Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Gaming has not treated comic book characters well over the years. Usually, it is a privilege to find a good game based upon a hero whether it’s from Marvel or Detective Comics (DC Comics). Sure, there were a few passable comic-based games and obviously Superman 64 was not one of these. This isn’t about Superman though.
Batman, at one point, was a joke in the gaming world. Obviously most of the criticism was based upon the Batman Forever game. Batman Forever was such a horrible atrocity that it left a mark on Batman’s good name altogether. As a fan of the caped crusader myself, I wanted nothing more than to play a game that made me feel as if I was really stepping into the Dark Knight’s boots. Thankfully in 2009 Rocksteady Studios and Eidos Interactive gave us just that.
Finally, we got to control the billionaire vigilante through the darkness that is Arkham Asylum. Arkham has long housed the most notorious crime lords with names like Joker, Killer Croc, and Poison Ivy to name a few.
Batman: Arkham Asylum assaults your ears with some of the best sound design I have ever laid witness to. Whether it’s batarangs hitting cement or steel or maybe just an enemy’s head being smashed by Batman’s well-trained fist, this game’s sound is magnificent. Did I mention the voice acting? Most of the voice-actors from Batman: The Animated Series are back in the roles they voiced in the 90’s. The Joker especially has his same iconic voice thanks to Mark Hamill and the same goes for Batman played by Kevin Conroy.
This gem has a free-flowing fight system that basically runs like another version of Assassin’s Creed. Theses fights, although plentiful, are always rewarding and seem to offer something you didn’t see the last time you were surrounded by multiple enemies. On top of the top-notch fighting system there is also an amazing stealth system. Stealth plays a big role in Arkham Asylum just as it does in most Batman lore. Most of the time you are in stealth areas you need to evaluate the situation you are in as the enemy has great AI.
The enemies of B:AA range from inmates with guns to released mental-ward patients to gigantic mini-bosses and full-fledged boss battles. Ever wanted to punch a giant spore-spewing plant pod? You have your chance here.
The only gripe I have about Batman: Arkham Asylum is the feeling that Rocksteady rushed themselves to put this game out around the same time frame as the Dark Knight movie. Other than this minor issue Batman has finally made it in the video game arena and possibly in an all-time best comic hero game role.
-Eric Lee Lewis