Batman: Arkham Asylum Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC
Combat is fast and fluid
Combat is fast and fluid

Combat is fast and fluid

For the most part stealth is handled really well, but from time to time evading enemies can cause a few problems. Batman isn't able to jump at all times, with a single button (X on the PS3, A on the 360) having different uses depending on the position he's in and what he's next to. If he's stood in front of a platform he'll climb it, if he's on the ground he'll roll and if he's in the air holding it down will spread his wings and let him glide. Issues crop up when you're desperately trying to run from gun-carrying enemies (a few shots and it's an early bed time for Batman) and you need to hop over obstacles - unless you time it well he'll just roll into the wall, and it's very easy to get caught in a frustrating loop of almost-guaranteed death.

Enemy variety is excellent, with the standard goons coming in a spread of forms (standard goon, club-carrying goon, knife-carrying goon, electric-prod-carrying goon and gun-carrying goon), and you'll need to use different tactics on each if you're going to fuel your combo meter and take them down without being hit. It's the numerous bosses that really steal the show, though. Rocksteady gives you time to get to know each of your main foes before having a final confrontation, with some having lengthy periods of build up spread across numerous rooms. You're rarely just thrown into a fight without any prior encounters, making the showdowns far more entertaining. The majority of villains are completely outshone by The Joker, but that's not to say they're bad - he's just one of the best video game characters we've seen in some time.

Boss fights themselves aren't hugely original, but they do make sense for each enemy, and you'll often need to use their strengths against them in some way. Scarecrow is also worthy of a special mention, although his sections are split between some utterly superb altered-reality scenarios and some dated and less-than-thrilling "don't get caught by the spotlight" gameplay. When you're playing through areas as Batman high on Scarecrow's gas you'll likely be surprised by what Rocksteady has thought up. At times it's scary, unsettling and upsetting, but then you're transported to another world in which you need to play through the basic stealth sections that are more or less repeated throughout the game.

Using the Unreal Engine 3, Rocksteady has created a stunning looking game. Arkham Island is incredible to walk around, the characters are highly detailed and emotive, and it all runs without any noticeable slowdown. Few games manage to seamlessly switch between fast-flowing combat and considered sleuthing, but Rocksteady has been able to do it here with aplomb. If there's a criticism of the presentation, and we're really being picky here, it's that some of the world feels a bit lifeless, without many objects that can be physically interacted with. No doubt we'll be on the end of some hate here, but the acting is also a bit varied. While all the villains are top class, headed by Mark Hamill as The Joker, Batman suffers from some wooden delivery and iffy lines. The musical score can't be faulted though, setting the mood and never feeling out of place.

The boss fights are largely excellent

The boss fights are largely excellent

It's a shame that the game has to end, but when it does you'll no doubt have more to see and do. For one, there are a tonne of collectable items to find that will keep you exploring for ages, with Riddler trophies, inmate interviews and more to be found. There's also a set of challenges that test your combat and stealth skills, with scores registered on worldwide leaderboards for all to see and compete against. While not as engaging as the campaign, for many these challenge rooms will offer the same amount of play time, if not more, and we'd be highly surprised if Eidos doesn’t add to these through premium DLC.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is everything you'd want from a Batman video game. It takes the licence and uses it in ways that make sense both for the character and for a game, giving players the chance to become one of the most popular super heroes of all time. There are a few niggling issues, but nothing that gets in the way of what is undoubtedly one of the best games of 2009. Whether you fancy skulking in the shadows, smashing slow motion fists in into a goon's skull, or simply using some cool gadgets, you can do no wrong with what is Eidos' best game in years.

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14 Comments

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kamoflage's Avatar

kamoflage

I'm about two thirds of the way through so far and can't really fault it. The characters are great and its the best comic book adaptation by a country mile. In particular the scenes with the Scarecrow are terrific - very surreal and imaginative.

There are parts that remind me of the Splinter Cell series and then other areas that are Uncharted-esque.
Posted 01:11 on 07 September 2009
Danish_k's Avatar

Danish_k

I have played this game on my PS3 got inspired by this review made here: http://forums.techarena.in/reviews/1241607.htm
The graphical interface made in this game is quite outstanding and I am loving plying this game at the moment.
Posted 13:17 on 04 September 2009
Joey_Bananas's Avatar

Joey_Bananas

Really enjoyed the game. It seemed to fly by too fast though. Might be down to the pacing all the reviews have talked about. I hope that the little "scene" after the credits points towards some DLC single player content for the game in the future like GTA IV has done to great success. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
Posted 23:35 on 28 August 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ rbevanx

LOL
Posted 19:46 on 28 August 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Karlius

Batman adds twenty to me Karlius lol.
Posted 18:27 on 28 August 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

I do think i'll love it just playing some games to catch up on those i've not completed or started before halo odst arrives. Plus just ordered v festival 2010 tickets after this years fun. I'll get this at Christmas.
Posted 16:15 on 28 August 2009
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Karlius

Karl - I really think this game is your cup of tea mate - judging on past games we have both really enjoyed. Plenty to find and collect too.
Posted 15:02 on 28 August 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ rbevanx

In your eyes shouldn't this game be worth a tenner Bev as it uses the Unreal 3 engine#?

Looks awesome, great review as per usual!

Will have to pick it up sooner or later!
Posted 14:50 on 28 August 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx

Mine has arrived in the post today from Play.com.
Posted 16:50 on 27 August 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Yeah apologies for that but I can't edit my posts for some reason and I've not been able to post on this page, except the first one and hopefuly this post.

Problem appears to be rectified now.

Good work all round.

You'se do look alike though, though I'm prob not the first to say so.
Posted 15:26 on 27 August 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good review. Its a great game, and I'm not that far into the game at all. I have stopped it before the 4 guards, like in the demo.

I have been laughing at some of Jokers comments in the game. He easily nicks the spotlight from Batman.
Posted 15:12 on 27 August 2009
jtorry's Avatar

jtorry

El-Dev, I'd edit your post. Tom gets angry when he's called James.
Posted 15:11 on 27 August 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Great review Tom, was worried that there wouldn't be enough depth to the gameplay that was in the demo to make this a worthwhile purchase day one but I'll try an pick this up at some point this evenin if I can find somewhere selling it.
Posted 14:03 on 27 August 2009
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Good review, far more balanced than some of those magazine reviews out there.
Posted 14:01 on 27 August 2009

Game Stats

Batman: Arkham Asylum
9
Out of 10
Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Great mix of gameplay styles
  • Superb presentation
  • Loads to collect
  • Not being able to jump causes problems
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/08/2009
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 3,129 674
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