OK – I’m gonna cut right to the chase on this one .I was never one for comic books, but I did watch the original Batman& Robin show when I was a kid. I loved how no matter what situation they were in, Batman had a repellent spray on him for it. My favorite one ever was in the original Batman & Robin movie from 1966 when Batman and Robin were climbing a ladder to a helicopter when a shark leaps out of the water and grabs Batman by his leg. Thankfully, Batman had his trusty ‘Shark-repellent” spray on his utility belt and was unharmed.
The voice over work on this game is right on target with The Joker’s voice is brought to the script by Mark Hamill. Those of you unfamiliar as to who he is, he played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movies. The voice of Batman follows suit with the more recent movies, that dark, mysterious sounding voice that you’d expect.
Now one thing you have to remember when playing as Batman – yes he is considered a super hero, but he does not have super powers like Superman. He can’t fly, can’t deflect bullets off his chest, but he does use his cape to glide throught the air to get from one point to another undetected. He also has a nuber of different gadgets available to him One additional trick up Batman’s sleeve is ‘detective vision’ – we’ll touch on that a bit more whortly. And of course he is a expert in martial arts. Bottom line, you have to be cautious of enemies rifles and stun rods.
Now the story stats with the openning sequesnce where Batman is racing through the City of Gotham escorting The Joker to Arkham Asylum. Graphics in the cinematic sequence is one of the best I’ve seen from almost any game. Only problem in my opinion is that it’s a long scene before youtake control. You, with The Joker strapped to a gurney, guards, doctor, orderly and the Commissionor wander down a long coridor to where The Joker is then taken into the meximum security secion of the building. within a few short moments, everyhing falls apart and the action begins. Minor spoiler alert here, but to no suprise – Harley Quinn makes her first appearance and helps The Joker escape and with the help of the other villians and inmates, take over control of Arkham Asylum. The Joker tests Batman, which is a quick tutorial on the controls, by releasing a bunch of inmates in a few near by cells. You just follow the directions and fight your way through them.
Shortly after this you’re next task will introduce you to you’re “Detective-Vision.” Batman’s Detective-Vision allows Batman to see a number of different things. When activated he’ll be able to see weakened surfaces that can be dstroyed with a small explosive, points of interests like grates over air ducts that can be removed to expose alternae routes, and most importantly, will show people/enemies on different levels. When people are in your line of site, it’s not always clear whether or not they are an inmate or a guard. You will see something that closely resembles a X-ray of the person, but will need to switch to regular vision to tell the difference. One tip I can give, when approaching a group of inmates, it is very important to switch to the ‘Detective-Vision mode ato detirmine if any of them are armed. Those inmates (and guards for that matter) will show up outlined in a red color to show that inmate is carrying a gun.I’f you are perched up high looking down and only one inmate is showing to be carrying a weapon, you should use your ‘glide-take-down’ on that individual to reduce the chance of getting shot. Only fault to this is those inmates who carry a stun rod, will show up in normal blue outline. These guys can be a little tougher than those coming at you for hand to hand combat.
As you progress trough the game, you unlock upgrades that can be applied to Batman. A few upgrades include a more durable suit so melee attacks do less damage, and upgrades to to add certain skills like the ‘inverted-takedown’ which is my favorite. After a take down, it is also wise to find a spot to hide immediatly after as other inmates will converge on that area looking for you. You’ll also need to pay attention to the inmates heart rate. Those who are armed and nervous tend to be a bit jumpy and will just start firing when spooked. And just at the point when you feel the game is getting repetative, Batman unlocks a new gadget, making getting aounr or taking down enemies even more fun. You start with the general Bat-a-rang that is a good way to stun enemies who are rushing at out. Then you get exploding foam for getting through weakened walls. It can also be used to stun rushing enemies as well. Other gadgets include a zipline, grappling hook that is perfect for pulling down grates that are high up, a scanner for hacking into securoty locks – just to name a few.
Now Batman Arkham Asylum will have to back tracking quite a bit looking for a laorge amount of answers to The Riddler’s riddles and markings which are scattered all over the place. Whether it’s collecting a ‘riddler trophy, or taking a picutre of a specific item, you’ll spend a lot of time searching for these. You’ll kick yourself when what seems like the most imposible riddle to solve turns out to be the most obvious item in the room. Another thing you’ll searh for I mentioned are The Riddler’s markings. These markings are spread out all over Arkham Island, in order to solve The Riddler’s riddle and find these require you to go to a specific spot on the map and look in the correct direction to get the proper point of view. As an example, one of the markings (they’re all question marks by the way) requires you to get to the highest point ona building, look down and line up the dot on the railing one floor below to the rest of the marking that is located hundreds of feet away on the ground level.
Even as fun and as great of a game Batman Arham Asylum is, there are a few flaws. At times, depending on how confined of an area you get into, the camera anlge may make it a litle tough to get your berrings as to where you are. Also, when free roaming outside, the map can be a little confusing to figure out where you need to go. There is no HUD available to guide you in any specific direction when you need to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. There was one instance early on where I was suppose to go to where the Batmobile was parked, I ran in all sorts of different directions trying to figure out where exactly I had to go .
So overall, Batman: Arkham Asylum is the type of game that once youstart playing, you loose track of the time an hours have gone by before ou realize it. Great graphics, sounds is awesome, action is non stop controls are easy. Unlocking new gadgets just extends the fun and finding new ways to take down enemies is always a blast. All the classic comic book villians are here, Scarecrow makes a few appearences when Batman has a flash back to his childhood when his parents were killed. I’m going to go too deep into those moments as the Scarecrow guy freaks me out a bit. There are a bunch of really great games yet to come here in 2009, but, Batman Arham Asylum should be at least nominated for an award in some category.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Smooth fighting controls, voice over work is great, graphics are top notch, overall great gameplay.
Camera angle doesn't always give you the best view, map can be a little confusing, the Scarecrow (only because he freaks me out a bit)
There are a bunch of really great games yet to come here in 2009, but, Batman: Arkham Asylum cannot be easily outdone.