Batman: Arkham Asylum

First, let’s get this out of the way.  Batman: Arkham Asylum is an exceptional game worth the price of admission.  Your wait for a game that actually makes you feel like the Dark Night himself is over.  Doing my best to keep you hidden from spoilers, your trek through Arkham Asylum will have you swinging, sneaking, destroying, bludgeoning and detectiving (wait is that even a word) until the very end.

This next paragraph is the well known plot of the game but if you don’t want any spoilers skip it. Your long night as Batman starts out with returning Joker to his rightful home at Arkham Asylum, an island near Gotham City which houses the criminally insane.  Batman realizes that the Joker surrendered too easily and feels like something is amiss.  Before you know it Joker has the upper hand and his capture was a setup to extinguish “The Bat”.  Arkham Asylum is now under the Joker’s control with the help of his groupie Harley Quinn.

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Batman is an everyman hero, built from revenge striking fear in the hearts and minds of criminals without the use of “super powers”, which is exactly how you feel when playing with your enemies.  Unarmed inmates are handled with earth shattering combos; each hit feels like you just dropped a sledge hammer on your foe, quiet satisfying to say the least.  Combat is smooth and effortless never feeling awkward.  Your 4 face buttons are assigned to attack, counter, evade and stun.  Dealing with armed enemies demands a more stealth-like approach.  Even though Batman is built like a tank a few gunshots can take him down like the rest of us.  In order to stay out of harms way you can grapple up to the rafters by way of strategically placed gargoyles where you are basically invisible.  This can feel a bit cheesy at times, once spotted all you have to do is swing to a few of these and it was like you were never there, enemies seeming unaware that you just swung 40 feet to the left.  You will also find other environmental aids to hide in the shadows like air ducts and trap doors.  Sneak up on an enemy and you’re rewarded with a silent takedown, cutting off their air supply until they are out cold.  One of my personal favorites is hanging from a ledge and at just the right moment you can smash their head against a guard rail and drop them over the edge.  Many tools are at your disposal to rid yourself of these pests.  Batarangs, grappling hooks and explosive gel all lend to the fun.  Let your imagination run wild here, drop a baddy near an electric door and when their buddy comes to check on them, kindly guide them into it.  Effortlessly string up a villain to a gargoyle and startle their partners by cutting him down with a Batarang, at just the right moment.  Those are just a few examples of how much diversity can be had with the combat system, half the fun is seeing what you can come up with.  Batman has a leveling system based on experience points which are rewarded for stringing combat moves together and mixing up your fighting style.  Each “level” progression provides you with an unlockable item; enhanced Batsuit, detective aid, combat increase or Batarang upgrade.  The upgrades are handled nicely and there is not an overwhelming amount to try and unlock.

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Arkham Asylum’s immersion factor rivals the underwater world of Rapture in Bioshock and it’s a good thing it does because backtracking is a very familiar task.  It’s certainly not without reason.  In most games it would feel like a cheap tactic to extend the game play, no so with Arkham Asylum.  Backtracking never feels tired or bothersome.  The environment also changes as the events of the night unfold.  Your first play-through will take around 10-12 hours depending on your play style, I say first because I definitely feel this game warrants at least another run.  The Riddler left behind plenty of riddles to challenge your detective skills, finding them is worth while as they unlock character bios, interview tapes and help increase your overall experience.

Rocksteady has created something special with Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Many may not care for the ending as it seems somewhat out of place but of the few gripes I have, are all trumped by the sheer impressiveness of the entire package.  The pacing, graphics, attention to detail and overall presentation are exceptional and I will say it again this is a must play.

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Patrick Adams

I am the founder/creator of Everyday Gamers. I am a husband, father, and gamer. You can find me as CrownOfThornz on Xbox Live, PS3, and Twitter.

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