Batman: Arkham Asylum review
Batman: Arkham Asylum Review (Spoiler Free)
Batman Arkham Asylum Review
I love surprises. I don't mean opening my presents on Christmas day and getting a pair of socks. I mean good surprises. The kind of surprise that you genuinely don't see coming. The kind that creeps up behind you and smacks you in the back of the neck and screams SURPRISE!!
Let me start by saying I am NOT a Batman fan. I've always ignored the comics and cartoons. I never bothered with any of the movies and I pretty much ignore everything with a Bat Symbol. I couldn't name more than 3 Batman villains and even those 3 that I can name I'm not entirely sure if they are villains.
So when Batman: Arkham Asylum got released I completely ignored it. Never intended to even contemplate getting it. I just blindly and ignorantly fobbed it off as just another movie tie-in that will probably suck. However the praise for this game was impossible to ignore. Every post I read about it was nothing but extreme praisal. I started to slowly change my mind and eventually thought 'ah what the heck, I'll reluctantly check it out'.
I am so extremely glad I did. This is by far the best movie tie-in game I have ever played. It's head and shoulders above Wolverine and Spiderman. Not only does the game have quality dripping from every pore but it also manages to perfectly capture the atmosphere and raw coolness that surrounds the Batman franchise.
Even people that have absolutely zero interest in Batman (like me) can't help but get sucked into this fantastic world. This game is the reason why I sat down and watched Batman Forever and Batman Returns in one sitting.
Anyway, getting back to the game.
What is Batman: Arkham Asylum?
B:AA is a 3rd person action adventure game set in an.. Asylum (good guess).
The Joker gets captured and sent to the Arkum Asyum facility. While he is being escorted to his cell, under the watch-full eye of Batman as an escort, Joker manages to escape with the help of Harley Quinn and other Gotham goons. Chaos ensues, the lights go out and within moments Batman finds himself surrounded by goons and then the gameplay kicks in.
Ah yes the gameplay. The sweet, beautiful, fluid gameplay. Fighting in BAA is like nothing I've ever had the pleasure to experience before. It's a little bit hack 'n' slash like God Of War but at the same time it feels nothing like it. It's fluid, very easy to get the hang of yet hard to master, seamless and very satisfying. It matches the Batman 'bad-ass' persona perfectly because every punch and every kick feels intentional. Beating 10 goons to a pulp while you flow from enemy to enemy kicking and punching without stopping to take a breath is not only a joy to watch unfold but it's a damn satisfying experience too.
A small little cutscene cuts in when you take out the final goon in a fight which only emphasises how badass you really are.
Of course, this is Batman. So fighting isn't his only forte. He has a wide range of gadgets and abilities at his disposal. He can use his grappling hook to swing across the rafters and then glide down to take out an unsuspecting enemy silently. He can use his batarang to take out enemies from a distance. He can use special gel to make a hole in surfaces. He even has a hacking device to unlock doors. He has an alternate vision mode too which can make him see through surfaces and highlight things of interest.
All of the above are not only easy to use but are very enjoyable to use too.
Being Batman he spends most of his time in the shadows or high above out of sight. He takes his enemies out by getting rid of each enemy one by one rather then jumping straight into the action. Stealth is very rarely done properly in video games but I'm glad to say that Rocksteady have pretty much perfected the stealth portions of this game. In many areas it's not only wise but very advisable to study the enemies before you proceed into a room or building. Try to figure out their pattern and routines. Work out which enemy to go for first and take them out one at a time while remaining out of sight. There is more than one way to skin a cat and in this game that is especially true. Most sections have alternate routes and alternate ways to sweep up the scum. So experimenting is definitely advised. Don't rush things, patience is a virtue.
Marvellous. That pretty much sums up the graphics in one word. The cut scenes are up there with some of the greats such as Uncharted. Beautifully rendered in high definition. Every detail is accounted for. Batman himself looks stunning and The Joker looks equally fantastic. The gameplay graphics are just as impressive. Perhaps not as good as Uncharted 2 or Killzone 2 but definitely following close in their footsteps. The characters are smooth and crisp and the environment matches the Batman universe perfectly. Dark and moody yet still beautiful to look at. The detail of the architecture will remind you of every Batman film and cartoon you have even seen. The textures are solid and crisp and the lighting is up there with some of the best. Rocksteady obviously spent a lot of time trying to make it feel like Gotham and they managed it perfectly.
