Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

I never really got into Batman when I was a kid.  Superheros just never interested me.  While my friends were watching the X-Men and Power Rangers, my dad was renting Rambo and James Bond for us to watch together.  But after seeing Nolan’s Batman movies I realized that Batman is something different than my perception of superheros.  Superman as a concept is stupid; someone who is nearly invincible and 100% good isn’t someone who is going to interest me and Spiderman makes me yawn.  But what I like about Batman is the noir aspect of it all.  Gotham City is dark, Batman is an imperfect hero, and the villains are actually sinister and not silly.  Of course that hasn’t always been the  case, so I can’t say I’m a fan of all things Batman.  But I certainly am a fan of this modern interpretation that makes it more grounded in gritty, dark realism.  As opposed to this:

Then again, everyone in the 60s was on acid, so this might have been amazing

Regardless, I had heard great things about Arkham Asylum and in the hype surrounding the release of Arkham City I decided I had to play the first one first.  My friend was good enough to let me borrow Arkham Asylum, and I have to say, it has exceeded my expectations and then some.  All the hype this game has received is well founded and well deserved.

The game mechanics work great.  The fighting system is smooth and easy to figure out, though difficult to master.  As many of you may have heard, the game was originally going to be a rhythm game, not unlike Guitar Hero.  Thankfully that idea was scrapped, but the combat system is still based upon timing and getting the rhythm of the fight down.  It works well.  The fights can be challenging at times, and satisfying when you ultimately win.  The boss fights, usually involving one of the supervillians of the Batman mythos, are typically a throwback to boss battles of old, and as I’ve stated before, I love that.  There are a good deal of problem solving puzzles in the game too, ranging from figuring out how to get from point A to B to more intricate and intense moments like trying to figure out how to silently clear a room of armed  guards.  And you must be careful about it, for like Deus Ex, enemy gunfire can take you down almost immediately, so care and forethought are a must.  All this blends together to give a great varied feel to the game, changing up the gameplay to keep you engaged and always wanting more.

And that’s the best part of this game.  You can’t put it down.  The story is compelling and keeps driving you forward, you keep going to find out more about the characters’ back stories, to see what is around the corner, to stop whatever plot is currently underway.  Aided by great graphics and some pretty good voice acting, the game feels like you’re controlling a movie.  A good movie at that.  Sure, the voice acting may be a little over the top and the game is certainly not as dark as Nolan’s films, but its also far darker than most Batman interpretations.  And for people like me, people who aren’t intimately familiar with every aspect of the Batman universe, it is accessible while still offering tons of nods to those who are addicted to everything Bats.

Arkham Asylum is simply a fantastic game, and one you’ll definitely want to pick up even if you don’t know much about Batman or have played other Batman games and had a bad experience.  The reason is simple, this one is different.  And it offers such a variety of gameplay and such a great story, it is certainly not one to be missed.  It offers an atmosphere that is all too often absent from other games, an all encompassing mood that draws you into and doesn’t want to let go.  Now its time to grab Arkham City, which I’ve heard is even better than the first game.  I’m certainly excited.


2 Comments to “Batman: Arkham Asylum Review”

  1. Fine way of describing, and fastidious post to take
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