Thursday, March 4, 2010

Batman: Arkham Asylum - Review

The experience playing Batman: Arkham Asylum was like being strapped into a chair with the controllers attached to your hand while you eyes are glued to the TV. Batman: AA portrays the dark nature of the caped crusader and takes Batman and puts him in Arkham Asylum aka hell's den, all the psychotic foes Batman has ever fought ended up in the asylum, and so you understand that everyone is just waiting to get a piece of him. This is going to be one of the longest nights of Batman and for us its a thriller that gets better the more you go into the game.

The game utilizes all the facets that makes Batman so great. Batman, being the world's greatest detective can turn on his detective mode with L2 button to scan the areas for threats, objects, clues ,etc other wise impossible to detect. Using the help of that vision, Batman can uncover trails left by his prey otherwise hidden.

The combat system touted 'Freeflow' combat to me is the best combat system in any game to date, not only its very easy to pick up with simple Square to attack, Triangle to counter, O to cape stun, X to evade and combine all these with his slick gadgets like batclaw, batarangs in 1 'flow', and it easily bests even the best of Hollywood stunts and just awesome to watch. Simply put the system is very easy to pick up, but very powerful if you can master it.

Another part of the combat is the signature Batman style of taking out his foes like a predator, appropriately named predator encounters. A room filled with goons with guns which is not good for someone as human as batman, so he lurks in the shadows with the help of gargoyles, air ducts, etc and takes out his foes silently. As their numbers increase, you will notice they become more nervous and eventually terrified, its just amazing. I once cornered a guy, he was alone and kept shouting out for the bat to face him, even though deep down he regretted saying that. I glided behind him, he was backing up and touched me, he turned to face me and got so scared that he actually fell from the railing and got KO, you can create tons of interesting scenarios like these. The only problem I find is that in this mode the AI becomes all blind as a bat, I was literally standing next to him and he couldn't see me, just went over his head and acted as if I was not there. Still nothing too serious but still hope in the sequel both the combat and predator modes blend.

Rocksteady wants to tell the dark tale and they crafted a really dark world with the Unreal Engine 3. So instead of talking about how good the game looks thanks to the technical features of UE 3, lets talk about the art direction. They put tremendous attention to detail to bring that dark world of Arkham Asylum and by blending modern technology with the dark Gothic architecture, its truly dare I say amazing place to be in. The cutscenes look great, however the in-game conversations look weak with bug-eyes and stillness. Batman animates really well, but the only thing that looks weird in some angles is how stiffly he walks, I know the guy is menacing but god's sake he is just a man. Overall a spectacular technical and artistic achievement.

The sound is equally impressive with the orchestral music of Dark Knight with even more Gothic tone to it makes it unique while still retaining the character. The voice actors of animated series returns including Mark Hamill who played the joker returns with such a performance that it deserves more than Oscar, hell if your not familiar with his voice and his laugh, after playing this game when you think about Joker the only voice that comes to your mind is his, in fact its good enough reason to buy the game just for his voice over, yeah its that good.

Batman hooked me in such a way that Metal Gear Solid 4 did back in 2007, its a masterpiece. Here is hoping the sequel is already in the works.

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