Comic book games. Never really worked out in the gaming world, especially for Batman. As far as I can recall (and I can recall all the way back to the NES days…), Batman’s track record for video games was pretty shoddy. Developers never knew how to translate his world, story, and abilities well in a video game setting. It took since the dawn of gaming till August 25, 2009 to finally have him in a decent game. Batman: Arkham Asylum is a spectacular game and I seriously enjoyed pretty much everything it had to offer. This was a new landmark in gaming, because now people had a superhero that they always wanted to play in the virtual world.
This third-person action, adventure, and stealth game really upped the ante for comic book heroes. The story was great, the typical Batman vs. Joker was the main headliner, but you get to fight other supervillans like Bane, Croc, Poison Ivy, and the Scarecrow. The artistic direction of each character is so good, I would give the developers a standing ovation. They all looked so damn good and each had their own unique, old school look to them. The voice casting was absolutely awesome in this game. Joker stood out the most, (besides having the most vocal parts), Mark Hamill (Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker) did an awesome job voicing Joker. Joker did standout compared to the other voice acting done, but I’m not saying that the other voice acting are bad at all.
The level designs were great too. From the open world of Arkham Island to each individual building design to the nightmare world of the Scarecrow was amazing. It really felt like the world of Batman is real. The island itself was teeming with nature and humans alike (although, most of the humans were crazy homicidal psychopaths, we could just overlook that part…). The level design wasn’t too abstract nor linear enough for you to think that the game was going down a one way street. One of my most favorite levels was the Croc’s Lair. There was always so much suspense, because of the Croc trying to sneak up on you and trying to kill you.
The abilities of Batman are everything you imagined him having and more. Plus, many of his abilities were gained or upgraded through a simple experience point system. Batman also received a lot of different gadgets as the story progressed from, the grappling hook to the Batarang. The one gadget this game got the most flak for though is Detective Vision. The simple explanation for Detective Vision is that the gamers are wall hacking pretty much. You can see the various baddies hiding in different areas through the walls… However, the game was still playable (though a lot easier). Having Detective Vision on though all the time, would have you missing out on the dark, crazy landscape of Arkham Island.
The fighting mechanics in Batman: Arkham Asylum were very simple, yet very fun and engaging. There are some puzzles as well, but with Detective Vision you can get by with no problems at all. The boss fights were pretty fun, but some got tedious. Bane for example had a very simple tactic to beating him, but similar bosses came later in the game and that got pretty stale quickly. The main thing about this game isn’t the fighting though, but the stealth part. Sneaking around knocking out guys and then disappearing is SO Batman and this is the reason I love this game. You always wanted to take out a bad guy like Batman, just swoop down, take one guy out and disappear, then start from step one again. The developers did a great job on making Batman into…well Batman.
There were some challenge modes to find out how long you can survive wave after wave of villains or see how fast you can take out all the bad guys by sneaking around. Also the hidden Riddler trophies also kept you busy as well. Also there were many achievements for those who want to show how much they progressed and skilled through the game.
Batman: Arkham Asylum can be summed up into one word: Fan-freaking-tastic. I was pleasantly surprised on how good the game looked and how well it played. I hope more superhero games turn out to be just as good as this. Rocksteady Studios set a new benchmark for comic book hero games. I give this a 9.2/10.