Without really knowing I was getting there, I finished Batman: Arkham Asylum the other day. I guess I had longer to go because I was only 70-something% done with the game, but I guess that includes all the secret Riddler trophies, character files and interview tapes. All in all, this game is as rad as everyone said it is, but I was still surprised at the intense horror elements in the game: bodies littered all over the place, monsters, trippy nightmare sequences, armies of weird looking dudes all trying to kill you, mountains of doll or human body parts. Even Scarecrow gets a Freddy Krueger makeover, with injection hand and everything. Plus, there’s a last minute, Carrie-like hand pop scene at the very end of the credits. But the game isn’t perfect.
My biggest problem with the game is the opening 5-10 minutes. It’s a glorified cut scene with you controlling Batman walking alongside the newly incarcerated Joker as credits roll. Now, I don’t play a ton of video games, but I don’t think this is common practice (the credits). My real problem with this is that you have to control Batman, but all he can do is walk. Why not just make it a cut scene, pretty it up and let me enjoy Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker again. This was not a great way to start things off.
Another aspect of the game that I wasn’t crazy about, but got used to, was the fighting mechanic. There’s basically a punch button, a counter and a dodge. It really frustrates me when there’s no basic jump button in a game. I guess I’m just old fashioned that way, but it bothers me. Anyway, when fighting you’ve got a few combinations and it turns into a button masher mixed with a rhythm game as you need to hit the counter button at the exact right time. Like I said, at first this was kind of boring, but then I realized that I can’t remember long streams of combo moves anyway, so this was perfect for me. That doesn’t mean I’m great at it, but it’s still fun. Plus you’ve got all the gadgets, though I do wish there would have been some explosive batarangs. You know, cause blowing shit up is cool. I really thought about just unlocking all the goodies with a cheat code, but decided instead to just go through the game the way it was designed (though I’m betting it would have been more fun from the beginning to have everything).
Aside from those minor complaints, this game is fantastic and it looks gorgeous. I would gladly watch the events of this game roll out as a CGI movie, even after just playing it. Let’s get the newly formed DC Entertainment on that! I’m hoping this is the future of comic-based games. The thing that developers have to realize is that, just because a comic might star a superhero, doesn’t mean you have to make a superhero game. AA feels like it’s a few steps away from the creepiness of something like Resident Evil or Silent Hill and just happens to star some of the most recognizable characters in the universe. I’d also like to see someone get their hands on the Green Lanterns and do an epic space game. Oh, or a WWII game with Captain America. Or a Nick Fury spy game. The possibilities are endless, especially when you take the concept and look at it from all angles.