BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM

Riddles GaloreRiddle me this, riddle me that, what do you get when you take a big, bad, Bat and trap him in a loony bin? Answer: The greatest super hero game ever.

That statement doesn’t really say much, since most super hero games in the past have been huge busts. Maybe a better statement would be this: Batman Arkham Asylum is easily the best game so far this year. I may even go as far to say it’s one of the best games I have played in the past few years. That may sound like a bold statement for a game based off comic book characters, but let me break it down for you.

A quick synopses of the story: Batman apprehends the Joker and is transporting him to Arkham Asylum; the place where the criminally insane stay at Gotham City. As they arrive and Joker is taken into custody, you start to feel that this is all going too easy. Sure enough, Joker’s elaborate plan to trap Batman in Arkham Asylum quickly comes to fruition and the nightmare starts. Your job as Batman is to survive the night in Arkham Asylum and put an end to the nefarious plot the Joker has up his sleeve. This is no easy feat, since the Joker, with the help of Harley Quinn, has let loose all the inmates in the island. This includes some cookie cutter baddies that range from physical bruisers, to knife and stun rod carrying goons and all the way up to some of the more popular enemies Batman has squared off with in the comics.

Gameplay is very enjoyable. I must say I don’t usually enjoy the “button masher” type fighting games, but this may be the exception. While you can mash the x and y buttons all day long, the true beauty of this fighting system lies in the “free flow” combat techniques. Simply put, your timing and accuracy of landing blows creates “chains” which build up, allowing Batman to unleash some truly amazing moves. I had great satisfaction in actually feeling like Batman while facing off against multiple enemies, sometimes in the double digits. Surviving a fight of 1 vs. 12 is a great feeling.

On top of the straight out bruiser type fighting, Batman can strike from the shadows. Employing the use of a variety of gadgets Batman has at his disposal, you can zip line up to higher areas and strike foes unawares. You can also use more stealth techniques and choke out opponents from behind. This is where Detective Mode comes into major play. With the press of a button, you can change your cowl to display all enemies on screen. It even brakes down weapon carrying baddies by color display. It monitors their heart rate and let’s you know their state of being. So, by the time you take out 5 of 6 guards in a single room, the panic that overcomes the last poor sap is truly satisfying. Again, it makes you actually feel like Batman, striking fear into the hearts of criminals.

When it comes to visuals, this game holds nothing back. The next gen graphics look great and fit the dark element of the Dark Knight universe. I must say, the art design of this game is EXACTLY how I like the Batman world to look. The design of Batman, his vehicles and all the villains are what I envision. So, for my taste the design is perfect.

As far as sound goes, the dark music fits perfectly into the theme of the island and the sound effects are top notch. A point to note: This game has THE BEST VOICE ACTING I have ever heard in a video game. Both Batman and the Joker are reprised by the same voice actors who portrayed them in the Animated Series in the 90’s. Mark Hamill’s work as the Joker is simply amazing. According to him, this was to be his final work as Joker, so he went out with a bang. Great work Skywalker! All other villain voice work is perfect as well. Besides Joker, my other personal favorite is the Riddler. I could listen to him all day. The actor they got did a great job with his lines. He reminded me a lot of Frank Gorshin, who portrayed the Riddler in the 60’s on TV. Great work.

Overall gameplay was excellent. The fighting/invisible predator system works great and most of the boss battles were really good. Although I wish there was one main villain in the game that I could have fought. (A cut scene shows the battle). With the help of Detective Mode, this game really made me feel like The World’s Greatest Detective. There are some cool moments in the game where Batman really utilizes his detective skills to follow traces of evidence. The last thing I wanted to mention was the collection system. I love games that encourage exploration and collecting. But this game takes it to a whole new level. All the collection in this game revolves around solving the Riddler’s riddles he poses to you. 240 to be exact. Yes, that’s a lot of collecting. But, unlike running around  and collecting pointless flags in other games, the items you collect in this game unlock things for you. Character bios, character trophies, XP for buying new gadgets and new Challenge Maps. To me, solving the riddles was addictive. Many times when you solved one, the Riddler would pipe up and taunt you, which only encouraged me to solve more and try to frustrate him. To solve some riddles, you simply have to find Riddler trophies or collect patient documentation recordings. But others depend on you to scan the appropriate answer, many times by using detective mode to actually see the riddle.

The other part of this game is the Challenge Maps. You unlock them as you progress through the main story. These are areas in the game you visited that have now become fighting “rings”. Your goal is to earn as many combos and style points as possible to get a high score and earn trophies. The maps vary from straight out fighting to the invisible predator moments. I must admit, they are very fun and also very challenging. I finally strung together a 20 hit combo. And this is after I played through the whole game to completion! I don’t know how I will ever get the elusive 40 hit combo achievement!

The final say in the matter is this: If you like Batman even a little bit-buy this game. You will not be disappointed. The length is good, the fighting and riddle system is solid and the villains and plot are memorable. A classic game to be sure!

OVERALL RATING:

GAMEPLAY: 10 out of 10

The fighting system is perfect with a nice mix of brawling and stealth. The collection system is perfect and the villain battles are great.

CONTROLS: 10 out of 10

I never found myself pressing the wrong button. The free flow combat system is simple to learn as far as pushing buttons goes. Even the directional pad worked good for selecting the gadgets in the corners of the pad.

SOUND: 9 out of 10

Great, dark musical score. I just wish there had been more of it in certain areas to really set the mood even better. Great sound effects. The best voice acting in any game. Ever.

GRAPHICS: 9 out of 10

Sleek looking graphics and a dark look set the mood of this game. There are instances of some clipping and voice acting not matching mouth movement. Awesome art design.

STORY: 10 out of 10

The setting for this game is perfect. Arkham Asylum is realized in a way never seen before. The Joker’s plot to trap Batman and release the inmates makes for a great challenge. The patient interview tapes do a spectacular job of fleshing out the background story of some of the main villains in the game. The overall plot is solid. Well deserving of a graphic novel itself. The final battle is over the top but within comic book lore.

ACHIEVEMENTS: 9 out of 10

The achievements are done well. I would of liked to have seen less achievements for the Challenge Rooms and more put toward unlocking the character bios, character figures and gadget upgrades.

OVERALL RATING 9.5

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4 Responses to “BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM”

  1. Nice review. I am definitely looking forward to playing this. It sounds like it has some decent replay value, so it should be well worth the $60.

    I am curious, how long did it take you to beat it? And how much of the “collectibles” did you get on your first play through?

    • I really don’t know the exact time it took. I would say around 14-16 hours. I had collected around 80% of the riddles when I beat the game. Afterwords, I went back and now I only have 2 more to figure out. This has easily taken me a few more hours of gameplay. Lot’s of replay value. AND, I am just getting into the Challenge Maps now. I never like Challenge maps in other games. But these are very addictive and very, very challenging!

  2. Well, I started playing AA last night, and your right…it is very good. The environment feels very resident evilish, with all of the new technology scattered around old buildings.

    I would say I am around 4 hours into it. Right now I am running around outside trying to find ?’s and other secrets. I hope to get back into it tonight 🙂

  3. Awesome. You are finally onboard. (Much like me with WoW.) Well, I won’t spoil anything. The game is too good for me to lessen it for you…keep me updated though…

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