In my 2 playthroughs I have witnessed zero glitches or framerate issues and the game runs smoothly no matter how many characters are on screen.
Fans of the franchise will be pretty happy with the line-up of Gotham villains in Arkham Asylum.
Of course, first and foremost is The Joker.
The Joker is brilliant in this game. His voice is exactly as you would imagine it and his misdemeanor attitude is perfect. Everytime he comes on screen you can't help but get drawn even deeper into the story. He has a certain menacing charm about him that almost makes you hope that The Joker wins in the end. It's very hard not to like The Joker. No matter how much you are 'suppose' to hate him you just can't because he is such a cool character and the way he is presented in the game is typical Joker. His mannerisms and witty comments and his relationship with Harley Quinn is both a joy to watch and yet a slightly uncomfortable romance to witness.
Harley is The Jokers sidekick within the Asylum. She answers to The Joker and follows his orders. She also has a fondness for The Joker and seems to be trying to get him to like her in a special way.
As a character she is brilliant. Her child-like attitude and body movements and her innocent dialogue only helps to make her seem even more evil and menacing.
The Scarecrow is one of the reasons why the game is so brilliant. I'm unfamiliar with him in the Batman franchise but ever since playing AA I want to see more of his antics. He uses mind tricks to trick Batman throughout the game. The Scarecrow sections provide some of the most memorable moments in video game history.
Those are the 3 main characters in AA but also worth mentioning are The Croc, The Riddler and Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy in particular is very beautiful to look at during cutscenes although her boss fight is nothing special.
The story itself is actually a very decent size. About 10 hours is what it would take to beat on an average playthrough. However AA doesn't stop there. Thanks to The Riddler you can add an extra couple hours onto that game time.
The Riddler provides the game with its collectibles. In every area of the Asylum you will be tasked to solve puzzles based on clues that the Riddler gives you. These provide an excellent way to make us explore and solve his riddles. It's a fresh new take on the old style collectibles and is most definitely welcome.
To add even more longevity to the game Rocksteady have added in Challenge Rooms. These are split into 2 categories. Stealth and Combat.
The Stealth Challenges (also know as Predator Challenges) provide a good challenge for the sneaky gamers out there. The idea is to do certain tasks and each task will reward you with a Batarang. Each Challenge room has 3 tasks such as 'Perform a Stealth Kill' or 'Kill 2 enemies with one explosion'. Get all 3 Batarangs for a Challenge Room and you'll have mastered that particular challenge and you can move on to the next room.
Personally I loved these challenges. They weren't difficult but they did make you stop and think about how to go about achieving each task.
Here's a quick video showing 1 of the many Predator Challenges.
The Combat Rooms on the other hand are exactly that. Rooms in which you are pitted against an X amount of waves of enemies and you need to score as high as you can. The more combos and tricks you do the more points you get. Your multiplier increases with every move so if you pull off a string of 40 hits without being hit you will have a 40x multiplier.
These rooms are equally as fun as the Stealth Rooms however they are much harder. Some of the later challenges can test even the best of players.
Here's a quick video showing one of the Combat Challenges:
If a Batman game can convert even the most anti-Batman fan such as me then it must be doing something right. Not only did I enjoy playing through this game but I also looked forward to playing it again. Even after finishing the game twice and beating all the challenges I still wanted more.
The freeflow fighting is so addictive and the characters are so like-able that it's hard not to love this game.
On the downside some of the bosses were a tad bit too easy and a bit repetitive but all in all this is a fantastic game that I would have no problem recommending to anybody.
Not the most original story but it's the way it was told that really stands out. It flowed seamlessly.
From Batmans cape to The Jokers evil grin. Everything looked slick, crisp and beautiful.
Flawless. A masterpiece. You will look forward to your next fight rather than avoid it.
Thanks to The Riddlers riddles and the Challenge Rooms this game has the potential to last you a long time. Although it has no Online component other than comparing scores with friends.
Final Score: 9/10
I'm already looking forward to Batman: Arkham City.
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