I’ll come clean right here, at the start here: I’m not a Batman fan, and I’ve never been a Batman fan. Something about the way he refuses to kill even those villains who are just begging for it made him seems less, I don’t know… “hardcore” than the general Marvel Comics crew. However, after playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum and hunting down every secret and character profile, I’m considering heading over to my local comic shop to see what works they have featuring Gotham’s caped crusader.
Yes, the game really is that good. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a work of art in every way. If you’ve ever had reason to be sceptical of superhero games – and nobody would blame you if you did – then put them aside and give this game a go. Whether you’re a comic-book junkie looking for a decent videogame incarnation of one of your favourite comics, or just someone looking for a decent action game, you’ll find that Batman: Arkham Asylum fulfils both needs with surprising style.
The story for the game, written by award-winning Batman writer Paul Dini, is a simple yet ingenious reason to set Batman up against a handful of old foes: The Joker had escaped from his imprisonment in Arkham Asylum, but allowed himself to be recaptured by Batman with seemingly no resistance at all. Having a sixth sense for danger, Batman sensed that the Joker was up to something, and decided to accompany the wardens as they wheeled the Joker back to his cell – just in case he tried something. As you might have guessed, the Joker does manage to give them the slip and escapes into the Asylum, taking control of the security systems and releasing some of his fellow super-criminals, along with an army of violent, half-crazy convicts. With the lives of the Arkham staff, and eventually the people of Gotham City at stake, Batman has to sort this mess out, and fast.
To recapture the Joker and regain control of the facility, players control Batman as he fights armies of foes, follows clues, and solves a variety of puzzles. One of the reasons this game is so good is because it isn’t all mindless action; the player is actually given a role in the story by taking an active part in sleuthing out the Joker’s plan.
If that’s not enough for you, there are also tons of secrets to discover in the form of Riddler Challenges. That pesky criminal mastermind has left a bunch of riddles for Batman to solve and trophies for him to find. Solving these riddles and finding all of his hidden items unlocks character profiles for the player to read and challenges to play. With all this and more to look for, there’s certainly plenty to do in the game.