Welcome to the Madhouse Batman
I have waited for this moment for a long time, through the slew of utter failed comic-book and movie games over the years. I can finally say it, I can finally say that Iíve played what is probably the best comic-book tie-in game thatís ever been made until Rocksteady craft a sequel. For those who donít want to read an indepth review of the game, this is all you need to know.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is awesome.Story
Set in just one dark night at the infamous Arkham Asylum, Batman has finally captured his arch-nemesis the Joker. Batman drags the Clown Prince of Crime into the asylum onto to find that something isnít right. Cue a wild ride with twists and turns galore expertly created by Paul Dini, one of the writers who have worked on Batman and comics and so on for a while. This story is a superb one, full of quality writing and the trademark Joker humour that has made him one of the most beloved and iconic Batman villains. During this one night Batman is going to face some of Arkhamís most dangerous inmates and bring his nemesis to justice or die trying.Gameplay
Batman: AA is a polished game, right from the get-go it smacks of detail and design by a team who love Batman, they immersed themselves and by association, the player into the lore of the Batman universe and they got it spot on. This is the rare case of a game being not just the sum of its parts but a well created and developed whole. Yes, Batman: AA is just that good and it holds up on all platforms, PS3, PC and 360. The controls are tight and they can be broken down into three distinct but melded gameplay types.
Brawling: using the unique Freeflow Combat system the developers at Rocksteady have managed to craft a combat system that is simple to use, easy to pick up and devilish to master to get the best out of. Batman can attack by pressing the strike button in a steady and rhythmic fashion, combined with a direction on the left stick. He can counter with the counter button, timed correctly. He can also use any number of his gadgets like the batarang and batclaw by double-tapping the right or left trigger on the console versions. This will unleash a quick use of the device and can be useful in getting a breather during the more hectic battles (there can be as many as 20 opponents on screen at once).
He has a stun move and can evade by using a double press of the jump button combined with a direction. It is all simple and very quick to get to grips with, in fact it might seem as though it lacks depth and is flawed compared to learning tonnes of combinations from other fighting games Ė well, the short answer is that it isnít. You have to be aware of your surroundings, what thug youíre attacking and how you get from one to the next. Combinations are the key to victory and your flow can be broken by a sneaky thug landing a cruel blow with a lead pipe or a swiftly thrown cinderblock.
The higher the combos the more chance you have of getting the golden meter, which will (when you upgrade) allow Batman to bust out some bone-crunching takedowns and some vicious throws. Rocksteady mix things up a lot by introducing new enemy types that require specific moves to counter, the game tells you what to do when you first meet these tricky customers, so youíre never left in the dark.
Stealth: Seamlessly blended into the gameplay are the stealth sections, where Batman can use Invisible Predator moves to sow fear into the hearts of his enemies and zip from shadow to shadow overhead via the handy gargoyles that Arkham loved so much. Through various in-game upgrades the range of moves that Batman can execute here are extended, like the Inverted Takedown which is an iconic Batman move to pull off on a lone henchman. Jokerís thugs wonít know what hit them if you play your cards right and Rocksteady have made sure that you feel like the Dark Knight in this type of gameplay as well. Thereís nothing more satisfying than throwing a guy off a ledge with a well aimed ledge takedown and zipping off up to the gargoyles to lurk as his friends go mad trying to find you.
Detective Mode: Activated at any time it allows Batman an X-ray view of the situation and he can see important information. The number of thugs, their status and weapons are displayed in a minimal and easy to read HUD. This mode also plays a bigger part in the game than just situational awareness when youíre tracking down Jokerís thugs in a takedown situation. At several points Batman will be required to track down a certain clue or element in the asylum, here Detective Mode lets you search the crime scene for the information and discover a trail to follow.
All of the elements here blend nicely together and never feel disjointed in the overall scheme of things. From the brutal combat to the sneaky takedowns and the clue discovery, you feel like the Dark Knight every step of the way.
There are upgrades to unlock as you earn XP from the various things you do, whether itís from taking the fight to the enemy and getting some insane combos, taking down thugs quietly or discovering secrets in the Asylum from either Riddler trophies, collectable taped interviews with many of Batmanís iconic adversaries or solving the Riddler challenges as you go along. These upgrades help you become more and more effective in combat, stealth and so on. As the story progresses youíll be rewarded with more and more gadgets too and some of these can be upgraded to provide additional functionality as well as options for takedowns and causing fear in the enemy.
With 12 to 15 hours of core gameplay and probably more if youíre hunting down every secret and collectible, the game is paced just right and has a beautiful play/reward pacing Ė you never feel as though youíre playing a contrived or dull part of the game at any point in the experience, a rare feat for a developer.
Batman has a useful map as well that gives you pointers if you get lost.
It should be noted that Batman is not super human; he can still die if heís detected by armed thugs and riddled with bullets or punched to death, so bear this in mind. On the higher difficulty levels the game is punishing when youíre discovered in Invisible Predator gameplay, either avoid and evade or witness Batman gunned down by merciless thugs.