Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Batman: Arkham Asylum: I swear there will be no bat gadget jokes in this

This was a long time coming. I was actually planning on doing this during my absence for the Comedy Festival, where I'd also cover Arkham Origins... that never happened. I wanted to do it before Arkham Knight, didn't happen. Then I tried to fit it in before the PC version re release... that didn't happen. So now consider this as the lead up for when WB Games get the PC version up to an actual standard deserving of its price tag. It's time for us to put on the cape and cowl and enter the Madhouse. Welcome, to Arkham Asylum.

Let's start with the plot, The Joker has done some forward planning, and has set a trap for Batman in the Arkham Asylum, a specially designed prison for super criminals that can't seem to keep them on the island. Now trapped on the island, it is up to you as Batman to find out what Joker has planned with a new chemical called Titan, made from Bane's Venom steroid, and stop him before he can do that. Yes, its simple. It's short, sharp, to the point. There are detours along the way, and with the exception of one or two, none of them feel too much like you're getting away from the main plot.
Something's off, but I can't quite put my finger on it

The two times it does happen for me personally are the obvious one, the Riddler Trophies, which are spread out all over the Asylum, both as trophies and as objects you need to scan, including large question marks you have to line up perfectly which can get rather tedious at times, though the worst is yet to come. By collecting trophies, you get more experience to purchase upgrades along side the experience you get from being the Batman and beating up every enemy in the game with combos (I'll come back to that). One benefit of getting all the trophies in Arkham Asylum is hearing The Riddler become more and more angry at you from finding them, even going so far as to attack walkthroughs online, calling you a cheater in the process. Getting into a bit of spoiler territory here, the other time I felt like the detours were an actual, unnecessary detour (or to be more accurate, the only one, as the Riddler trophies are a sidequest) was the sewers and the boss battle there. It's nice change of pace, but in terms of the plot, it didn't need to be there.
"Today's been a good day"

Control wise, Batman Arkham Asylum plays like a dream, not perfect, but close enough. Most of your controls are simple enough to perform, and I never felt that the controls were akward, even though I was playing the 360 version, so I had to deal with the 360's infamously bad d-pad (which I don't mind too much personally) for gadget selection. Combat is mapped to X for attacking, Y to countering attacks, along with other buttons for quick fires of the gadgets. It never feels intrusive and the simple controls do lead to great combo potential if you know what you're doing. However, the combat can get a bit stale when it comes to boss battles, which are one of the weakest parts of the game for me. Most of them are "Here's a big muke, here's some little mukes, take them out" including the final boss which does try to hide it a little, but nowhere near enough.
Hi tall, slimy and ugly

Aesthetics are great visually, as the game does look great, though I can't say the same for the music. In fact I can't say anything about the music at all because it doesn't stand out to me at all. I don't remember any of it. The visuals perfectly match the feel of the game and while the faces aren't the best, I've seen better, I get to see Ragdoll physics which I find amusing thanks to its stupidity, so I'm fine with it. But the music is just there, I can't remember a single track from the game at all, so either its doing its job well, or not doing its job at all.

Batman Arkham Asylum is a great tutorial for the series. It's got a solid plot that is worth the price alone, but later games to build on from Asylum and make things more difficult and more complicated. As to how much? Well we'll find out next week, because clearly the upgrade from an island for criminals is a city for criminals. I'll see you all for Batman: Arkham City

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