Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman

Become the Dark Knight and take back control of the underworld.

Played on the Xbox 360

Batman, an iconic hero never got a proper video game for the masses to enjoy. That is, until the developers at Rocksteady Studios got their turn of recreating the famous vigilante. On August 25, 2009, Batman got the game he deserved, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a spectacular game and I enjoyed almost all it had to offer.

Batman brings in the Joker to join the other villains of Gotham at Arkham Asylum. Things are going smoothly until Joker’s plan of taking over Arkham Island is revealed and created his own psychotic playhouse. With the island running amok with crazies and innocent people either hiding in fear or being used as hostages, Batman must bring order to Joker’s chaos and save the night.

scarecrow

An excellent crafted story with the combination of third-person action, adventure, and stealth created an amazing formula for a Batman experience. The artistic direction of each character is eye-catching and unbelievable. Each character model were incredibly detailed and animated. Batman looks badass, his manly jawlines are fearsome enough to for bad guys to shake in their boots. Joker looks menacing and is a perfect iteration of what a psychotic super-villain looks like. Every character brings the world of Arkham Asylum alive and dangerous. Arkham Asylum’s atmosphere is a combination of a killer’s paradise and a carnival. Each level is detailed and twisted the imagination as players go further into the game.

The voice casting was awesome in this game. Mark Hamill’s voice of the Joker is simply jaw-droppingly good. Knowing he was the Joker’s voice in the animated series, gamers were in a great treat hearing his voice echo as the craziest villain. All the voice actors sucked the gamers into the game’s twisted madness. Poison Ivy seduced, Scarecrow drew out goosebumps, Killer Croc let the hairs on the back of your head stand, and the rest left me wanting more dialogue between the characters.

poison ivy

The level designs made Arkham Asylum feel real; from the open world of Arkham Island to each individual building design to the nightmare world of Scarecrow. The island itself was teeming with nature and humans alike (although, most of the humans were crazy homicidal psychopaths, we could just overlook that part…). The level design wasn’t too abstract nor linear enough for you to think that the game was going down a one way street. It had you backtrack, but not because the game forced you to, but because there were secrets to pry open once you got a new gadget to play with. One of my favorite levels was Killer Croc’s Lair. There was always so much suspense, because of Killer Croc trying to sneak up on you and his blood thirst to kill you.

The gadgets and abilities Batman mastered are everything you imagined him to have. Plus, many of his abilities are gained or upgraded through a simple experience point system. Batman also receives additional gadgets as the story progresses. The one gadget this game got the most flak for though is Detective Vision. The simple explanation for Detective Vision is a device that allows the player to “wall hack”. You can see various baddies hiding in different areas through the walls…and other hidden rooms and objects. However, even with this questionable item, the game was still playable (though a lot easier). Having Detective Vision on all the time takes away a key experience, the ability to view and absorb the magnificent and crazy world of Arkham Island.

detective mode

The fighting mechanics in Batman: Arkham Asylum were very simple, yet very fun and engaging. It’s all about timing; you rhythmically press the buttons to counter or attack. Combat was fluid and fast, and showcased Batman’s skill. Puzzles were incorporated throughout the game, but with the aforementioned “Detective Vision”, puzzles were a breeze. The Riddler’s trophies were a different beast when it came to puzzle solving, as it mostly was based on timing your moves right.

Boss fights challenged and entertained me throughout play, but some boss fight mechanics carried over to the regular enemies and did get stale towards the end. Bane was one example of why combat got repetitive. You had to dodge and counter his moves and finish him off in the most Batman-esque way. However, later in the game, some enemies used the same mechanics of Bane’s fight and watered-down the combat.

arkham-asylum-stealth-screenshot

Stealth portion of the game was the main part of this gameplay. The stealth portions of the game truly felt as if you were Batman. Going around the level and taking out enemies one-by-one using Batman’s gadgets, ingenuity, and the environment was like solving a puzzle itself and allowed gamers to freely use their time to take out the bad guys in the best ways possible. Sneaking around knocking out guys and then disappearing into the dark is the signature move of Batman and this is the reason I love this game. Hanging upside down from a gargoyle and waiting patiently for the enemy to walk right below you to swoop down, carry and tie him up, and leave him hanging as a glorious trophy. The developers did a great job on making players into the world’s most feared man.

The game offered some challenge modes outside of the story mode. You fight of waves after waves of enemies and see how long you can survive. Or do a time trial on how quickly you can take out your enemies. Your scores are posted on an online leaderboards to see how you stack up to the competition. The various modes left the game with some replay value, but nothing for me to stick around too long to play.

counter

Batman: Arkham Asylum can be summed up into one word: Fan-freaking-tastic. I was pleasantly surprised on how good the game looked and especially how well it played. The game made you think you were the goddamn Batman. Many aspects of Batman, from the comic books to the TV show to the movies were incorporated and done in a way Batman fans and gamers can appreciate. Rocksteady Studios set a new benchmark for comic book hero games and hopefully they aren’t the only developers to produce a memorable superhero game.

My Rating: 4/5
Metacritic: 92/100

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