How to start with a classic game as Batman Arkham Asylum...
In case you've been under a rock, Arkham Asylum is a 2009 part RPG, part action game featuring the titular character in the titular location. The game opens with Batman delivering the Joker back to Arkham Asylum. Of course the Joker escapes and reveals a master plan to enlist the island's other inmates in using a variation of Bane's Venom drug to create an army of monsters to kill, maim, and generally cause chaos.
The game is visually stunning. From the run down asylum to the expressions on characters faces the game is gorgeous. Even the way the batsuit takes on damage as the game progresses shows that very little is forgotten.
Most of my friends can tell you that background music often ruins a game for me. Not whether or not the music is crummy, but how goddamn loud it always is. Inevitably in almost every game I have to play I turn down the background music so I can enjoy the vocals and other sound. I don't have to do that with this game. The music goes up and down dependent on the action and it doesn't detract one bit from the experience. Best of all, Batman and Joker are voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. For most of my generation, these two ARE Batman and Joker. Keep your Christian Bale etc... When Batman starts speaking if it is Kevin Conroy then you know you're in good hands.
I've played the game twice now. The first time was on the PC and then now on the 360. The PC controls are clumsy and had to be customized a lot before it was possible to play. Let me tell you, the fight with Bane is RIDICULOUS on a keyboard. The XBox's controls are a lot more intuitive, even down to the gadget selection. And oh, what gadgets you get. Multiple batarang choices, zip lines guns, grapplers. They're all fun. So are all of the signature moves - my favorite being hanging from a gargoyle and pulling a thug up to knock them unconscious and leave them as a warning to his friends.
Arkham Asylum is worthy of any animated DCU production or even the comics themselves. It is a faithful representation of Batman. My only complaint: It is too short. The end comes surprisingly quick after a mini boss (Poison Ivy) and with no warning that this is really the end. The end Joker fight is fun, but it just comes at you too quickly.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a great game. The hardest part of playing it is often deciding whether or not to walk around in detective mode or regular vision to see the amazing graphics. If there is a bad part it is the riddler challenges. They're monotonous and frankly unless you're an achievement junky, not worth it. I began to dread hearing Riddler's snide-ass comments as the game went by.
Diane's Note: Harley's Voice is grating I had to leave the room anytime she had a monologue..I get that she was the voice actress for the cartoon and that holds a place in people's hearts but the way she was drawn nobody was paying attention to Harley for her voice.
Controls: XBox 5/5. PC 2/5
Graphics: 5/5. Couldn't feel more like a rundown hospital if it was VR.
Sound: 5/5 Because Kevin Conroy is Batman. And it's possible to actually hear their performances!
Story: 4/5. I tick the point off because of the abrupt ending. Otherwise it was as good a Batman story as I've ever read.
Playability: 3/5 More story time and less Riddler collections, please. But definitely good enough to play more than once!