Review: Batman – Arkham Asylum

As some of you may know, Batman: Arkham City (BAC) is the sequel to Arkham Asylum and is due out later this year (October).  To refresh everyone’s memory and get you pumped about Arkham City, I’ve decided to post a review about Arkham Asylum.  If I had to judge from this trailer alone, I’d say we are all in for quite a treat:

In the history of video games those that are based off movies and comic books don’t typically have the most success.  I know when I see a new game coming out that’s based off a movie that hasn’t released yet and designed by a studio I’ve never heard of, I don’t typically give it a second thought.  I was initially skeptical of BAS for these reasons, but I heard it was good from enough people that I decided to give it a shot.

My first impression was: “Wow, that was a really long introduction”.  The game begins at a slow pace and introduces you to the various techniques, tools, and abilities at your disposal almost throughout the entire game.  One of my minor complaints about the game was the late introduction of a few abilities that I really would’ve enjoyed having at my disposal earlier.

As I continued to play through the game I was genuinely surprised that the Dev’s over at Rocksteady had done such a good job immersing yourself in the persona of Batman.  One of my gripes about any story driven game is that they often have elements tied to tradition that tend to pull you out of story as opposed to creating the illusion of being inside of it.  A common example is the search for ammunition. Managing resources is great, but constantly hunting and pecking about in garbage cans and inside desks (Bioshock) isn’t fun and doesn’t help convince me that I’m really there.

What BAS does is make use of clever tools like detective mode.  I don’t necessarily want to spend all day solving puzzles, but it’s no fun if the rewards are freely given either.  Detective mode was a great choice because of not only taking away the punishing aspect of most puzzles, but it was combined into other skills so I didn’t solely associate with “Oh here comes another puzzle”.

The combat in BAS was also good.  Like most elements in the game it probably wouldn’t be considered complex, but it was very fluid and it worked well.  Essentially you just face the bad guys and pound the attack key and Batman goes wherever you need him to.  You also have a counter-pounch, batarang, a throw, and sort of KO maneuver that you can use once you reach a certain amount of combo points.  These points are interrupted every time you’re hit, or if you don’t successfully chain your blows together.  I’d imagine most people can get by with some pretty ugly fighting, but it’s a lot of fun to decimate a room filled with 20 beefcakes without being hit or miss a punch.

Most of the boss encounters are fairly simple and the last boss has caught some flak for not standing out from the crowd.  That being said, anyone who was shocked by the last boss must not have been paying very close attention to the game along the way, because it fit with how the game had been played up until that point.  I don’t think some variety would have hurt the last boss encounter, but I found it enjoyable either way.  It’s not uncommon in action games to find bosses who have a variety of mechanics that seemingly can’t be dodged and inevitably you’re going to take damage.  In BAS every boss has the potential to be soloed without taking any damage.  Like the regular combat, the encounters are very fluid and smooth.

The story and premise of the game was a bit lackluster in my opinion.  I mean, the whole thing would have been averted if Batman had been allowed to walk by security and escort the Joker into his cell.  At times it reminded me of the show Lost because the characters seemed to act without rhyme or reason.  Luckily for us Batman was stuck in the middle of it and forced to fight his way out.

Overall BAS left me with a good impression.  It was a solid video game worthy of adding to my library.  It definitely slanted towards the simple side, but I think this was a smart move by Rocksteady because it gives them a solid base to build an expansion.  It’s all too easy to have some grand idea to change the world with your first video game.  Rocksteady combined all the essential elements and overall I think they a good game.  Solid 7.5.

3 comments

  1. I’m confused. Throughout the article, you kept calling the game BAC, referring to Arkham City.

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  2. Ya, I probably should’ve proofread it. Changes have been made, thanks.

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  3. Jackson Monroe

    punch not pounch, very good review though!

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