Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Reviewed On

Review copy provided by the publisher

By Brendan Ecock

September 1, 2009

“Riddle me this, riddle me that, who’s afraid of the big bad bat”? To answer that question Riddler style, no one has been afraid of him in the gaming world for a very long time. Instead, we were annoyed about how bad the games were over the years. The only good game that came out of the franchise was Batman Returns, how it reminded me of Streets of Rage. Everything else was horrid; what were the creators thinking? I believe after millions of fan’s complaints that DC comics and Warner Brothers finally heard our call, and in their response, came this wonderful game.

Nostalgia was a key to this game. Eidos and Warner Brothers brought Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill who voiced Batman and Joker in the animated television series to the game. Right away you could tell this game is going to be good, because it is not voiced by Christian Bale, that low toad-voiced bimbo, and instead is voiced by two Gods. I just wished Mark Hamill was still young and had a higher Joker laugh in the game like he originally had, but I never get what I want.

The story starts as you, the Batman, bringing Joker to Arkham Asylum after he “easily” let himself get caught. Batman knew Joker was planning something, being the great detective he is. As the guards strap down Joker and start wheeling him to his would be cell, Batman gets the chance to see his old pal Crock, and he really wants to tear Batman apart, that poor thing. When the guards arrive at the cells where Joker would be staying, they ask Batman to stay in the cell operating room because of protocol. As Batman watches while the guards walk Joker to his cell, the Joker breaks free like he usually does, beats up the guards, and with the help of Harley Quinn, runs away. Joker announces that he got caught so he could bring Batman to Arkham Asylum for a party, a party that could end with Batman’s demise.

Sure the way I put it sounds so easy to catch the Joker, but I left a few things out. For starters, Arkham is huge. To get from one side of Arkham to the other is a good seven minute trip, and in the gaming world, that is long. With that, there are buildings which Joker is hiding in, or where Commissioner Gordon is kidnapped to. And the building themselves takes awhile to go through. Don’t think this is going to be a quick game.

As I said before, Joker has an army of goons at his disposal, so you have to fight them all, or stealthily take them out. Batman is armed with his fists and gadgets. When spotted, you will have to fight them, using punch like combos. As the game progresses the goons get tougher. They are either upgraded to insane goons, which have knives and what I believe is armor, goons with guns, which we all know Batman hates bullets, and goons with electric prods, which are the worst if you want to string combos together.

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After defeating the goons you gain experience based on the length of the combos and the amount of goons you defeat. With the experience comes upgrading your arsenal of gadgets and combo strings. By upgrading constantly you have a better chance to get the achievement or trophy for a 40 hit combo. I haven’t done it yet, but I can feel that it is close.

Being stealthy is always fun, hiding on gargoyles or below the floor. With stealth you could glide attack from above, take them out, and hide again before the rest of the goons can find you. It is not so easy to take them all out, being that they have suicide collars, which when knocked out, it gives off a sensor to the other goons who are still in the area and they start to run to where the fallen comrade is lying. With the use of your gadgets you could use a sonar batarang, which acts like a suicide collar signal when thrown, so it can divert the unwanted goon’s attention elsewhere so you can resume your business on your “prey”. Also, using detective mode is key. In detective mode, you could spot air vents to hide in, henchmen that are still conscious, which goons are armed and unarmed, and things you could not see in normal sight.

The controls are fairly simple, not too many different buttons to remember, being that you could just hit one button to punch your way through Joker’s entire army. The sensitivity with the camera is just right and also in the right view so you could tell if there are goons behind you or if you missed something from afar.

The game play itself is probably not too time consuming, but if you wanted to get trophies and achievements, that’s where the Riddler comes in. He hacks into your communicator and tells you he left many riddles, 240 to be exact, to find throughout Arkham Asylum. Believe me, it could be in any nook and cranny, in any building, so if you want that 30 hour feature of a game, you got it. Each part of Arkham there is a list of things to find, either Joker’s teeth, Riddler Trophies, Chronicles of Arkham, and Riddles you are asked to find and scan in detective mode. Some of them are really hard, but try not to cheat, because he knows when you are. To me they are real easy because most of the clues he gives involve the super villains, so if you are a real batman fan, this is a piece of cake.

After you beat the game you could try challenge mode, which is fighting goons or using stealth on different levels, from easy to extreme. Each level there is a one to three batarang point system, depending on how well you do in the stage.

What more can I say about this game. Oh that’s right, my opinion. To me it was a fantastic game, a fantastic Batman game to be precise. Finally after all these years DC comics have done right with the franchise. I do not think I could have handled another disappointment. What unsettled me a bit was the fact that the bosses in the game, Bane, Harley Quinn’s Goons, Poison Ivy, and the Scarecrow were all easy. When the time came to fight the Joker in his mutant form, I expected that to be easy too, but I was wrong wasn’t I. It took me ten tries before I could lay that clown to the ground. Other than that, the graphics were great, the storyline was better, and the nostalgic aspect of the game brought me back to my childhood years, years that I wanted to relive again for so long.

  • Game: Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
  • Developer: Rocksteady
  • Publisher: Eidos/DC/Warner Bros.
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Release Date: 8/24/2009
  • Platform: XBOX 360, PS3
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