Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)
Publishers:Rocksteady Studios, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, et al.
Other Platforms: PC, and Xbox360
Ninja’s Words of Wisdom: “I salute the people in Rocksteady Studios for finally giving us a Batman title that truly captures the spirit of the Dark Knight. The Easter eggs were a nice touch too.”
Batman: Arkham Asylum is the first game I’ve played as The Dark Knight on the PS3. However, this hasn’t been the first time I played a videogame that featured Batman. In fact, as early as my Grade School days I’ve already played a Batman game (The Adventures of Batman and Robin) in the Sega Gamegear. Years later, when I had the Playstation 1, I (unfortunately) played Batman and Robin. But it would be about 9 more years until I played another Batman videogame, which ended last month with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Out of the three Batman games I played, without a doubt, this is the best videogame for the Dark Knight. In fact, if you are a videogame enthusiast, you need to place this on your bucket list of games you need to play before you die.
Story: *Spoiler Alert* Batman takes a trip to Arkham Asylum just to drop off the Joker after their recent encounter in Gotham City. What turns to be a routine drop-off on Arkham, however, turns into a trap for The Dark Knight and the rest of those who work in the Asylum. The Joker and the inmates of Arkham (but, mostly Joker) have set up an elaborate ‘party’ just for Batman in this glorious evening inside the island. This party would have guests from lesser known inmates (your standard goons) to prominent inmates in Arkham such as Bane and the Scarecrow. During this party, however, the Joker also has a plan to get a formula similar to Bane and create his army of super-muscled thugs to runamuck across Gotham City. So the mission for Batman, in other words, is to stop this fiendish plan of the Joker, and be a party-pooper in the process. While trying to thwart the Clown Prince of Crime, you also need to save the doctors and guards from the escaped loonies inside Arkham. Oh, I forgot to mention the Riddler has also put up an elaborate set of puzzles and riddles all over the island for Batman to solve as well. So with all hell breaking loose, how will you stop all the madness?
Is there something in the air tonight?
Indeed there is! From the beginning of the game you could definitely feel the whole dark and gloomy surroundings in this game. The surroundings really make you feel like the game IS a Batman videogame (Good news: it is, buddy). The visuals of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which are dark and brooding, are amazing. From the exterior of the buildings of the island to the prison cell, it really looks like you are in a big mental institution where they lock up all of Gotham’s most dangerous (and crazy). The character animations are fully detailed up to the utility belt of the Dark Knight himself. The character depiction from Killer Croc’s menacing look and Harley’s skimpy outfit actually add more to the dark and adult-themed game that is Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The sounds of the game are spectacular. If you were an avid watcher of Batman: The Animated Series when you were a kid, the voices of Batman and Joker seem eerily similar to the cartoon voices for a good reason. Mark Hamill voices The Joker while the main character (Batman) is voices by Kevin Conroy. The lines that these characters deliver in the game really add to the overall game play experiences. I really had a kick with Hamill’s voice acting in this videogame especially in some key parts where he chimes over the PA Systems. Such classic lines and pop culture references that Hamill delivers as Joker is: “Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard”. The rest of the cast (Harley, Gordon, etc) also have some stellar voice acting done to them as well so this isn’t just a 2-man show in terms of the voiceovers. The soundtrack also adds to the whole ‘dark’ motif of this game.
The controls are pretty easy in my opinion. The R1 would be used for your grappling hook, X is used to help you run/climb down or up/cover/insert move here, and the rest…check the game manual. The combat controls might look simple at first since you just need the four buttons and keep mashing them. However, you’ll figure out that to have a long combo, you need to not only continue hitting your enemies but also reversing their moves to add more to your x-hit combo count.
The game play is pretty good. You get to take out your opponents either head on or through the shadows, just like in the series. While the enemy AI doesn’t compare to those in other stealth games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, it still does a serviceable job trying to look for Batman once they lose sight of him in a certain room. During my runthrough in the game, however, I found certain points of the game being repetitive. The boss battles with Scarecrow and those with the powered up will happen more than once and you have to do the same old objective. Sure, there will be new things throw in the way but still, it’s a bit repetitive in my books, especially the first two scarecrow boss battles. However, you’ll still find yourself engrossed in the game outside of its main plot. After all, you’ll still have the Riddler challenges and the challenge mode to keep you busy.
Story-wise, it is centered on the Joker and Harley. However, it also has some storyline room for big hitters like The Riddler (in his challenges side-mission) and The Scarecrow. I did want to see other villains make an appearance or an impact in this game such as Mr. Freeze and Two-Face, but I guess the balance of baddies here seem good enough. Maybe it’s just the fanboy in me that’s griping about the absence of Freeze and Two-Face outside their in-game references (e.g. you can see their respective prison cells in Arkham).
So…what’s the verdict?
Overall, outside two gripes about repetitive boss battles and the lack of other main batman villains, this game outshines the past Batman videogames. If you’re a Batman fan, buy this. If you’re not, you still gotta buy this since this is one game that can get you hooked with its story. If the story doesn’t hook you, the others (Riddler challenges and the Challenge mode) will. On a side-note, if you have a good net connection, do download the Joker. He can be playable in the Challenge Mode. I assure you, he’s as entertaining as he is on the story mode.
Sven’s review in ‘lazy’ form
The good: Good graphics, voice acting, sounds, and simplistic yet hard to master combat system.
The Bad: Repetitive boss battles in some instances of the game.
Verdict: 9.5/10 You need to buy this game and play it. YOU JUST GOTTA!