Batman: Arkham Asylum
August 25, 2009
Action / Adventure
After the Joker assaults Gotham City Hall, he is caught by Batman and taken to Arkham Asylum, which temporarily houses many members of the Joker's gang, who were transferred after a fire at Blackgate Prison. Believing the Joker allowed himself to be captured, Batman accompanies him into the asylum. The Joker's plan is revealed as Harley Quinn takes control of the security and the Joker escapes into the facility, aided by a corrupt guard who kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. The Joker threatens to detonate bombs hidden around Gotham City if anyone tries to enter Arkham, forcing Batman to work alone. While pursuing Quinn to rescue Gordon, Batman is exposed to the Scarecrow's fear toxin and hallucinates, seeing Gordon's death and the corpses of his parents talking to him. Batman fights off Scarecrow and the toxin's influence, and eventually finds Quinn, knocks her unconscious, and rescues Gordon. The Joker then directs Batman to the captured Bane, who has been experimented on by asylum doctor Penelope Young. The Joker frees Bane and Batman is forced to fight him, after which he navigates his way to a secret Batcave installation he had hidden on the island, where Batman restocks his gadgets.
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X
Batman is the worlds greatest detective but even the Dark Knight himself would have some trouble finding a Batman video game that utilizes this point. Batman: Arkham Asylum ( developed by Rocksteady Studios for 360/PS3 ) not only does this well but makes it one of the central themes of the gameplay and story. While there are plenty of thugs and Super Villains roaming Arkham Island for some great “POW!” moments, while playing you will find yourself making notes about everything in the room from good hiding places, where to set up a trap, and just how many of the criminals are armed and dangerous before jumping head first into a confrontation. After many hours of turning this game inside-out I’ve decided that Rocksteady’s choice of “Brains over Brawn” gameplay for Arkham Asylum has not only made it possibly the best Batman title to date but one of the best next gen video games I have played in a long time.
Arkham Asylum takes place as the name suggest on Arkham Island. While the Gotham skyline looms in the distance the story takes place exclusively on Arkham. The game begins with Batman (voiced by long time Batman voice-actor Kevin Conroy) taking the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) to the Asylum and as anyone would probably guess this is not going to go smoothly. Joker ends up with control of Arkham and all the Super Criminals and recently moved due to overcrowding Black Gate inmates inside. Now it’s up to Batman to restore order to the asylum and find out just what the hell is going on.
As I stated before, one of your biggest assets in the game are Batman’s detective skills. This is utilized in a “Detective Mode” where your surroundings are basically X-rayed with things of interest such as doors, vantage points, hiding places and enemies lit up in various colors. Almost every room you have not visited before you will have to scan, look for clues and of course plan your attack on whatever obstacles Joker throws at you. Much in the vein of “Metal Gear Solid” stealth is key in Arkham Asylum. Peeking around corners, making noises to distract or separate groups of enemies to pick them off one by one in silence will help you move more fluently through Arkham than just a head on assault. There are about a dozen or so of The Dark Knights gadgets at your disposal to help you do so such as, Batarangs, Batclaw, Zip Lines and Explosive Gel. Outside of the many buildings on the island are large open areas with larger groups of enemies. Taking them out in stealth just is not an option here, it’s time to put up your dukes.
The battle system for Arkham Asylum is really good. Instead of just mashing buttons your basic goal is to get as many punches in as you can before getting hit. Not only throwing punches but also reacting to enemies coming up behind you with skillful counter attacks. This will raise your combo number and after the fight is over, the higher the combo, the higher exp you will receive to upgrade your Batsuit, Gadgets or purchase more fighting techniques. On the surface it will seem pretty easy and straight forward but as you progress you will find it quite deep and very rewarding when you pull off that amazing 32 hit combo without getting a scratch.
While Joker is the main villain in Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady had a deep well of other villains to choose from in the almost 80 year old Batman cannon and uses them well throughout the game. I don’t want to name any of them here due to spoilers but I can say even the biggest Batman fans will not be disappointed in their choices for the game. Commissioner Gordan (who is a little to buff for my liking in the game) along with Bat-girl (now named Oracle) will aid Batman in his quest with tons of other characters in the D.C. universe having smaller roles and sometimes in the form of Easter Eggs, which Arkham Asylum is filled with, will also make appearances.
Batman: Arkham Asylum came out in 2009 so if your like me and missed this title when it first came out you can grab a copy at your local game store for about $10.00. This is a no brainer for a gamer on a budget. This game is a true labour of love and it shows from the opening scene to the climactic battle at the end. Rocksteady did a phenomenal job on this game and I can’t wait to play their follow up Batman: Arkham City.
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Nails the gritty feeling of the Batman universe
Amazing voice acting
Tons of replay value
Not much, Story mode felt a bit short but that may be due to the fact I didn't want the game to end.