|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rocksteady||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos / Warner Bros.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Once you get a little deeper in the game and enemies start changing things up, you have to change the way you approach fighting them. This is an area where the combat system may become a little bothersome. I'm not saying they become insanely difficult, it's just that you'll have to refine your own way of playing to go beyond the mashing.
One of the ways this is done is timing your attacks. With your combo count climbing towards eight, you'll gain access to special attacks that will make things easier against certain enemies. These can be upgraded, and then there are a few that you will be able to purchase with your experience points in the game. Trust me; when you go to get ready to do the 40 hit combo, you'll need the upgrades. In addition to the takedowns, upgrades, and purchases, you can also use your experience points to extend Batman's health gauge and to improve various other weapons in the game. Yes, Batman has an assortment of his fabled "toys" for us to play with, each with its own rewarding purpose. You will also be able to strengthen the Batarang as well. Aside from the Batarang, players will be able to play with the Batclaw, explosive gel, a sonar resonator, and the grappling lines.
To me, the best part of the gameplay is the "Invisible Predator" aspect. Striking from the shadows in a stealth manner reminds me of another old dog of war, Solid Snake. Granted, Snake has never hung upside down to take out enemies, but the stealth element is there. You are rewarded for your stealth in a couple of ways. One is when The Joker comes over the intercom system and berates the enemies in a room, or even pays Batman a compliment - well a Joker compliment anyway. The other way you are rewarded is by the animations of the enemies. Say there are six enemies in a room, you start silently taking out each one, by the time you get to the last two, if you have made them aware of their buddies being taken out, they start shooting at random noises and screaming for you to leave them alone. While I could easily say the combat system lets you feel empowered like Batman, it is the "Invisible Predator" moments when you are truly Batman.
Unfortunately, I do have one small complaint about the "Invisible Predator" aspect. While there are several gargoyles conveniently placed throughout Arkham, this is a concern. I know the enemies may be less than smart, but after awhile they might start looking upwards to those gargoyles. More than once I took out an enemy that was right next to others - did they look up to see me? No. Did they try to survey anything higher than eye level? No. Only after I had dropped down, ran around a little bit, and then sprang back up to the gargoyles did they remember to point upwards. This is more of a minor complaint than a serious one, but it's glaring at times. Thankfully, as you increase difficulty levels, it does level out a little more; not a lot, but a little.
Outside the main story of the game, you have a few challenges to work through, the Challenge Rooms being one of them. Inside these Challenge Rooms you will be in certain parts of the game with a specific objective. Remember that 40 hit combo I mentioned earlier? This is where you will achieve that. In a sense, you'll be replaying certain levels of the game which allows you to experience them again without restarting your save file. Your cleared saved data will just pick up at the end fight. In addition to the Challenge Rooms, there are 240 Riddler challenges you'll be able to explore throughout Arkham. These challenges are great for the Detective Mode of the game. You'll actually have to figure out The Riddler's clues in order to complete the challenge. Plus, finding The Riddler's trophies tucked away can be rewarding as well.
Speaking of the Detective aspect of the game, for those that like to play through a game and really explore every nook and cranny, Arkham Asylum delivers in spades. Using top notch technology to do everything from a simple finger print scan to DNA analysis to pheromone tracking, the Detective Mode may seem like a trivial aspect of the game to some, but Rocksteady actually made it one of the most intriguing. It really shows the level of commitment the developers have to capturing and delivering the truest Batman video game experience ever.
I can say with confidence and cannot stress enough, Batman: Arkham Asylum is, without a doubt, the best Batman game ever created. It does more than give you the Batman game you want, it gives you a video game that you could play repeatedly, even if it didn't have the caped and cowled Dark Knight in it. With a massive world to search, an easy to adjust combat system, stealth action, audio logs to find, and challenges galore, Batman has finally come into his own in this medium. There are so many extra things and enjoyable moments in Arkham Asylum for fans and newcomers alike, you'll be glad you are a fan of Batman and video games.
CCC Project Coordinator