I love BATMAN. I love Batman from his psychedelic TV moments, his Tim Burton revamp, and now his gravel voiced muse of how much the world sucks while listening to Simon and Garfunkel. I was weary at first about Batman Arkham Asylum when it launched because of my prior experience with Batman Forever on the SNES. The video game built by Midway shortly after their breakup with Ed Boon. Also known as a failed attempt at building a makeshift Mortal Kombat. So, the best thing to do when you have a box office hit is to make a brawler based on the cape crusaders. However, like a shot gun to the face Batman Forever had the difficulty curve of a statistics class on Microsoft Excel.
Batman Arkham Asylum rolls around and low and behold we’re tutorialized! Thank God. The downer is how much Batman wants to be taken seriously by everyone, including me the gamer. I couldn’t help but bust out my Batman mask and mock every cliché I could find in the script. However, how in the world did they get Batman to dabble in a little bit of horror? I get he hides in the shadows, works at night, dresses in black underwear with a cape. Like Spiderman recently in the past decade, Batman has become low hanging fruit in the tree of Super Heroes we could all enjoy. Recently with The Flash making a television comeback. I’m waiting on Hulk 3.0 to roll around sometime soon. I digress though, over all Arkham Asylum is really good in consideration to being a video game unlike previous titles.
What this game does ever so perfectly is balance stealth and action. With enough eve and flow to realize moments through, “Oh, this is the stealth scenario.” While later realizing stealth can take a hike and roll into a room beating the stupid out of goons as I see fit. And like I said before in a prior Batman video game built on button combos. Batman Arkham Asylum simply has you press X to punch, kick, throw, heel kick, bone crunch, pants tightening violence which cascades beautifully in 3D graphics.
Highlights over Arkham Asylum include Mark Hamill as our beloved Joker. Once again causing a muck in Batman’s contract to save the world. As well as the over all easily playable game. Meanwhile linking the style of the game (action/stealth) with a story which is both exciting and fun to be apart of. Meanwhile, Batman goes through nightmares within Arkham Asylum, brought to you in part by Scarecrow. Which is a really nice break from the hum-drum of Bat-stomping around the Asylum.
With positives come negatives. Killer Croc for example, being a hyped up villain I knew little about seemed legit. Till I faced him in the sewers. This turned into a long drawn out process of walking around and bat-erang Killer Crock till the quick time event. Otherwise known as an anti-climatic moment which could have been way more intense and for lack of a better word, fun. Lastly, the climax is typical Batman. Specifically the “there’s more to come…” moment.
Arkham City starts off with Bruce Wayne, I mean Batman, making a statement about how Arkham City isn’t the answer for Arkham Asylum’s downfall. Thus, things go weary and we end up as the punchline of a joke (again.) While Dr. Smartypants throws us to the Penguin crew. We suit up into Batman and visit Two-Face. After saving Catwoman, we find out Joker is up to nonsense again. Then we visit Joker and get a blood transfusion. Well, now we’re walking around town and got a virus within us. Now we’re looking for the serum…. Time to line up the bad guys one by one and kick the stupid out of them.
Now I’m in a sequel game, in the rules of sequel games, we need to jump off the dive board and not only utilize the same mechanics. But also expand and add to. Ya’know, Silent Hill 2/ Donkey Kong Country 2 format.
I’ll notate to inform we get all the basic-bitch gadgets. But they come with upgrades and some extra features. Core mechanics are still the same. Press X to beat the stupid out of everyone. As I said before, line up all the bad guys and sift through each one till climatic resolve. Which skewed at one point.
While the arch of Arkham City is to save said city from Dr. What’s-his-nuts. We’re still left with dealing with the Joker, as per usual. Once this is all said and done, Batman saves the day. significant plot twists arise which I’m sure was the whole precursor to the next installment. However, failure pursues this chapter with noting the game continues on with mini-missions.
Examples include of mini-missions which never amount to anything e.g.: Every moment you play as Catwoman. Which I’ll say gets no complements from me. I understand her ‘look’ is a reach to the live action film. However, Tits-McGee is less of a Catwoman in my book as opposed to the classics. Meanwhile, as Batman flying around town and finding clues of dead homeless people. Amounts to finding an assassin who’s out to kill Batman. Another clue based mini-mission is finding dead people with missing faces. This concludes to an evil bad guy who has taken to wanting to look like Bruce Wayne. While the face job looks like everything from an episode of Botched. Again, we’re met with doing a task… Getting something of a cameo of a villain, then we get nothing but another notch on the belt of reaching 100% completion. Final mark on mini-missions from hell include flying around Arkham City and getting every single Riddle Trophy Riddler placed around town. Which I’ll go on record to say were not difficult to achieve (thanks YouTube). The point behind this is to save police whom are kidnapped from Riddler. However, we get more percentage on that 100% completion meter and that’s the end of the game.
Arkham City, though a video game riding the coat tales of it’s prior self only amplifies on tools which enhanced the overall game and story. While still aspiring to new ideas and concepts. However, my only… ONLY critic is asking why we didn’t dive deeper into the psyche of Batman provided by Scarecrow. The only hint of Scarecrow is a bunch of hay and pants and a shirt on the ground. Another minor letdown. However, in a way we do get this with a small moment within gameplay. This is only a slight moment. Nothing too serious to really get into and I’ll leave the easter egg for you to experience.