Batman: Arkham Asylum review

Game: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Time Played: 21 Hours
Difficulty: Normal
Verdict: Game with a powerful, perfect name, Bats

Where to begin? It's safe to say that I was more than mildly surprised. I admit, I had fallen victim to stereotype that path of comic book --> movie --> game is very bad.

Stereotypes are wrong and dumb, says Batman. Yet he refuses to listen to voice of reason and psychology, and classifies all super criminals as bad guys. Shoo. Shoo! I say. It's Batman and he does whatever he wants because he has deep sexy voice, upgradables and critical strike.

There is absolutely nothing to criticize in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Okay, one short-coming is that it doesn't provide enough info about how a certain part of the game works, meaning that you are trying to solve a puzzle, which you won't be able to until you get a certain bad-ass gadget later in the game. But nobody tells you that. So maybe you get frustrated a little bit. Maybe you get so immersed in the story that you thought you possessed the strength of that man in black bat-suit. Maybe you need a new screen and to glue back together some buttons. That's it. The game is otherwise a mind-blowing, well created experience. 

The story is Batman-worthy. It's non stop action, humour, filled with well-known super criminals from Gotham, with perfect voice-acting. Joker is as always hyperactive and crazy, and so well done, that I want to be like him in real life (let's see how well this works during my next job interview). A few other well-known super-villains turn up from Gotham, but let's not add any other spoilies. Every single cut-scene or bits of speech that constantly happen throughout the game are a marvel. These are so well written and acted, that they never fail to excite you and put a big smile on you at the same time (I imagine this makes people more beautiful). The story takes place in Arkham Asylum, and you can always see Gotham City in the background with its tempting lights. You can't go there, but you don't need to either: the Asylum is big, filled with secrets to find.

The part about secrets is what impressed me the most. Usually in games you have various objects you find to unlock achievements, get a higher score, or whatever. Here, these secrets unlock small pieces of story, which is not essential to what is going on, but add smaller details and background information, like biographies and recorded interviews of super-villains. Plus tons of facts and infos. This adds a flavor to everything. And best of all, it actually gives you a meaningful drive to look for these secrets and solve them, not because you are hunting an achievement, but because you are curious. Not many games do this, but all of them should learn from Batman. After finishing the game, I went back to find all the remaining secrets I had missed (Yes, the game allows you to do that with all areas and upgrades unlocked. Kudos).

How the game plays, is pretty straightforward, and doesn't give much choice in approach, but that is by no means a short-coming. You are put in control of Batman. Batman decides what and how. So you have to deal with it. That means a mix of sneakiness and very serious ass-kicking. UH!

How does this game play on PC, you ask? I don't know. My hands and fingers are trained for Starcraft, I can mostly deal with anything (look at me, being all bad-ass). I didn't meet any difficulties with pushing buttons, it all felt comfortable. One or two of the boss-fights were a little bit frustrating because of problems with auto-aim (couldn't choose my target), but that seemed random and solved itself rather quickly. Graphics, you ask? Beaaaautiful. The asylum island is well composed. It's always dark, but light enough to show off all the details. Most importantly, the graphics do a very good job at enriching the atmosphere, and that is always a design success.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is super-filled with content from start to end (even the credits!), has a funny, motivating and interesting story, and non-stop action. Put all that together and it feels and plays like a comic book. Everything in the game makes sense, and the most unique part (in games) is that the story doesn't sound like it is written for a 5 year old. It's smart and treats player with respect. This means that there is no narrative-voice that breaks down every part of the story in simple sentences as if you were a toddler. Instead most of it is told through dialogues and implications. So it can be a good idea to stop and listen for a while.

I wish people who made this game into its wholesome reality made more games based on well-known stories out there. Make a True Blood game. A Black Company game. A Game of Thrones game. A Dexter game! C'mon!

I was strolling way above speed limit in my Batmobile that night, and little did I know..

..That I would get a good insight in how well an insane asylum works, fly like a bird in the air and float like a dump in a sewer, hump gargoyles, read about and meet a selection of world's most interesting personalities, and hear a good your-mother joke.

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