The best of everything
We've all heard enough of the rhetoric already- Batman: Arkham Asylum is not only the best Batman game ever made, but also the best comic book game ever made. While that's all certainly true, it's also selling the game way too short. Batman: Arkham Asylum shouldn't be limited by the mediocre competition provided by past comic book games, as it's good enough to be judged by the same standards as the best games out there. Batman: Arkham Asylum is, simply put, an absolutely fantastic video game by any measure, and is well worth your attention.
Batman: Arkham Asylum has a long list of impressive features. First, the game's presentation is fantastic. The graphics are both technically and artistically great, and go a long way towards bringing a ton of life to Arkham's psychotic demeanor. The voice acting is one of the high points, and is easily some of the best voicework of the year. There's also a ton of detail crammed into every corner of the asylum. From nice visual aids such as posters and graffiti, all the way down to patient interview tapes lying around, you really get the sense that Arkham is a living, breathing entity. All of these stellar presentation qualities make exploring the island a real treat. There's interesting stuff to see all over the place, and there's enough variety to keep the scenery fresh all the way through.
Yet even with its presentation as good as it is, that's not even the best of what Batman: Arkham Asylum has to offer. The game's most impressive qualities lie in the action, the exploration, and the stealth mechanics. The controls are super fluid, which make third person combat incredibly robust and satisfying while offering a fair challenge to boot. Arkham's many corridors are cleverly designed, and in an almost "Metroidvainia"-like fashion you'll acquire upgrades that allow you to explore at a perfect pacing. The game's stealth mechanics are perhaps the most impressive, as they are basically non-existent. Everything simply works as your intuition would dictate, and the controls that worked so well in combat translate surprisingly well to stealth. It's the rare game that manages to make stealth rewarding without being complicated or frustrating. But even with all of that, what's really amazing is how all of these seemingly disjoint gameplay types fuse together into a single, cohesive experience. This could have easily been any one of a great action, adventure, or stealth game, and yet Batman wasn't content to settle for just one style. Rather, it gives us the best of everything, making for an experience that contains tons of variety, yet never drops its level of quality from start to finish.
The fact that this is a Batman game is really only a minor detail. Sure, it's neat that everything has that Batman vibe, and this is as awesome a portrayal of the Batman universe as any. But I would have enjoyed Batman: Arkham Asylum just as much even if its cast wasn't composed of well established comic book characters. This is a game that just rarely disappoints, making Batman: Arkham Asylum a great video game that only a fool would pass on playing- plain and simple.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.