Batman: Arkham Asylum Results

9
Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Engaging story
  • Fantastic gameplay
  • Amazing voice work
  • Bad lip-syncing
  • Graphical glitches
  • A.I. issues

Batman: Arkham Asylum

September 1, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Release Date: August 25, 2009 (US), August 28, 2009 (EU), September 3, 2009 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Rocksteady Studios/Eidos Interactive
Genre: Action
Platform[s]: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Storyline

The story begins with The Dark Knight bringing his nemesis The Joker to justice after a recent escape from Arkham Asylum, during his escape The Joker launched an attack on the Mayor’s office.  At the same time, a fire breaks out at Gotham City’s Prison.  Things seemed a little to easy for Batman this time around and on top of that there must have been a reason for the menacing Clown Prince’s attack.  After a while, everything becomes clear!  I won’t spoil the story any further by revealing the plot behind B: AA but what I’ll add is that following the events portrayed above; Batman (as well as other known residents from Gotham) end up trapped in Arkham Asylum with a host of comic book villains such as: Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow, The Riddler, Killer Croc and (of course) The Joker. 

To a degree the plot is somewhat typical of Batman – and I mean real Batman not the clichéd TV shows, cartoons and original movies which are nothing akin to today’s graphic novels.  The content is adult and pretty much on par with the movies Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Expect sexiness, swearing and murder from every direction.  So, we have a solid story experience entwined within a morbidly dark world, works for me!

BAA-Screen

Gameplay

Arkham Asylum is a third-person over-the-shoulder action game with stealth elements.  The idea being that The Dark Knight has to explore the facilities, stalk enemies from the shadows, solve various mysteries and also fight goons with his hand-to-hand combat expertise.

The fighting segments are easily executed thanks to the developer’s “freeflow” system, all that’s required is combining three buttons; Attack, Stun and Takedown which can be hit to initiate an attack or to counterattack (when the an on-screen indication comes from the enemy) and combining these attacks/counterattacks to defeat enemies eventually enables access to special attacks (as the combo metre grows), things are kept fresh of course by the fact that the weaponry used by the game’s baddies varies which forces players to adapt.  All this also helps build up experience which can then be used to upgrade Batman’s attacks and statistics.

In general these things are all pretty good and help to make B: AA an enjoyable experience but there are a number of aspects which transform Arkham Asylum from the mentioned “enjoyable experience” to the 360, PC and PS3’s must-have action videogame of 2009.  For example, the methods utilized to defeat foes are totally up to the player: there’s predatory tactics to make hits on the inmates one-by-one, utilize Batrangs, Explosive Gel and other accessories to cause explosions and take out numerous enemies at once or whatever else springs to mind.  It’s all fun. 

Then there’s also the Detective Mode which in the midst of battle allows Batman to analyse his environment and enemies.  This is useful for drawing important objects to your attention, picking up thug statistics and for solving mysteries.  This brings me to my next topic: The Riddler.  Without the Detective Mode it wouldn’t be possible to pick up all of his clues, these lead to challenges and unlockable items – with 240 of The Riddler’s challenges there’s a whole heap of content to invest a significant amount of time in. 

Beyond the story mode there’s also additional content in the form of extra Challenge Rooms (sixteen or so I believe) which is the perfect avenue for DLC from PSN or XBL.  In-fact I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see something in the next three to five months.  The aim of the mentioned challenges is to meet certain combat/predatory goals, often involving taking out multiple enemies in bizarre ways.  This didn’t instantly appeal to me but then I imagine I’m not the only one to feel this way, the thing is with scoreboards attached to these, more often than not score whores are going to have a barrel of laughs meeting these goals and beating the next guy/girl. 

My only fault with the gameplay as I write this is that unless played on “Hard Mode” the A.I. is about as bright as Paris Hilton and believe me, I’m being kind.           

BAA-Screen-2

Graphics

Graphically I’m sure that you’ve seen all the screenshots by now, which means I’m sure you’ve seen the atmospheric backdrops of Arkham and the intense dark scenery. There are flaws; bad lip-syncing, occasional lag, minor pixilization and occasional modelling inconsistencies. None of these hurt the game much but it is saddening when so much effort has been made to perfect the gameplay just to see the graphics suffer on the small-fry stuff.  After all, these days it’s all about presentation! 

Sound

Fantastic!  Voice talent includes: Kevin Conroy (Lord Jack – Max Payne 2), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker – Star Wars Episodes IV, V & VI) and Arleen Sorkin (Rachel – Frasier).  Except for the henchman/goons who’re off-key and out of place at times all the voice acting found in B: AA is absolutely perfect as are the sound effects and ambience included in the game.  Of course the music also fits the mood brilliantly.    

Overall Score & Replayability

So, all-in-all a great game with a whole range of fantastic features but overshadowed with the occasional flaw.  Congratulations to Rocksteady for giving us the sort of Batman that the general masses have wanted since the recent movie reboots and hardcore comic fanatics have dreamed of for a very, very long time.  I just wish the A.I. was something more. 

For owners of both the Xbox360 and Playstation 3 I am inclined to encourage the purchase of the Xbox360 version; the reason being on this machine the in-game graphics and overall performance is slightly better (and without a three minute install of just over a gigabyte).  Saying that the PS3 version does offer the chance to play the Challenges as The Joker via PSN DLC but I expect the Sony exclusivity to last a year at the very most… Microsoft players will get it sooner or later I think and to be honest this game is a keeper, not a trade-in.

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