TGL’s Joseph Murphy dons a leather outfit and goes after joker…
Batman…where to start. With over 100+ incarnations of the image, it has become somewhat watered down in my view. Although there have been prosperous re-inventions of the character in the movie “Batman Begins”, I felt very nervous with the thoughts and prospects of the game…
Arkham Asylum takes place in, yep, Arkham Asylum. You lead the role against the virtually care-free/psychotic protaginist: Joker. After allowing himself to be “captured”, springs a trap for Batman and all inmates in AA. Soon, you find yourself fighting against Joker’s “army”, some of which include recognisable characters as Bane and Killer Croc and all the meantime, you are distracted by the Riddlers attempt to bemuze and frustrate you with over 200+ puzzles.
Joker is played by Mark Hamil, who, to his credit, delivers an outstanding perfomance. From the charming to the down right violent thoughts and words that the Joker spits at you, the script is sensational. The voice acting (VA) is something that really stands out. You don’t get the feeling that the voice actors sat in a studio and were pampered while they sang out the necessary lines. When it counts, some of the VA is “grungey”, dark and suprising. During your attempt to restore order to Arkham Asylum, you will come across audio tapes. These audio tapes are recorded interviews with certain offending criminals, and give you a generous incite into their thoughts/motives and frame of mind. To give you an impression into the detail collected, here’s a quote from a conversation between Edward Nigma, aka: The Riddler and Dr.Young…
Edward Nigma: “What is it that walks on four legs, then two legs and finally tree legs?”
Dr. Young: “A human being. As a baby it crawls on four legs. As an adult it walks on two, and in later years it uses a cane”
Edwad Nigma: (Laughs) “Good try. But the answer all three is a baby. True it walks on all fours, but cut off it legs and it can only wiggle on two limbs. Give it a crutch and it can hobble around on three”
Dr.Young: “That’s horrible, how can you even joke about that?!”
Edward Nigma: “Easily Doctor! It’s not MY baby”
The cleverness behind the subtilties is outstanding. There will be many cases during the game when you find yourself laughing and even sometimes shocked at things that are said and done. But it is all done in occordance to what the ACTUAL personas would be trying to achieve.
The combat system is also something that doesn’t go un-noticed. Without a doubt, it is one of the greatest fighting systems ever implemented in a fighting game. It’s hard to fully appreciate the system without trying it. Every punch, jump and item used can be strung together and can be turned into a massive 40+ hit combo, all of this is 100% seemless. To participate in something so flawless gives you the feeling of “being ” Batman, and in most importantly, in control.
Batman can counter attacks, and from a counter, leap over another foe, fire his Batarang to drag enemies towards him then pulverise them is one clean swoop. It’s almost an art form.
Outside of the actual gameplay you have the trophy room. The trophy room allows you to view the character models from the game in full 3d. For those who have an appreciation for this kind of thing, you will spend hours over time viewing them. Everthing from Batman to Commissioner Gordon is viewable. You can also participate in the “challenge rooms”. These are challenges created by Joker to test your stealth abilites, your fighting abilities and it’s a great way to improve your game skills.
There are very few criticisms here. Travelling from one area to another can become tedious sometimes. Without any real transport, you run everywhere. If you are deep with one of the areas in the game, for example the Medical Centre, and you are are expected to further your missions but after checking your map you realise that it’s on the other side of the island. You will find yourself (especially later in the game) letting out an un-expected groan.
Some of the characters in the game can be a let down also. On some occasions you find youself thinking “that doesn’t work, but maybe this would have”. That said, the story carriers the characters well and by the end of the game you really do feel like it has been a “long night for the Dark Knight”
In summary, the game is simply a must buy. The sheer volume of content is somewhat a rare occurance these days. There is value for money here: something you won’t find in every purchase this year. Wether you are a fan of Batman or not, this game will entertain you for hours. With Christmas on the horizon, this is the kind of game you want to wake up to on Christmas morning.
[ TGL score: 9/10 ]
Formats : Xbox 360/Ps3
Release date: 25th August 2009
Publisher(s) : Eidos
Developer(s) : Rocksteady