Batman: Arkham Asylum

Review

posted 9/22/2009 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
It's not just combat that is done well in Batman as he's also the world's greatest detective. With that, you are provided with a set of tools to do some sleuthing around Arkham Asylum island. By activating detective mode, you'll change the view of the screen where many electronic layovers will give you information on what you see. For example, you can see enemy skeletons through walls and also if they are holding any weapon. It's reminiscent of The Dark Knight's end sequence where Christian Bale turns all the cell phones into a sort of echolocation system. No matter where enemies hide, you'll be able to spot them in detective mode. Walls that can be destroyed with explosive gel will also be outlined as well as a view of what's behind it. Sometimes you'll need to examine objects in this view so you can calibrate your cowl to detect a certain compound. You're not going to be fighting all the time as these little activities of searching out various clues plays an important role in the game and it's nice to see that Rocksteady incorporate and aspect of Batman that not many other games tend to do. Yes, he's a great fighter but he's also very intelligent as well and he does use it to solve crimes with.

As Batman, you can play him in a few different ways but going against enemies head on when they have guns is almost always suicide. So, having him jump around and maneuver from high ground to other high grounds while setting up ambush points really gives you a feeling of being a hunter of these criminals. When you go into detective mode and see the enemies first, they all have normal heart beat rates and are relatively calm. Lay out one of their own and go into hiding, you'll see their beats per minute raise up significantly and their demeanor change to panicking. The game does a great job and mixing up ways for you to play Batman so you aren't always constantly just going into battle head first. You'll do plenty of that but the game mixes in stealth with great success as the easiest ways to take down criminals is to sneak up and silently dispatch them or to drop down from above and grab them away from their colleagues.


Batman's known for his gadgets as well and here you get some, to quote Jack Nicholson, wonderful toys to use. Besides his detective mode vision, you'll start out with your trusty batarang whereby you can use to activate switches, take out small items, and stun enemies. Also, he'll have his trusty grapple that can carry him to areas not reachable by normal means. If you've seen the cartoon or movie you know he uses it a lot to save himself from falls and the game incorporates that as well. Normally a fall into an area meant for death would see your character plummet without any means of recourse. Should this happen in Arkham Asylum, you're prompted to press the F button as quickly to save yourself. If successful, you'll see Batman catch himself and climb back to a safe area which makes jumping puzzles in the game a lot less frustrating. Thanks Rocksteady for this! As you progress through the game more items are added to your arsenal. Updates to your grappling hook, batarang, and additional items are included in at a nice pace so you get to experience each one for a good amount of time. A lot of the gadgets also have multiple uses so they aren't just there for one purpose. For example, the grapple can be used to latch onto a metal grate in front of a vent that's out of reach and then pulled on to open the vent for Batman to access. It can also be used to grab an enemy and allow Batman to pull the person towards him. The design decision on giving the gadgets multiple uses was a great choice and it goes to show the team knew what they were doing as Batman would be smart enough to use what he has in more ways than one to achieve his goal.

Arkham Asylum's really brought to life in the game and all the gritty, gruesome areas are modeled in extremely high detail in the game. The Unreal Engine does an incredible job at creating visually stunning world where Batman traverses and hunts down his foes. The aritechts have done a marvelous job at creating realistic and great looking structures. Besides that, the texture detail is top notch providing realistic looking items and walls throughout the game. You really have to play the game to appreciate the style and amount of effort put in to creating of what you would think Arkham Asylum really would be like should a place like this exists. What's great about the game is that you are explore the sights of Arkham Asylum if you want to and you should given the amount of work the artists went into modeling and texturing each nook and cranny of the place.
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