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Batman: Arkham Asylum!!!!!!! (Xbox 360)

Batman: Arkham Asylum. What an epic game! Never has there been a Batman game, or superhero game in general, that has made you feel more like the titular character. For the first time in my life, I lived through Batman’s shoes (or boots) and I loved it!

The game starts out with a long sequence that sort of maps out where the rest of the game is going. You (playing as Batman) arrive at Arkham Asylum with a delivery on hand: the Joker. You escort him with the police as they transfer him through the prison. In this sequence you get a peak at some of the different rooms and corridors that you will be battling through and also glimpses of some of the foes that you will be encountering, including a hulk like Killer Croc. Before long, something goes haywire in the transfer and the Joker is freed, and assumes control over the asylum. The dastardly Joker conceives of a plan to create an unstoppable army of juggernauts to reign upon the city via prison inmates and a growth serum called the Titan. But thankfully you’re Batman, and ass-kicking is your number skill.

The game is visually stunning, incorporating the Unreal 3 engine. Batman and almost every character within the game are jacked to the gills, with their clothes or costumes hardly containing all the muscles underneath. It is quite impressive and intimidating to see Batman as this steroid-type beast. It helps in giving you that sense that he’s handing out some serious ass kickings during the fights throughout the game.

One of the things that boosted my joy for this game was that I was expecting one thing, but received something totally different. And usually, that’s a shitty deal, but in the case of Batman: Arkham Asylum it worked out superbly. You see, I thought that the game was going to be a straight-up beat ‘em up title (and granted, part of it is), but the game actually deals more with the detective (as Batman is!) and stealth/espionage aspects. While the option of running head-on into a room full of bad guys and kicking the tar out of them is available, the more effective approach is to stalk your prey from the ceilings and crevasses of the chambers. And it is a more safer approach as Batman can withstand only 3 or so gunshots before he succumbs to his wounds. The game is designed meticulously, for example if the henchmen come across the unconscious bodies of any of their friends, they will be overcome with fear and start acting nervously.

The detective mode of the game is one of the devices that help drive the story. Often you will have to scan for DNA, fingerprints or other residue in order to find your next destination. You’re given access to different visual modes that will aid you in this process. You’ll end up spending more time in the detective mode than the regular mode, only because it offers up so much more information, in respect to usable environment and the statuses on bad guys.

Combat, though basic in form, can actually get pretty deep. It’s a one-button system for fighting, but you’re also given a block and a counter button. The key to success though is chaining together as many hits as you can with your combos, thus minimizing the amount of damage you take. You also need to watch for visual cues to know when to counter. In true Batman fashion, you don’t kill your enemies, but incapacitate them instead. Armed at your disposal are a number of items, some that can be used during fights, while others are used for maneuvering around the environments within Arkham Asylum.

What really solidified this game for me was the superb voice acting. Reprising their roles as Batman and the Joker are Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, respectively, from their days on Batman the Animated Series, a show held in high regard within geekdom. Usually voice work is something I brush off or don’t take too much notice to, but Conroy really brings Batman to life, allowing you to feel like you’re in that role.

I can’t think of a single bad thing or complaint about the game. The only thing I can say is that I wanted more, but that’s not a knock against the game, and on that regard, they’re releasing a sequel later this year, so that’s something to look forward to.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is well worth the time and even better, you can find it at the retailers for $30 or less nowadays. I like playing backlog games, it’s easy on the wallet! Until next time, later geeks!

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