By Alex Jarvis
Have you ever run into someone you knew a long time ago, only to be suddenly and unpredictably knocked off your feet by them now? All their previous faults have melted away in their new form, and suddenly all you can do is comment on how great they look (and how, like, maybe you want to, I don’t know, hang out later, or something)? In a Nutshell, that is what Batman: Arkham Asylum has accomplished.
Released on Aug. 25, Arkham Asylum follows the story of our intrepid caped crusader returning the Clown Prince of Crime to his Jail cell on Arkham Asylum. Non-nerds, take note: while only a passing knowledge of Batman and his rogue’s gallery is required, if you have no idea who Batman is or why he does what he does, this game will not offer explication.
On the contrary, if you are a dedicated Batman fan, you are rewarded for your Saturday nights spent alone: the game’s additional collection feature gives you serious depth into the corollary villains (Firefly! Tweedle Dee/Dum! MAXIE ZEUS!) and serious depth in the form of patient interviews with his top caliber rogues.
But, Geekdom aside, the game offers a stunning amount of gameplay depth that basically focuses around two mechanics: the stylistic dance of combat (almost similar to God of War) and a stealth action game, similar to Splinter cell.
These two basic themes (combined with the sleuthing of the World’s Greatest Detective) extrapolate in interesting ways throughout the game, with new gadgets and abilities complimenting and improving upon them. In one particular stealth scenario, I took out a wall with explosive gel to alert the henchmen that I was there, strung up the first person to arrive on scene (upside down, from a gargoyle) to check them out. Even cooler, when his friends realized what had happened, I cut him down from the line, terrifying them into a state of paranoid shock.
I am scared to sound like a fanboy, but if you are a Batman fan, this is the game you have been waiting for. If you are not, then the problems you will have with the game are likely the ones you would have with the comic book genre in general – soft science, insane plans actually going right, etc…
However, I recommend you all sit back and enjoy the game for what it is: the pinnacle of the Comic Book game, one that provided an interesting story, a satisfying conclusion, and loads of replay value (in both finding all the various clues in the Asylum, and a wealth of Challenge modes to test your combat/stealth skills after the game). Go on. Walk a mile in the Dark Knight’s industrial combat-ready boots. You’ll have a laugh.