The lights are on
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive, Eidos Interactive
System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Gameinformer Score: 9.50- Review by Andrew Reiner
The Caped Crusader hasn't had the most success when it comes to Video Games. Most of the Batman games are lucky to get any praise at all. They have never been as popular as the Spider-man games, and never quite as good as the other superhero games as well. They always tended to be disregarded.
When Rocksteady said they were taking on Batman, people were doubtful. How was a no name studio going to take control of one of the worst franchises in video games, and make it good. It seemed impossible. Somehow, Rocksteady did the unthinkable. They created one of the best Batman games ever created, if not the best at the time it released.
Rocksteady took its time and crafted a wonderful world. Arkham Island really is a world in and of itself. It has its own characters, features, stories, and feels alive at all times. The love and care that went towards the Batman world is truly astounding. It really isn't a wonder why they won Game of the Year that year.
The visuals in the game are fantastic. The game is given an overall dark color scheme, but Rocksteady makes that work. It seems very fitting of the dark knight to be moving around a dark, shadowy world. The level of detail really is incredible. The world is accented just right and really comes alive with all the minor details.
Watching as lights flicker off, or sparks fly from an electrical cord, or watching as the water ripples and the rain falls from the sky really complete the feeling of living in a world. You aren't just playing inside a building that looks the same all the time, you are really living on this island, trying to stop a madman.
The characters are all really well made. Kevin Conroy voices the Batman perfectly. He doesn't have the hoarse Christian Bale voice, but actually sounds intimidating. The Joker, voiced by Mark Hamill, is played wonderfully. Just as physcotic as you would think. You really get that feeling that he is running the show, and you can't do much about it. The rest of the voice cast is wonderful as well.
The story itself is pretty simple. There aren't many twist and turns, and the outcome and progression are pretty predictable. Still it is a well crafted, interesting tale. Sure it involves the cliched use of chemical formulas and creating an army of super soldiers, but the way it is written, and Joker leading the way in story telling, it is a great tale.
Batman rides into Arkham Asylum, with the Joker locked up, ready to be readmitted into the Asylum.Batman watches, and all seems good. Too good. Joker is making this too easy. Soon Joker breaks free, and Batman is forced to attack his guards. From there the story takes off, and never really lets up.
Rocksteady manages to craft a wonderful story from beginning to end, with the end being the most exciting part. The battle itself may be easy, but the epic scale is a sight to behold. You really see how crazy the Joker is.
The supporting cast does its part for the story as well. Scarecrow will send Batman into hallucinogenic frenzies that will frighten little kids. (Trust me, I know, I had a neighbor who freaked out over the scenes with Scarecrow.) Killer Croc adds a lot of suspense to his level. Poison Ivy provides for one of the harder fights as well as a little more emotion from the story. Harley Quinn adds to the crazy, but she really shows her fanatical side before she gets captured. There are more, but this is where the game gets a lot of the good scenes from.
The World's Greatest Detective
You really feel like the "Demon of the Knight" in a lot of these cases. The thing about Batman: Arkham Asylum is the emphasis on the detective aspect of Batman. Very few times can you expect to charge in there and fight a battle without being sneaky. Gargoyles, as shown in the picture above, litter most rooms. These are great vantage points. Armed enemies must be taken down stealthily, which Batman easily does by dropping down and silently killing his target.
Batman has a wide array of gadgets to help him in this case though. The most famous being the batarang. It is used to stun enemies, and is used repeatedly in boss fights (like with Bane.) It can also kill minor enemies on occasion. Explosive Gel will destroy walls, which can kill enemies on the other side and open up new paths. The Batclaw can drag enemies off a ledge, or grab an item or other objects in the environment. The Cryptographic Sequencer can open doors and shut down laser gates.
All these things would be practically useless if it weren't for the Detective mode, which is in the image above. This allows you to see the location of gargoyle's, enemies, armed or unarmed, key people, structural weaknesses, and many other things. One of the best uses is to track people using forensic science.
You really do get to feel like Batman. With all the sneaking, running, jumping, grappeling, and excitement, you can't help but feel like Batman.
That Martial Arts Comes in Handy
Sometimes fighting with fist is the only way to get things done. Good thing Rocksteady crafted one of the best action fighting mechanics ever known to video games. The concept is very simple. "X" to punch, "Y" to counter, "B" to stun attack, and "A" to roll. This ends up escalating into some of the best fighting ever. It starts out as you just punching on people, but soon they start attacking, so you counter them, break an arm and throw them to the ground. Then two other guys attack, you counter them, and then wail on the third guy. In a really cool slow motion clip, you kick/punch the last guy and knock him out to end the fight.
The fighting feels very visceral. You hear every hit, almost feel the slow motion hit to the face. You can hear the grunts and swings the enemies make. You can hear bones breaking. Watching as Batman backhands a guy in the face, grabs his arm, then proceeds to snap it and throw him, never gets old.
Once you begin to combo and learn takedown moves, the combat gets even more intense. Eventually your fighting two super soldiers and a slew of minions. You end up jumping over them, dodging barreling super soldiers, and then defeating them all in awesome fashion.
Enemies later on in the game will carry knives and stun batons. You need special ways to defeat these enemies, adding a whole different element to combat. The best part is that it never gets repetitive. You never stop feeling the rush of fighting these enemies.
I cannot recommend this game enough. It is truly incredible. From beginning to end, you always feel like Batman. Whether it be in combat, being a detective, or fighting some of the most memorable villains of all time, you always feel incredible. If you are a fan of Batman buy this now, if you are a fan of Video Games buy this now! The combat, story, and characters are near flawless.
- Intense combat that never feels old
- Great Story, though cliched
- Awesome Stealth Segments
- Remarkable character and world presentation
- Areas repeat and some environments look the same
- Final Fight is pretty easy, but still epic
Final Score: 9.00