Review – Batman : Arkham Asylum : XBOX360


If I wanted to I could probably write my entire review as just one single acronym.  What would that acronym be?  GOTY.  Oddly enough I’m not really exaggerating.  The game is simply stunning.  It’s got it’s flaws but it is more fun than anything else I’ve played this year.  It’s not a superhero game, nor is it a game.  It’s a Batman simulator.  I didn’t feel like I was playing as Batman.  I felt like I was Batman.  I could go on and on talking about why I loved the game but instead I’ll just start to get into the role of explaining.  

Why the hell don’t these people voice every Batman themed project in existence?  Because Mark Hammil IS the Joker.  There is no one else who can go from manic to pure sadistic evil at the drop of a hat and really takes the game from great to amazing.  Creeping your way down hallways you suddenly have him pop up on a monitor in front of you ranting like a madman.  Shifting from the high pitch crazy to the deep evil.  I admit some of this is nostalgia for the likes of Conroy and crew but the fact is, the game is exquisitely voiced.  Everyone sounds great.  Harley comes off like the wacko she should be.  Batman is the gruff superhero.  Gordon exudes an air of respect and command.  It’s a brilliant job all around and It made the experience just that much better.

Combat on the other hand is a different story.  It’s made of easy buttons and win.  If you are aware enough to hit the counter button when it’s prompted you are nigh untouchable.  It leads to a free flowing ballet of carnage and awesome.  It’s beautiful.  You feel like one of the worlds greatest martial artists.  Nothing can touch you.  And it’s simple.  It’s a couple of buttons with some extra stuff mixed in as you level up with the simple leveling system.  The simplistic nature of the combat is what makes it work.  Especially when they throw in a wrinkle or two.  First you start getting crazed inmates which counter everything you do unless you stun them first.  Then you start getting inmates with stun rods which force you to dodge over their heads to get behind them and attack.  The little wrinkles add to the depth of the simplistic combat system which makes it a good system rather than a “meh”.  And they you hit the true meat of the game.  The stealth.

You can’t fight a guy with a gun.  Because good or bad, they are the guy with a gun.  You crawl, you jump in and out of airvents, drop down from gargoyles, hell tie up a baddie and drop them on anothers head.  They react how you think they would.  They panic.  They panic and it’s hilarious.  The amount of different ways you can take guys out is quite spectacular and all of them are rewarding and fun.  Taking an entire room down with inverted takedowns is hilarious.  Especially when you whip out the triple batarang when it’s all said and done and start cutting them down.  The game in stealth sections is more fun than any other portions of the game.

For the first bit of the game I thought of the boss fights as the week link in the game.  They started very samey.  Batarang followed by punches, rinse, repeat.  I was very disappointed by boss fights.  Until the minions start jumping in to those same fights.  Suddenly you are beating off minions while dodging the hulking giants charging at you making rinsing and repeating that much harder.  But it’s still samey.  Then you start hitting the classic batvillains and the game takes a leap onto the awesome train.  Scarecrow actually lead to some of my favorite portions of the game.  Just extremely creepy moments.

Graphically the game is stellar.  A few glitches now and then and the characters in cut-scenes sometimes have the 90’s comic trope of looking like they are dropping a deuce with how stiff they look.  But all in all it’s a stellar looking game when you are actually in gameplay  It’s odd that the portion that normally looks better (Cutscenes) Actually manages to look worse than the actual gameplay.  But there are so many little things that make the game special.  Bouncing Batarangs, Pretty explosions, creepy monsters.  But the best part is the animations.  The best I can think of is the zipline.  Shoot it over a group of enemies and you actually are reaching and swinging to kick them as you plow through rather than a generic bowling animation.  As you play through also be sure to keep an eye n yourself.  You start the game as pretty batman you finish you are scarred, bleeding, have a scruffy beard growing and your suit gets progressively more riddled with bullet holes.  It’s fantastic that this amount of little details like that were put into the game.  And it puts a big smile on my face when I play through.

The challenge maps are cool albeit a bit o a tacked on thing to play with a lot of the games systems in one room.  This is one of the few real flaws I find in the game.  They are pretty cool but honestly.  It’s all a bit meh when it comes down to it.  I hope they add a lot of extra challenge stuff or even some DLC campaigns to keep the game going.  It’s a short game too.  Which is not a problem as the whole of the 12-15 hours you will probably spend are fun the whole way through.  There was no boring moment to be had.  And that’s why I can say without a doubt in my mind that this is the GOTY at this point.

Stars (out of 5) – 5 out of 5 for stunning gameplay, great voice acting, and being just downright fun from start to finish.

Dry Slaps (Out of 5) – 1 dry slap for the small flaws through the game and for not having an alternate mode where I can wear the adam west bat costume and play through with his batvoice :p

One final note.  Make sure you sit through the credits.

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One comment

  1. You know I never did sit through the credits… time for a replay methinks. Great review 🙂

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