Anyone who has known me for longer than five minutes knows I am a massive Batman fan. So for me to review a Batman game is likely to cause raised eyebrows and perhaps even a healthy dose of skepticism. Now for those of you who have read the other stuff on my blog, I say “good!” Be skeptical! Take my words with a large grain of salt and then make me proud by checking out the facts for yourselves! With that, it’s on to my review of the first entry in Rocksteady’s Arkham game series: Arkham Asylum.
It’s important for me to state upfront that I am not an expert gamer. I love gaming. But I am far from the elite zerging geniuses that can do those incredible things like finishing a game on expert difficulty their first try or complete an entire game while taking zero damage. I am far more in the “average casual gamer” category when it comes to this stuff. It’s also important for me to point out that, like all games I will review here, I played this on a computer and not a console. I am the proud owner of an Alienware M15 laptop (considered vintage now, I am aware, but it suits my current needs perfectly, so I’m sticking with it until it dies). The last thing I need to mention is that I will avoid posting spoilers for any games I review on here. My focus will be on how well the game plays on a laptop, overall quality and feel in terms of actual gameplay and story and what target audience I would recommend check the games out.
Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum was an absolute joy to play from the start. I played it through on normal difficulty, as I always do my first run through of any game. The graphics are beautiful and the game kindly affords you the opportunity to gradually learn the controls and get a real feel for the game and movements before it starts ramping up the difficulty. This tends to be a feature that most games seek to employ, but I just found with this game in particular, the steady increase in complexity and trickiness was done beautifully. No part of this game was boring or tedious and no part made me feel like I was “stuck” or that I wouldn’t be able to see it through to the end. Don’t get me wrong, certain parts of the game were challenging and required multiple attempts to figure out and taste sweet success. But as I said above, I’m not an expert gamer, so truly if I can do it, anyone can. Patience and persistence.
As a long-time Batman fan, I was incredibly impressed with the story, the chosen characters that appear, and the characterisation of the title character himself. The game choses from his rogue’s gallery well. It doesn’t try and cram as many villains in as possible, it carefully selects key figures who fit the story and progress it perfectly. Batman feels like Batman. His movements, gadgets, dialogue and carefully thought out strategies are nothing short of flawless. The game has a nice blend of action and detective work, which you, as the player, can flip between smoothly depending on the situation and what you need to do to move forward.
The story itself is brilliant. As I’ve already said, I’m not revealing spoilers here. I know the game is hardly a recent release, but I don’t believe I need to spoil the plot to write a review of my opinion. The entirety of the game takes place on Arkham Island, and lets you explore the entire Asylum and its adjacent buildings throughout the game. There are also some fun Easter eggs thrown in for those who are keen on completing the collect missions that sit alongside the main story.
Overall, this game is simply fabulous and a must-play for any Batman fan. Even if you’re not a huge gamer, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling story, with fun action sequences and the right amount of strategy to keep anyone interested. Non-Batman fans will honestly probably really enjoy it too. It’s genuinely a game that is hard not to love (yes, yes, I know, I’m biased since I’m completely Batman obsessed), but the many elements that come together so flawlessly to make this game what it has become deserve applause. And this one, was only the beginning…