MWN Reviews – Batman: Arkham Asylum

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Batman has had better luck than most when it’s come to video games. While Batman has also had his fair share of bat-crap, games like Batman on NES and Batman Returns on SNES/Mega Drive have saved him from the suffering that has faced other comic book heroes such as Superman for an extreme example. That being said, It’s unusual to go into a comic book game with excitement but after playing the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo, that’s what I had personally. Well, me and Nikmonroe have the game and we’re going to tell just exactly what we think about it. So hit the jump for our review of Batman: Arkham Asylum before we set Killer Croc on you.

I didn’t quite know how to start this review in a clever and witty manner so let’s get straight to it. There is little I have to complain about in Batman: Arkham Asylum. For starters, the story for the most part is fantastic.What begins as a simple trap by The Joker turns into a basic but well-written story,no thanks to Paul Dini, who worked on the 90s animated series. The story is fun to play through thanks to the many encounters you have throughout the story. While not all of the ghoul gallery is present, across your path you’ll come across a variety of characters from The Joker to Bane to Poison Ivy and a few others, with even a few nice surprises along the way.

Of course, the story would have been nothing without the brilliant voice acting. Everyone does a great job with their characters and all sound exactly like they should, no thanks to the fact that most of the characters are voiced by the crew of the 90s Batman animated series. As cliche as it sounds, Mark Hamill really steals the show as The Joker, there’s just no doubt about it. There’s not a lot I can say but just listen to the man voice him. He’s simply perfect at mixing all aspects of The Joker’s character in his voice. Without Mark Hamill voicing The Joker, the game would have been a whole lot duller. The biggest problem comes from the finale of the story but I’m not going to spoil it for you. Let’s just say that it betrays The Joker’s character.

Of course, what good is a story without some good gameplay. One thing is that you shouldn’t like the combat. For the most part, you are just bashing X to beat up enemies, with the occasional Y to counter an enemy’s attack. However, it’s aesthetically brilliant. After all, you’re Batman. This isn’t just some random bum off the street, it’s the GODDAMN BATMAN. He should be able to beat the shit out of a few thugs easily. However later on, the combat does get challenging with up to around 20 thugs at once, some that can block. I mean, as strong as Batman is, even 20 thugs is a lot, even for him. While the combat is basic, it does an excellent job of making you feel like Batman.

As do the stealth aspects. There are a variety of ways you can take out enemies silently, from taking down enemies from gargoyles to silently taking down enemies to later on using explosive gel to crush enemies with walls. The reactions from the enemies as you take them down one by one are great, especially when they get to a terrified state and start randomly shooting when they hear a noise. The stealth aspects empower you and make you feel like Batman using his intimidation to scare criminals before taking them down and it never gets old.

Ultimately though, I don’t think you’d enjoy this if you weren’t a Batman fan. Clearly this game has been made for the fans. Fanservice if you will, except nowhere near as annoying. From the characters to the story to even the character bios and Riddler challenges, clearly the game has been made with the Batman fan in mind. I’m not saying that you won’t enjoy it if you’re not a big Batman fan but just be aware that you’ll probably appreciate the game more if you are. Finally after the game there is challenge mode, which are both leaderboard based combat and stealth challenges that get progressively harder until they are just crazy. They’re fun but can get frustrating later on. Some of the people on the leaderboards just have some crazy skills!

The only other problem I really had with the game is that despite how good the game is, the boss battles are very weak, with the same boss battle repeating a few times. However, in conclusion, while the game has a few niggles, it is still a really fun game that I loved, even if it only took me a week to finish the game. If you’re not convinced then definitely try the demo. As for me, it’s one of my favourite games of this year. Hit the next page for Nik’s review.

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