Everything You Could Possibly Want in a Batman Game
Written: Jul 6, 2012 (Updated Jul 8, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Great story, detailed settings, fantastic characters designs and voice-acting, fun combat system
Cons:Parts of the game involving detective work a little dull and repetitive
The Bottom Line: An amazing game which will entertain Batman fans and those new to the franchise alike. Well-crafted, great replayability value and very fun.
I Would Recommend If You Like: Batman: Arkham City, God of War 3, Assassin's Creed II
Arkham City is one of my favourite games of all time - it goes to great lengths to really put you into the shoes of the great detective; combining elements of stealth, intellect and pure brute strength in a winning formula.
Batman: Arkham Asylum has made a smart move in creating a novel plot for its video game rather than drawing a story or points from any previous media. The story begins in Batman delivering the just-caught Joker to Arkham Asylum, Amadeus Arkham's famous and infamous asylum for the criminally insane. However, the Joker doesn't remain caught for long and soon escapes - leaving you, as Batman, trapped in a madhouse that's being run by the very inmates it houses.
What makes Arkham Asylum's story so good is that it seamlessly weaves in several characters from the franchise without it feeling forced - you'll encounter Batman's more well-known enemies (The Joker, The Riddler, Harley Quinn), but for those of you that aren't too familiar with the Batman franchise, you'll also run-in to some of his less-sung rivals, such as Scarface and the Ventriloquist, Maxie Zeus and The Calendarman. Many just get a mention, but several are pulled-in to the story quite nicely.
Throughout the game you'll experience some real shockers. There's a few choice moments where the game really messes with your head, up to the point where you may consider re-assessing the layout of a controller you've been using for years (you'll know it when it happens). The game really creates a dark atmosphere, the kind we've come to expect from Batman - some scenes in the game are nightmarish, throwing away the rule book and embracing the sheer lunacy of the asylum. This is a story that really makes an impact.
As I've mentioned you'll meet a huge plethora of characters in this game, mostly villains who've done some time in the asylum. The character designs are very well done in this game, the developers have gone to great lengths to modernise the characters and make them fit in with the murky background of Arkham Island. There are one or two characters which really stand head and shoulders above the others - I'd keep an eye out for Killer Croc and The Scarecrow, they're designs are amongst the best interpretations of their characters that I've ever come across.
It's worth mentioning that the version of The Joker adopted by Arkham Asylum leans much more toward the animated and comic book interpretations than Heath Ledger's Joker - although his character is heavily influenced by The Joker of the Alan Moore's graphic novel 'Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth' (although those familiar with it may be glad to know that this version of Joker isn't nearly so extreme, it wouldn't really work in a mainstream video game).
The voice-acting is superb across the board in Arkham Asylum. The much-loved Mark-Hamill of the Batman animated series is energetic, hilarious and above all lovably deranged as The Joker. His lines are really a treat to hear as Joker changes from a harmless clown to the psychotic criminal that we truly know him to be. It must be difficult to follow Joker's wild mood swings and theatrical disposition, but Mark Hamill takes it all in his stride.
He's not the only one excelling her though - pretty much every character involved has a more than capable voice-actor, even minor ones. Batman is stoic and in control, Harley is squeaky and animated and the various doctors and nurses being held captive sound suitably rattled.
Arkham Asylum uses a combination of stealth, detective work and combat in its gameplay. The combat is very easy to get a hang of; it's mostly about timing and assessing your enemies in order to identify the best techniques to use against them. You can unlock several combat combos, some more useful than others, which only need a short sequence of buttons to employ. You get more points the longer you land hits without getting hit yourself, which go towards unlocking combat moves and gadgets.
Some of Batman's gadgets themselves are very useful in combat. Of course there's the bog standard batarang which can be used to stun enemies, but there's plenty of new toys to play with which haven't been seen before in any Batman media. There are some which are necessary to proceed which will usually be provided for you, but optional gadgets can be unlocked too - they do make life a lot easier.
