"And at the end of Fear...Oblivion!!!" - Jonathan Crane (alias Scarecrow) in Batman Arkham City,
This review is from: Batman: Arkham Asylum - Classics (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Although I do not read the recent Batman Comic books for they keep juggling around the continuity of their storyline so much that it becomes confusing, I have however nothing but respect for Paul Dini's interpretation of the Batman myth. Indeed, with the excellent scripts he did with his "Batman the Animated Series", "Gotham Girls", "Justice League", "Superman", and "Batman Beyond", Paul Dini has revealed, like Tim Burton did with his excellent movies, the troubled personality of Batman, his contradictions, and the darkness that surrounds Gotham, its citizens and its criminals. And once again, Paul Dini offers another excellent work with his "Arkham" Series, in which we are once again reunited with Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. In this first game, which entirely happens in the Arkham Asylum grounds, Batman tries to stop a riot that the Joker initiates after the Dark Knight brings him back to the Asylum for his murder attempt on the Mayor. Not only that, Batman has to fight off the Riddler's enigmas, along with Poison Ivy, Zsaz, Bane, Killer Croc, and Scarecrow, my personal favourite, along with a new enemy whose presence will be dramatic in the sequel Arkham City.
After playing Arkham Asylum, I have only praise for this excellent video game. First of all, the voice acting of all the actors is perfect, not only in the game but also in the audio interviews that players can uncover. It was a clever idea to use those interviews since it allows us to learn other details about the characters. Indeed, the writing in those scenes is so good that I felt the Batman villains were like real people and their psychology is very powerful as we see some of them reveal how twisted they were. For instance, I loved Zsaz's interactions with Doctor Cassidy and I too wondered what happened to her, until I got to play the game further and read afterwards a special prelude Arkham Asylum comic book. Apart from the storyline, the game offers the possibility to play Challenge Levels, which include Fighting and Infiltration maps that can offer Ranked results when playing online. It is not necessary to play those sections to complete the story, but they are a great addition that will add further replay value to the game. For the gameplay, I loved how they used the Unreal game engine, which was the same one that the Bioshock game used, since the textures and model designs gave me the same amazement that I felt when I played Bioshock. For the gadgets, I adore the grappling hook, the Bat glide, but also the various batarangs such as the sonic Batarang which allows you to attract enemies and knock them out with a shockwave. Not only that, I love how you can use those gadgets in the exploration levels and in the fights. On a last note, I really love the tension of some of the levels, most of all the fight with Bane, but also the ones with the Scarecrow, which mix both surrealism and realism gameplay and I hope we will get to see him again in any sequels that Paul Dini and Rockstar would want to do.
To conclude, this game is an excellent example that you can make an excellent super hero video game with both a great script and awesome level designs; a story that offers something more to the fans who think that they've seen it all with the Dark Knight.