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"[Game] Batman Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year Edition"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Batman: Arkham Asylum'.
Wed 07/04/10 at 14:26
Regular
Posts: 5,630
Your traditional ‘Game of the Year’ edition usually chucks in DLC releases, multiplayer maps, maybe a second disc of extra content. In the absence of any substantial downloadable content (save a few Challenge maps), and mindful of the resurgent 3D trend (and to the cynical observer, the £££ I generates) Rocksteady have instead taken the opportunity to release Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Game of the Year edition in glorious 3D. To my mind it’s the first major game release released in the format. But is it a success or a failure? Time to switch on ‘Detective’ mode, analyse these 3D glasses and put this disc into the Bat-computer to find out.

Now if you have played and completed the game already whether this 3D version warrants another purchase is a matter of personal taste. Essentially it is a gimmick and one that works to an extent (which I’ll discuss below) but in my opinion not strong enough to warrant another £30-£40 to buy again when there is no substantial extra content. Aside from the 3D element the only addition is the inclusion of some new challenge maps. No gamerpics, themes, story DLC, behind the scenes documentaries. If you’re on the fence note that this game allows you to collect all 1000 achievement points again so if you are into achievements (like me) that’s worth bearing in mind. However if you compare it to say Fallout 3 GOTY (which had all five DLC releases included) or say Mass Effect Special Edition (which had behind the scenes docs as well as themes, gamerpics etc) this release has none of that content. So basically it lives or dies on the strength of the 3D experience. So how is it?

The 3D viewing is delivered with a pair of good old fashioned paper frame 3D glasses, the kind that magazines or cereal boxes gave away free a decade ago but are inexplicably en vogue again now. Now if say you saw Avatar in 3D and was blown away by the depth perception and sense of immersion and expect a similar experience, it won’t be – but that’s fair enough considering the fact your TV is 2D and the way in which the images are being delivered.

Personally, I enjoyed the 3D aspect but wasn’t bowled over. The first time you get attacked by enemies or switch on ‘Detective’ mode the 3D is really enjoyable and you do get an unusual sense of increased immersion in the environments. However, in certain areas of the island the colours either look a little fuzzy, and in certain parts it didn’t really feel 3D at all. After a few hours of gameplay I found myself switching back to the traditional view (it’s optional from the in game menu) which probably says a lot about the long term viability of it. It definitely does have an initial ‘wow’ factor though.

The game itself is outstanding. Perfectly capturing the feel of Batman and his universe, the game fuses stealth based action with a finely tuned combat system. The story opens up with Batman delivering the Joker back to Arkham Asylum. Suspicious at the ease of which he was captured, Batman’s instincts prove dead on as the Joker escapes and instigates ‘the worst night of Batman’s life’. As you battle throughout the asylum to stop the Joker’s plan you come face to face with many of Batman’s other foes such as Bane, Poison Ivy, Mr Zsasz and Killer Croc and a number of brilliant ‘easter eggs’ (scattered throughout the world as Riddler ‘clues’) for dedicated fans. Much like ‘The Dark Knight’ set a new standard for the superhero genre on film, Arkham Asylum elevates and redefines the console superhero game completely.

Rather than focus solely on the heightened realism delivered in Nolan’s franchise or the Gothic Gotham presented by Tim Burton, Arkham Asylum distils all the elements of film and comic to present something close to a definitive Batman. The gloomy Arkham environments and moody, atmospheric musical score evoke memories of the Burton versions, the detailed and realistic focus on Batman’s gadgets and upgrades and how he applies them is more rooted in the more recent Nolan films, and of course the voice talent is from the excellent Animated Series from the mid-1990s. Batman Arkham Asylum fuses these different elements very successfully, and combines them with excellent visuals, sound effects and overall superb production values.

