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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

At 1:11 AM this morning, I considered leaving Batman: Arkham Asylum's final boss battle for another night. I was tired and I was frustrated by the seemingly impossible task laid at Batman's feet. But Batman doesn't just up and quit and neither did I. Fifteen minutes passed before I was able to finally put my controller down and watch the end credits to one of very best games that I've played in the past few years.

Everything about Batman: Arkham Asylum was spectacular. The game's pacing and boss fights were incredible. I always wanted to keep playing to see what was waiting around the next corner. I loved walking into a room crawling with lunatics and criminals, scanning the area, formulating a plan of attack, and then busting heads.

I really enjoyed the free-flow combat used in Arkham Asylum. It was reminiscent of the combat found in Assassin's Creed, made more enjoyable with a few additions. By varying the type of combatants faced during the hand-to-hand portions of the game, simply mashing the same button over and over was a surefire recipe for having to reload your last saved checkpoint. Once Batman finds himself up against armed combatants, it takes a keen eye and fast reflexes to pull off just the right counter-moves to keep Batman one step ahead of his enemies. And the reward for keeping Batman alive and kicking is an awesome display of impressive acrobats and bone-crushing hits.

The rest of Arkham Asylum's gameplay presents a good foil to the non-stop action of combat. Puzzles and exploration force you to change how you play the game. I still have quite a few of the Riddler's challenges to solve and I'm looking forward to it. Some of the riddles are easy to decipher while others have left me scratching my head. The most impressive riddles, in my opinion, are those that task Batman to line up visual cues in the environment until a stylized "question mark" is plainly visible on the screen. It can be quite challenging to get it just right - though it's never frustrating once you know what you're trying to do.

Above all else, Batman: Arkham Asylum's graphics, voice talent, and script were amazing. It's rare to have a game come together so well on all fronts. Bottom line: this game sets the bar for all future action-adventure games. It's an incredible game and an unforgettable experience. I can't wait to sit down again this evening as I continue to solve the rest of the Riddler's challenges.

Once that's done, there are still a ton of Silent Predator and Combat challenge rooms to look after. And then, it'll be time to finish the game on the hardest difficulty setting and take home my first Platinum trophy. I've got a ways to go but I'm looking forward to spending more time playing as the Dark Knight.

Have a good one!