Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

WELCOME TO THE MADHOUSE

Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Compatability (PS3): 1.2GB Minimum Space | SIXAXIS Motion Sensitive | HD 720p / 1080i | Online Broadband
Compatability (Xbox 360): 2MB Minimum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-8
Rating: 9.3

Batman’s targeted audience has always been aimed at little toddlers that go completely gaga over superheroes. However, in recent years this audience has shifted up a few gears and The Dark Knight’s fans now consists of people of all ages. With Batman’s latest outing on gaming consoles, I am pleased to say that this experience is no different in terms of it’s age rating. Batman has failed time and time again in attempts to make it as a successful gaming superhero and with the announcement of Batman: Arkham Asylum, nobody really took note and everyone sort of just looked past it when teasers, news and previews were released. Can Batman finally rewrite the history books and start a new page to put a stop to these woeful attempts at making a memorable superhero game?

The game kicks off with our hero escorting The Joker to the infamous Arkham Asylum after catching him in the act for the umpteenth time, but little does Batman know that this is exactly what The Joker wants, as he has a few sneaky tricks up his sleeve. The Joker escapes the clutches of Arkham’s security and sets his plan to action. He takes complete charge of Arkham and lets every prisoner and mad man loose to set up yet another clash of good vs evil with the dark knight. Batman is dragged through one night of living hell by having to outlive The Joker’s twisted games,but as always, he’s not giving up until The Joker and his “buddies” are back where they belong and the city of Gotham is safe once again. Villains like Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and a few others all make an appearance to set up an epic struggle for Batman’s attempts at saving Gotham. The story is well thought through and does wonders in following the successful footsteps of recent movies. The opening and final scenes of the game are among the best scenes in the history of gaming. And that should say a lot.

Your eyes aren't deceiving you. Amazing visuals.

The gameplay is divided into three sectons: combat, stealth and exploring and this is where the game absolutely shines as an utterly brilliant gaming experience for anyone that’ll pick up the controller. What makes the gameplay so unique, is the fact that you’ll actually feel like Batman and ultimately that’s why we play Batman games, isn’t it? There isn’t too much combat or too much stealth or too much exploring, which is a genius way of making repetitiveness almost non existent. Whenever you have to fight a hoard of goons, it’s never followed with another hoard of goons you’ll have to take out, instead you will require to put your detective skills to use by following trails of evidence, taking out enemies in dark rooms without being seen or just exploring Arkham to find out what The Joker’s next step of the plan is. Throughout the game you are side-tasked by the riddler to collect trophies, solve riddles or destroy Joker teeth, which is a nice way to expand the game’s length and unlock challenge rooms in which you can put your skills to the test by playing combat or predator (stealth) challenges and competing with people around the world for places on the top of the leaderboard.

The graphics will leave you in shock and wonder throughout the whole game. The use of the unreal engine has paid off big time. The caped crusader himself looks stunning. The attention to detail when it comes to character models can compete amongst the best we’ve seen in gaming today. These exceptional visuals really help set the mood and make you feel like you have a part to play in the game. The cut scenes will give the word “awesome” a whole new meaning. Although it must be said, the lip syncing is pretty bad, whenever someone is talking, their lips don’t move accordingly to what they are saying, which is weird for a game with such a high quality of presentation. Overall, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s graphics are vastly superior than most games we’ve seen from this generation. Two thumbs up for Rocksteady.

There isn't only one villain.

The sound, apart from the above mentioned lip syncing problems, is also superbly done, but does come with a few problems. Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy, who was the voice of the original comic book Batman, and Mark Hamill is back as the voice of The Joker. When it comes to voice acting, this was a seriously talented set and definitely didn’t disappoint even the slightest bit. The Joker steals the limelight in this department, he’s sounds as twisted as always and delivers a performance that could be ranked as one of the best, if not the best voice of The Joker in a Batman game of all time. He’ll have you laughing and sweating at the same time with his insanely twisted jokes and will always keep you guessing. On the other hand, Batman is as dark and silent as always, but his dialogue can feel a tad on the “lameish” side at times.

Batman: Arkham Asylum comes forth as one of the biggest surprises of the year. This is the game Batman fans have been waiting for, but don’t fool yourself by thinking this game is for Batman fans only, that would make you miss out on one of the greatest games in years. It should appeal to anyone that’s into action or stealth. With confidence I can say, this is the best comic book game of all time. Batman: Arkham Asylum isn’t perfect, but it can definitely bark with the big dogs such as Metal Gear Solid 4, Gears of War 2, Uncharted and many other AAA titles. A serious contender for game of the year and hardcore gamer or not, everyone should play this. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed with what this mammoth of a game has to offer.

Reviewed by predatorx9 – September 19, 2009

Graphics
An immaculate all round effort. Only hampered by the tiniest of niggles, but overall it’s a shear masterpiece.
 
Sound
All the voices of the original comic book Batman are in here. Certain scenes (which will not be mentioned to avoid spoilers) will have you drooling with amazement.
 
Fun
A humdinger! Batman: Arkham Asylum packs a mean punch and it never gets old. Is it fun? Oh heck yes, this game is what gaming is all about, it’s stacks and stacks of fun.
 
Final Score

 

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