Eidos and Rocksteady Studios start 2009′s onslaught of games right with the recent release of Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Batman places the player in the shoes of the Dark Knight himself on his quest to capture the Joker after the latter has taken over Arkham Asylum.
The first amazing aspect to this game is how gorgeous it actually looks. Facial features and character movements are incredibly realistic, even on some of the more over-the-top Batman villains. It is by far one of the prettiest games of the current generation of consoles, but still keeps the overall dark and dirty atmosphere of the Batman series. Another excellent part of the game is the voice acting, most of which done by the actors of the 1990′s Batman: the Animated Series. All those who reprise their roles, especially Mark Hamill’s Joker, do an amazing job and help keep the player interested in the game.
There are two interesting additions to the game: the FreeFlow fighting system and Detective mode. The FreeFlow fighting, named so because the player essentially presses one button during most fights, is all timing based. One button is Batman’s standard attack and one is a counter-attack button. Using these two methods timed correctly, combined with Batman’s usual high-tech toys, make fighting a group of enemies incredibly easy. Detective mode helps keep the game fresh, and brings the Batman franchise back to its roots. This mode allows Batman to scan his surroundings to find clues as to where his next objective is, see through walls to get the drop on enemies, and solve riddles the Riddler has left throughout Arkham.
As outstanding as this title is, it is not without a share of downfalls. The first being its short play time. Although the game has multitudes of collectibles, riddles, and upgrades to find the game still seems a bit short. However, there are challenge maps to offset the short length of the main game. The only other negative aspect to the game is the final boss fight. While still a good ending to the game, the final fight just seems a bit too generic and ridiculous, even for the Batman universe.
Overall, this is an amazing game that is sure to be a contender for Game of the Year. The graphics, voiceacting, and fighting system are all very well done and make up for the short length of the game and the final boss fight. The developers were obviously fans of the series as there are many little nods to the series throughout the game. Fans of the Batman franchise and even just fans of stealth-action games in general will be pleasantly surprised with this title.