Platform: Xbox 360
Absurdly Specific Genre: Punching evil in the face.
Difficulty: For as good a game as it was, it was pretty easy.I'd give it a 4.
To say that I was skeptical of Arkham Asylum going into it is an understatement. The only other Batman game I had ever played was the Batman Begins licensed game, and that was pretty bad. From the opening cutscene to Arkham Asylum, though, the game sucks you in. I greatly enjoy the "playable cutscene" style of plot advancement, where the game gives you control of the character during a cutscene and lets you look around and move during it. This game features that feature better than just about any game I can think of.
The gameplay is a great mixture of brawling and stealth (the stealth becoming particularly important later, as Joker's henchmen begin to amp up their firepower). There's a real feeling of badassery as you hide in the rafters of rooms, swooping down on the increasingly terrified thugs.
|Currently: Terrified About to be: Unconcious|
While the Joker's nefarious plot is predictably not what it appears at first glance, the plot never really overdoes itself. The voice acting is all fantastic, with Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker) really playing well off of each other (particularly in one fantastic scene earlier in the game, where the Joker stands on a precarious edge and dares Batman to knock him off to his doom. We all know he won't do it, but as the game goes on, you get the feeling that he almost regrets not taking the opportunity). As the Joker takes over more and more of the asylum and reveals more and more of his plan, the stakes do actually feel effectively raised.
The brawling is great, but the boss fights unfortunately lag a little bit, with most of them falling into the "hit the boss with a batarang as he charges you, then wail on him once he runs into the wall". It would've been nice to have boss fights that felt as epic as the game that surrounded them (especially the final boss), but it's a comparatively minor quibble. When you've got a game as smooth and badass as Arkham Asylum, it's tough to argue for better.
|If you're bringing a game like Arkham Asylum, it's a fair trade.|
Other Notable Games in the Arkham Asylum Series: So, there's a fairly high profile sequel to this game, and I got it for Christmas from my brother in law. I haven't played it yet, because I was playing Chrono Trigger, then got busy with other real life concerns. I've heard a lot of good things, and some unsettling things (particularly unsettling, because these are the exact things I was worried about when I heard that Arkham City was going to be more open world. Arkham Asylum was great enough that I'll certainly play it, and I do anticipate that I'll enjoy it, but I can't see it being anywhere near as good as the first game.