The up-and-down Batman gaming franchise has returned once more, this time on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 platforms, but will Arkham Asylum be able to satisfy hungry gamers looking for a good Batman game?
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It's A Madhouse: The story of Batman: Arkham Asylum begins as Batman is escorting his famed rival, The Joker, to the Arkham Asylum after he escaped from the high-security facility. The Arkham Asylum is like any insane asylum, where various doctors look to understand more about the famous villains Batman has encountered and why they look to wreak havoc on Gotham City.After bringing The Joker back into Arkham Asylum, he ends up pulling a trick out of his sleeve and escaping once more, this time staying within the Asylum in an attempt to lure Batman to his doom. Throughout the course of the game, The Joker releases other inmates in the Asylum that are all looking for Batman's head on a silver platter. You will see everyone from Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and The Riddler, to lesser-known Batman criminals such as Bane, Scarecrow and Killer Croc. The plot in Arkham Asylum is not half bad and as you progress through the game you will be somewhat interested in the next step of the storyline, but unfortunately after just a short time there seems to be too little focus on the narrative, sometimes going an hour before you even get to watch another cutscene.
Looking Good: The visuals in Batman: Arkham Asylum are a very strong area in this title, as you will be treated to high-resolution environments, characters and objects. Most everything in the game is highly detailed and this is easily the best-looking Batman game to ever be released.In addition to the environmental glory of the graphics, all of the characters you will see and encounter are very polished and meticulously detailed, from small cuts on Batman's high-tech suit, down to stripes on The Joker's outfit. As well as the graphical display, the voice work in Arkham Asylum is quite impressive. Every character in the game has brilliant voice work backing them and you will be hard pressed to find any problems with the voiceovers in this title. The sound effects you will hear however, are not so...breathtaking. You will hear the cliche "snap" and "toosh" every time you attack an enemy, and while it is not entirely realistic perhaps it was meant as a throwback to the days where a "KaBlam!" sign would pop up on screen while watching the old TV show...
The Joker Is Sick Indeed: The gameplay in Batman: Arkham Asylum is sure to split gamers into two camps. People who like it, and people who don't. The gameplay in Arkham Asylum is rather unique and is something we here at Krakrabbit have not often seen before.It is a mix between an episode of CSI and acting as a mouse in a maze, with a little Assassin's Creed thrown into. That unique combination makes for a rather odd...flavored gameplay blend that is bound to gather mixed responses. The biggest thing to note about Batman: Arkham Asylum is that this title is not your typical "action" game where you are fighting off wave after wave of enemies in a series of intense, action-packed battles. For the most part of the game you will be playing cat and mouse with The Joker and his goons. During the game, you will often be using your "Detective Mode", which allows you to follow trails left by key characters as well as see weak points or possibly entrances in buildings. When you are not in Detective Mode, you will be following a map very closely to find your next objective, or, at times, you will simply be wondering around the level looking for something specific that will allow you to move on. As well as aimlessly wondering around your environment, you will also be tasked with playing "Hero" to everyone and everything that has even the slightest bit of importance. From rescuing three different doctors on opposite sides of a building, to backtracking through an entire level looking for a door, do not expect to blow through this game in a timely fashion. In addition, if you are not following trails of somebody's bad breath, you will often be spending a lot of time in small vents and ducts around various buildings. Apparently Batman likes to travel like a rat, as you will constantly be subjected to watching Batman pull the a grate off, duck down and crawl through a maze of vents and ducts until he magically drops where he needs to be. Sometimes it is seemingly impossible to tell where you are going though, and as is the norm in this game, you will at times wonder aimlessly hoping to find you way.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz: When you do finally get some flashes of being able to combat some opposition, you may find that the combat system in Arkham Asylum takes a few cues from Assassin's Creed. The main form of combat in both games is to wait for your rival to attack first, then counter his attack and strike with your own.The difference between Assassin's Creed and Arkham Asylum is that Assassin's Creed's combat was very visceral and intense, even when countering. In Arkham Asylum there is no thrill, and no challenge, battling even upwards of seven to eight foes at a time. Now, we are not saying we hate the gameplay in Arkham Asylum, but truth be told, we simply found it to be a bit boring. Others may feel differently about the gameplay, but we thought that the constant backtracking, dull combat and at times senseless wondering killed much of the enjoyment in this title.
Rent vs. Buy: Batman: Arkham Asylum had its ups and downs, as with every other game in the shaky comic-book gaming franchise. With that said, we do feel that the series is improving (if ever so slightly) but this one just didn't do it for us.The unexciting combat, inconsistent levels and just plain boring overall gameplay easily overshadowed what strengths this game had. It came closer then any other installment in the franchise at being a decent Batman game, but still fell short.
Batman: Arkham Asylum had its ups and downs, as with every other game in the shaky comic-book gaming franchise. It came closer then any other installment in the franchise at being a decent Batman game, but still fell short.
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