Review of Batman Arkham Asylum for Xbox 360

This will be my attempt at the shortest and most to-the-point review ever of this four year old Batman game, so strap in and hang on (spoilers ahead).images

Batman Arkham Asylum is the story of Batman’s trip to the Arkham Asylum where Joker gets free of his bonds and frees all the other inmates including fan favorites such as Scarecrow and Killer Croc. These inmates then take control of the Asylum and its up to Batman to stop the Joker from unleashing an army of steroid-enhanced goons on Gotham.

Batman has a basic punching attack and a counter attack, and while it seems simple it allows for some of the most impressive free-flowing combat in the history of gaming. Everything has a sense of fluidity as you flip over, knock out and batarang enemies in the face, and the game rewards you for countering with finesse. Batman carries an assortment of tools like his batclaw and grapple hook that allow him to traverse the various flying/platforming segments scattered throughout Arkham Asylum. Some of these tools you’ll get late in the game which allow you to explore previously unavailable areas from earlier in the adventure. Everything works really well but the overwhelming sense of linearity and abundance of scripted segments stops the game from feeling like anything more than a standard superhero action title. Riddler trophies are hidden around the game’s facilities and their are challenge modes, but these only extend game time by a few hours and aren’t compelling enough to mess around with for more than an afternoon.

Pros:
-Graphics are pretty and Batman’s suit gets gradually scuffed up as the game unfolds
-The villains and their designs are badass, even by Batman standards
-First time in a game I’ve actually cared about collecting and hearing audio logs about characters’ bios
-Solid combat and gameplay mechanics
-Unique and crafty boss fights that incorporate a villain’s specific strengths and weaknesses instead of generic boss fights with hordes of goons
-No padding or superfluous content
-He’s Batman

Cons:
-Linear, scripted
-No real incentive to keep playing after the final showdown with Joker (no new game plus, either)
-Weird face models for non-villain characters

Arkham Asylum is a hell of a fun time while you’re playing it and you’ll love every second of the Batman nostalgia trip, but once the credits roll there’s virtually no incentive to pop the disc back in your Xbox.

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