This is a game that leading up to its release I could not have been less excited about playing. this is partly because before August I was not paying any attention to 360 games due to not owning the console myself but partly because super hero movies tend to be daft. The one exception I have played to this rule being Spiderman 2 which was fun for web-swinging aimlessly around New York city.
Then the game came out though and I got to watch more footage of the game, the way it controlled and the cut scenes and I changed my mind.
Having now played through this game it is in fact one of the best games I have played. If I had had more time with it before deciding the game of the year then it would have certainly been higher and possibly challenged Dirt2 for the win. The game starts with you escorting the captured Joker through Arkham Asylum (Gotham City’s mental asylum). The joker escapes custody and takes over. Your job obviously is to stop him. The game sees you fighting a number of batman villains including Poison Ivy and Scarecrow along with hundreds of standard inmates and the combat is remarkably simple with one button for attacks and one button for counters. How you fair in a particular battle is largely down to your timing and it is immensely satisfying to take out a room full of goons without taking a hit. It would sound like this system though would get awfully repetitive but it does not largely down to the variety of animations on screen keeping you interested. Certainly it is easier than some other games but I don’t see why that should necessarily be a problem… The game environments contain gargoyles and other creations that allow you to perform stealthy kills as well. It is also satisfying to take out a room full of gunmen individually without being seen.
This game is also one of the best looking that I have played with the asylum coming to life through the environments. Coupled with some of the best voice work and music in gaming you will be immersed into this world. It is also an open world so although you are able to follow it in a linear way you are able to go where you like and do what you like. In fact this is encouraged thanks to the Riddler trophies dotted around the island. There are over 200 of these in total and through following the main story I only managed to find 50 or so of them but moving about the island is so fun that I intend to go hunting for the rest.
Once the main storyline is completed after about 10 hours (I completed it in a week… although I did play it a lot more frequently than Modern Warfare 2… because shock, this is better) you continue to have free reign over the island, alternatively there is the option of completing a challenge mode which gives you a task to do in a specific amount of time. This is a good way of extending the life of the game and I look forward to finishing it. The main story itself is also of a good length. You will not get any Mass Effect or Modern Warfare style annoyances when the game seems to end a couple of hours south of proper this game goes the distance and does not outstay its welcome either. A very good job then by all involved.
In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed playing through Arkham Asylum, it is far and away the best superhero game I have ever played and its success has led Activision to announce that their spiderman games have been rubbish and that they need to try harder. This film does for superhero games what the first spiderman movie did for superhero films. It has moved the posts of what is available for the genre. A wonderful storyline, perfect controls and a relatively simple fighting mechanic are what make this game great. It flows wonderfully and lasts exactly the right amount of time. Well done to Rocksteady for making one of the few games that I could happily play again and again.
(images lovingly pinched from ign.com)