Inmates aren't the only ones crazy for Batman: Arkham Asylum
Simple and satisfying martial art combat, stealthy take-downs, bat shaped gadgetry, and detective intelligence gathering are all delivered so well in Batman: Arkham Asylum that you will leave this game with no less than a wonderful taste in your mouth. How that taste got there is due to the interesting character interaction between Batman, his allies, and the villains that fans and newcomers alike will find intriguing, humorous, and authentic. The bottom line is this game is really fun and you'll be thanking its creators for filling it with diverse game-play that never feels tedious.
For the person looking for a fun gaming experience, there are five core aspects to this game: Combat, stealth, puzzle solving, platforming, and gathering collectibles.
Not all of the game is combat however. Batman unleashes his stealthy side as well utilizing his gadgets to swing from high rising gargoyle statues and disable unwitting foes by quietly sneaking up from behind. One of the most interesting tools in the stealth arsenal that Batman has is a enhanced viewing of the screen called 'detective vision.' Using this will allow you to see through walls enabling you to easily track your opponents as well as highlight key objectives and items.
This detective vision will be greatly used for the puzzle solving aspect of this game as well. There are lots of areas where you'll have to follow a trail, find a weak wall to break, or use one of your tools to disable a control panel or flip a switch. All of these nodes will be highlighted by your detective vision for ease of progression and search. Interaction with the guards of Arkham Asylum will also assist you in what to do next as well as maintain the mood that you're not just chopping through challenges but are actually in a Batman world with lots of people to interact with.
Each region of the game is a varying size that can be navigated by running, swinging with a grappling hook, or floating with a cape glide. There are lots of climbing and jumps that you have to do to progress further which presents an interesting flow to the game. Some challenges and boss battles will test your wit or reaction time without pushing you too badly for failing.
You can change the pace of the game at any point by hanging around each area and searching for secrets and collectibles. The Riddler makes his presence know by scattering trophies and objectives about, giving you clues as to how to find them. One of the challenges I enjoyed the most was lining up and taking pictures of spray pained question marks that were painted in a way that you could only view the giant question mark from one certain spot on the map.
For the person that is a fan of Batman, this game brings an interaction or cameo of just about every memorable Batman character in the universe. The Joker has a persistent and humorous, albeit darkly humorous, presence throughout the game by means of the asylums intercoms and television circuit. There are also a handful of times where the Joker psychoanalyzes why Batman does what he does through a first person television interaction. This brings a familiar but slightly different perspective of the relationship between the Joker and Batman.
The Joker isn't the only villain you encounter. Several other foes are on the guest list each of which will pit you in a unique encounter or will be a novel and relieving site to view them angered that they're still in their jail cell. Scarecrow's encounter is one of the most interesting as his hallucinogenic gas alters the world to look like Batman took some bad drugs and is stuck in some sort of horror movie.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is an ambitious game that ends up telling a great and unique story while throwing fun challenges for you to play through. There are plenty of extras, like bios, challenges, and sound clips, that round out the game really well. Although Arkham Asylum tries to do a lot it still ends up doing each thing very well.