Batman: Arkham Asylum Review
Superhero games are tricky things. There’s a lot that can go wrong, from bad balance on superhuman powers to a vast potential for corny lines and acting. Luckily, Batman: Arkham Asylum doesn’t have any of these problems. In fact, this Batman game does just about everything right.
Let me begin by saying, I am not a comic book enthusiast. I don’t know the real names of most of the villains that continually make problems for Gotham. I am familiar with the characters and general background though. It follows then, that while I may not glean the maximum nostalgic satisfaction available from the game, I am prepared to make a few statements about its style, the first being: They did just about perfectly with the voice acting. People talk about Mark Hamill’s voice for the Joker, but the rest of the cast is excellent. It’s hard to grasp the quality until you hear it for yourself. I was quickly pulled into the universe and story, and if I had not read that Hamill did the voice for the Joker beforehand, I would have looked it up to see who did such a good job.
It’s hard to imagine how the developers could have improved on the style and atmosphere of Arkham Island and the events that take place there. The Joker has that authentic humorous and crazy attitude, and many of his jokes are amusingly clever. The island is filled with details that relate to the Batman universe, or just immerse the player deeper into the visuals. The writers for Batman: Arkham Asylum have somehow incorporated just about every Batman villain you can think of, and the story doesn’t suffer because of it. In fact, it’s better in some ways. I’m glad they created an original story, too, instead of basing it on the recent Batman movies. I mean, they’re great movies and all, but that kind of thing rarely turns out well. The music is all original too, and it does the job. They covered every aesthetic base.
Let’s get to the meat of the game. What is the gameplay experience like? Let me put it this way: about halfway through the game, I thought to myself, “This game has a little of everything.” Now, this is not some all-genre encompassing game that includes every gameplay mode and idea available today, but there are so many facets, and each one is designed very well. There is Batman’s signature hand-to-hand combat, which is very intense and feels quite fluid, but you may (or in some cases, must) choose a stealthier approach, isolating and eliminating henchmen one by one in the shadows. There is the detective work, using Batman’s gadgets to follow clues across the island. The game even has a sidescrolling section! The nature of the game is inherently non-linear, especially if you decide to explore every last nook and cranny of the area. In addition to the main gameplay, riddles, puzzles, and hidden objects have been sprinkled all over Arkham by – you guessed it – the Riddler. Solving them is not required to complete the game, but it does yield small rewards, as well as some satisfaction in overcoming his stupendous cleverness.
In the end, this game is definitely worthwhile. Game developers could learn a thing or two about polish from a game like this.
Feel free to leave your own thoughts and impressions in the comments.