I finally completed playing Batman Arkham Asylum last night, and really this game set in the Arkham Madhouse is exhilarating, Rocksteady studios deserve all the accolades in making this game a strong contender for the best game of the year.
The mayhem takes time to start inside the Arkham Asylum, as the Batman is en route to the asylum carrying Joker, he accompanies the guards inside the cell suspecting Joker’s intention as he easily gave in without a fight, Batman surely did not know how dark would the night be ahead for him, as soon as Joker breaks free and takes control of the prison, setting the inmates free, also Batman is poised to encounter battles with other notable Arkham prison Inmates like the Killer Croc, Victor Zsasz, Scarecrow, Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and finally the master mind to the Arkham drama the clown himself.
Batman though being a caped crusader does not have any super powers, this vulnerability of Batman proves to be a big plus for the game, throughout the game Batman does not carry any guns, you would be engaged in hand to hand combat for major portion of the game with the Joker’s thugs, while you swing into action in the hand to hand combat, you will earn XP points completing continuous attack combos, which is real fun, making critical strikes, above all you do not have to memorize multiple attack combos to execute slick action moves, The Free Flow combat feature offers a new perspective to the action in the game.
The hand to hand combat could turn repetitive for some, yet the enemy AI is very good and you encounter armed joker thugs, inmates with stun batons, knives and insane inmates. You would get to play a good mix of stealth attack and a rigorous hand to hand combat battle enough to keep you engaged throughout the game. The Joker has an eye on the bat knowing his whereabouts in the prison, composing the symphony of mayhem perfectly by constantly teasing the Batman, drawing him closer to his trap, The Joker keeps alerting his thugs whenever Batman takes down a prison inmate during the stealth attack levels in the game, Batman can utilize the gargoyles in stealth mode levels to take down enemies either through inverted takedown or silently landing behind them and taking them down quietly, after you complete few initial stages of the game you would encounter thugs with a belt around their necks which would send out a signal to other thugs when batman takes out any inmate in the stealth mode.
Batman also earns upgrades to his armor, and the gadgets that come handy throughout the course of the game, he has gadgets like the Batarang, thankfully with an unlimited supply to temporarily take down joker’s henchmen, cut through ropes, the Batarang comes handy when you want to take down an armed Joker henchman temporarily before you start cleaning up other un-armed henchmen, you have a bat claw that helps you cling on to cliffs, vent openings, an Explosive Gel gun to make way through weak structures, find Riddler Puzzles spread across in the game, as the game progresses you would also be equipped with a Line Launcher helping the batman get to the distance, a decrypter device that comes in handy to hack through the prison security.
I encountered scarecrow fight 3 times in the game, which puts you into a completely different world of hallucinogen-induced nightmares, all you need to do is find your way to the bat signal, to flash the Scarecrow and break his spell, however you need to do this with stealth to escape Scarecrow’s gaze and also face his army of skeletons, some levels are hard to play, there is a level in the game where Joker’s henchmen plant explosives on the gargoyles and you need to be very careful in taking down the enemy because they are more in numbers and you cannot hide in one place for long, you need to keep moving taking down Joker’s clowns one by one, it took me lot of re-tries to complete this level, the final battle with Poison Ivy, and the fight with Joker’s thugs and Titan chemical infected overgrown henchmen before the final Joker fight.
Game graphics are top notch, cut scenes look slick, shading and lights have being handled very well in this dark theme game, it provides an ideal setting for the Bat to execute his stealth attacks and take down enemies crouching and it’s good to hear Kevin Conroy voicing the Batman (A good break from hoarse voice acting by Christian Bale for Batman in recent movies) and Mark Hamill who has performed voice acting for Joker, Riddler is not a part of the game, however there are Riddler challenges which are evenly spread across the game, and you can hear him taunting the Bat, after completion of successful Riddler challenges.
I am not dwelling too much to the game plot in my article, however the game ending opens up the possibility of a sequel, because before the credits roll, you can hear commissioner Gordon’s radio announcing news of a bank heist being carried out by Two-Face and based on alternate endings of the game it has shown Killer Croc, Bane and Scarecrow in the fixed list of batman enemies if the next sequel arrives, I downloaded 2 map packs offered free as downloadable content comprising of 1 map with infinite wave of joker thugs, insane inmates, stun baton equipped inmates, 2 stealth based maps, in which you can time your accomplishment of taking down the enemy and compare your score at online leaderboard for all the maps. I am replaying this game with the batman now equipped with all his gadgets, I am yet to complete Riddlers challenge mode as well.
I really enjoyed my trip to the Arkham Asylum playing as the Batman, you too take a trip to this madhouse if you haven’t, and you will come out with a Joker’s grin guaranteed!