Going into this game I was skeptical. I've played many superhero games over the years and I struggle to think of one I would want to revisit. Hearing good things beforehand I wondered whether a Batman game could ever be anything better than OK. Yes. Yes it can.
The game begins with Batman, having apprehended his nemesis The Joker, driving to Arkham Asylum to deposit the newly captured madman. All is well it would seem until the plan backfires and Batman must fight his way through Arkham (and many famous villains) to apprehend The Joker once more. I won't go into the story much because honestly? You should just play it. It's fantastic and incredibly well told from start to finish.
The art style and graphics of this game are sublime. It pays homage to the comics whilst feeling very contemporary in today's video game market. Many games that try a 'Dark' art style look boring and struggle to make an impact. This game doesn't suffer from these problems.
Another thing worth adding is this game definitely isn't for young Batman fans. Many parts are very scary when you wouldn't expect it, such Scarecrow's wonderful nightmare sequences and the game doesn't pull it's punches throughout. I found this take very refreshing and really showed how it's developers understand what they were trying to achieve.
One of my favorite parts of this game is its sound. The soundtrack itself is a great score and really sets the tone of the game well. Sound effects are spot on, making you feel every punch Batman delivers to a bad guy. However the best part is most definitely the voice work, in particular that of The Joker, played by Mark Hamill. One part scary, one part insane, this character really sums up the island and setting more perfectly than anyone. It was such a shame that in some parts of the game he seems to disappear as the game's highlights are definitely those that contain this wonderful character.
Combat in this game is very good and isn't too complicated or easy. Delving deeper will reveal a combo system unlocking different moves however most players will be happy to button bash and see Batman destroy everything on screen.
Whilst the combat is good, this game is definitely at its strongest when trying to avoid fist fights. Stealthily stalking prey from above before picking the right moment to swoop down, attack and disappear without a trace feels fantastic. Whilst many games like to give players both options, most situations in this game require stealth. If you try and attack 6 armed guards at once, you will die. And I like this approach. It feels so rewarding when all that planning and waiting comes together.
The story is a very good length and doesn't drag nor feel like its over too quick. Players that want to prolong the dark knight's adventure can try their hand at finding all the Riddler collectibles in the game which then unlocks challenge mode. This is a nice touch as you will discover many Easter eggs that reference many characters from the Batman universe that purists will undoubtedly love.
Challenge mode itself is quite hit and miss. It consists of two modes, Stealth and Combat. Stealth are fun as well as being very challenging for the inexperienced players. Combat is pretty boring and repetitive with the difficulty of the scores required making this mode far from fun. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but I really struggled with this mode in the game.
One thing this game definitely could improve upon is it's boss battles. Games are famously slammed for still having a seemingly outdated feature but this game is perfect for them. The problem lies in the execution. Many of the battles feel like the same thing over and over which is unfortunate. If every boss battle was different, like Poison Ivy's for example, the game would be so much better for it. I'm sure this will be improved upon in any possible future games in the series.
Overall, I loved this game. Never dull and always delightful I never wanted to put this game down as it really is the best superhero game to date. If you have any interest in superheros, stealth games or anything with a good story I implore you to buy this game. Rocksteady took a high risk project by putting a completely unique take on a beloved franchise and pulled it off brilliantly. Bravo.