Monday, September 21, 2009

Video Game Review – Batman : Arkham Asylum (PS3)

Last week as I was meeting my wife after work, I stopped in at a Game Stop for the first time in ages to kill some time. I’m what you would call a “Lazy Gamer”. I pick up about 1 or 2 new games a year, usually after they drop seriously in price. I don’t typically feel the need to pick up games right away…except this time.

While standing there reading the case for Batman : Arkham Asylum my wife walked in and, knowing that I had a rough week, asked if I wanted a new toy. Absolutely :-)

Being a huge Batman fan, this game is just too much fun. It’s the closest thing to being Batman without getting off of your couch. The game starts off with a fairly lengthy sequence of walking along next to the guards as they wheel Joker into Arkham Asylum for the umpteenth time. During this scene something sounds familiar. Yes Bat-fans, that is the voice of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker, both reprising their brilliant voice roles from Batman the Animated Series and Justice League. Arleen Sorkin also reprises her voice work for Harley Quinn. Hearing Conroy and Hamill helps to sell the game as grounded in the Batman world that we’re used to.

The first level is like most games, a training ground used to teach you the basics. After that, the serious fun begins. The Free-Flow Combat System is very easy to use and makes the game more enjoyable. There’s not a lot of technical button combos to memorize, you just point Batman at a bad guy, hit the buttons and he kicks ass. You can use the Grappling Gun to evade enemies and move from level to level. Batarangs and explosives also enter the arsenal at your disposal with more slots for gadgets later in the game.

One big plus in this game is the ability to switch into Detective Mode at any time. This helps you identify enemies and their levels, clues, and secrets.

The first real big bad guy that you go up against is Scarecrow, and I have to say that this level scared the shit out of me. He infects you with his fear toxin right away and then it dives into insanity.

Game graphics are incredible and the character designs are excellent. Movement and scene transitions are pretty fluid and I haven’t experienced any sort of lag at all. There is also a Challenge Mode where you perform different scenarios while competing against the clock or your previous best time. These are very useful in honing your skills to improve gameplay. I’m only about 15% complete on the game right now but I am completely hooked. I just beat Bane which took a while to figure out, but I’m looking forward to what is coming next.

I would highly recommend this game to any Batman fan since you can role play a bit and utilize stealth, martial arts and gadgets to get the job done.

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