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Batman: Arkham Asylum Review
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Rocksteady Studios
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 25, 09
|» All About Batman: Arkham Asylum on ActionTrip|
For the past several months we've endured heaps of promotional material from the action adventure Batman: Arkham Asylum. Eventually, a playable demo reached us, which was generally well-received (apart from being a bit demanding on one's PC). At any rate, the game had everything: big-budget production, talented cast, in addition to promising gameplay and visuals. We approached it with a dose of caution though, seeing as Rocksteady has only one other game under its belt (Urban Chaos: Riot Response).
I'm the man!
Give it to me!
Taking the first steps into Arkham Asylum involves the Dark Knight escorting Gotham's most ruthless villain, the Joker, into the facility. Joker's recent attack on Gotham City's Blackgate Prison resulted in a number of inmates getting transferred to Arkham - most of them are Joker's closest associates. Aided by his favorite sidekick Harley Quinn, Joker makes a daring escape, locking down the Asylum and trapping Batman, Commissioner Gordon and most of the asylum's staff. Things get hectic from here on in. Joker gains control of the entire facility, setting the inmates free and taking down guards in every section. Ambushes are prepared for Batman practically every step of the way. What other sinister plan is lurking in the mind of Gotham's ominous super-criminal?
Now, Batman suspected there was something odd about Joker admitting defeat so easily. That still didn't give him the incentive to pack a few of his useful gadgets, so at the beginning he's restricted to his batarangs and, of course, his martial arts skills. From some angles, not having access to all of Batman's gadgets is a downside to the game, especially when you consider how long it takes to unlock some of them. On the other hand, the way you acquire Batman's gadgets has cunningly been woven into the story progression. In other words, it's not necessarily a bother, but rather a small potential hindrance for impatient hardcore franchise fans. Don't get this the wrong way. Maybe it's just me, trying desperately to find something wrong with this game... Not an easy thing.
Bear in mind, this is not just mindless action (although there's plenty of action for those who want such an experience). The game requires you to go through a series of well-guarded areas of Arkham Asylum, utilizing Batman's special equipment and relying on his knack for stealth takedowns. Performing these attacks and stealth maneuvers works smoothly and without hitches. Finally, a game that doesn't suffer from clunky combat mechanics, dreadful camera movement and dumb-ass AI. Generally, you'll have a blast from the game's combat, in addition to the tactical approaches that are essential to the successful completion of most objectives.
Opponents range from average -- though very tough -- inmate thugs, to larger and more resilient super-villains or bosses, if you will. To put it as shortly as possible, this game has a well-balanced AI, one that responds accordingly when there's danger nearby. Seriously, we congratulate the developers on this one, because AI behavior is the key and in that instance the game is a challenge all the way. To test this further, I replayed certain segments just so I could enjoy the sneaking bit once more. Each time, I used a different approach to clearing out the room of all enemy presence. The opponents acted attentively. Those who want even more of a challenge should play this game on 'Hard' difficulty.
Each level brings along a new thrill. Different situations, new areas, tougher enemies and more puzzles. To be quite honest, the puzzles are more about searching for hidden clues that anything else. Question marks are scattered throughout the asylum by the Riddler, one of Batman's well-known adversaries. Some are easier to find, while others take some time and require a closer inspection of the environment. To do this, Batman uses his special vision called the 'detective mode' that highlights key areas and objects, as well as the state and location of nearby enemies. On the whole, a very cool gameplay component.
Batman: Arkham Asylum takes us out of the dry gaming summer, serious GoTY candidate, an engaging cinematic experience with addictive, well-balanced gameplay;
Minor collision and physics problems (emphasizing "minor"), certain gadgets should've been available earlier on in the game, bloody thing has an ending.