A Game That Truly Makes You Feel Like The Dark Knight.
Batman has always had a hard time in the world of games. For some reason developers have never truly been able to nail the feel of The Batman, until now. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the game fans of The Caped Crusader have been waiting for with an excellent presentation and satisfying game play that truly makes you feel like The Dark Knight. The game is an original story that has Batman, voiced by Kevin Connroy of Batman: The Animated Series fame, trapped inside the infamous Arkham Asylum, a prison for the criminally insane where Batman's greatest foes are held, by The Joker voiced excellently by Mark Hamil, also from The Animated Series. The premise allows most of Batman's greatest enemies to show up without feeling shoehorned into places they normally shouldn't be. The presentation is great and perfectly captures the dark tone of the story. All the games characters have been given a gritty new look that fits into Arkham Asylum old dirty halls. One of the coolest things is that as you play Batman gets more and more beaten, up till the end where he looks like the shell of a man he was at the start of the game. The story is great until the end where it falls apart with weird decisions by some characters and plot points that should have a better explanation than, "I'm Batman, so this can't affect me."
The games environments look very slick and there is a lot of detail to be found in them. Unfortunately the characters don't look quite as good. The faces look a little weird and the lip syncing is horrendous, which is a shame because most of the voice acting is good, as already mentioned by Mark Hamil's Joker. The music is very epic and sounds like something you would hear in the Chistopher Nolan's Batman movies. The sound effects are equally impressive with every punch and explosion sounding very powerful. The game's presentation is good, but the game play is where the game truly shines.
The game play is divided into three parts the "Free-Flow" combat, the detective game play, and "The Silent Predator" stealth rooms. The Game's combat involves you taking on multiple thugs trying to kill you. You must chain all your attacks together by countering and keeping your combo going so you don't get hit. There are multiple types of enemies who may need to be stunned or hit from behind that you must also worry about. The game excels when it throws 6 or more guys on you of multiple types. It becomes a frantic, adrenaline pumping game of trying to get your hits in while countering enemy attacks and worrying about different enemy types that require extra thought that keep this from being a button mashing brawler. Sadly,The boss battles task you to do the same thing every time to take them out and get repetitive fast. The detective parts involve looking around a scene looking for something to track and usually are used to show you to where you need to go. A more interesting part of the detective game play is trying to solve option able riddles from "The Riddler" in each room. These involve you getting a hint from The Riddler in each room and tax you to find hidden easter eggs that will delight hardcore Batman fans and add to the life span of the game.
My favorite part of the game are "The Silent Predator" stealth rooms that task you with taking down The Joker's thugs one by one. The stealth in the game is different, because you don't feel powerless unlike in other stealth games. You always feel like a badass as you swing down from a gargoyle and snatch up henchmen or blow a wall to knock multiple enemies. The only minor complaint I have is you will play most of these sections in "detective vision" which makes the game blue and shows your enemies skeletons but doesn't let you see the great looking environments but doesn't take away from the fun of these parts. There are also challenge rooms outside of the main story that give you either combat or stealth parts that give you points for how long you can keep your combo for combat and give you specific challenges, such as blow up a wall to take down an enemy, for stealth parts. These are fun to play, but I did not find them as engaging as the story.
Overall Batman: Arkham Asylum is great game that even non-fans of The Dark Knight should play. With its combination of great presentation and satisfying game play, Batman will keep you engaged from when you first get to Arkham Island to the closing credits.