Batman: Arkham Asylum

2011-08-28 16:44:26

Batman Arkham Asylum, when it first came out took the game community by storm. So much so that even to this day the game was hard for me to get a hold of via my usual avenue of Gamefly, so I took a chance, given the games overall high marks to buy the game. Was is a good choice? in degrees both yes and no. 


Batman Arkham Asylum I have to say did an outstanding job of holding close to its source material, the quality is easily seen both in the graphics, as well as the voice cast. The fact that essentially the entire voice crew from the original Batman the Animated Series I used to watch religiously in the 90's was recast for this game, just made the game that much better. If I had to pick what was the most influential batman series to have been released, I'd say the original Animated did the most good to the subject matter, with the newer Christian Bale Batman movies winning a close 2nd place, it's simply easier to do things with animation.


So the game has a lot of the flavor of the animated series, there's a lot of grapple gun use flying from gargoyle to gargoyle to get the drop on the goons below. The story is well done, and there are plenty of challenges to be found in Arkham Asylum as you attempt to regain control of the island from the Joker and the rest of the gallery of inmates. A lot of the famous batman villians make an appearance here, Killer Croc is a scary beast to be dealt with, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bane, Clayface, and the Fearsome scarecrow all make apperances in one way or another, though the only Major encounters you face against Croc, Joker, and Poison Ivy. 


I found the use of the Riddler to be ingenious in the game, as he plays the role of placing collectables or things to scan with your detective vision in various places for the purposes of getting achievements and completion %. The riddles vary from stupidly easy to incredibly vague and add a decent dose of replay value as well as entertaining asides from the serious and main plot.


Aside from story, visuals and audio, the gameplay itself is where this game drags itself through the sewer a bit. the game is a mix of stealth and beat-em-up which tries to stay true to the philosophy of batman, induce fear, stay in the shadows, attack without warning and with the ferocity to end it all quickly. So it makes sense for batman to go tunnelling around in ventilation and trying to stay hidden, but there are set pieces that are just overdone. Especially when it come to the grapplegun usage. There are specific areas in the game where Batman comes across a large room filled with goons, usually with some kind of catch that if batman is discovered something is at stake, be it commissioner gordon, the various doctors at the asylum, or maybe just some security guards, but usually something is at stake if you are detected. In the beginning it's just your hitpoints as the enemies are armed with assualt rifles.


The problem with these open room/stealth sessions is that every single setting where this occurs is littered with Gargoyles for batman to grapple up to. leaving each of these sessions to feel almost identical and forgettable. Some variation on the statuary/grapple targets would at least make these rooms feel less of a copy paste job. So I definitely felt let down regarding the quality of these stealth rooms. 


Aside from the challenge modes and the collectibles/riddler puzzles there's not a lot here to pull you back for another round, It tells a good story, but like so many story only titles that don't present multiple methods of play, that stick to a linear course, this game is a rental at best, a one time play through and then maybe a 2nd playthrough before the sequel comes out to stay fresh in the mind.

Onto the scores:

Reason Result
Start 10
Original Voice Cast of Batman the Animated Series Fuck yeah! +7
Great storytelling feels like it belongs in the batman continuum +5
Repetitive gameplay gets old and doesn't lend toward replayability -6
Riddler Puzzles make for a fun sidequest and was a great idea! +3
Final Score 19/10

A 19/10 is a quality title that does more right than wrong, while this game probably won't compel you to play it over and over again, it is something worth experiencing just to have experienced it. Rent it if you can find a copy at your rental place of choice, otherwise, it can be found fairly cheap on both the new and used racks of your local game store.