“What are you?!”

Bataanman

In case you don’t get the reference in this blog’s title, it’s at 1:05 in this video.

I just beat my latest video game escapade, Batman: Arkham Asylum (yes, I realize this actually came out two years ago), and I must emphatically announce that this game IS A MASTERPIECE!

The brief synopsis of the story is that on a fairly routine night, Batman brings the Joker back into Arkham Asylum after picking him up from an escape. The Joker continues to laugh and point out how easy the apprehension was for Batman, which begins to cause suspicion in the Dark Knight. These suspicions are soon proven true for as soon as the Joker is out of Batman’s control, he rips out of his shackles and traps Batman inside the giant insane asylum. The story gets a little more convuluted from there as several other individuals from Batman’s rogue gallery get into the fun, but the pace never lets up and you really get sucked into the game.

The quality of Arkham Asylum really is quite surprising as most video games based on a license (be it comic book, movie, tv show, etc.) blow hard. They’re usually rushed, and receive very little attention to producing good gameplay. Well, Arkham Asylum has it in spades. First of all, Batman is a bad ass, which is very important to portray to be accurate to the character. It was so awesome to see a mob of angry, crazed inmates running at me and knowing I could take all of them out without getting injured. Very cool to be that powerful.

Secondly, they translated the core elements of Batman into gameplay extremely well and very creatively. He’s famously known as the world’s greatest detective and at any time in the game you can go into a “detective mode” where the screen turns all blue. In this mode, enemies stand out and can be seen through walls and armed villains are highlighted. Furthermore, you can see many secret hiding places, traps, and hidden treasures while using your detective skills. Batman’s also a master of all martial arts so he knows how to counter most any type of attack. Thus, foes that are about to hit you glow blue, giving you a split-second to counter their move. The combat is super-fluid and has an almost rhythm game engine (like Guitar Hero). Very cool to play and I’m sure this baby is going to be very influential in future fighting games.

I’d also like to praise how Arkham Asylum both wears it’s influences on its sleeve but also manages to change things up a bit to seem fresh. Sure, it’s a stealth-heavy game like Metal Gear Solid is, but Batman can take on any foe with ease. Also, it’s a lot like the Metroid games where Batman slowly upgrades his tools, allowing him to reach new areas he couldn’t before.

Finally, you really got to give applause to the team as they NAILED the setting. Arkham Asylum is a creepy place and all of the comic characters are believable, yet highly stylized in a unique way for the game. The voice acting is phenomenal, but when you get the highly acclaimed actors from the original Batman: The Animated Series, you can’t really go wrong. Also, it’s just so great knowing that no matter how unsettling the situation gets, you (as Batman) are the scariest thing in the room.

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Current Mood: Applause emoticon Applause

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