Developer: Rocksteady Studios / Publisher: Eidos Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DC Entertainment / ESRB: Teen (Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence) / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $29.99
Today in Pay Rent or Pass we are checking out the brand new Batman Arkham Asylum. This is the latest attempt to do the dark knight justice in the video game world and this time around we have the game that Batman fans have been waiting for.
embedded by Embedded Video
Arkham Asylum is a sacred place in the batman universe for fans and there have been many interpretations of what it looks like, in this game the place feels exactly as it should. The environments look incredible. It really does feel exactly like what I’ve always envisioned the asylum should be like. The place has a dark and grimy feel, and since all the inmates are loose running free, the place is a wreck. The overall feel of the game is a cross between the animated series and the Dark Knight film. It has a lot of the characters personas from the animated series but with the seriousness of the latest film. Its a fine line to walk, but the game knocks it out of the park and creates a visual style to the batman universe that has yet to be created until now. Its a pleasing to watch such smooth transitions between cut scenes into game play are times when the transition is so smooth its hard to remember that its time to play and not be watching anymore. The game visually looks like one big cut scene. It really is jaw dropping. The character animations are all rock solid as well, seeing Batman beat his opponents into submission or stalk them from above has never looked better.
The game opens up with Batman heading to Arkham asylum to deliver the recently escaped Joker back to his home away from home. Once there the Joker breaks free from his captors and takes control of Arkham Asylum with the help of his girl, and my favorite, Harley Quinn. Its easy to imagine how a place already as crazy as Arkham can just become completely out of control with the crown prince of crime at the helm… and the Joker definitely takes it all the way. Since most of Gotham’s criminals are locked up in the asylum Joker decides to form loose alliances with some of the worst and unleashes them on Batman. Once in control of batman, players will find that this game makes it easy for them to utilize all of batman’s skills to overcome his enemies. In the game Batman can dispatch his enemies in a number of ways, he can slip into detective mode which allows him to see through walls and locate enemies and then determine a sneaky way to take care of them with his gadgets, he can run in and take them on in hand to hand combat, or he can use a combination of both. All of these options are executed flawlessly. When in detective mode players will need to setup a plan of attack as to not be seen by enemies in the area. Utilizing the environment is key when in this mode, whether its swinging from gargoyles and ledges, or luring enemies into strategic locations that make them easier to dispatch. Players have a variety of gadgets and moves to take down enemies… One of my personal favorite moves is hanging from a gargoyle, swooping down and grabbing an enemy to string him up for his other cohorts to find. Its great to use gadgets as well, all of the gadgets you acquire will be upgradeable as the game continues and its essential to pair gadgets with the environments. Using explosives on a ceiling or wall and then detonating them when an enemy approaches is quite literally a blast. The hand to hand combat system in the game extremely intuitive and fun to use. Point towards the enemy you want to attack and batman moves towards him and delivers the blow. Its a breeze stringing attacks together in a flurry of punches, counters, and stuns. It can become quite spectacular to watch batman dispatch a room full of enemies using only his hands. The boss battles in the game are out of this world. Some of the most fun I’ve had when taking on bigger foes in games. It can be quite challenging at times but once you overcome the boss its an extremely rewarding feeling. Some of the levels in this game are mind-numbing. Multiple times in the game Batman encounters the Scarecrow, becomes dosed, and slips into alternate realities. These sequences are some of the best in the game and luckily they happen more then once.
Luckily the creators of Batman Arkham Asylum realized that some of the best voice acting done in any Batman iteration has come from the animated series from the 90’s. That means in this game Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy, Harley Quinn is voiced by Arleen Sorkin, and best of all The Joker is voiced by Mark Hamill. This game really has the actors pushing the limits with the characters, since I mentioned that this one has a more serious side to it, the actors are able to take these characters to places they haven’t been before. Its refreshing to have a Batman game that geared more towards an adult oriented audience. The sound effects in the game are just as good as the voice acting. Its the sounds expected from batman and his gadgets. The soundtrack in the game is very subtle at first but establishes a pace in the game that really contributes to the overall experience, at times I was getting so worked up in certain boss battles and realized a lot of it had to do with the soundtrack being played in the background. That’s the job of a sound designer and they hit the nail on the head in Arkham Asylum.
With a game as deep as Arkham Asylum is, the controls can be a worrisome issue. Good thing is… they aren’t an issue at all. Everything done with batman in the game feels natural. Nothing forced here. Fighting in the game is seamless, its very easy to take out enemies in hand to hand combat and that’s due largely to the solid controls in the game. Its easy to button-mash but there is a deeper fighting experience here once the details are learned. Counters and stuns are slipped into fighting without any hassle from the controls. Using all of batman’s gadgets are simple and intuitive as well. The camera controls in the game are a breeze and never once did I find myself in an awkward angle. Controls in the game make playing as Batman a very fun and rewarding experience.
Batman Arkham Asylum is hands down the best Batman game ever made. Period. Its the first time I’ve ever played a batman game from start to finish and truly felt like I was absolutely in control of the dark knight. There is no doubt in my mind that this game becomes a classic and standard for future Batman games. All parties involved making this game really came together to create one of the most rewarding, challenging and fun Batman games to date. The best thing about this game is that even if someone isn’t a fan of batman or isn’t familiar with the franchise this game welcomes them with open arms and makes it easy to become a fan very quickly. With all the extras packed into this title like joker trophies, challenge modes to unlock, and increasing difficulty levels this game should keep gamers coming back for a long time. Drop what you are doing and go buy this game. Its a Pay.