The new Batman: Arkham Asylum is easily the best comic book/ video game adaptation released to date. The story is interesting (written by legendary Batman Scribe Paul Dini); the voice acting is mind-blowing (most of the voices are provided by veterans of the 1990’s Batman the Animated Series), and the fighting is fluid.
By providing a simple attack/ defend method, the game designers created a superb fighting system that is easy to learn, but takes some art to master. I also love the variety of ways you can take down thugs… which is also my favorite part of the game. The planning that is necessary to take down a room full of armed thugs on hard is certainly challenging. One room in particular where the Joker has seven armed thugs wire the ceiling with bombs (essentially removing your ability to go vertical) took me a number of tries to triumph. I can’t remember the last time I had to work so hard to conquer a puzzle in a game; it was intellectually refreshing.
The scenes where you get fear gassed by Scarecrow, and have to escape your own madness, are really trippy and quite cool.
The Not So Good
My only substantive complaint is regarding the boss battles. On one hand, I have to give them some credit because no two boss battles are alike. On the other, they never made me feel like I was Baman beating the hell out of my crazy, ostentatious rogues. The boss battles were never as enthralling as the rest of the game.
One other graphic design issue bugs me just a bit. In cut scenes, Batman looks like he’s sweating buckets. This is probably because the game was created using the Unreal Engine. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s something I noticed.
I typically don’t feel the need to complete all of the side challenges in a game, but something about the Riddler’s taunting has compelled me to go back and finish answering his riddles… so I’m not done with Batman: Arkham Asylum.
All-in-all, this game is a triumph. It looks good, is fun to play, and it gives you a reason to play some more after the main story is over. What more could you want out of a game?