Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect stealth action game?, 30 Aug 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) (Video Game)
I had to chuckle at the question Amazon ask before you can submit a review: "Are you over 13?". Well, yes, I'm well over 13. Multiply it by 2 and you're still not close... three times and you've overshot only slightly. Why do I bother mentioning this? Well, because I sometimes feel a bit too old for video games, as if I seen everything any game can possibly offer. Many "triple A" titles of late have left me completely cold. I found Metal Gear Solid 4 too weird with rather stilted animation on the main character, the recent re-release of Chronicles of Riddick felt clunky and drab and the less said about Splinter Cell the better.

Yet Batman: Arkham Asylum makes me feel like a 13 kid again, and I love it. If you were ever a fan of Batman, be it the DC comics, the camp TV series starring Adam West, the Tim Burton films, the dreadful cash-in sequels or the decent reboots with Christian Bale - the game is the Batman you always carried around in your head - an invincible crime fighter of super hero status without being blessed with any special powers.

This is no simple brawler; neither is it a simple stealth game - it's both of those and so much more. Additionally, where I normally detest any and all fighting games, particularly of the "stroll along, beat up some guys, rinse & repeat" variety, Batman: Arkham Asylum manages to make it enjoyable. I can normally never be bothered to master "combos" and end up mashing the buttons. Somehow, Batman: Arkham Asylum has convinced me to learn "combos"; and I have, and I have enjoyed using them. I think it's also the very first game in which I have been able to pull off "counter moves" with ease. The stealth gaming is of the friendly sort; you're Batman, so being stealthy comes easily to you, allowing you to concentrate more on your strategy in the areas where a straight fight would end in certain death. Then there are the "detective" parts, which could feel "tacked on" but they don't, adding further to the sense of immersion in the game environment.

The graphics are up there with the best I have seen on the PS3. Nice and crisp with Batman showing off some particularly smooth animation. Arkham Asylum manages to look suitably dark and dingy while also being colourful and wonderful to look at. It particularly avoids the typical "shades of brown" that so many other recent games have resorted to.

The story isn't going to win the Booker Prize, but it is certainly Grade A comic book fare. I think many games these days try too hard in this area and lose my interest, whereas this relatively simple tale kept me gripped until the end. The voice characterisation is spot on and the story is gripping in a comic book sort of way. I must particularly commend Mark Hamill for his work as the Joker, particularly as I simply cannot picture Mark Hamill doing that voice - a tribute to his skills as a voice over artist (I also enjoyed his performance in Lucas Arts' Full Throttle many years ago).The music is also very good - I didn't look up who actually wrote it, but it's reminiscent of the Danny Elfman score to Tim Burton's Batman.

Two months ago, I really wasn't expecting much from this game and certainly didn't think I'd be buying it writing this glowing review. The demo (available on Xbox Live and the PS3 store) gives you a good taste of what to expect from the fighting and stealth but the final game has much more than this and there have also been some further refinements made to Batman's movement (although I didn't find anything particularly wrong with it in the demo).

Throw in the Joker Challenge levels (on the PS3 version only) and you've got a game that offers tremendous value for money. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this to anyone with a passing interest in the world of Batman.
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