The gameplay itself is based on two core tenets of the Batman character. One, he’s bloody clever and two he can kick pretty much anyone’s ass in a fight. Fighting is done through a ‘freeflow’ combat system that allows you to string moves, blocks and counters together seamlessly. Once you have connected with five successful hits or blocks, improved combos become available, and you can also deploy your batarangs or batclaw to aid you. As you progress through the game enemies start to carry electrified weapons or guns so your method of handling them has to improve by say, stunning them or tackling the gun wielding enemy first. Without consciously realising it, a tactical element comes to the fore as you have to decide quickly how best to dispatch a group of enemies. You can go in all fists and win the fight in a rough and tumble manner, taking a few hits in the process, or should you choose to, you can systematically dismantle a whole room full of adversaries. There are so many options and it’s this choice in how you approach combat that elevates the action to such high levels.

Aside from combating Joker’s goons and escaped inmates in the main story, there are additional ‘Challenge rooms’ which will provide a massive er...challenge to those who feel they have mastered the combat. Placing you in a room with around 30-40 enemies, the rooms give you a score based on how efficiently you take them down, with bonuses given for combos, whether you emerge unscathed etc with online leaderboards providing a competitive element. At times frustrating but incredibly addictive, it’s a welcome addition and one area where the GOTY version does introduce some new content.

The detective aspect is also handled brilliantly. By activating Batman’s cowl you can switch on ‘detective mode’ which gives the screen a blue hue and highlights enemies and objects of interest. Again, there is so much choice at how you approach an area. Given the various gadgets at your disposal, you can cause diversions or set traps whether it be hang from a gargoyle and grab enemies as they walk by, place explosive gel on the wall to gather a group together or swoop down to capture them one by one.

If you have never played Batman Arkham Asylum I can recommend this Game of the Year edition without hesitation. Rocksteady have absolutely nailed Batman in every aspect, from action to atmosphere to just pure feel, and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do given the diverse interpretations of the Batman mythos. The 3D experience is not an unqualified success but it’s the first time a top console game has been delivered in the format and on that basis is well worth a try. As a lasting experience, and as a re-purchase, it’s tough to recommend. On the gameplay side, and for Batman enthusiasts, recommendations don’t come higher.
Wed 07/04/10 at 17:09
Regular
Posts: 18
I'm probably one of the only people who is not a fan of this game, it's just not my thing.
Wed 07/04/10 at 15:39
Regular
"I like turtles"
Posts: 5,368
I was curious as to how much/little the 3D aspect would add to this game so thanks for posting this.Agree,Batman Arkham Asylum was a great game and one of my faves from last year.

Very good review as well.
Wed 07/04/10 at 14:26
Regular
Posts: 5,630
Your traditional ‘Game of the Year’ edition usually chucks in DLC releases, multiplayer maps, maybe a second disc of extra content. In the absence of any substantial downloadable content (save a few Challenge maps), and mindful of the resurgent 3D trend (and to the cynical observer, the £££ I generates) Rocksteady have instead taken the opportunity to release Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Game of the Year edition in glorious 3D. To my mind it’s the first major game release released in the format. But is it a success or a failure? Time to switch on ‘Detective’ mode, analyse these 3D glasses and put this disc into the Bat-computer to find out.

Now if you have played and completed the game already whether this 3D version warrants another purchase is a matter of personal taste. Essentially it is a gimmick and one that works to an extent (which I’ll discuss below) but in my opinion not strong enough to warrant another £30-£40 to buy again when there is no substantial extra content. Aside from the 3D element the only addition is the inclusion of some new challenge maps. No gamerpics, themes, story DLC, behind the scenes documentaries. If you’re on the fence note that this game allows you to collect all 1000 achievement points again so if you are into achievements (like me) that’s worth bearing in mind. However if you compare it to say Fallout 3 GOTY (which had all five DLC releases included) or say Mass Effect Special Edition (which had behind the scenes docs as well as themes, gamerpics etc) this release has none of that content. So basically it lives or dies on the strength of the 3D experience. So how is it?

The 3D viewing is delivered with a pair of good old fashioned paper frame 3D glasses, the kind that magazines or cereal boxes gave away free a decade ago but are inexplicably en vogue again now. Now if say you saw Avatar in 3D and was blown away by the depth perception and sense of immersion and expect a similar experience, it won’t be – but that’s fair enough considering the fact your TV is 2D and the way in which the images are being delivered.

