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Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

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Developer: Rocksteady Studios Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: August 25, 2009 Available On: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight reset the Batman movie franchise in big ways. They deserted the campy and more kid-friendly path that Val Kilmer and George Clooney had taken the franchise with Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. You can make a similar comparison to Batman: Arkham Asylum for video games. After a string of unsuccessful and often cheesy games based in the Batman universe, the developers at Rocksteady Studios finally bring the series back to its comic roots.

From the first minute that you play Batman: Arkham Asylum, you can tell that this is not your regular Batman game. You play in dark, gritty environments full of lunatics on the loose. The developers tried to take a cinematic approach with camera angles, lighting and storyline to which they succeeded in giving the feeling that you are actually playing in a Batman movie.

The game is full of cameos and Batman history. The Joker headlines the cast of the bad guys. Not a surprise as he is Batman’s arch nemesis. Aside from Joker you have his girlfirned, Harley Quinn, Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, as well as Tsaz (a serial killer from the comics). Top notch voice talent was recruited with the likes of Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hamill (The Joker) and Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn), all from Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990s reprising their roles. This helps to give Arkham Asylum a certain legitimacy that past games have not had.

All of the game is based in Arkham Asylum and the surrounding buildings, an island off of the Gotham shores. The developers did a fantastic job recreating various parts of Arkham: the medical wing, botanical gardens, sewers, caves, the mansion and so on. The developers did a good job of balancing open roam environments with a reliable mapping system. This gives you the feeling that you have the freedom to do whatever you want, but at the same time, the map makes it hard to get lost or not know what to do.

Speaking of getting around, Batman is equipped with a number of different gadgets. At his disposal is a Grappling Hook, Bat Claw (which can grab baddies as well as pesky ventilation covers), Batarang, Line Launcher (basically a horizontal grappling hook), explosive gel (blasts through walls and glass, but can also be laid as traps for unsuspecting bad guys), and a decrypter to unlock doors. All of these will get deployed at different points of the game and can be upgraded.

Of course, Batman is not solely reliant on his gear. He also has a sick set of melee abilities. Afterall, Batman is a well trained martial artist. Joker’s goons are well equipped themselves with bars, baseball bats, knives, tasers, rifles and the like. While combat is fairly easy (there is only one main button to punch), you will have to time counters correctly and use stealth tactics when multiple guards are equipped. You will learn quickly that a spray of gunfire takes Batman down within seconds.

Most of the missions in Batman: Arkham Asylum having you go from one point of the island to another, rescuing characters, finding items and foiling Joker’s plot. There really aren’t side missions, but you can collect these things called Riddler trophies that unlock challenges outside of the main story mode. Collecting enough Riddler trophies will unlock achievements/trophies as well. Then there are a number of boss fights that, for the most part, are good if overly easy.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is the game that Batman fans have been wanting for a long time. With an ample supply of villains, kick ass gameplay, a storyline that arguably is better than some of the movie attempts of the mid to late 90s, and voice talent from the beloved Animated Series, what’s not to love about Batman: Arkham Asylum. Throw in some challenges, a 20 minute “making of” video, along with trailers and video vignettes for the game and you have a package well worth the purchase. Whether you are a Batman comic book fan, cartoon series fan or movie fan, Batman: Arkham Asylum delivers.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 9 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review