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It's a GOOD Batman Game.... NO REALLY!

  • Aug 27, 2009
Video games haven't been too kind to Batman. Often times when we think of a Batman game, the first thing that comes to mind is that the game just isn't going to be all that spectacular. What is it about the Batman that hasn't always worked in the past? It's hard to point out. What we can point out, however, is that Batman Arkham Asylum doesn't fall into that category. In fact, it is easily one of the best Batman games to be released. From its humble beginnings, the game is fine tuned video game that does most of what it does incredibly well.

Let's begin with the production values. This is by far one of Arkham Asylum's strong points. The game begins with the Joker being caught and taken to Arkham Asylum, but he seems to be pretty non-chalant about it, and Batman doesn't like that one bit. And it turns out he was right to be suspicious. The Joker springs a trap and Batman is caught in the middle. Now he's trapped inside the Asylum with the Joker controlling things, as well as several other adversaries.

One of the nice things about Arkham Asylum is that it presents its story very well. The art style feels comic book like, but it doesn't skimp on the overall visual presentation either. There's a lot of artistic flair and technical goodness to behold with the graphics. Most of the environments look fascinating and will really draw you into the game. The tone is perfect. The other good aspect is the voice acting. If you remember that Batman: The Animated Television series you'll be surprised to see its the same voices. Kevin Conroy is Batman and Mark Hamill is the Joker. And the voices are done very well. The production values of the game are absolutely stellar.

Of course, a game just isn't much if it only goes off of visual flair alone. In the past gameplay seems to be one of the areas in which Batman games often stumble. In the past the games have had a hard time crafting together good gameplay elements or sometimes being unreasonably clunky. This is mostly Batman's past. The games sometimes felt rushed. This isn't the case with Arkham. In fact, the game mostly keeps things pretty simple. The combat is really easy to pick up on, having you string together simple combos. But the game hardly devolves into button mashing. This is because your enemies will take advantage of the situation, and the game makes sure you can't rush head on into things. First and foremost, most of your foes are willing to take advantage of their surroundings. Second, you can't go head to head with several enemies all toting guns at once. This is definitely not a beat 'em up kind of game. In fact, in some areas, caution and stealth are required.

There has rarely been a Batman game where you actually feel like Batman. In some places you'll be able to swoop down and leave your enemies hanging from gargoyles... or perform a glide kick or use some of Batman's gadgets to get the job done. For such simple gameplay concepts, there are actually quite a few ways to implement them into the game. The game also lets you upgrade and improve on your techniques as you progress. So there actually happens to be quite a bit of variety.

At the same time, though, the game is accessible to just about everyone. You can also enter what's called "Detective Mode" if you so choose. Within this mode, Batman can see certain things he otherwise couldn't. You can tell where your enemies are easier and find some hidden goodies. You'll no doubt be playing a large portion of the game in this mode, but it's very worth it to do so. Choosing not to means missing out on some of Arkham Asylum's secrets, and there are a lot of secrets. The most prominent of which is that you can find riddles scattered all over that will unlock lots of different things for you to do. You'll also be able to unlock small character bios and audio samples about certain characters. These are other things that really make the game come alive in its own way. And in the midst of all this, the game doesn't appear too challenging or intimidating.

That's not to say you won't be challenged. You will. Particularly when you reach something new. It's nice to know, however, that the game isn't overly difficult. It's just to say that when trumping through it at least doesn't feel easy. When helping you get acquainted to things, Arkham Asylum is pretty easy going. But once the game takes away the training wheels you may find yourself hitting a few snags every now and then.

The visual look of the game isn't all that adds to the game's atmosphere. So does the music and so do some of the animations when you're fighting. Sometimes it's fun to battle just to look at some of the animations as they take place. Other times exploring can be absorbing because the music really knows how to set the tone. Arkham Asylum has a lot of strength, but the game seems well aware of just what those strengths are.

There's really not much that keeps Arkham Asylum down. In many ways it's exciting to play a Batman game that's good. After getting several Batman games that felt like a throwaway of the license, Batman Arkham Asylum feels like a breath of fresh air. Most of its gameplay conventions have been done before, but it's mostly how the game mixes them together that works well, and the absorbing atmosphere it emits in the process. Batman fans might find themselves pleased by this one. It's a simple game to play, but there is definitely a lot in it that could keep you busy for some time, and a lot to explore. It's great to see a Batman game come to fruition, and to do it so smoothly.

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August 30, 2009
Resisting...the....urge...to buy.....PS3...to play....as....JOKER.....must resist....keep credit card....away.....resist....resist.....
August 28, 2009
I recall either a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis game back in the '90s that was based on "Batman: The Animated Series" that was actually quite good. The graphics were compared to what we have now medieval, but the gameplay itself was quite fun. Nice review.
August 29, 2009
I think I played that game for a little bit.  The one based off the show.  There was on game for the SNES and one for the Sega Genesis.  I think that was the last time I truly enjoyed a Batman game... but man that was a long time ago.  Before that I think it might have been one of those NES titles.  I'm recalling one called Batman Revenge of the Joker that I liked, but can't remember the game for the life of me.  
August 28, 2009
Great review man, this is probably my favorite game of the year so far. Usually licensed games suck but this one makes me really feel like I'm playing as Batman. And Arkham Asylum is such an awesome place to explore, it really nails that creepy atmosphere.
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Dark Knight takes on his greatest challenge yet when he becomes trapped with all of his most dangerous villains inside the insane asylum of GOTHAM CITY - ARKHAM ASYLUM! Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum –Gotham’s psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City’s most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum. Using a wide range of Batman’s gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker’s demented scheme. Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner, Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series. With amazing graphics and a moody, immersive setting, Batman: Arkham Asylum offers diverse gameplay options that push the envelope for all action, adventure and superhero games.
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Number of Players: Single Player
Publisher: Eidos Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DC Entertainment, Square Enix
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Console: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre: Action
Release Date: August 25, 2009 (NA)
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