What Batman Arkham Asylum does best is make you feel like the ultimate superhero. With your draping black cape, bulging muscular tone and deadpan expression, just walking around as the masked hero makes you drunk on power. And if power is your alcohol, The Joker is your rehab. He drains your air of authority, because you know, he always has something up his purple sleeve. And this epic mental and physical conflict could not have been recreated better than in Batman Arkham Asylum.
Batman Arkham Asylum is an impressive 3rd Person action-adventure game that focusses as much on hand-to-hand combat as it does on its brilliantly written storyline. And it does both of these things expertly well creating a very cinematic and surreal Batman experience akin to the franchises terrific films.
Batman Arkham Asylum Gameplay
Arkham Asylum takes place after the events of the film; The Dark Knight. You start off the game escorting the captured Joker to the Asylum. Of course, the over-confident super villain manages to escape and in no time gains control over the whole facility. You’ll have to explore the asylum’s many areas, from the botanical facility to the sewers in an attempt to stop the Joker from unleashing his evil plan upon Gotham City.
Batman puts up a good show, but Joker’s unsteady swagger and menacing laugh just steals the spotlight. Veteran Batman writer Paul Dini once again shines with some excellent writing and Mark Hamill voices the role of The Joker stunningly.
Along the way you’ll meet countless crazies as well as known faces from the Batman series of comics, cartoons and films. Some among the ranks include Scarecrow, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy. Trust me, you’ll be meeting them a lot.
But between meeting these creepy characters you’ll be combo-ing your way to objectives around Arkham’s mental facility. Although the game gives you the choice of whether you want to be stealthy by taking out your enemies silently, one by one, or run at them head on, it rewards silent players way more. In each level you can use stone gargoyles and use vents to sneak around undetected. The grapple hook comes in handy when flanking enemies or avoiding fire.
But for those lusting some gritty combat, Batman Arkham Asylum provides. It may not be wise to take on a room of guys with guns with just your fists, but the game has plenty of opportunities for you to get close and personal with the enemy. In fact, the combat allows Batman to show off his most deadly skill; strength and agility. Whereas combat is a very button-mashing affair, Batman moves round the flaw like a progressional dancer, only more brutal. He shifts smoothly from one opponent to the other executing deadly attacks. Reacting to enemies is also as rewarding if done right. Batman will catch punches and dodge kicks with ease. Of course, time your counter attack wrong you could be landed with a heavy punch that puts you off balance and kills your combo.
Some well-placed boss battles and creepy Scarecrow segments break up he action. As well as some platforming sections. RPG elements also keep the gameplay varied with the option of being able to upgrade gadgets, health and combo attacks.
The only complaint I have with Batman is that there isn’t much variety in location. Environments can feel a bit repetitive as you revisit earlier buildings maybe 3 times.
After completing the lengthy campaign, you are only halfway done with Arkham Asylum. You can still walk around the island with the ability to get to new areas with the added gadgets to your arsenal. There are riddles to solve, hidden secrets to discover and fascinating interviews of villains to listen to. Not to mention the large selection of extra challenges which tasks you to take down a room of enemies, or last as long as you can in a wave survival mode. You can even play as The Joker, stripping you of your powers and strength and left with only a one-shot pistol at your disposal. Much love has been put into the extra content and it adds enormous replay ability to Batman.
Batman Arkham Asylum is as emotionally driven as it is physically intense. It finds the perfect balance between silent stealth and jaw-crunching combat. Best comic book game in years.
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Price: $19.99 (£19.99)
Description: Action/Adventure with Batman
Pros: Fluid combat, engrossing story enhanced by brilliant cinematography, satisfying stealth, much appreciated extra content and challenges.
Cons: Environments can get a bit repetitive.