Posted by Mike VanCleave on Sep 10, 2009

Review – Batman Arkham Asylum (PS3)

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Batman. One would think that the rich history and “one man against all villainy” plot of this comic would have lent itself to a gaming classic by now. For one reason or another it just hasn’t happened with most games in the Dark Knight’s vault being shoddy movie adaptations. I’d long since given up hope of a decent Batman game and that’s why I was taken by surprise earlier this year at E3 when I got my hands on a playable demo of Batman: Arkham Asylum. This was the Batman game I’d waited for my whole life.

Immediately when starting the campaign you’re drawn into an engaging story, picking up with Batman just having apprehended the Joker and delivering him back to Arkham Asylum. During the intake procedure the Joker manages an escape and reveal his plot to take over the facility. Inmates are turned loose and the first introduction to combat begins.

In Arkham Asylum the combat controls are very simple. You have a context sensitive attack, a stun, a dodge and a counter. These simple moves can then be chained together to create complex combat sequences against multiple enemies. With enough moves in a combo series you can also perform a throw or takedown. Practice makes perfect in successfully chaining combos while fighting against multiple enemies, but once you get a rhythm going the Arkham inmates really start to take a beating.

In your pursuit of Joker across Arkham Asylum you encounter a number of enemies, from run-of-the-mill goons to classic super-villains such as the Bane, Scarecrow, Killer-Croc and Poison Ivy. Each boss provides a unique challenge, from Bane’s brute force attacks to the Scarecrow’s mind altering subjugations. On the higher difficulty settings they will be enough to put any Jr. Detective to shame.

Of course, Batman has more than his fists at his disposal on this tromp through an island of criminally-insane wacko’s. In his arsenal the Dark Knight carries the obligatory Bat-a-rang’s and grapple hook in addition to explosive gel and a device to assist in getting past locked barriers. The most useful tool up Batman’s sleeve is his detective mode; when triggered this allows you to see through most solid objects to spot and analyze enemies as well as detecting various things in the environment.

No discussion of this game would be complete without touching on the voice acting, which is nothing less than stellar. Most of the cast from the Batman the Animated Series cartoon reprise their roles and time has only made them better. Mark Hamill’s take on the Joker will leave you both laughing and horrified all at once with a perfectly chilling maniacal laugh.

In all I’d say this is the single player game I’ve played this year besides the Fallout expansions and with all of it’s unlockables and challenges it will keep me involved for some time yet.

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