When fighting armed enemies, specifically those with guns, it's not enough to just run in and start throwing fists - you need to utilise Batman's renowned stealth in order to hide in the shadows until it's time to strike. There's many nooks and crannies for Batman to stow away in, all of which can be located using a special 'Detective Mode,' if they're difficult to see in normal vision. Your enemies will start to catch wise to some of these hiding places though and they'll start to lay traps in an attempt to sabotage you.
The aforementioned Detective Mode has many other uses as well - it can be used for tracking DNA or substance traces when you're trying to follow someone's trail, it gives you an idea of the state of mind your enemies are in - they will start getting worried when you begin picking off their friends - and it also points out any special weapons or armour your enemies have, so you can plan tactics before confronting them.
The detective work involved in Arkham Asylum rarely amounts to anything more than searching for clues or following a trail - I definitely feel that this is an area that the game developers could have spent more time on, it feels a little wasted.
Aside from the main story, there's also riddles and secrets galore to find on Arkham Island - courtesy of The Riddler himself. You'll have to track down his hidden trophies, question marks and solve his riddles. There's plenty more besides that - but I don't want to give it away. You'll probably spend a pretty lengthy amount of time on these, but there's plenty of rewards offered. You not only get points for finding secrets, but you may also find interview tapes, get character bios of more obscure characters and unlock achievements. If you are getting stuck, there's also maps hidden around the island which show the location of secrets, but not the solutions to riddles.
On top of all this there are stealth and combat challenges. Conducted separately of the main story and the riddles, you can attempt to beat a series of challenges unlocked throughout the main game. You can try to earn enough points to unlock bronze, silver or gold medals - but these are easily the most difficult part of the game, I've not managed to get more than a few gold medals, but I guess the point of 'challenges' is that they're actually challenging. Again, you can earn achievements by completing these.
Unfortunately for those of those who use the Xbox 360, we are unable to unlock the playable Joker character, who has his own series of challenges to beat as he was only made available as DLC on the PS3 network.
The soundtrack for Arkham Asylum is okay - it's suitably energetic, moody and menacing as required, but it doesn't really stand out as particularly remarkable. Like its sequel, the most memorable track plays during the title screen - but it may just be that it's memorable because nothing else is going on to distract you.
The graphics in Arkham Asylum are top-notch. By sacrificing a bit of the space we're used to in the more open-world games of modern times, the developers were able to make an incredibly detailed and intricate world. It's worth taking the time to search round after beating the game for all the little details and Easter eggs that've been hidden away all around the island.
The sky is dark, the glittering outline of Gotham City shines from across the river, and the brickwork of the asylum walls is beginning to crack and crumble with age. All the textures feel very organic and no corners have been cut in the design of any of the asylum's many rooms, everything's been done with a lot of care and it shows.
As far as I remember, I didn't encounter any glitches in Arkham Asylum - everything ran very smoothly. I've not heard of any problems from other people who have played the game either.
Arkham Asylum is one of my most replayed games purely because of how fun it is. It's very difficult to get bored with the story and characters, and everytime you play you notice something new, or are able to really appreciate aspects of the games which you were unable to the first time round. This game is definitely one to buy and keep rather than rent, so you can go back to it time and time again.
There's also several difficulty levels, so you can continue to feel challenged as you replay the game.
Who It's Suitable For
There is a lot of violence and some scenes which may be a little too scary for kids. It does have a 15 certificate or T for teens rating due to: alcohol/tobacco reference, blood, mild language, suggestive themes and violence. I wouldn't say there's anything too bad in this game but particularly sensitive persons may want to stay clear, especially in some of the scarier scenes.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of my all-time favourite games. It's by far the best representation of a comic-book character in a game, but is also enjoyable for those not too familiar with the Batman multiverse - in fact it's ideal as you can discover many lesser-known characters. You can play it time and time again and you get plenty of gameplay hours for your money.
Read all 2 Reviews
Write a Review