Sep 27, 2014Batman: Arkham Asylum is, to its strength, not an origin story, but it embraces all players regardless of their knowledge of Batman's long history; developer Rocksteady have crafted their own story and everyone is welcome. Respectful of its source material, Batman's adventure is a complete joy to experience. Players will explore every inch of Arkham Asylum if they're interested in completing the game fully, meeting a handful of colourful (and well-voiced) characters along the way as you attempt to stop the Joker and the rest of the inmates from taking over the asylum. Thankfully, due to unlockable bios and interview tapes, you'll never be wondering over the importance or backstory of each character.
The gameplay has a "Metroidvania" feel to it, in that as you progress through the story you'll unlock gadgets that will allow you to return and advance through previously inaccessible areas. Exploring the island comprises the bulk of the game, and when you're not investigating the asylum, you'll be engrossed in the game's combat or stealth.
Fighting relies on knowing how to deal with each type of enemy using the face buttons. Once you understand the rhythmic-based combat, you'll be building up whopping combos to take down your enemies (if you're any good), and it's oh-so-satisfying. At times, the camera can work against you when fighting in enclosed spaces, and the bosses are repetitive (but there aren't many), but the combat in this game is spectacular once you get into it. Moreover, playing on Hard difficulty removes the counter prompts above enemies' heads, which has a much larger effect on the game than you'd think. Stealth is what you'll often resort to in select rooms - usually when the enemy are carrying firearms. It's a little slow-paced if you're not familiar with the way the AI works, the room layouts, and/or the gadgets, but the change in pace is appreciated and provides a different way to play the game (sneaking around as Batman is always fun). Due to its superb pacing, it's important to note that the game never overwhelms you with all it has to offer, and be sure that the game does have a lot to offer during the campaign.
Unfortunately, while you can continue to explore the asylum after completing the game, challenge maps are the only extras the game has to offer outside of the campaign. They're fine to play through once, but you'll tire of the Joker's constant taunts and you'll likely need to look at YouTube or a walkthrough for some of the more trickier challenges. Outside of online leaderboards and trophies, there's little point to them. Combined with the fact that the game's campaign is very short, you might be left wishing for more even after 100%ing the game.
Ultimately, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a genuinely incredible game which I probably haven't done justice to in this quick little review. Aside from its comic book origins, its sharp writing and game design, its high-quality voice acting, its memorable set pieces like the three Scarecrow encounters, and more all make for a fantastic game in its own right - and the fact that it already includes a pre-established figure like Batman makes it easier to get into (again, even if you are generally unfamiliar with the character). Simply put, overcoming the Joker and the other dangerous inhabitants of Arkham Asylum is an adventure you should definitely consider experiencing.… Expand
The whole game is a class act. The fighting is sophisticated but arcade-addictive, the visuals are stylish, and the Lara-like exploration is smartly done. Plus the DC heritage feels all-encompassing like a big blanket. Arkham Asylum is comfortably the best comic book game that PlayStation's ever had, and is up there with the system's best actioners, full stop. [Sept 2009, p.95]
Yes, this is the Batman you've been waiting for...It's a wonderful experience, beginning to end, never taking the easy or familiar route, and infusing each shift of the story with original ideas that cut no corners. [Oct 2009, p.70]