2009 Reviews

Batman: Arkham Asylum

  • Review Date: 2014-05
  • Release Date: 2009-08
  • Developer: Rocksteady Studios
  • Rating: 9.0

I've already played everything worth playing from 2009, but I've been saving Arkham Asylum up, waiting for a time to spoil myself. Arkham Asylum is just my style of game. Beautifully designed levels and artwork, great story and characters, fun action-based gameplay and fairly linear progression but with enough exploration. Perfect!

But AA isn't the perfect game, it does have some issues. The biggest is probably the combat and gameplay can get stale after a while. Combat consists of button mashing to perform punches and the occassional block. You've got a few tools such as batarangs, but they're weren't that affective. With only a few different enemies in the entire game, variety is lacking. It certainly isn't as advanced as a game like Darksiders when it comes to combat.

To add some variety some enemies have weapons which are very deadly if you're spotted, so you need to take them out steathily. Either creeping up behind them, setting explosives or dropping down from above. This is very similar to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions when you play as the Noir-Spidey. Only it's much better in that game because you can sling anywhere above the enemies you want. In AA you can only land on certain objects and just sit and wait for an enemy to walk underneath it.

So overall the combat is the only part of AA where you may get a little bored. There's definitely better on the market.

In all other regards, though, AA is amazing. The entire game takes place on Arkham Island with the Asylum, which is quite big. Even Batman has his own Batcave underneath the island (quite how he had builders in there to build it, I don't know). But every single area has a huge attention to detail, especially vertically. You can constantly look up and admire that amount of detail that has been put into the architecture. It won't blow you away with massive fantasy-settings or set-pieces; these are all fairly realistic settings, but for what it is, it's fantastic.

Modern Warfare II and Bad Company 2 had some of the most epic set-pieces of 2009, but they have you bouncing all over the globe in eclectic fashion, so much that their stories really suffer. Batman couldn't do that - the plot needed to stay within Arkham Asylum to be successful.

The plot is another of AA's best features. Joker has taken over the Asylum, with Batman trying to stop him. A number of Batman's biggest foes and supervillians have been released so you get to see Killer Croc, Bane, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn. Fortunately they didn't overdo it and chuck EVERYONE in there like the last Spider-Man game did.

But Joker is the main antagonist, voiced brilliantly by Mark Hamill.

I won't go too in-depth because I'm sure most gamers will have played AA already. My only other complaint with it would be having to re-visit areas a few too many times, and some have a lot of backtracking the way you came.

Overall it's a fantastic game and my second favourite of 2009, behind Dragon Age. 2009 ending up being one of the best years for action gaming to date.

Batman: Arkham Asylum