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Batman: Arkham Asylum

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I don’t remember it raining that much…

For a mere $5, I downloaded this gem from the Playstation Store during their Steam Summer Sale knockoff. And boy, was it well worth my lunch money. I’m not a Batman purist or anything. The extent of my Batman knowledge comes from the latest Christopher Nolan trilogy because I tagged along with my husband to see them. Therefore, I’m in no position to comment on how this game follows the comic lore. I’d heard the Arkham games were fun, and for $5 I was willing to check one out.

I have little criticism for this game. I’m going to come out and say the graphics and visuals were great. I loved the voice acting and designs for the characters as well, even though Harley Quinn looked like a super skanky cheerleader on speed. She was hilarious, by the way. I was sad when she bowed out of the narrative. While the bosses and Batman staple characters looked great, Joker’s goons that you fight throughout the entire game were pretty boring.You seriously fight them all the way through, even during the final boss fight. I was hoping for more interesting Titan transformations I guess.

The surroundings managed to stay relatively fresh, even when I found myself revisiting the same areas through the narrative. Instead of being really lazy, they made changes or cut off certain areas to force you to explore more. And no glitches! None! The game ran smoothly, with understandable loading screens. The music wasn’t very impressionable, I will say that.

I enjoyed the gameplay and battle system. For video games that I play on my own limited time, I am relieved when I can pick up the controller five days later and still remember how to play. Look at it this way: it took me a month to finish an 8-10 hour game. When fighting goons, you have two primary attack buttons. When leveling (a simple, to the point leveling system, might I add!) you can slowly add variations to the combat. I flung out my batarang during battle just for fun. The batclaw was great for taking down the annoying goons with the stun rods. I got the inverted takedown, which is really situational so I didn’t get to use it as much as I would’ve liked. You basically have to be perched on a gargoyle, undetected, and wait for one of Joker’s henchmen to walk underneath you. Then Batman strings them up in the air, which almost always made me chuckle.

Speaking of gargoyles, I’m not entirely sure how swinging back and forth between them makes the enemies lose track of Batman. It’s pretty obvious he’s there. I mean, just look at the big black cloak flapping in the air. I’m sure it was the best improvisation they could come up with at the time. Otherwise, enemies will just shoot at you until kingdom come because Batman won’t use a gun for whatever reason.

During Arkham Asylum you fight toe-to-toe with many Batman baddies, who even I recognized. I found the boss fights to be experimental and different, but not in the frustrating way. The encounters with Scarecrow were my favorites. I enjoyed each one. I’m not entirely happy with how he was “defeated.” Aside from the Scarecrow encounters, expect to be using your batarang a lot.

Batman’s arsenal of gadgets and tools was fun to tinker around with. I upgraded the batarang a lot because I wanted to be able to hit 3 goons at once and I also wanted to control it as it flew just like Xena’s chakram in her PS1 game. Batman’s tools do have some battle applications, but the bulk of their usage comes with exploring the asylum. You can grapple and blow walls up to your heart’s content. Why would you want to? Well, all sorts of goodies are scattered and hidden throughout the game in places like alcoves and sewer grates. You’ll find patient files (There’s a Calendar Man? Really??), Chronicles of Arkham tidbits, interview tapes (some of them are pretty disturbing) and, my personal favorite, Riddler trophies. Collecting trophies and solving his riddles elicits some great responses from the Riddler. It was a great distraction. I would try solving his riddles just to hear his snide comments. Collecting Riddler’s hidden goodies unlocks different Challenge modes and stuff that I admittedly didn’t experiment with.

Batman: Arkham Asylum was an entertaining game to pick up and play for an hour or so whenever I had the time. It isn’t a long, involved game, though it does have a plethora of extra things to do if you’re willing. I, for one, enjoyed my brief time with Arkham Asylum and am totally open to experiencing the other game as well.

-Shena

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