So Batman: Arkham Asylum has been out for a week now and its being herald as the best game of 09 and has been solidified as the greatest super hero based game of all time but is it a perfect game? Arkham Asylum is certainly a great game and worth its praise. It’s hard to not appreciate all its glorious wonders from stunning graphics, superior voice acting to its fantastic mix of action and stealth game play. One might be labeled a heretic for daring to find faults with such an awesome game but no game is perfect. Folks are so caught up with everything this game does right that they can’t recognize its flaws but being the nerdbastard that I am I have no problem calling it like it is. Here are 5 reasons Arkham Asylum may leave you less than satisfied.
Combat: I’m probably going to catch a lot of shit for this one as everyone is raving about the free flow combat system. The fist to face action consists of repeatedly smashing the same button which induces vicious, acrobatic, cinematic combos by the Batman. Dodging and countering are included in this flow and it does feel organic but its simple 3 button control is a little too seamless. Quite frankly it gets boring. It would have been more rewarding if combos where achieved by pulling off a medium-complex, timed button amalgamation. Same goes for mini-boss fights. Quite a few times you will encounter a suped upped goon which you can take down by either going toe-to-toe or blinding him with a batarang when he comes charging, leaving him to crash into a wall. By the way dodging these assholes is wicked annoying due to a triggered slow-mo effect. Found myself screaming at screen in these moments. You do have the option to ride one of these beasts when they are dazed which is fun but a button mini-game much like in “god of war” would have been a nice addition here. In short the combat system is retard friendly, doesn’t leave much to be desired unless you like playing thru head on action sequences like a zombie.
Game Play: Yea, we all know how awesome the game play is. Every facet of being Batman, from those “wonderful toys” that help him along, to striking fear in the hearts of his opponents by carefully lurking in the shadows or taking them head on, to straight-up acting like a detective, hunting around for clues. It all translates into a full on experience. You just don’t feel like the Bat you ARE the bat. So where is the complaint? Well the game severely lacks diverse, dynamic challenges. Besides immersing in locating a myriad of hidden items (Audio logs, Riddler trophies, villain references etc.) the ONLY thing you do in the game is dispose of Joker’s henchman. There is a modicum of satisfaction in discarding groups of goons, especially when you are in a precarious situation (goons with guns) and have to strategically plot out your stealth attack from the shadows. However, doing this room after room really just becomes a tireless, repetitious routine. It would have been less monotonous with compelling challenges to break it up. Timed challenges (I guess 1 is better than none), Puzzle solving, usage of a bat themed vehicle. (could have had an intense chase around the island in the ole bat boat) or even an unforced side mission or two would have added to the experience.
Villain Rogue Gallery: References to Batman nemeses are a plenty. You’ll geek out with glee stumbling upon little subtle cameos like the Penguins Umbrella Display, Mr. Freezes cell or Raa’s Al Guhls body. As satisfying as these little gems are the title’s pre-release marketing cautiously teased the criminal cast for so long that you’d expect they would have saved a few more for the final game. Another villain could have easily been added considering you fight a certain ‘Scary’ character 3 F’N times, in the same manor mind you. Just a tad bit disappointing.
Boss Battles: This is by far the games biggest short coming. It’s pretty shitty that after neutralizing goons room after room you a rewarded with a less than suspenseful, un-dramatic boss battle. Not to mention ridiculously easy! The one exhilarating encounter is a subterranean showdown with a baddie whose name rhymes with cock. It’s a shame that the rest of the boss battles couldn’t have been this intense. By the way am I the only one that thinks super Joker is skull fuckingly stupid as super Shredder in Ninja Turtles II? Just sayin.
Game Length: Unless your itching to complete every one of the Riddler’s fetch quests or solve his super easy environmental objects being pawned off as riddles the campaign will take anywhere from 10-12 hours. That’s ridiculously short. I understand the story of the game takes place in the course of one evening but I shouldn’t be able to rip thru this game in actual time.
Outside of a few little oddities and well founded gripes, the game is nearing perfection for defining a Batman game, and will be the bar as to which all future superhero games are measured for years to come.