Batman: Arkham Asylum
Eidos/Warner Bros. (PS3/360)
Let’s be honest, the announcement of a new Batman video game didn’t actually meet with overwhelming approval from hardcore gamers and Dark Knight fans. Have you looked at the history of comic book videos game? With exception of the excellent X-Men titles great comic book video game adaptations have been few and far between. The drought is over. Developers at Eidos managed to not only convert he aura of The Batman into a video gaming setting, but churn out arguably the greatest superhero game of all time.
The first five to ten minutes of gameplay is a glorified, interactive cutscene with the player controlling the Dark Knight as he transports the Joker to his cell. Moments later, of course, Joker gets away from security and Batman track him and figure out his deranged intentions. From this point forward this game gets awesome. You lead Batman all over Arkham Island, forced to deal with dozens of henchman, puzzles, and those infamous Gotham villains.
Longtime Batman fans will appreciate level of detail Eidos put into creating Arkham Asylum. Besides having “Batman: the Animated Series” writer Paul Dini craft the storyline, many of that series’ voice actors reprise their roles including Star Wars legend Mark Hamill as the Joker. Visually, Arkham Asylum boasts some amazing graphics. Besides the level of detail put into recreating the comic book characters to video gaming, they took it one step further by showing the wear and tear Batman suffers in the line of his crime fighting duties. Eidos performed a superb job of taking advantage of all of Batman’s characteristics to the gaming world. Besides the main storyline of stopping the Joker, there are individual side missions that require the Bat’s physical capabilities, amazing detective skills, and his stealth ninja training to succeed and advance the storyline. Eidos even through the Riddler challenges forcing you to find various trophy, landmarks, or solve area riddles that added to the extended gameplay.
The FreeFlow combat system looks and performs flawlessly. Eidos simplified the controls so that fighting up to twelve baddies at once while trying to remember dozens of combos wouldn’t hamper game play. Instead, players execute some gorgeous attacks and counters by merely pressing one of four different face buttons and control sticks. To break it down further, take the Xbox control scheme: X attacks, Y counters, A jumps (with double tapping this button performing an evade move), and B executes daze move. Button mashing X is sufficient for unleashing effective, combos, but the game forces you to utilize all of the commands to survive.
Adding to Batman’s authenticity is that there are no convenient health packs scattered throughout the game. Instead, Batman slowly regenerates his life bar with rest. Even with leveling up the Batsuit to the max, gun-toting bad guys can drop you in seconds, forcing gamers to put Batman’s stealth abilities to full use. Of course the developers made use of his various weapons. Disappointing, however, are the Batarangs, which is a drag because there are many situations where you have to covertly take out armed henchmen.
Arkham Asylum isn’t perfect. In many instances it’s difficult to get your bearings and you end up pausing the game often to figure out where you are. Melee combat is also not too intuitive, and too many times during one of those 6-on-1 fights you attack the unarmed thugs rather than gun-toting ones, who use that distraction let off a couple rounds and stop you in your tracks.
Nitpicking aside, this game is awesome. A publisher actually took their time with a prime license, stuck true to the character’s core, and produced a game that will make most year-end award’s list. What a novel concept. The inmates no longer run the asylum.
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Out of 5
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