-Kris “Kaz” Sturm
It seems so long ago that Rocksteady brought the Dark Knight back to the gaming scene, but when they took up the idea, they brought the luster and appeal of Batman in spades. In Arkham Asylum, the player assumes the role of Batman who has captured the Joker and brought him to the Asylum for facilitation and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, things are never easy with the Bats and Joker breaks free only moments after being processed and it’s up to Batman to stop him and the other various super villains such as Killer Croc and Poison Ivy from getting their way.
And of course, how would Batman take down these sinister villains? With overwhelming brute strength his gadgets of course and the newly added Detective Mode.
Other than being one of the world's best ass-kickers, Batman has a wide array of technology at his disposal from Batarangs, the Batclaw and even a remote hacking device. While the collection starts out limited as most games are designed, eventually through the course of the game, you build an impressive armory for yourself, all of which are required and used fairly evenly to overcome challenges and to solve the Riddler’s riddles. Thankfully, none of the armaments come off as either clunky or impractical and if you don’t like it, deal with it because he’s the Goddamn Batman.
As I mentioned earlier, the Riddler has a few challenges up for good ol’ Bats as Rocksteady worked to try and enhance the gaming experience by taxing the players’ minds. Without a doubt, there are SEVERAL heavily taxing riddles strewn about the area and the only bit of assistance that the player can get is a set of maps that’ll show the player several floating question marks, as is the Riddler’s style. From there, it’s up to the world’s greatest detective and general badass to go and find either Riddler trophies, recording film reels or take pictures by holding down onto the Detective Mode button. The more riddles the player gets through though, the more desperate the Riddler sounds, even going as far to break the fourth wall and say, "How are you doing this?! Are you looking up my riddles on the internet?!"
The premise of the game appears rather straightforward… but in terms of a Batman storyline, it felt too… enclosed, one could say. The overall design of the game effectively felt like a repetitive function in which Batman has to frequent back and forth to different areas as he can see the effects of how actions caused by Batman’s nemeses affect Arkham Island, such as when Poison Ivy gets loose and covers a good section of the terrain in plantlike vines and roots. At some point in the game, the baddies from Blackgate end up getting weaponry including, but not limited to shotguns, automatic rifles and SNIPER RIFLES. Why on earth they have them on Arkham Island seems a little excessive; but then one thinks, “oh yeah, we harbor S-Class criminals here.”
If the players find themselves lacking in challenges, there are a slew of maps to play through including the “Dem Bones” Scarecrow Challenge map. On fight maps such as these, the idea was to clear the room of all combatants with the grace of Bruce Lee and with the power of Chuck Norris and to get a high score, it’s encouraged that the player clear the map with little (but preferably) no damage and if the player is adept enough, they can bag themselves a lovely little trophy/achievement for using every single one of Batman’s fighting moves fluidly in combat. While hard to work towards (without lots and lots of practice), it’s far from impossible.
Overall, the game was fundamentally sound, well developed and I could find little to no flaws with the design. The fighting aspects of the game could be scaled to personal comfort on difficulty, the bonus predator and fight challenges are difficult, but present themselves well and are scaled to overall difficulty that the player chooses, the gadgets Batman wields offers a fairly versatile fighting style and the story mode flows very well. It gives the player a glimpse of how Batman’s trademark villains can be remodeled to better exemplify the feel of the environment that he’s placed in and even the Riddler, who would appear to be a rather minor character actually allows the players to exercise their brains with fairly taxing challenges. All in all, it was put together fantastically and leads straight into Arkham City (although timewise, it takes place just a few months later) which was released some time ago.
Reviewed by Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Reviewer Rating: 4.75/5