Arkham Asylum was released late summer of 2009. The game puts you into the shoes of Batman as he returns the Joker to the island prison. Once there, the Joker breaks lose with the help of his side kick Harley Quinn, who has taken control of the asylum. After a few cut scenes, the game thrusts you into the thick, battling the Joker’s henchmen and various other villains that Batman has put behind the walls of Arkham. It quickly becomes apparent that Joker’s plan is more than a common jailbreak as he leads Batman ever deeper into Arkham and the story continues to take strange and unexpected turns.
Story mode for the game is intense and in-depth, drawing you in and making it hard to put the controller down even when reaching the more difficult portions of the game. The combat style of game-play for Arkham Asylum is as free-flowing as you would expect, coming from The Dark Knight. Each attack easily and fluidly flows into the next, leading to massive chains of hits. Though the free flow battle system is nice, it is not the only way in which Batman dispenses his foes. More often than not, the game will require the player to sneak around, taking enemies out from the shadows. To aid you in this task are a number of gadgets and weapons you obtain as Batman throughout the game. Some are old classics like the “Batterang,” while others are new to Batman’s arsenal. Each item gives you a new way to approach each level, making it fun to go back and replay levels once you have acquired a new tool. A new aspect of game play involves the NPC’s (none player characters) they wander about each level with no set pattern. This feature allows them to respond instantly when you have snared one of their allies and left them dangling up in the air overhead. However, the free roaming feature can also be very annoying. Upon sneaking up on an enemy you are often surprised to find another coming up behind you, seemingly out of nowhere.
Throughout story mode you will be given a chance to face the Riddler’s challenge. This mainly involves solving riddles or finding a hidden riddler trophy somewhere throughout the game. More of the unlockable content involves interview recordings with a number of Gotham’s villains. More of the hidden content in the game revolves around the founder of Arkham and the secret he left behind in various encoded drawings scattered all over Arkham. These are much like the Riddler’s trophies because you more or less have to stumble over them to find any. Searching for these can be a fun diversion when you have hit a wall in the gameplay. Online play for this game is more like a challenge mode where you consistently try and beat other player’s scores or times on any particular level with the two different modes of play. Exclusive to the PlayStation 3 is the ability to play one of the many challenge modes as the Joker. The Joker has his own assortment of weapons and gadgets to be used against his opponents.
There is hard to find much wrong with this game. It is clearly well developed, thought out and made a solid impression as a game based on a movie. The only real issues I have with the game are more of personal preference and that is in regards to the Joker. Yes, his quips and comments are for the most part funny but he has way too much dialog. You spend most of the game listening to him ramble on about one thing or another.