Batman Arkham Asylum review by Honorabili
One Sentence Review:
9 out of 10
Simple story: you’re Batman, the Joker took over Arkham Asylum, time to break every skull and take it back from Mr. J. You start out as a barebones Batman with just about every neat gadget missing, except your batwing. As the game progresses you keep getting upgrades and leveling up, while kicking ass and fighting different villains (bosses) from the Batman universe. The gameplay is similar to Max Payne (with no shooting just kicks to the face), the Prince of Persia 3D games, and some stealth elements sort of like the Metal Gear Solid series.
As Batman, you run around collecting clues, secrets, punching out every inmate in Arkham Asylum. There a “detective mode” which basically turns you into a Predator as you can see where people are through walls, which is essential for hunting and beating them all up. The mode is so effective that you might as well leave it on most of the time, although it makes the game look really alien and you get to miss out the beauty of the scenery.
You heal based on how much XP you just got from taking out enemies or finding secrets, but you just about never heal during combat.
Many favorite villains from the cartoons are present although many are missing as well (hinting a sequel). I won’t say which ones are in the game for the sake of spoilers.
Many of the secrets you find will help you level up faster and they help you find out more about how really evil some of the villains are. There are three types of secrets you can find: interview tapes, Riddler question marks, and Arkham lore symbols. The interview tapes are usually tapes that were recorded by psychologists interviewing specific villains in the course of their therapy. The Riddle question marks are usually a matter of you exploring every little bit of the map and picking them up, as well as knocking down walls or climbing up to or gliding down to hard to reach places. The Arkham lore symbols are the hardest to find and they help explain the history behind Arkham Asylum.
The game uses a Games for Windows Live login if you care about achievements.
This is the Mega64 parody of Batman Arkham Asylum that’s great:
This game is great fun, as a well balanced blend of a fighting game, stealther, and platformer. Taking on a posse of 6-14 enemies at a time is a great thrill and the action will keep you on your toes. Some enemies are top targets such as any inmates that commandeer any assault rifles (they can pretty much drill you down really fast, no matter how good your armor upgrades are). Sneaking up behind enemies and making them pass out, then zipping out with the grapple gun is tons of fun and it gives you the feeling of actually being Batman from the shows and also that of a ninja. Exploring every nook and cranny of the asylum buildings can be a lot of fun especially as you keep upgrading your toolkit. The amount of action will keep you entertained, even if you are just replaying it. Fun Factor gets a 9 out of 10.
This game is not too hard although it has a bunch of parts that are annoying such as taking out a bunch of goons without one seeing you not even once. Usually in those scenarios they are going to kill a hostage and Batman’s panties get in a bunch so you instantly lose and the game prompts you to load the soonest checkpoint. The game is still pretty challenging the first time you play it as there are so many parts where you can get insta-killed. Because of the linearity of the game, despite the hard setting, the game becomes predictable during replay. Difficulty Versatility gets a 4 out of 10 because of only having 3 difficulty setting and no randomly spawning enemies to surprise you.
At $50 on Steam the price is pretty steep. The shortest amount of time I beat the game in was 8 hours, and most likely you won’t want to replay it as soon as you beat it unless you really really loved it. It’s sometimes on sale on Steam for $25-30 dollars and at that price, it’s really worth it. The console versions are going for $53 and that’s pretty steep for me but then again the trend for console games are for them to be really expensive these days, especially if it’s a really popular title. For the amount of entertainment the game offers vs the cost, I give Value a score of 6 out of 10. It might be wiser to pick it up when the price in general drops $10-20 of the MSRP.
I’ve played this game twice so far, once in the medium setting and recently through on hard (the max setting). Since the game is linear and scripted, the only thing that hard really does is make the parts that were already annoying even more annoying. There’s no much replay value other than the breaking-people’s-skulls factor. Once you beat the game one, you already know the tricks and strategies for every area. I would say it has much replay value as Max Payne 1 and 2. I do play those games every 1-2 years since they are good too, this will join that list. However, since this game will probably be something to play once a year or two, it doesn’t get a high replay score. Replayability gets a 5 out of 10, mainly because I (Batman) like breaking people’s skulls.
The game has great sound effects even for the menu interactions of bats flapping and the corpse of one of your victims, I mean villains, is dead, I mean unconscience, and they dematerialize. Lots of nice metal banging metal notices as well as the awesome grapple gun, which you’ll use often. If you’ve watched the Batman animated series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League, you will recognize a ton of the voice actors such as Kevin Conroy as Batman and some others, even the Joker is the same as the cartoons. All the sounds are properly implemented so the Sound category gets its 10 out of 10.
The music is tense and gloomy like Batman should be. It is finely crafted into the action of whatever you are doing in the game. It’s not always persistent though but silence can also raise the tension. The score overall is still great and specific tracks are really worthwhile. Music gets an 8 out of 10.
This game uses the UT3 engine which looking amazing, like all Unreal Tournament engines always do. Arkham Asylum looks bleak and filthy, yet futuristic with its multitude of security systems such as force fields, retinal scanning doors, etc. The game has some aspects that are pretty artistic such as when you pause the game, whatever the screen has gets frozen and rendered as a drawing from a comic book. Although many of the buildings around the asylum look similar, each one has its own style and purpose and they are well designed. The game itself is really beautiful. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.
The game is pretty rock solid and I’ve had no crashes at all with it after 20 hours of gameplay. I’ve only had one instance where a character kept screaming for me to save her when I was standing in front of her to say “Thanks Batman, I need you!!!” Other than that the game flows great and you don’t have to be saving like a maniac in case in breaks as is the case in some other games. You don’t need to anyways as the game auto-saves as soon as you enter another area. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.
The controls for the PC version are adapted from the xbox 360 version, even supporting an xbox 360 controller if you have the PC adaptation for it. The game controls a lot like the Prince of Persia style of games and often plays like it a lot as well. Sometimes I found the mouse a little laggy, considering how much action was going on and the amount of blocking and quick attacks that were needed. Overall, Batman responds really well although there are many instances where you can get him to basically commit suicide easily. Controls get an 8 out of 10.
The UT3 engine looks great and also runs amazing on most gaming machines these days (even when it first came out). On my midrange 2007 gaming PC, the game gives me an average frame rate of 71 fps. I did experience some slowdowns though on scenes where one is battling 12 or more enemies at a time. The game itself comes with a benchmark tool option. I think it deserves a score of 8 out of 10 regarding
My history with this game:
I’m a huge fan of all the Batman and DC related animated shows and I have been keeping an eye out on this game long way before it was finally released. I didn’t get the game until a month after it had come out after hearing from my friends that it was the best next thing since sliced bread was invented. It was a delight to see the writers and voice actors of my favorite cartoons involved in such a successful game and I would hope that they come back with more (I think the sequel is already being made) such as also a game for Batman Beyond (that would probably have a LOT more action). A lot of my friends who haven’t played it yet ask me about it and I tell them to go get it already and enjoy every moment of it. Playing it reminded me a lot of watching the original Batman cartoon from the early 90s. I look forward to playing part 2 as soon as its available. Considering how well this game did we are pretty much guaranteed that sequel.