As someone who is not a fan of superheroes, I never thought I’d find myself playing any of the Batman Arkham games. However, I have a saying, if the game looks fun, I will play it, and Batman Arkham Asylum turned out to be a pretty fun experience. The story is based on the comic book series instead of its own unique storyline in the Batman universe so it may feel very familiar to some.
Pros and Cons
-A great story that captures the feel of the Batman comic universe.
-Fun combat that makes you feel like you are The Batman
-Interesting upgrades to make you more powerful in combat
-Trusty gadgets to help you progress
-A ton of secrets to find throughout
-The graphics are great and still hold up to today's standards
-The boss fights are an absolute joke
-To climb over certain ledges and walls, Batman has to stop moving
-There was a bug that prevented a cutscene from playing properly
The story starts out with Joker being taken to Arkham Asylum after he was captured in an armed siege in Gotham City. Joker is strapped to an up-right stretcher, however, Batman senses something is wrong as he was easier to capture than usual and follows the guards.
As expected, Harley Quinn helps Joker escape, freeing prisoners and taking over the prison. It’s now up to Batman to foil his plans and save Gotham from whatever schemes Joker has planned.
As someone who has not read any of the comics, I must say the story is done in excellent fashion. It captures the feel of the Batman universe and you can see it throughout the entire game. Comic fans will love the amount of detail that is put into the world and you can even come across some of the other villains like Scarecrow, Bane, and Poison Ivy to name a few. The game's charm is the world and the characters that reside within which really shines in this aspect.
I found the dialogue to be entertaining at times, especially when Joker is talking to his henchmen.
The gameplay is something that stands out as both the combat and ability to choose how to attack enemies to suit the situation is both fun and matches the style of the Batman that we all know.
Combat makes me feel like I am the Batman and I think this has to be the strongest aspect for it. I have never felt so much like a character in combat until I started playing this game. I get a feeling of like “Yeah! I just beat up those pesky Gotham goons!”. The combat system is unique, as Batman’s fighting style is not focused on combos, rather it’s by a rhythm as he will use moves that are appropriate for the situation. This in turn makes combat feel realistic and it’s a nice touch that I really enjoyed.
As Joker’s henchmen like to play dirty, they may come and attack you from behind but you have the ability to counter-attack them.
Sometimes you will have to take the silent approach and take out enemies by stealth. As such, Batman will be able to use his grappling hook to go on certain ledges to take out enemies. I should note that as soon as you take out an enemy, others may be alerted to your presence as they will make a loud noise. These enemies are typically marked with a special color to help identify easily if you need to hide after taking one out to avoid the risk of others attacking you.
There will also be times when Batman will have to go into Detective mode. It will give him x-ray-like vision on certain walls that seem breakable or to scan items into his database.
There are a few abilities that Batman can acquire to help him in combat, like getting extra health, better moves such as an unblockable throw, and more. To get these, you will need EXP that you obtain by taking out enemies or finding secrets throughout the area.
Batman also has some gadgets he can use that will help him on his mission. Like his trusty Batarangs, Explosive Gel, a Batclaw that can grab onto objects, and a Cryptographic Sequencer to help him access different areas.
There are a ton of secrets that you can find throughout the game. You can find Riddler Trophies that give you EXP or you can scan certain objects to get lore about Batman villains. You can find classics like The Ventriloquist, Scarface, Cat Women, and the deadliest villain of them all Calendar Man. :D
I have two gripes with the gameplay. The first issue is that the boss fights and even mini-boss fights called Titans lack any challenge. They were too simple missing out on the fear of dying to a strong enemy that I expect to have during boss fights which diminished my overall enjoyment in these encounters.
Then I have an issue with how Batman climbs over ledges and walls, you have to stop moving to climb them, you can’t move and climb or Batman will do a dive instead. This has killed me more than once making the controls feel clunky just in this area.
Graphics and Performance
The graphics looked great in the year 2010 and even today, they still look impressive. I came across no issues in the performance aspect of the game and it ran smooth, at 30 FPS. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM. I should note that there is a way to make the game run in 4K and in 60 FPS with mods or doing some tweaking.
I did come across one glitch where a cutscene that is required to move the scene forward did not play. I was left stuck in a room unable to do anything to continue the story. I had to reload my last checkpoint to retrigger the event. After the reload the scene loaded fine and I did not run into this issue again, so I'm hoping that this is not something that others will see, but I felt it worth mentioning. This screenshot is the room where the cutscene should have played as I was meant to ambush Harley Quinn and save the hostage.
If you are a fan of the Batman comics, movies, or even the universe, then this game is a must-have!. Batman: Arkham Asylum has to be one of the best superhero-based games that I have played and this is one of the rare times that I would recommend purchasing a game even if it is at full price. However, if it's on sale then it's a must-have 100%.