Reviews for Gamers by Gamers…

Batman: Arkham Asylum – The End To A Reign Of Comic Folly

Filed under: Batman: Arkham Asylum — Tags: , , , , , — Kellen Beck @ 02:00 January 11, 2010

Format

Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Style

Third person Action Adventure/Detective

Modes

Single player Campaign, Challenge Mode

Pros

Great graphics, original gameplay, voice acting fans can appreciate, unique blend of combat, detective work/puzzles, and stealth.

Cons

Not much replayability, get stuck every once in a while, Batman died back in January 2009.

Batman Arkham Asylum Screen Shot 1Introduction

After years and years of unsatisfying Batman games, Eidos puts out Arkham Asylum, a stunningly brilliant superhero game of which the likes has never been seen before. Batman has always been near and dear to my heart as an avid reader of the comics, and the games have always been sub-par. But come late August, a revolutionary new Batman game set in a unique environment has risen from the depths of nothing: Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The Start Up

The opening scene is grim and dark, as rain pours on the Batmobile, spanning across the city to Arkham Asylum, Gotham’s own psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. When you get inside with the Joker in hand, you follow him and a few guards down to the depths of Arkham, where things get interesting. It seems as though the Joker had been planning this from the start, as he escapes his captors and gains control of the Asylum. Starting off with a quick intro to combat with the new FreeFlow™ Combat System, you battle several thugs and progress through the grounds, searching for various people and things. You quickly learn about your Detective Mode, where you can see inmates through walls, follow trails of various substances, and find otherwise hidden things, such as vent grates and weak walls. It’s an easy game to get into, and can be played respectably by both hardcore and casual gamers.

Gameplay

Batman Arkham Asylum Screen Shot 2Of all the superhero games I’ve played, I must admit that this is the best of them. Never has there been such attention to detail, back stories, and personalities in a comic-based game. I’ve always been an avid Batman reader up until the day he died (rest in peace, Dark Knight) and know Batman and the Gotham crew like my own friends and family. The game plays like you’re classic third person action/adventure game with a small bit of RPG elements. You play as Batman as you go through the Asylum fighting inmates, solving puzzles, and advancing through the story to take back Arkham Asylum from the Joker and his accomplices. Immediately you are thrown into combat with the basic inmates, which is a sort of free flowing punch-and-kick type of combat with counters and take-downs. Starting off you have your Battarang and grapple, the Battarang can be thrown to daze enemies and hit the Riddler’s chattering false teeth toys. Pretty soon you learn about your Detective Mode; this is a modification to your sight that shows various things previously mentioned. It’s very handy when you are stuck somewhere, before you walk into a room to check for enemies, or want to find hidden things. At some points it’s used to follow substance trails such as alcohol in the air, blood and hand prints while tracking people down on the grounds, which you seem to be doing a lot of.


Unlike previous Batman games, Arkham Asylum blends combat, stealth and detective work on a superb level. The stealth is great, although sometimes it feels like you’re completely invisible during times in which you shouldn’t be. All over the Asylum there are convenient gargoyles in which you can grapple up to to observe a room and stealthily kill inmates who are perusing around waiting for you. To render enemies unconscious (Batman doesn’t kill people) in stealth you can do a flying kick form a gargoyle or raised structure and a take down or sneak up and do a sort of silent choke out. If you are caught by armed inmates, you are reduced to hiding up in the shadows and avoiding gunshots which can get pretty annoying.

Since 1948 the Riddler (Edward Nigma) has been using riddles and clues to lead Batman to his meticulously planned crimes. In Arkham Asylum he has left riddles and trophies everywhere and are a nice bonus if you feel like taking a break form the story and do some searches and puzzles. As you collect trophies and solve riddles you gain experience, which you also get from incapacitating inmates and bosses. After an amount of experience is reached, you level up and get to pick an upgrade; upgrades include new weapons like the Sonic Battarang, new combat moves, and armor increases. None of the upgrades are essential to the game, like “you need this upgrade to get to this part in the game”, but they do help a lot.
Batman Arkham Asylum Screenshot 3Progressing through the game, you meet a lot of classic characters including the Joker, the Riddler, Commissioner Gordon and Scarecrow. Scarecrow plays an interesting role in the game in the aspects of his psychoactive gas. If you don’t know, Scarecrow (real name: Jonathan Crane, a psychiatrist who specializes in fear) uses a variety of toxins that make people hallucinate that their worst fears are real and present. In the game, you encounter his gas multiple times; the room begins to shift, things begin to distort and move, and an eerie music plays as you walk onward to unknowing terror. As you pass through your hallucinations, you eventually come to an event where you have to avoid Scarecrow’s gaze. He grows exponentially, and you have to hide and run as he looks for you in a torn apart, circular version of the Asylum. This adds quite an enjoyable twist to the game, and briefly takes you away from the normal game.
Besides the regular story, you can do the Challenge Mode. The Challenge Mode is a series of unlockable, short challenges that involve combating inmates for points and stealthily taking down inmates which is timed. While combating inmates, you earn points through combos, counters, and special take downs, and in the stealth challenges you take down armed inmates as quickly as possible using your various acquired techniques. When you finish, your points are added up and are submitted to the online leaderboards. Challenge Mode is a nice addition if you feel like honing your skills and taking a break from the story.

Overall, the gameplay is phenomenal and Eidos has finally achieved making a good Batman game. There are only a few faults in the game and they don’t pop up too often. At some points, there’s no clear indication of what to do next, and you’re reduced to looking around everywhere, trying to figure out or remember what you have to do. Having said that, there isn’t much else to complain about in Arkham Asylum.

Audio/Graphics

Batman Arkham Asylum Screenshot 4The audio of Batman: Arkham Asylum is fantastic, with great voice actors and environment noises such as the music during Scarecrow events. It’s good to see that they didn’t take any of the recent movie actors for voice acting (apparently Heath Ledger wasn’t answering his phone) and instead went with the fantastic voice actors from the Emmy award-winning 90’s cartoon show Batman: The Animated Series. There seems to be a general lack of interest from movie actors that are asked to voice games. Besides the voice acting, the music and environment sounds are done wonderfully; every drip of water and intense fighting score just adds to the enjoyment of the game.
As far as graphics go, Arkham Asylum is one of the best looking games that has come out in the past year. The look of the Asylum is grim and rigid, and the whole darkness of the game adds so much depth. Characters are rendered greatly, and the emotions seem life-like at some points. Motion is fluid and overall the game looks great.

Ratings

Graphics – 9/10

Audio – 10/10

Story – 8.5/10

Gameplay – 9/10

Replayability – 8/10

Final Score – 9/10


Required Specifications:

CPU:

Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or AMD Athalon 64 3500+

Memory:

1 GB (XP) 2 GB (Vista/7)

GPU:

NVidia 6600 or ATI 1300


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