Batman: Arkham Asylum, developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos, is easily one of the best Batman games ever and really makes you feel like you’re actually in the shoes of the Caped Crusader. And it’s not just about the fighting and gliding around (even though that’s great too). It’s also about being the greatest detective, facing past and present psychological fears and regret, and everything that makes Batman an icon as well as a vulnerable human being. It’s all intertwined in a great story that’s paced very well, so far. Well, for the three and a half hours that I’ve played it anyway. What? So I rounded up.
The World's Greatest Detective
From what I’ve played, the gameplay mostly consists of some light platforming, beating up baddies, investigating clues to get to the next objective, and exploring the surprisingly vast area of Arkham Island. I might make it sound boring, but each one is a blast to do.
The fighting is regarded as free flow, meaning the animations will change on a whim depending on the situation. If you hit a bad buy with a three-hit combo, then counter some guy and do another three-hit combo, each action flows right into one another creating a deadly display of brute force and finesse. You can basically chain a nice string of combos together and look like a badass doing it. Though the system might seem easy to learn at first, it’s hard to master, which makes it rewarding when you finally get through a fight against overwhelming odds while not taking a single hit.
The investigative portions are lead-ins to the next part of the game as you usually follow a trail leading you to your destination, but it just feels cool searching the area for clues making you act like a real detective. Exploring every nook and crevice of the island is great too, since there are hidden things to collect like The Riddler’s riddles, and historic tablets from the founder of Arkham Asylum, Amadeus Arkham. It lets you explore off the beaten path and learn about the rich history of this infamous prison that almost feels like it could be its own character.
A Dark Night Atmosphere
Graphics-wise some of the textures are bit blurry when viewed up close, like certain walls and guard uniforms, but the character models for Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Bane and Scarecrow are highly detailed and nicely animated. The atmosphere the game creates is dark and foreboding and fits well into Batman’s persona.
Unfortunately I did not get a chance to test out the PhysX properties in the game, which adds an extra dynamic to the surrounding environment. You can check out more about that here.
Overall, Batman: Arkham Asylum comes highly recommended. Though I didn't touch on some things like the upgrade system, trust me when I say, that everything so far, just feels great. The Scarecrow sequences in particular are highly imaginative and well thought out. The voice acting is superb and resonates within me since some of the voices they use are the same ones in Batman: The Animated Series, which I watched when I was around twelve years old. This game has all the perks of being the Dark Knight without any homicidal freaks wanting your head.
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