Batman Arkham Asylum – Review
I had been holding onto this game for months, rented from GameAccess.ca, as I’d been fairly busy with work and planning and taking my scuba vacation in the Bahamas. The World of Warcraft expansion also came out but I haven’t been playing that, sadly I bought it and played less than 5 hours total so far. Anyway, I finally got around to playing Batman at the beginning of January and I’m glad I did.
Honestly the game isn’t much different from something like Uncharted, where you run around, solve puzzles and beat up bad guys. Where the game really excels is in making you feel like batman, even when the bad guys catch you with a lucky hit it doesn’t really faze him that much and you continue to kick butt. He eventually has all the cool toys he needs to acquire any trophy/collectible in the game, and part of the fun is seeing something that you know you can’t get to now but will afterward. This does lead to possibly needless backtracking just so you can get a trophy in a section you couldn’t get before (if you are a completionist like I am).
The visual style of the game is absolutely great, it’s a bit cartoony, but more real looking than an actual cartoon and really plays into the feeling you are a comic book hero. Mark Hamill is fantastic as the Joker, as always, and really all the voice talent is extremely impressive.
What I loved most about Batman Arkham Asylum were the puzzles. Typically extrinsic motivators fall flat with me, and maybe if there wasn’t a bonus of XP gain from finding/solving Riddler challenges I might not have been so anxious about solving as many up front, but I went back after I beat the game to find the last few because they were fun to figure out. Some of them the challenge was that you could see what you had to pick up but weren’t sure how to get to them, and some you didn’t know where they were but had to solve the riddle, those were my favourite and I’m glad I didn’t look up any of the answers on the internet because that always starts a slippery slope. I think this is the right way to do collectibles in game, don’t punish someone for not finding them all, make enough of them so out in the open that you nearly trip over them, and make them fun to find.
I am not the sort of person who plays the same game over and over anymore (when you are a kid and only have one game, you play the crap out of it), other than MMOs which fake you into thinking you are playing a different game just by going into a different dungeon, so I don’t mind that there is very little replay value in Batman. For me it just reinforces the value of game rental services, because I don’t know what I’d do now with this game sitting on my shelf (other than be a constant reminder that I supported the development of a kick ass game).
I cannot wait until the new Batman Arkham Island comes out, it will be top of my GameAccess queue.