Personally, I enjoyed the 3D aspect but wasn’t bowled over. The first time you get attacked by enemies or switch on ‘Detective’ mode the 3D is really enjoyable and you do get an unusual sense of increased immersion in the environments. However, in certain areas of the island the colours either look a little fuzzy, and in certain parts it didn’t really feel 3D at all. After a few hours of gameplay I found myself switching back to the traditional view (it’s optional from the in game menu) which probably says a lot about the long term viability of it. It definitely does have an initial ‘wow’ factor though.

The game itself is outstanding. Perfectly capturing the feel of Batman and his universe, the game fuses stealth based action with a finely tuned combat system. The story opens up with Batman delivering the Joker back to Arkham Asylum. Suspicious at the ease of which he was captured, Batman’s instincts prove dead on as the Joker escapes and instigates ‘the worst night of Batman’s life’. As you battle throughout the asylum to stop the Joker’s plan you come face to face with many of Batman’s other foes such as Bane, Poison Ivy, Mr Zsasz and Killer Croc and a number of brilliant ‘easter eggs’ (scattered throughout the world as Riddler ‘clues’) for dedicated fans. Much like ‘The Dark Knight’ set a new standard for the superhero genre on film, Arkham Asylum elevates and redefines the console superhero game completely.

Rather than focus solely on the heightened realism delivered in Nolan’s franchise or the Gothic Gotham presented by Tim Burton, Arkham Asylum distils all the elements of film and comic to present something close to a definitive Batman. The gloomy Arkham environments and moody, atmospheric musical score evoke memories of the Burton versions, the detailed and realistic focus on Batman’s gadgets and upgrades and how he applies them is more rooted in the more recent Nolan films, and of course the voice talent is from the excellent Animated Series from the mid-1990s. Batman Arkham Asylum fuses these different elements very successfully, and combines them with excellent visuals, sound effects and overall superb production values.

The gameplay itself is based on two core tenets of the Batman character. One, he’s bloody clever and two he can kick pretty much anyone’s ass in a fight. Fighting is done through a ‘freeflow’ combat system that allows you to string moves, blocks and counters together seamlessly. Once you have connected with five successful hits or blocks, improved combos become available, and you can also deploy your batarangs or batclaw to aid you. As you progress through the game enemies start to carry electrified weapons or guns so your method of handling them has to improve by say, stunning them or tackling the gun wielding enemy first. Without consciously realising it, a tactical element comes to the fore as you have to decide quickly how best to dispatch a group of enemies. You can go in all fists and win the fight in a rough and tumble manner, taking a few hits in the process, or should you choose to, you can systematically dismantle a whole room full of adversaries. There are so many options and it’s this choice in how you approach combat that elevates the action to such high levels.

Aside from combating Joker’s goons and escaped inmates in the main story, there are additional ‘Challenge rooms’ which will provide a massive er...challenge to those who feel they have mastered the combat. Placing you in a room with around 30-40 enemies, the rooms give you a score based on how efficiently you take them down, with bonuses given for combos, whether you emerge unscathed etc with online leaderboards providing a competitive element. At times frustrating but incredibly addictive, it’s a welcome addition and one area where the GOTY version does introduce some new content.

The detective aspect is also handled brilliantly. By activating Batman’s cowl you can switch on ‘detective mode’ which gives the screen a blue hue and highlights enemies and objects of interest. Again, there is so much choice at how you approach an area. Given the various gadgets at your disposal, you can cause diversions or set traps whether it be hang from a gargoyle and grab enemies as they walk by, place explosive gel on the wall to gather a group together or swoop down to capture them one by one.

If you have never played Batman Arkham Asylum I can recommend this Game of the Year edition without hesitation. Rocksteady have absolutely nailed Batman in every aspect, from action to atmosphere to just pure feel, and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do given the diverse interpretations of the Batman mythos. The 3D experience is not an unqualified success but it’s the first time a top console game has been delivered in the format and on that basis is well worth a try. As a lasting experience, and as a re-purchase, it’s tough to recommend. On the gameplay side, and for Batman enthusiasts, recommendations don’t come higher.

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