Batman: Arkham Asylum – Finally Playing All the Right Cards

I bought the game of the year edition new but on sale at Gamestop for $20 for the PS3. I have been wanting to play the game but it sat in my backlog for quite some time. I finally got round to playing the game out of boredom and as soon as I put the game into the system I got sucked in. Which was exactly what I was hoping to do. I played through the game on Easy, collected all the riddler’s trophies and played through the challenges. I’m currently playing through the game again on hard but figured I had a good enough idea of the game for a review since I’m halfway through that.

Things I Liked:

The Cast! Getting the cast from The Animated series of the 90’s was a fantastic choice and made me instantly attached to the characters since I grew up watching the show. I’m assuming nostalgia played a pretty heavy role though, my girlfriend watched me play for a bit of the game and hated Mark Hamill’s Joker. I actually thought it was weird hearing him say curse words but I still think the entire cast did a great job. But Batman was a little weird on occasion. The voice acting was fine but can someone get a better writer for him? His few jokes should have been cut or left to Joker. I doubt batman literally eats thugs for breakfast. It’s a cliche line so please don’t use it. I’m sure even Joker rolled his eyes at that one.

Collection Craze! I really used to hate collecting items in a game, Honest! I know it seems every game I play I use this as a plus. But lately all of the games that offer a lot of collecting give out some pretty decent rewards for doing so. On top of that it actually fits the story really well by having The Riddler boast about how much smarter he is than you. Also they’re pretty varied and fun since the Riddler has you finding objects that tell you about other characters. I especially liked putting his question marks located through out the game together that played with perception.

Scarecrow! If the entire game was made up of Batman fighting scarecrow I think it would still be a pretty fantastic game. Rocksteady obviously had a lot of fun thinking about the psychological side of being Batman. But being stuck on Arkham Island probably limited what they could do and used this character to explore outside the facility. The first time he showed up gave me a legitimate nightmare. I was playing the game at 4am while a storm was going on outside and tried going to bed after a scarecrow scene. I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours. Afterwards you kind of get used to his occasional distractions but he masters this escape from reality when he brings Joker in for the ride later in the game. Each time he shows up was the best moment in the story.

Things I disliked:

Those Annoying Joker Teeth! These little pest weren’t all that annoying at first. I would kill them or blow by. Not knowing that I’d be wasting hours of time tracking them down again when I was trying to finish all of the Riddler’s challenges. I spent 2 hours walking around only to find it stuck between a filing cabinet and a wall above where one of the doctors was killed.

Boring 3D! The game advertised it being in 3D. I figured since it offered anaglyph (red and blue glasses) 3D it would offer stereoscopic as well. Not true. I know it’s my fault for assuming this but still how hard would it be to do both if you’ve already got one going.

COMBAT! It looks good but man it’s a lot of button mashing. All you have to do to get through a fight is point the batman at the nearest person and hit square constantly. This still remains true on Hard mode except you need to hit Triangle to counter on occasion due to the punches hurting more. Combos help to alleviate the boredom a bit but it’s still pretty limited. The worst part about the combat isn’t the occasional scuffles you have to deal with but the bosses that require this boring method of fighting, including the final boss. This game has so many good boss fights but these combat based boss fights make what could be a fun encounter a snore fest. Which sucks that it includes the finale between Joker and Batman. Finally fighting him could and should have been far more interesting.

Final Thoughts:

Arkham Asylum is the best DC super hero game yet! Unfortunately that isn’t saying much. Regardless it’s just a great adventure game that grabs you with the unique batman story and some eerie characters that expand on gotham as a living breathing place full of weird life. Having all of the villians kind of working together is scary as hell when your a one man army against all that, helps being Batman though. I would have liked this game at full price but at $20, it’s a no brainer. Now to try and beat hard mode.

 

Bryan Belcher

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