dark. The game isnt afraid to "go there" at times but the game never gets gorey. When Joker throws a guard into a pool of electrifed water he just spasms for a while then stops. It's taseful and used to great effect because we expect the villians to be coniving and ruthless so a little blood should be spilled.
Playing this game might pull a sense of nostalgia from you. The voice cast is the one from the old Batman: The Animated series and as such is spot on. As many people have noted Mark Hamills Joker steals the show whenever he's on screen and that creepy laugh that haunted your childhood nightmare returns with a vengeance.
Now the main problem with licensed super hero games is that they usually don't make you feel like the character your playing as. In almost every Superman game, the man in steel can be taken down by a few lowly thugs. Luckily the caped crusader is treated a little better. The freeflow and predator systems really capture the two sides of Batmans combat prowless.
Freeflow is the name of the fighting system. Unlike in the past you will never feel like a few thugs should ever be able to take you down. Within moments you will be leaping across the room like batman taking down your opponents in a tornado of fists, knees, and of course batarangs. The game manages to walk a fine line never feeling like a button masher but never feeling constrictive. Your pretty much press the attack button aim the left stick at your target and they get hit. Toss in throws, special takedowns, Batarangs, ground takedowns, and evasive manuvers and you start to get a good idea of how much ass kicking you will be doing.
The predator system shows off Batmans ninja abilities, and is when Batman strikes quickly with precision from the shadows. During these moments you must plan your attacks, or go down in a hail of gunfire. The only thing wrong with these segments of gameplay are the gargoyles. After the first few times they begin to ruin the sense of immersion. However it is fun and that is what matters most.
Arkham asylum is one of the most interesting enviorments to appear in a video game in recent memory. It's visually pleasing and filled with challenges from the riddler, whether it be finding patient interview tapes, or actually solving his riddles. Somehow when you have some ass insulting you for finding his trophies it just becomes funner. Challenge rooms will also add to your playtime and while they're little more then showcases for the predator and freeflow systems they are a blast to play.
Not even Batman is perfect however and a few key problems stop this game from being truly great. First of all almost every boss fight in the game is dissapointing. Almost all of them involve outdated (not to mention not fun) formulas, and then they drop a few regular thugs in just to extend the fight. The final boss fight against Joker is the worst offender, causing all that buildup to end in a meh moment. Remember the awesomeness of pulling the trigger on the Boss or finally taking down Saren? Arkham Asylum has a great buildup to it's final showdown but the final fight itself just stalls all the momentum.
Minor problems include slight clipping issues, and enemy models repeating way to often but there not enough to detact from the game. The game is also short and my first playthrough on Normal where I completed over 50% of Riddlers challenges took me only about 8 hours or so. Of course the challenge rooms add extra playtime but it feels like as soon as things really start to get going it's over.
Small complaints aside Batman: Arkham Asylum is a great game, that is sure to please any fan of the dark knight. It doesn't revolutionize video games but it gives me hope for the various other Super Heroes who have been mistreated in the video game industry.
About the author
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