“Batman: Arkham Asylum” revisited: 9.8 out of 10

 

Photo courtesy of geek-tastic.com

 

“Batman: Arkham Asylum,” the epic, open-world, crime-fighting game has received multiple accolades and game-of-the-year awards across the gaming community. The sequel, “Batman: Arkham City,” will be released in November. The game is available for Xbox 360, Play Station 3, and Microsoft Windows computers.

This video game allows players to assume the role of Batman himself, complete with all the gadgets and gear that fans expect to see like the batmobile, batarangs, and his trusty grapnel gun. Throughout the course of the game, you can unlock new fighting moves and equipment to further enhance Batman’s arsenal as you explore the infamous Arkham Asylum, the prison and mental institute that houses all of Batman’s most dangerous villains.

The story begins with Batman’s best-known villain, the Joker, escaping captivity within the confines of the asylum, and from that point Batman must track down the Joker as he releases the inmates, including such notorious villains as Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Zsasz, and Scarecrow. Other characters such as Batman’s allies, Commissioner Gordon and Oracle appear as well.

The player must fight his way through regular inmates of Arkham Asylum, solving puzzles and using a “detective mode” in order to find clues to continue the story.

Even though the world is free-roaming, with Batman essentially being able to go anywhere and everywhere in the asylum and the island it’s located on, it never seems tempting to do so. The story itself seems to compel the player to continue on, rather than backtrack to find hidden secrets or search for the many hidden items, such as puzzles from the Riddler or asylum patient interviews.

The visuals of the game itself are brilliant, dark and gritty in a nod to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “Dark Knight” movies, but retaining the inherent campiness and brilliant voice-acting of the 1990’s cartoon series, complete with Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame) voicing the Joker.

All indications point to November’s “Batman: Arkham City” as being even more amazing than “Arkham Asylum,” with more villains, a bigger game world, and more famous Batman gadgets. So far confirmed for the game are villains Hugo Strange, Two-Face, and Catwoman.  New gadgets include smoke bombs and a signal tracer device, while the first game’s “detective mode” has been altered to make gameplay more challenging, as developers found that many players of “Arkham Asylum” had played the entire game with the detective mode activated, and wanted to discourage that.

All in all, reviewed in retrospect, with eyes on the horizon awaiting the arrival of its sequel, the two-year-old “Batman: Arkham Asylum” still holds sway in gaming culture. This game boasts powerful gameplay elements, and a fantastic story and characters rooted in American pop culture.  The characters and story belong to one of the most famous DC superheroes of all time, while still remaining original and intriguing, with only minor downsides.

In today’s world of technological obsolescence, games such as “Halo” are widely recognized as one of the greatest video games ever made, yet it became obsolete and outmoded in only a few short years.

“Batman: Arkham Asylum,” is unlikely to suffer the same fate.  It still packs a punch two years after its release, and thusly earns a 9.8-out-of-10 score.

 

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