Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? I ask that of all my prey… Ok we all know of a little super hero that goes by the name of a man that is some type of flying rodent. And in many years past there have been tv shows, cartoons, movies (The Dark Knight was phenomenal) and video games. Some of which were either sub-par, excellent, or flat out bad. Enter your innermost Gotham fantasies with Eidos’s latest endeavor Batman Arkham Asylum.
Being a long time Batman fan I will try my best to go into this review with an unbiased opinion…. Ok screw that because this game f@#!’n rocks! This is a game that I think will go in the record books not only as the best Batman game, but quite possibly the best super hero game to date. Rocksteady has definitely raised the bar on what comic-based games should be about.
To start Batman Arkham Asylum is one heck of a gorgeous game. The ambience feels like a living breathing Gotham. From the Art Deco designs, to the grittiness of the Looney bin, you just absolutely feel like you are there. But the visuals are just a small piece of the pie here. I can say that this is one of the best written stories for Batman and I think this could warrant a film adaption. To help enhance the story you have the superb voice acting of Mark Hammil and Kevin Conroy reprising their roles from the Batman animated series. They both are amazing and I think this game would not have been possible without them.
The basic plot starts off to where our hero captures the Clown Prince of Crime and ships him personally to the darkest place in Gotham, the Arkham Asylum. You find that something is not right with how easily the Joker allows himself to be captured. You suddenly realize that you are in some deep s#*@ when he escapes only to feed you to the savages that were once locked up by the Dark Knight. All of the baddies are there either in cameo or in this case there to get rid of Batman once and for all. The lineup is just sick! From Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow, to the Killer Croc. And they all want your blood!
What’s amazing from Eidos is how they incorporated all of these iconic characters and how vividly real they are. The first time seeing the Killer Croc walking in your presence is so intimidating. I mean the screen shakes, the controller vibrates, and he has some chilling words for you that just makes your arm hairs stand up. The villains are really dramatic and make for some awesome boss fights. I don’t even want to spoil The Scarecrow for you.
I can go on and on about how cool the characters are but this wouldn’t be a proper review if I didn’t talk about the excellent game play. I think in today’s games, control schemes can always be better so I won’t nitpick. Just know that these controls WORK… unlike most games today. You have a gadgets, crazy ass-kicking combos and flying mechanics(motion controlled on PS3)all at your disposal. The controls are tight and very responsive to the point that you feel like you are Batman. Once you encounter enemies you have to use strategy to take them out with stealth or brute force. You occasionally get into situations where you can fall off screen or plummet at some unreachable area to where Batman can die, but by hitting the right button in time, it will reset you to a previous area so you never interrupt gameplay. Very intuitive and smart.
The detective mode in Arkham Asylum is very cool. They borrowed the technology found in the Dark Knight movie where sonar is used to see through walls sort of like x-ray vision. This allows the player to find clues, find hidden enemies, but overall it helps the player adapt to his surroundings. With all the stealth mechanics in place, Eidos has done a great job of putting the player into making proper decisions. Features like this can be found in games such as the Metal Gear, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell series. With the addition of the gadgets and the huge maps, the player will find that even after beating the game you can collect items which tell more about the characters in the form of biopics and interviews. Again this all makes the player closer to the Batman universe.
Lastly I cannot ignore on how perfectly the sound has been done for Batman Arkham Asylum. The cast is one thing, but it simply has a gorgeous score that sets the mood wherever you are. Subtle sounds flourish when creeping through the padded cells of the inmates, but when something is about to happen, the music score dramatically starts to change the pacing. It’s very engaging and completely puts the player in this fictional world. There is so much detail in the environments. Leaves will rustle, you turn the camera view and you can hear the screaming psychotics from every speaker, I mean I climbed onto a ledge that had a waterfall and you can actually hear the water bead off of his suit. Simply amazing.
I think if you got through this review I don’t have to spell out that Batman Arkham Asylum is a great game. I for one think it’s a milestone both for videogames and comics. If you are a person that has never read the comics, seen the movies, or simply never heard of the Bat, this game will definitely catch you up. Even if you aren’t a comic book nerd you will enjoy this game. Some people may think the fighting is repetitive, I say to those, enjoy this game for the story because it is simply mind blowing. It really is hard to not give this game a perfect score. In my eyes it almost achieves that. When the game is not telling the story you have so much to find and explore. The extras will keep you playing for an extended period of time. But to some, the challenge maps might seem a little boring if you don’t like online competitive scoring . But overall the challenge maps are fun. (The PS3 version let’s you play as the Joker). Swoop down from atop the highest ornate gothic arch and buy this game.