Sunday, October 25, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum on PS3 Impression

Batman: Arkham Asylum on PS3
Just as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight made movie going Batman fans forger the sins of the past so too will Batman: Arkham Asylum aid gamers in the less than stellar previous Bats gaming offerings. The stigma of comic super hero games was one mediocrity at best, controller smashing at worst. Marvel has fixed this issue for the most part with solid Spider-Man and Ultimate Alliance titles but DC has remained in the dark. To escape the dark use one who lives in the dark, thus it fell on an out of the blue Batman adventure to show DC can do it right, and do it so well that this is indeed a game of the year candidate. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why …

Gameplay – It’s Batman in a third-person, very Metal Gear Solid-ish, adventure with a Metroid type level setup. Gamers take control of the Dark Knight as he returns Joker to Arkham. The trap is sprung and now it’s Bats turn to round up all the inmates and return Joker to his cell. Gamers utilize a slew of bat-gadgets and stalks the Jokers henchmen, some armed, other not. Combat is one button with counters, done quite excellent. A detective mode allows Batman to follow forensics trails, check crime-scenes and do a few other tricks CSI would be envious of. Outside the single-player game there are various challenge modes to engage in, set high-scores and log scores online, great re-playability.

Graphics – Unique designs for all of Batman’s foes from the sultry Poison Ivy to Bane. The characters look outstanding and while the inmates are all cookie cutter they each sport unique detail in their molds. Batman looks incredible as his outfit gets tattered from combat and it seems like he even needs to shave as the adventure continues. The levels sport outstanding detail and Gotham in the distance seems real enough to visit. In both detective and regular mode this is one outstanding looking title. A nice touch with the character profiles unlocked by finding gaming secrets is the original DC art for each.

Sound – Thank you Luke Skywalker. You are the best Joker EVER! Mark Hamill continues his role as the ‘official’ voice of the Joker and from Batman to Harley Quinn each character is the same seen in the animated series. The background music is good, but the voice actors show their professionalism and make gamers feel like they are playing a movie and not a game with afterthought voice work.

Design – The characters look outstanding but the levels, Arkham itself, is a character in and of itself. After completing the introduction level and coming out on a cliff above Arkham gamers are treated to an asylum that is detailed, unique and haunting. The history of the asylum is everywhere to be seen. The Metroid comparison comes from each level being unlocked as gamer’s progress, certain weapons and upgrades needed to access secrets. Gamers must, and will, want to retrace their steps.

Miscellaneous – The Riddler, how you challenge the cranium. Like many games of its type, Arkham Asylum offers unlockables and these are accomplished in various Riddler Challenges. There are trophies to collect which unlock character models and more as well as hidden symbols which tell the history of Arkham and interview tapes for each inmate. Beating the Joker is only one goal for gamers, the other, I’d say primary objective for fans is going Secret Origins on the story and characters, there is a lot to be learned and unlocked.

Overall, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a must have for any Batman fan and for fans of titles like Metal Gear Solid. The gameplay is superb, graphics outstanding, voice work the best there is and overall package just way too much to pass up on for adventure gamers. Get the message or do we need to flash a bat signal in your face to convince you?

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