Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the best comicbook or film-to-game adaptations ever. And even if you’re not a particular fan of Bruce Wayne or The Joker, there’s much to enjoy in the pacey blend of punchy action, puzzle-solving and stealth. Read our full Batman: Arkham Asylum review to find out just what we think.
Arkham Asylum is the gothic sanatorium where Batman’s arch-enemies are locked up, stuck on a fortified island off the coast of Gotham City. When The Joker, voiced brilliantly here by Mark “Star Wars” Hamill, takes over the island, kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and starts working on creating a mutated army of super-henchmen, it’s time to call Batman.
Batman: Arkham Asylum mixes up a stew of different gameplay elements. The close-in melee combat system, which sees you mainly hammering random buttons under the headings of “punch”, “stun” and “counter” seems fairly lifted from Heavenly Sword, with flashing lightning bolts appearing above enemy heads so you know when to pull a counter.
Stealth sections, where you need to creep behind multiple enemies in a closed-in area, using zipwires and underfloor tunnels to gain surprise, are pure Sam Fisher. And the mix of gadget-use and visual clues picked up in your enhanced vision “Detective Mode” to solve environment puzzles bring a touch of Uncharted to Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Despite mixing and matching ingredients, Batman: Arkham Asylum coalesces very well. That’s mostly helped by the absolutely spectacular visual gloss applied, some great scripting from Emmy-award winner Paul Dini and excellent voice acting to boot.
Arkham Asylum also uses Batman’s backstory to great effect. Working your way through the prison grounds on the trail of The Joker and sidekick Harley Quinn, you encounter plenty of other residents (Croc, Two Face, Poison Ivy etc.) – in cameos or full-on boss battles. Best of all are Scarecrow’s attacks – genuinely terrifying trips inside Batman’s shattered mind.
Sadly, some of the other scraps with the supervillains in Batman: Arkham Asylum aren’t quite so inventive – and often come down to repetitive button-bashing and dodging. Also, dodge and climbing controls sometimes get confused, and the island setting isn’t as well used as it could be. But minor flaws don’t go anywhere near ruining one of the best action-adventure games you’re likely to play this year.