* Awarded 'Most Mojo' 2009
Batman is back in a whole new style of game not attempted for the caped crusader before! Gone are the over-the-top silly stories, inane gadgets and yes, the nipples. No.More.Nipples. Thanks Rocksteady! What we get instead is a mean, brutal and dark Batman experience that is a must play game this year.
The premise of Batman: Arkham Asylum is a pretty straightforward one. In this game, Batman captures the Joker and in typical Bats style, takes him to Gotham’s Arkham for a nice sit-down and chat with a friendly doctor. The plot unfolds as Batman hands the Joker over to the facility guards, only for the Joker to escape! How, you might ask? Well it seems the Joker has an inside man...err woman in Harley Quinn (who has had a major upgrade to HOT)! The game starts from here with the usual beat-these-stereotypes-up quickie tutorial mode. Don’t get me wrong, for this is where you start to forget about all those horrific past Batman games and start to see how this one shines.
Think Like A Bat
Batman is not super powered, and this is painfully obvious later one, but he is very smart and in peak physical condition. Batman fights like you would expect him to fight, fast and dirty. There are no crazy amounts of commands to learn, the fighting is basic and visceral, and feels totally right for this game! The further you progress, you can unlock combos and upgrades to your fighting style, armour, batarangs and explosives gel. Soon, however, you start to realize this is not your average button masher, this game offers many ways to dispatch villains. You can go in brute strength or get all stealth and sneak in for a silent taken. This is where you realize Batman’s mortality and realize soon you must think like the Bat to live.
Shadow of the Bat
Like the movie, your batsuit is hi-tech and offers you a couple of major advantages over your oh so not-so-shiny foes. Detective mode is your key tool, allowing you near x-ray vision to see through walls to gauge a situation better. My only complaint is you can easily find yourself playing the whole game in it! Next is your cape, use your bat-claw to get to a good hit and use the cape to glide kick those who are looking to bat the man. You also have your batarangs, explosive gel and other goodies available later.
Welcome to Arkham
The first thing you will notice is the scope of this game. Arkham is enormous! It seems to have endless halls, grates and ventilation shafts from which you can swoop silently onto your prey! The visuals are stunning, the animation is smooth and the sound is outstanding! Wait until you hit the morgue seen, it will freak you right out of you have surround sound! Kudos to Rocksteady, Eidos and Warner Brothers to bringing on the voice actors from Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Although all the acting is stellar, like the recent Dark Knight, Mark Hamill as The Joker steals the game! Each appearance is comical and creepy in the way only the Joker can be.
Riddle Me This
The core of the game can be playing in about 10-12 hours, however tack on double that if you wish to play all of the challenges and find all of the Riddler trophies. You will find that although you fight the same basic goons, the game never gets stale. Take out baddies in limitless style is awesome. I suggest the inverted takedown upgrade as soon as possible! The main bosses are hard but not maddeningly difficult. The Scarecrow is the best and freakiest game boss I’ve encountered in awhile! As you play and taken out cronies, you gain experience to allow you to gain the aforementioned upgrades.
The Jokes On You!
To the players who are picking between the PS3 version and the Xbox 360 version feel rest assured that both editions are technically on par. However, the Playstation 3 version of Batman: Arkham Asylum offers The Joker as a free downloadable character who can be used in the challenge levels of the game. This might be enough to sway gamers who own both consoles over to the Playstation 3 edition, although be warrened, you will have to sit through a few minutes of anticipation as the game installs on the PS3 hard drive. Aside from the Joker, Batman performs flawlessly on both consoles.
Who Has Laughs Last, Laughs Best
With the beauty of this game, the amazing sound, script and voice-acting, this is definitely one game you would be –ahem- batty to not buy. This game is light-years ahead of any of its predecessors and breathes life and hope back into the franchise. This is the way Batman should have always been in games, and other game companies will be hard pressed to make the level of success of this game for future comic-to game releases. In my humble opinion this should be game of the year!
Reviewed by Spoon | 09.02.09