I rented Batman: Arkham Asylum back in 2007 from a Redbox and immediately fell in love.  I think ran up at least $30 in rental charges, but that didn't matter, I was saving Arkham.  The world was dark and dirty, the characters were gritty, and all the inmates were truly insane.  I felt like the villains could be real people, and you wouldn't want the displeasure of crossing their path.  The asylum itself held numerous secrets, collected over the many years of holding Batman's most lethal foes.  There was never a dry moment, and I treasured every second of it.

Since then I've purchased the Game of the Year version and kept it on a back-log while I pursued other titles.  But on the on the eve of Batman: Arkham City I've decided to brush-up on Batman: Arkham Asylum.  With all the great plot twists and spoiler-ific things that have taken place on Arkham Island, I wouldn't have a second thought about playing this instant classic again.


It's going to be a long night ...

Batman is facing the worst night of his life.  Upon returning the Joker to Arkham Asylum after an attempt on the Mayors life, he escapes and gains control of the madhouse, releasing all of the inmates, but this only the beginning of his plan.  Batman's now stuck on the island with an army of criminals, psychotics, and super villains ... it's going to be a long night.  

In the game you battle a verity of inmates, from Blackgate's finest to Arkham's deranged lunatics.  The games combat is a fierce and flawless affair.  Being highly-trained in most known forms of martial arts, all of Batman's moves feel brutal and efficient.  Controlling Batman is simple; you can punch, stun, and counter, then later unlock moves like Throw and Takedown, which allows you to K.O. an enemy with a single button press.  You can also use some of Batman's many gadgets while fighting, like Batarangs or the Batclaw to pull enemies toward you.

Speaking about gadgets, within the game you have immediate access to classic items like Batarangs or the Grapple Gun.  Later-on in the game you'll unlock gadgets like Explosive Gel which lets you blow through structurally un-sound walls gaining you access to new areas, you can also spray it on walls or floors and "surprise" an enemy.  The Line Launcher, which allows you to zip-line through areas quickly, can also be used to knock down a line of enemies in front of you.  There are also several forms of the iconic Batarang.  For example, you have the Multi-Batarang that allows you to throw up to three Batarangs at once, or the Sonic-Batarang which is used to lure in enemies using a sonic emitter.  Needless to say, all of his gadgets are useful, and have an iconic Batman feel.

Everything about this game feels like Batman, especially the Invisible Predator rooms.  In this gameplay type you can channel your inner Dark Knight by silently and strategically taking enemies out one-by-one.  Rocksteady did a perfect job of translating Batman's signature scare tactics into gameplay.  Whether you're hiding in the shadows or swinging between rafters, you'll never feel inferior or weak, and there's always a sense that you have a degree of power over your enemies.   

By pulling the Left Trigger you enter Detective Mode.  Detective Mode allows you to see which enemies have weapons by isolating them in red.  While in Detective mode you can check out people's heart rate, and, in turn, their state of fear.  You can also see things unnoticeable by the naked eye, such as structurally weak walls or hidden question marks that the Riddler (A.K.A. Edward Nigma) has spray painted all over the island.  Aside from the question marks, The Riddler has also left many Riddler Trophies and riddles for you to solve and find. Finding these trophies awards you with Experience Points, and unlocks many things such as character models, Challenge Maps, and other goodies.


Other than delivering the most consistently excellent gameplay I've seen, Rocksteady has also delivered an excellent Batman story.  Penned by long-time Batman scribe Paul Dini; Batman: Arkham Asylum has an engaging narrative with a classic overtone that's sure to please fans and newcomers alike.  The environments, the characters, and just about everything else is dripping with Batman.  I have to give Rocksteady a hand for all of the lore and secrets they put on Arkham, especially the ones that only huge fans of the Dark Knight would catch.

Rocksteady Studios has created a perfect vision of a Batman video-game.  But with every video-game there are bound to be some problems.  The last boss is a bit lackluster, and the A.I. seems dull at times (but maybe that's the difficulty talking).  Honestly, there's really nothing holding this game back.  I've had the ability to play both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, and from what I've seen they're largely the exact same game, with one small exception.  Loading on the Ps3 takes noticeably longer, but in no way hinders gameplay.  On the upside, the install time is relatively short in comparison to other Ps3 games.  Other than these small issues, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a must-play game.

Another thing I've found is there are a lot of similarities between this game and Legend of Zelda.  The auto-jump is instantly familiar, but there are a lot of aspects that are notably reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda.  Replace the Boomerang with the Batarang, Hyrule with Arkham Island, Dungeons with buildings, and bombs with explosive gel, need I go on?  The story's pacing and how Batman gets his gadgets also remind me of Zelda.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact it's very enjoyable, but it's just something I've picked-up on.

I really could go on and on over this, but I don't think I can put all of the things I liked on this page.  Not to mention the risk of spoiling something for somebody.  But, I will say that I'll definitely play this again and be eagerly awaiting anything that Rocksteady will be doing in the future.