February 20th, 2013
Author: Theodore “N-TG” Papadopoylos
A superhero isn’t defined by having superhuman powers, but rather intelligence, wit, and skills that have taken great practice to master and the courage to face the corrupted while aiding those in need. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, both fans and newcomers can jump in and play as their most admired superhero.
Developed by Rocksteady Studios in 2009, the game won many awards like the Guinness Record Award for Most Critically Acclaimed Super Hero Game, BAFTA Game of the Year 2009, the Interactive Achievement Awards for Outstanding Character Performance for Joker, Outstanding Achievement in Game Design and many more. It was also nominated for many awards and the developers Rocksteady Studios got an award for Studio of the Year 2009 at the Spike Video Game Awards.
You'll guard Joker on a nice stroll to his cell, but not for long.
Batman has captured Joker and he is being returned to his rightful home: Arkham Asylum, the house for the criminally insane. However, Joker never gives in so easily and Batman is suspicious. He follows Joker to see that he is properly locked up for good, but of course, other plans are in the works. Joker manages to escape and locks Batman inside Arkham Asylum alongside all the crazy criminals that the Dark Knight has caught in the past. Batman must escape, recapture Joker yet again and stop his plans before citizens get hurt.
The story progresses through witnessing great moments and traversing the Arkham Asylum island while the player learns more about the Joker's plans. Along the way, you'll meet many villains like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc and you receive assistance from different allies like The Oracle and Commissioner James Gordon.
Many enemies available to get your hands dirty with.
Gameplay is melee focused with many stealth elements mixed in, through a third-person view. There are many gadgets available to help you from the beginning, such as the standard batarang and the grappling hook, which will get you to higher places. As you progress further, you'll unlock additional gadgets like the Explosive Gel, the Batclaw and the Cryptographic Sequencer. Each of these fun tools can also be upgraded via points you earn from defeating enemies.
The stealth portion of the game involves concealment from enemies and defeating them without drawing attention or alerting other surrounding foes. Having the option to use stealth is entertaining, as there are many ways to hide and use your gadgets at your disposal. Finally, there is the detective mode where you can scan for evidence and other points of interest, and get clues for what you should do next.
The gameplay is simple, yet solid and addictive. The gadgets serve their purpose well and it’s apparent that there was great effort put forth into making this game, as each gadget is encouraged to be used carefully, and with perfect timing at certain opportunities.
You can even see enemies through walls and if they hold weapons.
The graphics is fittingly dark; enemies consist of many variations and their animations are realistic, as they dodge hits or confront the Caped Crusader straight on. Batman’s appearance is strong and bold, especially obvious when he stands near Joker, who looks frail and vulnerable, but we all know that we shouldn’t mistake that for weakness. Fans will appreciate the interesting and unique designs of each character, specifically the villains—and to see them interact with Batman makes the game more than worthwhile to play. The environment includes amazing detail as well, from the inside of the prison to the gardens outside, as the gothic influences emphasize the ongoing theme throughout the campaign.
The soundtrack has many orchestrated pieces suited for certain moments in the game, putting forth a great experience while playing the campaign. Many voice actors from the old Batman: The Animated Series came to reprise their roles: Kevin Conroy as the Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. Each of them gave the game a nostalgic feeling for fans who watched the old show, especially the laughs of Joker will send shivers down your spine.
Arkham Asylum: definitely not the happiest place on earth.
It's one of the best superhero videogames and requires little-to-no knowledge of the Batman universe to enjoy the many hours of gameplay. With copious side quests, stealth combat and a great attention to detail, both fans and newbies to the Batman storyline will undoubtedly be captivated.