Batman Beyond our expectations
The gameplay is pretty solid across the board, managing to balance action and stealth gameplay more or less 50/50 and putting you in the shoes of Batman, whether you're scoping out a crime scene, engaging in a battle of wits with The Scarecrow and his intense disturbing hallucinogens or praying for dear life when pitted against the monstrous hulks that are Killer Croc and Bane. The freeflow combat is fast and intuitive, whilst the stealth and puzzle mechanics can initially offer puzzles, but never seem to get so complex that they inspire frustration.
The game looks fantastic and just about the only qualm with the experience from a visual perspective is that characters with bare faces don't seem to emote at all (probably as a result of the Unreal Engine being used for the game). The environments are lush and strangely captivating in their darkness, and it makes a slight shame that you'll miss out on so much of the colour as a result of having your Heads Up Display set to Detective vision in order to seek out clues.
The soundtrack is fairly tense and moody, certainly appropriate to the Batman saga, however there's no theme or any piece of music at all which really sweeps you away like any of the tracks produced by Danny Elfman or Hanz Zimmer (The composers to the first two and latest two Batman films) to accompany the character. The voicework, however is way beyond this level of general competency with most of the cast comic directly from The Animated Series from about 15 years ago. It's a fondly remembered series and I think that allowing this cast to return is a smart move. The game is far more mature than the series of old and hearing Mark Hamills Joker screeching with an abundant joy about some very twisted and creepy things certainly makes it feel as if the material has grown alongside it's audience. Hell, if the video-game is considered a part of the Animated Series' canon, then the entire existence of the game may well be a metaphor for just how art can mature along with it's audience.
I had...and am still having an absolute ball with Arkham Asylum. The game is dark, brooding, beautiful, twisted, funny, scary, raw and above all the game is fun. I've had more fun with Arkham Asylum than I have with any other game released this year. I say this not only as a Batman fan but as a fan of videogames in general. I could probably predict that a lot of people will dislike that the game is fairly easy and that everything seems to be handed to you on a plate. But I don't want to predict that. Sure, it would be nice if the game were maybe willing to test my skill a little more, but at the end of the day, it's about the experience of playing through and enjoying the game, more than about showing off how good I am at it. This is a great game and worth your attention.