Holy crap, it is a crime against nature that I have only now played this game. A crime! I should be locked up, and if I am locked up, I should have my ass handed to me by Batman. That would be a pretty awesome way to go, except he doesn’t kill people. So, the only chance in snowy Hell of that happening is if it’s Tim Burton Batman I’m dealing with, which I’m not. I’m dealing with Rocksteady Games’ Batman.
And what a Batman! The design is spectacular, and color me shocked, Jim Lee was one of the main guys behind the game’s character design. Go. Figure. Jim Lee is one of my favorite Batman artists, his work on “Hush” was incredible, and some of that design returns, only now with twisted tweaks and design to fit the atmospheric Arkham.
Within the first fifteen minutes, it’s already easy to see why B:AA got game of the year. It is addicting, messed up, a total ride. The detail in the environments is incredible, and will often form a jaw-dropping matrimony with the character design. Like, when you encounter a cell stained with muddy hand prints. The person in the cell keeps on changing. One moment he’s Commissioner Gordon, and in the next, he’s Batman. I have to admit, this is somewhat of a poor example, because as cool as it was, it was not a precursor to a Clayface fight.
I probably shouldn’t bitch. B:AA promises a sequel, and with that sequel, some villains missed in this first installment. I still have trouble wrapping my head around calculating the man hours Rocksteady would need to build this kind of world. And even though combat with villains like Clayface, Two-Face, Puppeteer, and Black Mask are missed; their absence is in no way a game breaker. The villains we have in this first game are excellent, and the boss fights are strong in this one. Remember how you had to find the patterns in your badguys back in the day? Koopa jumps twice, then shoots the fireball, so you gotta run under him, and jump on his head – yeah, that kinda stuff, only this time it’s Rodeo Night at the Mutated Inmate Corral.
Screw this, Princess. I got my own pipes to clean.
It tests your wits as Gotham’s greatest gumshoe when determining your opponents’ weaknesses, but I won’t go into it now, because this ain’t no damn walk through! You came here for pixels, and more than likely... pies!
The combat in the game is great, and sees you pulling off some sick moves that would even make Altair go: "DaYUMN!" I guess one of my major qualms with the combat was that I couldn't interrupt major combat animations to counter the baddies. The little ones flowed seamlessly into a counter, but if you're doing something like knocking someone out, the animation is a death trap when you're surrounded, and desperately pressing Y. I can totally understand a psycho inmate in clown make-up being able to interrupt me when I'm trying to knock out one of their buddies, they take whatever break they can against the Bat. I should be able to stop my own doling out of ass-kickery to keep someone from cold-cocking me, no matter how involved in the "Render You Unconscious" arts I am.
There are several ways you can tackle this game. You can take the Frank Miller route. You can run into every room, Bat-a-rangs a-blazing, ready to take the entire roof down with you and your monstrous chin.
Or, you can employ the stealthy Nolan Method by terrorizing your opponents with fear tactics, traps, and a voice that makes gravel look like silk.
There is a third option in this game. You may miss a meal or two, and you may develop and unhealthy fascination with wordplay - wherever that might appear - but you won't care because you'll be too obsessed with trying to solve the Riddler's hidden puzzles. That's right, the Riddler has left behind a legacy of riddles for you to solve, and once this starts, it is safe to rename the game "Batman: I Will Never Leave Detective Mode So Long as I Live, You Can't Make Me Asylum."
For all of you Batman: Animated Series fans out there, you are in for a treat. Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, and several of the original cast from the animated series return to lend their incredible voice talents to the game. However, I should caution you, Kevin Conroy's reading of Batman is about as energetic as a toothbrush. The man has clearly moved on.
I don't know whether to be happy or bummed out that this game rocks. One on hand, I have not only an excellent Batman game, I have an excellent game. On the other hand... nope, no other hand. This game rocks, and major kudos to the team behind the Scarecrow segments. There are moments where the Scarecrow traps you in a nightmarish world of flashbacks and distorted reality. You face several versions of yourself, all of them going mad in their own asylum's cell, you are confronted by the cadavers of your parents, you enter a hallway that turns into the alley where your parents were killed, and you are changed back into the scared little boy you once were.
Gameplay & Mechanics 2
Score: 9 bats out of 10
Okay, seriously, the story is not that great, but this game has everything else going for it. The controls become second nature, the look of the game is matched by a great sound crew and voice cast, and there are several aspects of this game that will bring you back again and again. Now excuse me, I got some riddles to solve.
Lunch will be served in the cafeteria, psychos! Make sure you bring your tray, we have several options to choose them, each of them inspired by your fellow inmates. - Arkham MGMT.