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Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Batman is an amazing superhero game distinguished by an enjoyable story with some nice stealth action and free flowing melee combat.

Posted by (nutcrackr) on
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a remarkable game, the delivery of the story and pacing of combat and puzzles is first class. The game features elements of stealth, melee combat, puzzle solving and some simple platforming. The story briefly follows you as Batman who has finally captured the Joker and has taken him to Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately the capture seems to have been all part of the Joker’s plan and he has something more sinister in store and you will need to ensure he doesn’t follow through with it. Of course Askham Asylum is home of some of the worst villains in the Batman universe who aren’t just spectators in this tale. Batman is definitely characterised well by its stealth gameplay, smooth combat animations and the wonderful characterisation of the most recognised of Batman’s enemies. The game takes place on Arkham island and you will travel to various locations in the Asylum to stop Joker before he completes his master plan. As the Bat you will have batarangs, remote explosives, and grapples along with a few other tricks at your disposal to complete your task. You will be able to use detective mode in order to solve puzzles and enhance your vision. The Riddler has placed many puzzles across the island for you to find and you can unlock various weapons and enhancements. One of the best assets of the game however is the story and how it unfolds before the players very eyes.

The great script and pacing are complemented very nicely with the awesome characters from the Batman universe. The characters are so wonderfully voiced and written that it feels amazing to be the Batman in amongst all the action. The story builds upon itself and really manages to feel like an epic comic book type adventure which you are very much in the middle of it. The Joker and Harley Quinn are the main contenders that bring this great game to life. They will be seen on video monitors early on talking to you, making jokes and taunting you throughout the game. These videos are seen less as the game progresses but the commentary remains fairly consistent. In combat scenarios the Joker will often talk about the action as you take out enemies silently. Of course there are some other great characters to be included here. The Scarecrow is used surprisingly well as he uses his chemicals to alter your perception and attempt to destroy you in a series of well presented mind games. Poison Ivy makes a later appearance in the game but maintains a fairly memorable spot in the overall story. There are also quite a few nods to popular villains in the Batman universe, which indicate quite strongly a sequel will be on the way with some of those characters on board. There are some sections of the game where you talk to guards or doctors, these parts seem quite a lot less interesting and don’t fit well with the rest of the outstanding cast of characters. Thankfully not just the story is superb, the stealth action also brings out the very best of Batman as he strikes from the shadows.

Many of the key action areas in the game seem to be focused on stealth tactics. You job is to take out enemies without being seen and doing this one by one is generally quite effective. If you are good enough with your gadgets multiple enemies can be successfully taken out but it’s risky. There is some very smooth combat animation in work, this includes takedowns from gargoyle heads, or incapacitating grunts from behind. Many cases you can position yourself above grunts for a glide kick which proves satisfying throughout the game. You will need to avoid the direct approach and instead use cover or conveniently placed gargoyles to strike when the timing is right. They have almost perfectly captured the striking from the shadows aspect of Batman. The AI will move about, sometimes spreading out, other times grouping together and will be concerned as you take on their friends one by one. They will communicate with each other giving you some indication of their intentions, or fears, but patience results in rewards in these sections. As the game progresses more enemies will have knives or shock sticks, and then later more will have assault rifles which are very dangerous to the bat. To even add more variety to the combat the grunts will have collars on them, once a grunt has been taken out the collars activate a laugh sound a short time later indicating to the rest of the guys that somebody has been taken out. This changes the combat as it progresses but is also useful for setting traps, using your remote explosives to take out more grunts as they come to investigate. Although many of the action sections are stealth orientated there is quite a bit of hand to hand combat spread in between.

The melee combat with Batman is fast, energetic and hard to master. One of the earliest things you will notice is just how well done the combat is, very smooth animations and quite free flowing. The fist combat starts off fairly basic, you’ll be fighting against a few goons with no weapons and only really need to block attacks and attack them back. Soon you will be fighting against enemies with knives and electric batons which brings added danger to the scenarios. This means is you cannot directly block attacks and cannot directly attack them you will need to position yourself via dodging or use something like a batarang or grapple pulls to give yourself an avenue to attack them. You will have various takedown moves and can throw enemies mid combat. Related to the story is the implementation of the very large mutated melee enemies who are often grouped with the normal sized grunts. These guys take on a different role to the others as they charge, hit very hard and throw bodies around. To defeat them you must avoid direct attacks but can also grab hold of their necks and control their heavy swings to do damage to others after you knock them about a bit. This slight change in the pacing actually freshens up the combat. Although tough they pose a nice reward when you dominate them and control their swings to knock out some of the smaller guys. When they are grouped together with many other normal sized grunts you will need to be careful with every move and direct the big enemy charges into groups to help you out. Although I managed to get through the game fairly satisfactorily on normal mode I never felt completely confident in my ability to work the combat without mistakes. Another issue for me was that on the PC the space bar is used many things - running, climbing, dropping, dodging and occasionally it did betray my real intentions. The game also introduces a few other ideas above the standard combat and story telling.
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#2 Oct 5, 2009 06:59:47 (Oct 5, 2009 06:59)

nutcrackr
I definitely agree that something like Call of Duty has many times more repetition than Batman but at times especially early on I got way too many cases of deju vu, and some of the generic voice work could have had a little more variety. I was actually worried the killer croc battle would be very hard based on the lead up, but in the end it was perhaps a bit long.
#1 Oct 3, 2009 13:25:26 (Oct 3, 2009 13:25)

kamikaziechameleon
+1
My critique(of the review) is that i found this game no more repetative than a call of duty or any kind of Triple A shooter, I felt that batman did a better job than most great games(especially shooters like halo) at building upon the foundations of Stealth and Action with new mechanics over the course of the game.  My largest let down is the Killer Croc battle(boring).  But overall i love this review because it echoes all my other thoughts on the game.  Battman was the first game in a long time i just enjoyed playing, no glitches or anything getting between me and being confused and confounded by the scarecrow! 
 
 
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman: Arkham Asylum box art Platform:
PC
Our Rating
88%
Great
We Said:
Game Ranking
Batman: Arkham Asylum is ranked #42 out of 792 total games.
42. Batman: Arkham Asylum
43. Batman: Arkham Asylum
PlayStation 3
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Screenshots

Batman: Arkham Asylum
27 images added Oct 1, 2009 06:13
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