Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 2009 action-adventure video game based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment initially for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows.
Batman, having apprehended the Joker after he took the mayor of Gotham hostage, learns that the Joker's thugs are being held in Arkham Asylum after a fire destroyed most of Blackgate Prison. Batman is suspicious of the Joker who surrendered almost without a fight and follows along as the Joker is ready to be locked up. Harley Quinn takes over the security systems and the Joker escapes and takes over the asylum. Batman soon realizes that the Joker wanted to be caught and is after something. Batman must now find out what the Joker is planning and stop his archenemy once again.
Why It Rocks
- The combat takes on that of a beat 'em up with a combo system allowing the player to elegantly move from one enemy to another allowing them to rack up a combo to perform one of two special moves, which is to either throw an enemy or take them down by breaking an enemy's bone.
- Great visuals for its time, capturing the look and feel of Arkham Asylum, from the drab yet effective usage of color to the different sections of the island all feeling unique.
- It further helped bring Metroidvanias into AAA gaming, since backtracking through a single, large and inter-connected map is prevalent, and with an IP like Batman to help boost the recognition, it can be said the game delivered in creating an excellent 3D Metroidvania.
- Great voice acting, with returning voice actors from the DC Animated Universe like Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin as Batman, The Joker and Harley Quinn respectively doing a great job.
- After beating the game, you unlock armor mode, which gives Batman fully upgraded health when doing challenges.
- A good story about Batman trying to stop Joker from creating a Titan fueled army and take back Arkham Asylum.
- The stealth (Predator sections) is great since requires you to stay out of sight and allows the player to take out enemies in any way they can, whether that'd be using a stealth takedown, blowing up a breakable wall, or pulling them over a rail.
- This game introduces Detective mode, which is similar to the sonar that we see in The Dark Knight. This allows you to see enemies through walls, distinct between unarmed and armed enemies, find breakable walls, and to set up a crime scene to follow trails.
- It's also really helpful during the Predator sections.
- Whilst the large majority of the boss fights in the game are weak, the hallucination battles against Scarecrow make up for that, feeling trippy and scary, yet weird and awesome in a unique way.
- Scarecrow and his behavior in this game could be favorably compared to Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid or Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, creating some of the most cerebral moments in the game, as well as neat subversions of the game's narrative and expectations.
- This also lead to a scene that cleverly breaks the fourth wall by making players think they're game was corrupted.
- While it is easy, the Killer Croc boss fight is the scariest part of the game as you have to sneak around on floating platforms to avoid making noise to avoid Croc who (every now and again) will pop out of the water.
- The challenge maps allow you to improve your combat and stealth skills and are a nice little distraction if you want something to do after you've beaten the game.
- The gadgets in this game are fun to use. These gadgets can be upgraded with the experience points you get whilst progressing through the game, and are used to either get past certain obstacles, find secrets, or to fight enemies.
- The Riddles and Riddler trophies that The Riddler challenges you to solve works as collectibles in this game and completing certain challenges or finding certain trophies will unlock new challenges in Challenge mode or character trophies.
- The game is very respectful to the existing Batman universe, with Easter eggs, references to characters that are not in the game like Mr. Freeze and The Penguin, and even less popular characters like Great White and Ratcatcher.
- The musical score by Ron Fish and Nick Arundel fits very well with the setting of Arkham Island.
- With exceptions to the Scarecrow fights, and to some extent Poison Ivy's fight as well, the boss fights in this game are really weak. Bane's fight is the worst offender, considering he's effectively just a more powerful Titan Henchman, not helped by the fact you've already fought one of those prior to this, and fight at least five more before the game finishes.
- Furthermore, the final boss fight against Joker is a real shame and ends the game on a somewhat poor note, given how anti-climactic and dull the fight actually is (rounds of fodder, and Joker is similar to the Titan Henchmen fights fought previously).
- Joker as a playable character is only exclusive to the PS3 version of the game (at least until the remasters on PS4 and Xbox One), which is annoying, as it's nothing more than bragging rights for a specific console.
- The game isn't all that difficult even on the hardest difficulty. This is actually a problem that pertains to most of the Arkham games.
- There is no reward for 100%. In fact, the only reward you get is from beating the game.
- The combat, while still good, isn't as elegant or as fast as in later entries and the different ways to beat up enemies is much smaller by comparison.
Reviews for Arkham Asylum were highly positive, with critics particularly praising it's narrative and combat system. The critic and user score on the PlayStation 3 version are 91/100 ("Universal acclaim") and 8.8/10 ("Generally favorable reviews") . The Xbox 360 version is similar, with a critic score of 92/100 ("Universal acclaim") and a user score of 8.7/10 ("Generally favorable reviews).