Batman: Arkham Asylum Review for PS3

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This is the Batman game you've always wanted
This is the Batman game you've always wanted

This is the Batman game you've always wanted

Super heroes appeal because they are usually men and women who are capable of extraordinary things. There's an element of wishing you had those abilities, whether it be Spider-man's tingling spider-sense, Superman's flight or Wolverine's regeneration, but some super heroes aren't really so super. Batman is just your average, rich, man who's made himself into something better, using his intellect, detective skills and the latest gadgets to give him an edge over his foes. So if he's just an ordinary man why has it been so hard to make a successful video game about the Caped Crusader? We've had the odd flash in the pan down the years, but only now with Eidos and Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum do we have a game that really does Bats justice.

If you haven't been following Arkham Asylum over its development, the set up couldn't be simpler: Batman is transporting arch enemy The Joker to the asylum, with the grinning one tightly secured in the back of the Batmobile. On entering the secure facility, in an opening sequence reminiscent of that seen in Starbreeze's excellent The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, there's a sense of unease. Surely nothing can help The Joker get out of this one… or can it? It seems it was all a devious plan and soon enough The Joker is free, running Arkham Island with a whole load of goons doing his bidding.

As we touched on earlier, Batman isn't a man with great strength. He can't fire lasers from his eyes and he doesn't have the ability to stretch; he's a man who uses his smarts to find clues at crime scenes, uses gadgets to traverse the environment in ways normal men can't, fights with the skill of the best martial artists and lurks in the shadows while stalking his foes. This all had to be part of Arkham Asylum in order for the game to be a true Batman experience, and it is. No game before has let you step into the shoes of Batman like this.

Combat is as good a place to start as any, with hand-to-hand brawling making up a large portion of the overall experience. Rather than overcomplicating things with a God of War or even Ninja Gaiden-style system, Rocksteady has implemented a smart three-button control scheme that is easy to pick up but takes some time to get truly great at. Punches and kicks are mapped to one face button, counter attack to another, and stun to a third. Enemies come at Bats from all sides, so it's essential to use the left analogue stick to direct his attacks in combination with a face button.

The Joker steals every scene he's in

The Joker steals every scene he's in

Early on you'll need little more than the main attack button and the odd well-timed counter - enemies handily display a clear marker above their heads when they're about to attack. It's all about timing rather than button mashing, and soon you'll settle into a rhythm and pull off some stunning moves, ending in glorious slow motion finishers. As you progress you'll gain new moves, unlocked in the upgrades menu in exchange for points earned through general play. One key ability is the takedown, which lets the Dark Knight incapacitate fallen enemies so they don't get back up. What matters is that it feels great, fitting snugly between the slightly too basic counter combat in Assassin's Creed and the best examples in the hack 'n' slash genre.

Fisticuffs is just one aspect of combat in the game though, with a wealth of gadgets at Bats' disposal should you want to use them. The Batarang is the first you'll get your hands on, with the game offering a quick throw that auto targets the most significant object or enemy on screen and a manual aim. In its most basic form it's good for temporarily knocking down enemies and cutting down objects that are out of reach, but later on you'll be able to upgrade to get hold of Sonic Batarangs that send goons off searching for them, and multi Batarangs that allow Bats to target numerous enemies at once. Towards the end of the game you'll have so many gadgets and weapons that you won't always see the obvious solution to a problem even if it's staring at you in the face. The Batclaw lets you pull down ventilation shaft grates that are just out of reach, but this is eventually upgraded to pull down weak structures, and there's a slight variation that forms a zip rope between two solid walls - oh, and you can also use the claw to pull enemies off their feet, too.

There's just an abundance of options. When assessing any situation, Batman's main tool is his detective vision - an enhanced viewing mode that highlights key objects that can be interacted with, the location of enemies (even if they're behind walls), and whether or not an enemy is carrying a weapon. By using this info you're able to plan your attacks, whether it is a straightforward assault through the front door or a more considered series of stealthy swoops down from the rafters, dispatching foes one at a time. A favourite technique of ours is to swoop down and knock out an enemy, spray some explosive gel on his location, retreat to cover, wait for his buddies to investigate and then blow the gel. It's sneaky, but it gets the job done.

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14 Comments

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User Comments

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: 4,222 23
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