Batman: Arkham Asylum (Review)

“The Caped Crusader’s biggest and best video game outing ever.”
I haven’t played a Batman game since Batman Returns on the Super Nintendo, and that’s not a nice memory to have at all. I knew that Arkham Asylum wouldn’t be as distastrous since it seemed to be getting fairly universal praise. I waited several months before finally deciding to try the game out, though. It was a long wait for sure, and after experiencing what Arkham Asylum has to offer, I sort of regret not playing this game much sooner.

In Arkham Asylum, the player obviously assumes the role of Batman as he escorts the Joker to Arkham Asylum, a high security prison facility for Gotham City’s most dangerous. Batman suspects that something isn’t quite right however, as the Joker seemed to surrender himself too easily. The Caped Crusader’s suspicions are verified when it is revealed that the Joker planned his capture and, with the help of Harley Quinn, quickly takes over Arkham Asylum after being committed. Commissioner Gordon is quickly kidnapped as well, forcing Batman to set out to rescue Gordon while also aiming to stop the Joker’s mad plot.

The game is a real treat to any Batman fan as it features several popular characters from the comic books, as well as facts and information many characters who don’t physically appear in the game. Aside from Harley Quinn and the Joker, villains such as Bane and the Scarecrow are featured in the game and are great fun to encounter.

The gameplay in Arkham Asylum is largely stealth based, and all I can say about that is that it’s about time. Batman has always been very reliant on stealth, so it’s great to see that it is finally one of the main aspects of a Batman game. You will instruct the Caped Crusader to grapple all throughout the dark and shadowy environment so that he can position himself in a way so that the Joker’s many goons will be oblivious to his presence. Overall, the stealth system is pretty good. It is quite a lot like what we’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed and Metal Gear Solid, only in Arkham Asylum there are no indications on the screen to indicate whether or not you are seen. Overall, it feels more realistic than other stealth oriented games, as enemies will simply see you when you’re in their line of sight. They will be aware of your presence if you’re too noisy as well, so be mindful of that as well.

Combat is mostly melee, with Batman slugging it out with wave after wave of henchmen. Of course, Batman’s fighting has always been so badass and fluid, and this translates wonderfully into Arkham Asylum. If you find yourself in a group of several foes, taking them all down is literally no problem at all and you won’t break a sweat. By telling Batman what direction to attack in and then pressing whatever button/key is assigned to attack, the Caped Crusader unloads a relentless and unforgiving amount of pain. I was really impressed with the melee combat, since switching back and forth between approaching enemies really is a breeze. The fighting in Arkham Asylum really is top notch, and you should never find yourself feeling annoyed or frustrated by the mechanics of the fighting as they are just that dead on and precise. If you do find yourself getting upset, it will likely be your own fault over a sloppy move that you made.

There are a lot collectables to pick up throughout the game, and the Riddler will often spout little riddles that are very fun to solve. You can also upgrade Batman’s abilities throughout the course of the game, which allows you to perform many things much more efficiently.

The graphics in Arkham Asylum are simply dark and gorgeous. Each and every location I visited just looked fantastic, and I was blown away by the superb lighting in the game. A few characters, such as the Joker and Poison Ivy look absolutely fantastic, and they’re a blast to look at. Environments look very good, and I was surprised at how much attention to detail had gone into the game’s textures. Oddly enough, the only part of Arkham Asylum that I didn’t really think looked fantastic was Batman himself. His outfit seemed oddly generic looking, but I was able to forgive this. It’s Batman after all.

The sound department compliments Arkham Asylum’s visuals splendidly. While most of the game’s sound effects are fairly run of the mill, the voice acting is spectacular. It would not be difficult to close your eyes and be able to imagine a Batman cartoon or movie playing in your head. The voice acting goes above and beyond to deliver a quality experience for you to listen to and enjoy immensely. While the graphics were top class, the voice acting is even more. It’s hard to truly describe how good the voice acting is in this game. I really was shocked by it, and it’s some of the best voicing I’ve heard in the past few years.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a fantastic game that can be enjoyed by fans of the comic book franchise as well as casual gamers alike. The engaging gameplay, which is complimented significantly by the smooth controls, can hardly be rivalled. The visuals and voice acting are also top notch, making this a surprisingly robust package that, in all honesty, practically every gamer should surely enjoy.

Final Score

8.9/10

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