Arkham Asylum

Posted: July 7, 2014 in Video Game
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I was a little kid and didn’t understand technology all that well, when I’d describe the best Batman game ever, I came awfully close to Arkham Asylum.

Before this game, Batman in video games was in the range of kind of alright to just terrible. I remember this game being the type of wait and see how it goes deal as well. Especially when the combat system debuted, I was as unsure as anyone that style of fighting could work.

Although, right from word go I had high excitement. The main writer from the Animated Series, Paul Dini, was heading the script. Equally as important, both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were reprising their respective roles, as well as a few others. Rocksteady Games knew where they set their target at. Sky high.

Arkham Asylum is as fun playing Batman as you think it is. Just walking around as The Dark Knight started making me feel like I was Batman. The next thing was you beat down a group of thugs with a simple set of buttons, in the combat tutorial. Which throughout the game get expanded on with the gadgets and adding in extra combo moves you unlock. That first section ends and throwing fists and batarangs seems easy, while jumping through a number of enemies. And then the best part comes.

Batman walks into a hospital ward with several of The Joker’s henchman patrolling the grounds with firearms. Batman being easily susceptible to death by bullets in this game doesn’t mean those thugs aren’t going down. I went through a vent leading to the first victim, sneak over and a blow to the head takes him out. His friends get alerted to his demise by The joker over a loud-speaker, and come rushing over to see, and as Batman I fired my grappling hook to a gargoyle above on the ceiling, then swing around to be on an adjacent wall and perch, watching the “guards” freak out. Now when they patrol, the buddy system is in place, and the couples split off. Scared the twosomes look around wildly swinging their guns shaking, calling out in desperation, “we’re gonna get you”. I sat in my nice safe place, waiting for them to pass by. When they do, the first one gets let go for now, but as soon as his back is turned the second gets scooped up from above and tied up. The enemies converge again, but this time I already have the high point, and one noble fool decides to run across a bridge in the middle all alone. leaping from my position and using Batman’s cape to glide a bit, the lonesome man gets a face full of boot. The others go down one by one, getting more panicked each time one of their comrades fall. Eventually they start firing the guns aimless into the air, sometimes they get smart and destroy the hiding places up above. No matter, when the last one remains and the hunt draws to a close, I toyed with him by following him for a bit, staying just outside his vision. The thug’s pattern leads him around to a vent on the floor, I make my way to it before he does. When he walks right over me, calling for Batman in a last-minute attempt to sway what he already knows is going to go down, and before he finishes I leap out and choke him out.

That’s it. That is where the game went from, oh it’s Batman punching fools in the face, to, these men are simply antelopes grazing on grass while Batman is a lion ready to pounce on his prey. And you are Batman. Being either evenly matched or overpowered in video games happens a lot. The feeling of being outnumbered and outgunned, while still feeling like you have the upper hand happen far less, if at all. Arkham Asylum takes some of these story moments out to a separate challenge section on the main menu so you can do them again, and compete for high scores. It’s cool to see who can be a more efficient hero. Some of the people at the top are crazy good.

The game also has sections of detective bits. Mostly following particles like blood, or in one instance the type of smoke from Commissioner Gordon’s pipe to get from one section of game to the next. It may be a contrivance leading you around places, but it does make a more complete Batman.

There are more weird video games tropes as well. Such as Batman calls in to Oracle and gets extra equipment sent to him, at one point by the Batplane crashing into the roof of the Botanical Gardens. Which makes you wonder, why an ASYLUM has a separate building for botanical gardens, then you realize it’s probably because of the patient who can control them. The Dark Knight should always be prepared and not need to do that. The spots where it feels super video gamey is where you get experience and level up Batman, to show player progression. I’m sure a man does not gain more health, nor does his gadgets get more a more diversified way to use them by beating people up. Not that it’s a real complaint. Being a few hours into the game and you get a new gadget, or combat maneuver is a good way for you to mix it all up at the end.

Even death is entertaining, and all that happens is the villain gets up all in Batman’s face with a game over type quip on a black background. Every main boss has multiple sayings, and sometimes I’d die on purpose just to see what the likes of Poison Ivy would say if she ever beat Batman.

At this point, if you haven’t played any of the Arkham games yet and like video games I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you’re waiting for the batsignal to lead you in the right direction. Or a Steam sale, which this game does from time to time, and you can get this extra cheap. You won’t get disappointed.




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