Batman: Arkham Asylum

Any licensed game is going to be crap you say, well it’s kind of true, guilty ones being E.T, Superman 64, but you can’t always blame the developers as they are given very tight deadlines, this is definitely for movie licenses nowadays. But that isn’t always the case when a license is given to the right people, as a result of giving a license to the right people you get games like GoldenEye 007, Spider-Man 2, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, etc.

So when DC Comics gave Rocksteady Studios a license to make a Batman game, they weren’t going to rest until they made the perfect game, and coming from the developers who made Urban Chaos: Riot Response, one of the most underrated games on the PlayStation 2, it has to be good. And you know what, not only did they accomplish that, they blew our minds.

So Batman has caught The Joker (again) and is sent to Arkham Asylum, where Batman’s legendary enemies are sent to. But suddenly it turns out that it’s an elaborate trap, The Joker has fooled the Batman and has trapped him, Commissioner Gordon, and guards in one of the most deadly and insane nuthouses in the world (I mean, what other Asylum has a humanoid crocodile in it? Absolutely blooming no other!).

But this isn’t the least of Batman’s problems, The Joker is using the same toxin called Titan, the same toxin Bane uses to get extremely muscular on the prisoners to become Titan warriors in hopes they will defeat Batman, but not only that, The Joker wants to use it on Gotham City. And this is why Batman never gets a rest…at all.

You play as Batman as he explores the depths of the Asylum and it looks brilliant, the whole game itself has a dark, serious, Gothic and claustrophobic feel to it fresh off the comics which is the best case scenario because making games off the Batman films or TV series aren’t always going to make great games and some show that. The combat is amazing, where you can beat up multiple enemies at one time, punching a bad guy and before another can hit you you can do a counter attack on him, you can do a huge amount of combos to rack up XP and collecting XP will enable you to unlock gadgets and upgrades.

The upgrades menu is OK, could be better other than just a line of upgrades with icons on it and choosing an upgrade will enable you to see a picture of Batman demonstrating the upgrades, though interesting they’re not that pretty…or helpful at times.

You get Detective Mode where it has some great features like seeing enemies through walls, able to trace things like blood, alcohol breath, etc. Examine statues of how the Arkham came to be which is a very interesting but very disturbing back story.

But the main memorable feature of Detective Mode is finding clues using Edward Nigma’s Riddles (come on, you should know who Edward Nigma is, I just gave you a clue, the man who is known for the addiction of a puzzle, and shares it with the bat for him to solve…sorry for the crap riddle). These riddles can be found anywhere in the asylum, some clues lead to trophies and some (using Detective Mode) lead to unlocking character bios, where you can get some extra knowledge on heroes, villains or other characters you wanted to know more of, if you can’t find some then you can find a map with the location of the answers.

You get to meet a number of characters from the Batman universe, mostly the villains, some are boss battles and they are very well done. The gadgets are well done as well and they all make you feel like you’re Batman, you get the Batarang, Batclaw, Explosive Gel, and many more.

And with all these come the stealth parts of the game and these are done so well the way these parts are set it makes it more fun knocking out someone from behind than actual combat sometimes, why, because you’re the Batman! In fact I’m not entirely good at stealth games, especially the Metal Gear Solid series, but the stealth in this game is set in a way that even beginners of stealth gaming or people who don’t do stealth gaming are able to do.

One of the creepy elements of the game is Scarecrow, when you breathe in his fear gas, Batman sees strange illusions even to the point of revisiting his death of his parents. There is one scarecrow attack that…well if anything happens, it’s not your console’s fault.

If there is anything to fault is some of the character designs don’t work, bosses are samey at times and have little variety and I wish the game was a bit longer, that’s how good this game is.

Overall, this is one of the greatest Batman experiences ever, Rocksteady Studios has made a comic book game that actually makes you feel like you’re in the comic, the story is great, the combat is pure adrenaline rush and the gadgets are amazing.

The one thing that steals the show is The Joker, Mark Hamill does an amazing performance as The Joker, but Kevin Conroy does a cool performance as Batman with his ‘nuts dropped on the floor’ voice.

Again I would have loved for this game to be longer, what with it’s 7 hour gameplay, I wish there was more to do and I know the game can get linear at times but I don’t care, as long as I get to play as Batman in the way it was meant to be played I don’t mind it. But one nitpick is the final boss, after all those samey but challenging boss battles throughout the game, the final one was far too easy for my liking.

This has since become one of my favourite games of all time, well done Rocksteady Studios for proving that even though you made a game based off a comic, doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a bad game, same goes to movies, books and TV shows.

You can get it for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, OS X, PC and Cloud (OnLive).

Rating: 4.5/5

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