Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Review: Batman- Arkham Asylum
The positive three, the negative two.
(1) The environment is quintessential Batman- And this is key because I've never seen another Batman game that got it right. Arkham Asylum is a purely spooky spacial environment with a full moon in a cloud sky, long shadows, dimly lit corridors, mad men over the loud speakers, etc. And it's not just the scenery. One of the mini-games/side-quests is collection all of the patient interview tapes from around the Asylum. And in the still almost-quiet of different areas of the Asylum, it is at time genuinely creepy to listen to the interviews between the doctors and some the Batman universe's most notorious villains.You also search for clues on the background of Arkham Asylum, which sticks fairly close to that of the graphic novel which shares the game's name. Also creepy.
And video games, as a genre, are uniquely susceptible to showing their age because both of the games above are classics in the video game canon. But in Arkham Asylum, the graphic designers worked their magic in giving Batman the ability to sneak-up on people, perform take-downs, glide over unsuspecting terrorists, and hey, even hang people from the ceiling.
(3) The Villians are true to Batman Lore- Needless to say, Arkham Asylum couldn't fit EVERY villain from the Batman universe. But they make references to many of them, and those that do appear aren't changed to fit a bad script like "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin" but genuinely fit the story from the comic books and graphic novels. Also the producers needed to save room for Arkham Asylum 2. See the bottom for a preview.
(1) Low Replay Value- It's a fairly structured game, and while there are some sidequests, the incentives to go back and perform them are pretty low (woohoo, I got all the Riddler trophies!). Once you've beaten the game, you've beaten the game. And while there is some intrigue in getting to play as the Joker (which you can download from the Playstation Store), I didn't find it nearly intriguing enough to want to get back into.
(2) The Voice/Character Acting at times feels, er, forced- these systems have yet to perform real, unmistakably smooth voice/character acting. When playing this game, which we want to feel is real, we are jerked back to reality by some of the very wooden motions some of the characters make. And some of their lines appear to be straight out of the "dubbed-Japanese Kung Fu movie" handbook.
The Key Thought: Kudos to DC Comics for not falling into the "Movie-to-Video Game" trap. This is much more enjoyable than "Dark Knight: The Game." Also it's neat to have a game released in the U.S. first that has to be packaged for Japan...