Tick Toc…It’s time to feed the Croc!
Lets face it,everyone has heard of Batman,he’s a household name and has over 70 years of history behind him.
From comic books,novels,tv shows and films,yet his gaming history has been a terrible stream of lackluster games that never truly captured the feeling behind Batman.
But now with the release of Batman Arkham Asylum with have a game worthy of the Dark Knight himself.
By choosing Arkham Asylum as there game world, developers Rocksteady have made a perfect choice.
Throughout Batmans history almost all of his worst enemies have been in Arkham at some point,and by using the Asylum as there game world,Rocksteady could easily put in any villain they wished into the game.
And so they have,with enemies like the Joker,Killer Croc,Bane,Scarecrow and more making there way into the game it provides an amazing backdrop for the game.
As you might expect the Joker takes the stage as the main villain in the game,and he’s expertly voiced by the legendary actor from Batman: The Animated Series,Mark Hamill.
Arkhams version of the Joker is one of the greatest yet,he has a wild prancing nature mixed with a cold and uncaring feeling,it’s a fantasic thing to watch.
Likewise Batman is voiced by actor Kevin Conroy,who did the voicing for Batman in the Animated Series,once again Batman is brought to life by fantastic acting and writing.
The Asylum itself steals the show though,it’s a character by itself.
Rich in detail,Arkham Asylum is a wonder to behold,a dark atmospheric setting that suits Batman perfectly.
The attention to detail is amazing as you venture through dark catacombs,destroyed library’s and botanical gardens.
The world also makes plenty of references to Batman’s past,with glass cabinets showings items such as Penguins umbrella and Cat Womans mask and whip.
It’s also littered with Riddlers riddles,which add a nice touch to the game.
Whilst you never meet the Riddler in game,he cuts in on your radio when you solve riddles etc,and there’s a nice little bonus if you get all the riddles.
Speaking of bonus’s,there are Interview tapes scattered around Arkham,most of the major enemies in the game have 5 of these tapes each,and each tape is a an interview with that character when they were locked up within Arkham.
These provide some amazing details,and some are chilling to listen to.
Progression through the game is done in Metroid style,as you gain access to new gadgets you can retrace your steps and use your new gadget to gain access to an area that you could not earlier in the game,this allows them to make the game world even bigger than it seems.
In terms of gameplay,Batman:AA is a joy to play.
Instead of just focusing on Batmans combat skills,they also chose to add in his detective skills and thr fact that Batman is like a night predator.
It’s a fantastic mix of stealth,combat and puzzle solving that keep you intrested for the entire game,mixed with brilliant pacing and almost precise timing of when you gain new gadgets equals a game that will keep you hooked from start to finish.
Combat is a unique sytem,named Freeflow Combat.
you have the 4 face buttons,attack,dodge,cape stun and counter,by timing hitting the attack button you can chain attacks together,these moves are never defined and can range greatly everytime so combat always looks stunning to watch.
Counter’s look brutal and effective,and it all relies on keeping up your combo,which is stopped if you miss time an attack or get hit.
It’s a simplistic system but works beautifully in it’s exacution.
Diffrent enemies keep your tactics changing as well,enemies with knives can only be taken out by cape stunning them first whilst enemies wielding tasers will have to be flipped over and attacked from behind.
Thus we come to the second main part of the gameplay,Predator mode.
In this you will enter a room full of enemies with guns,and then given free riegn to take them down as you see fit.
Batman can grapple onto Gargoyles in the rafters and watch his enemies silently,this gives a true feeling of bieng Batman as you plot there demise.
The options to take them out are very varied,for example the Inverted takedown see’s you hanging upside down and grabbing a passing guard,you then hang him upside down from the gargoyle and leave him screaming.
His buddies then come along to see what all the fuss is about,at this point you can throw a batarang at the rope suspending him and he will fall to the ground,possibly taking another enemy with him.
It’s an empowering feeling.
As the game progress’s new challenges are provided,guards get equpped with Suicide collars,when there knock out there friends come running as the collar sets off an alarm.
At certain points there will be hostage’s as well,tasking you with taking the guards out silently.
Detective vision is a great addition,allowing you to see through walls and tell if enemies are armed.
You’ll find yourself in this mode alot of the time,which is can be a bad thing as you will often miss the beautiful graphics in the game.
As the name suggests,it also allows you to find clues,such as following a trail of alchahol vapor to track down a missing person.
The only real flaw i could find was the boss battles,which felt uninspired compared to the rest of the game and the final boss fight was dissapointing.
Overall though Batman Arkham Asylum is a stunning game,with a roster of fantastic villains,amazing voice acting,great graphics and brilliant gameplay all add up to a truly outstanding game.
Even without the Batman license backing it up,Arkham would be a great game,but with the Dark Knight starring it’s something that no gamer can afford to miss.
Riddle me this,riddle me that…who’s afraid of the big black bat?