- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ocksteady Studios might not exactly be a household name yet, but that all could change soon. Founded in 2004, this somewhat new studio house based out of London has set out to accomplish the impossible – making a good D.C. Comics superhero game – and they’re trying to do it with the Dark Knight in "Batman: Arkham Asylum." Sadly, the most well-received Batman game to date is made with LEGOs, so let's just say the bar isn't exactly high for these guys.
The game begins with you escorting the Joker into Arkham Asylum after a foiled attack on Blackgate Prison. Batman doesn't feel right about the situation and opts to see Joker to his cell personally. Eventually, you will be told you can go no further and are forced to watch asJoker eludes his captors and, with the help of Harley Quinn, flees into the building. Naturally, he sets all the inmates free and locks down the entire building, trapping you and the guards inside. You eventually realize that this was Joker's plan all along as you fight through enemies from Batman's past.
As soon as the game starts, you will be treated to some amazing real-time visuals – and I do mean amazing. Character designs are absolutely impressive as well, and although the Dark Knight’s shape is a bit too boxlike for my tastes, everyone else (from villains to guards) is top notch. Shortly after the game begins, you’ll get to enjoy the combat system – which at its heart is a brawler, but is amazingly fluid and well executed, and yes, you eventually get to kick a little ass with the bat-a-rang, too. While Batman is indeed powerful, he is also human, and can only take so much punishment. This forces you to master evasive combat and counters, as well as use your head to plan out attacks. The game also has its share of RPG elements; as Batman levels, he gains access to new abilities or powers up existing ones.
The game isn't all bash' em, though; it also boast a detective mode in which you’ll attempt to find clues and analyze situations before running in and mopping the floor with the bad guys. Specifically, you can search the environment for vantage points and utilize these to help take out the opposition one by one.
Aside from the main story, there are also a ton of challenge maps and riddles for you to solve – a total of 240 in all. They vary in difficulty, from plainly obvious to some that are more challenging, and while I wouldn't say that I was ever overwhelmed trying to figure these out, they were a lot of fun and helped give the game even more replay value. All this adds up to help breathe a little life and hope back into a dead genre, as well as show what you can do with a licensed title.
So, congratulations are in order for Rocksteady, because not only did they make a good Batman game (finally). but easily one of the best games of the year. Even though it features a good story and tons of extras from puzzles to unlockables, after 14 hours of gameplay it still had me thirsty for more. "Batman: Arkham Asylum" is easily a must-have for anyone who enjoys a great action game.