Retrospective: Batman: Arkham Asylum


In celebration of the release of Batman: Arkham City, we three here at DLC have decided to dedicate this week to all things Dark and Knighty. We’ll highlight and review some of the better animated incarnations of the World’s Greatest Detective and give our first impressions on the much anticipated addition to the franchise. But first, let’s take a step back to where it all began, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Worst final boss battle everrrr...

Dave – Being an avid comic collector and dedicated Knight-watcher, I was all set for Batman: Arkham Asylum to knock my socks off. Why wouldn’t it? With characters based on illustrating legend Jim Lee’s designs, a darker gritty take and superb voice casting (with Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Joker and Kevin Conroy the only choice for the Big Bad Bat), the universe was in perfect alignment for an astounding video game adaptation.

And it was… for the most part.

While I more than enjoyed the regular gameplay becoming Gotham’s vigilant protector, even embracing the stealthy aspects, which I usually loathe, it just didn’t sit quite right with me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an extremely solid title, worthy of praise, but it was definitely lacking in the boss battle department. The worst offender, which I now hear fits in with the plot for Batman: Arkham City, was the final confrontation (and I use that term loosely) with the Joker.

It just left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not enough to taint the entire experience, but just enough to drag it down from the lofty pedestal so many others had placed it on. By all accounts, developer Rocksteady has taken these concerns on board and I’m looking extremely forward to see what they have in store for us in Batman: Arkham City.

Hope you don't mind if I drop in for a bit

Josh – Known as the hard critic by not only regular DLC readers/viewers but also by anyone that has spent longer than 30 minutes with me, it was no surprise that I was harsher than Dave when it came to this game. At the time we were playing the game, I had my reservations and didn’t want to be the ‘hater’ in a time where this game was apparently the best game ever. Looking back now I was, if anything, a tad too harsh.

As Dave said, this game was solid on the most part. Amazingly pretty graphics, solid gameplay and everything Batman fans could want crammed into a solid overall package. My main problem lay in the monotony of it all. Swing, stealth, brawl, boss, then repeat. Okay, there was a lot more to it than that, but I was stuck feeling like I was in an endless loop of rooms of bad guys that would take more stealth to dispatch than I had patience for. Now, I am the first to admit that stealth is not my strong point, however, it is still the main thing that comes back when I mentally revisit the game.

Arkham City has me pumped, though. Its open world which means less stealth rooms, varied mission types, new bosses and more Bat-toys. These are all covered and now, perhaps, I will do Batman a bit more justice than my rather sad last effort.

I'm com-Bat man

Nachos – Superhero games usually suck. But as a fan of two big comic book dudes from my childhood–Batman and the Punisher–I’ve always had an inherent curiosity when it comes to checking out the various games that star these heroes. I was totally psyched for Batman: Arkham Asylum from very early on in the piece. With many returning voice actors from the criminally underrated Batman: The Animated Series and a clearly darker tone in line with Nolan’s handling of the Batman character, this game was set to rock.

And rock it did. This is the first game that I’ve gone all out to hit that beautiful 100% mark in the campaign. The big star of the game by far was the ‘FreeFlow’ combat system that never got old. And, of course, the challenge maps greatly extended the life of any FreeFlow combat addict. Outside of this, it had it all. Well, almost. Repetitive boss battles, the most anticlimactic final fight since the Nihilanth in Half-Life and the distinct feeling that major villains were being held back for a sequel were obvious blights on an otherwise near-perfect experience.

Much like the original The Force Unleashed game, Rocksteady had some easy fixes to apply to an otherwise working formula that would make a sequel impress on all fronts. And if the raving critical reception is anything to go by–and from my few short hours with the game so far, it is–Arkham City is going to universally drop jaws.

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