Written by  :  Joakim Kihlman (275)
Written on  :  Oct 06, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The Dark Knight at his very best.

The Good

When I saw the first pictures and gameplay videos from Arkham Asylum I wasn't very convinced. It looked decent, but not great. I was dead wrong.

From the very first second of the intro Arkham Asylum had me spellbound. It conjures up a great atmosphere that blends the comics, Batman 1989 and The Dark Knight into one lovely entity. It's dark and brooding, but also fun and spectacular.

Many characters from the comics make appearances and cameos. The Riddler, for example, has planted clues and trophies for Batman to solve and find, in order to unlock challenge modes and whatnot.

The main villain, though, is The Joker. Naturally. The unsettling psychopath is the natural nemesis of Batman, and he comes off as truly menacing and disturbing in Arkham Asylum. Brilliantly voiced by Mark Hamill, you really feel Batman's frustration with The Joker as he murders and destroys everything in his path in order to execute his diabolic plan.

The gameplay is complex and simple at the same time. As Batman you have to fight, sneak and use your detective skills. And jump around on platforms, of course. The controls are very intuitive and easy to learn, making the game a joy to play. The fights flow smoothly as Batman performs blocks and combos and breaks a few bones in the process. It's extremely satisfying.

There are lots of stuff to find and unlock in the game and as the story progresses you get more and more advanced equipment which to use in order to get to hard to reach places. This means that you can always backtrack in order to reach new areas when you have completed the story. So even when you have completed the game, there is still more to do. The challenge modes, for example, are quite entertaining. These consist of different arenas where you are supposed to beat up bad guys as flawlessly as possible to get high points, or to sneak and silently take out bad guys as quickly as possible. It's relaxing fun, although quite challenging.

What works best in the game is the atmosphere and that all the aspects of the game (fighting, stealth, platforming, detective) work so well together. You constantly have something to do. Always a threat that needs to be averted. And you get to kick plenty off ass along the way. And all along the way the game is extremely satisfying. It's just as fun to weave long combos together in a huge fight as it is to silently take out armed guards.

The Bad

There's not much to complain about, but there are some aspects that could have been better. The biggest flaw with the game is the boss fights. Most of them are a bit uninspired. The part where you meet Killer Croc in the sewers was disappointing, and I would have liked to get some closure in a big final fight with the always menacing Scarecrow, but sadly you never get the chance to.

Even the final fight with The Joker is more or less just a retread of a fight you have done all through the game. These fights are very entertaining so it isn't really such a huge problem. I would have liked some more spectacular fights with Batman's arch enemies, though.

In order to unlock all challenge modes you have to backtrack a lot and search through the whole asylum in order to reach all those places you couldn't reach when you passed through the first time. I really don't see the fun in running around in an empty asylum collecting trophies after the story is completed. I guess it is a good thing that there is more to do for those who love to collect all sorts of things in their games, but I don't have the patience for it. I just want my challenge modes unlocked so I can play them already.

These complaints are minor, though. All in all, this game delivers, big time.

The Bottom Line

The perfect Batman experience. Whether kicking ass in bone-breaking fights or sneaking around on ledges, this game is thoroughly satisfying.