Completely badass, incredibly dark and immersive.
Let's get this out of the way; Batman is a complete badass. Sure, you comic book fans are now about to send me an angry message saying how Batman is full of morals, so therefore, he is the complete opposite of badass. But dudes, picture this:
At the start of the game, a room is filled with noxious gas thanks to the Joker's sadistic work. Two people are hanging off ledges at the top of the room, where the gas is lingering at the bottom. He runs up to the first guy, who is a security guard, and proceeds to help him up, and make sure he is alright. Now, this next dude is an inmate of Arkham Asylum (where you geniuses out there may have figured out this is where the game is set), so he helps him up, knocks him the **** out, and leaves him there in complete safety. Tell me, what is not badass about that?
So, every Batman fan out there was probably super excited leading to the launch of previous Batman games (who were so horrible I will not name them here), and were then extremely let down, because if a Batman game was done right, then that game would be full of awesome. I can understand you being skeptical about this game, but let me tell you, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a Batman game done right.
The game opens with Batman, having captured Joker, escorting him down the murky corridors of Arkham Asylum. This sets up the game well, as you meet characters fans of the fiction will recognise, while keeping you immersed in such a high security asylum, which won't stay so organised for long. Naturally, **** hits the fan, the Joker escapes, lets loose all the inmates, takes all the security guards hostage, and wages all out war on Batman.
So, it's up to Batman to restore order and save the day. Conveniently, Batman expected this to happen, and built a laboratory under Arkham years ago. So, Batman goes all high-tec with those nifty gadgets of his (the batterang, grapple hook, and liquid explosives are but a few), and starts being the badass he is by taking names and kicking ass.
Batman sneaks from room to room, taking out the armed escapees one by one. And once you've whittled what was once a room full of enemies, down to a room with one enemy left without ever being seen is dead fun and extremely satisfying. The remaining survivor goes paranoid, his heart beats faster, and he lunges around corners opening fire, whether he knows you're there or not. All the while, Joker is taunting him over the intercom. This leaves you to toy with him some, or just finish him off quickly.
As you explore the asylum, you'll come across puzzles to complete, objects to find, traps to overcome and dudes to beat up. You'll encounter fan favourites such as Croc, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to name but a few. The asylum is hugely detailed, and has a very dark atmosphere. Messages are written on the walls in blood, inmates are totally batsh** crazy (excuse the pun), willing to beat you to death at any opportunity. But just how dark and immersive is it? Think along the lines of BioShock, but with less violence.
Arkham Asylum has some great set pieces, such as a memorable hallucinogenic experience thanks to Scarecrow's gas. It makes you wonder if you really are going insane, or if the game's just broken. Or a tense walk through Croc's lair. You know he can see you, but you can't see him. Even backtracking doesn't get boring, because usually, Joker has left you a nasty surprise on the way back! In fact, my only complaint is that one type of enemy is over used, and after the 10th time of fighting it, tedium has set in.
But even that's not enough to put you off a second playthrough, especially with all the optional side stuff to do. You can solve The Riddler's puzzles, who has set up a puzzle in every room of the asylum, or you can collect all of Joker's chattering teeth, or scour the grounds looking for trophies.
The grim asylum has many a surprise waiting for you. Will you explore its depths, solve its puzzles and slip by enemies unseen like the dark knight you are, or will you fall victim to Joker's trap? Either way, you will have one hell of a time on your journey through Arkham Asylum. Whether you're a long-time Batman fan or a comic book newbie, this is the superhero game you've been waiting for, you will not be disappointed.