Capturing the minds of fans for decades, Batman’s success in videogames has been patchy at best, terrible at worst. Arkham Asylum changes that.
At its core, the game is a straightforward brawler. Additional components like stealth and the variety of gadgets gives the game just enough variety that you won’t get bored of individual pieces.
But developer Rocksteady’s true masterpiece is simply the feel of the game. That’s in most part due to the success of three key areas. Firstly, the visuals are stunning, with character designs worked on by artists at Wildstorm comics and rendered with the Unreal Engine 3. Both the game world and characters are dark, gritty and violent, bringing Batman’s reality to grimy life.
Next is the excellent voiceover work. Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin reprise their roles from Batman: The Animated Series, adding an immediate sense of gravitas. Hamill is a delight as the maniacal Joker but here, cut a little looser in the mature rated game, demonstrating why his Joker is definitive.
Last, but certainly not least is the writing, by Paul Dini. The mind behind the aforementioned cartoon and many Batman comics, Dini brings an authentic feel to the games’ story which is good by both comics and games standards.
Having lavished praise on it, I should clarify that the game is by no means perfect. While the free flow combat works very well in the bulk of the game, boss battles are disappointingly simple and pedestrian. For avid gamers it’s also a bit easy, but if you’re a more casual gamer I’d characterise it as manageable. Just right, really.
In summary, if you like Batman, you should buy this game. If you don’t like Batman, but like games, you should still buy this game.