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This review is from: Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Being a Batman fan I was given Batman: Arkham Asylum as a birthday present and it's a fine game. The campaign tells the story of how Batman fights to regain control of the infamous Gotham prison from his arch enemy the Joker. It is an interesting choice, having Batman navigate one huge environment rather than have him traipse around the whole of Gotham. It's a choice that does work and is one of many wise decisions made by the designers that make Arkham Asylum not only a fine experience but very much its own game.
The characterisation of Batman here is superb. Skilfully voiced by animated veteran Kevin Conroy he exudes psychological strength and every emotion that Batman experiences. Batman in combat has never looked better, not in the movies, not in the animated series. The three button attack command is extremely simple, not nearly as deep as Bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden but this Batman, in the hands of a decent player, is the definition of formidable. The other main challenges are the stealth sections, which do allow players to be creative in how armed thugs are taken down. There is some pleasure to be had in sitting on a gargoyle listening to panicking henchmen while waiting for the perfect moment to pouch.
However the game really struggles to give you good boss fights. Take Bane for example, one of my favourite villains. His new design is imposing, his introductory cut scene gives a hint of the calculated mastermind depicted in the Knightfall tale. The actual fight is a pattern attack boss battle at its most primitive as the character becomes the mindless ape from the Schumacher film. The designers add regular thugs to the mix to give Bane more of a chance of defeating the player only for the real Bane to return in the finishing cut scene. Nearly all the bosses, though visually interesting, are defeated by a similarly tedious game play mechanic. By the time the final fight with the Joker is reached it feels like the designers have given up even trying. It is no surprise that there is no boss rush mode (only stealth and combat stages) outside of the main campaign.
The tone is also very gloomy with even the tiniest hint of camp being purged from the art direction and the soundtrack. Though the locations are lovingly created, switching to Batman's vision to the necessary `Detective Mode' bleeds the last shred colour from the games limited palette. The tone is coherent but it is difficult to play Arkham Asylum, with its near monotone look, on a nice sunny day. Heaven forbid that they might suggest that Robin exist within this universe.
Arkham Asylum is an enjoyable, fine game made by people who care about and love Batman. It has problems and I do question some of choices made but on the whole I'd say they got it right.