After being away from the PS3 for a week for training it was nice to come home to find my copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum had arrived. Prior to playing the demo I was on the fence about purchasing the game because it looked like nothing more than a brawler with beefy thugs that didn't look like any one particular Batman villain. My fanboy mind was swayed after playing the demo though when I realized just how deep the game would end up.
Friday night after the kids went to sleep I put the game in and was immediately sucked in. The story from the demo was only a portion of what the full game contains, but the fact that the story in the demo was intriguing enough, but then to find that the full game has so much more a treat for gaming.
What really sells the game for me is the fact that Batman just plain and simple kicks some serious ass. He is a brute that fights for justice. At no point do you feel like there isn't any thug or boss battle that you confront and think, crap I'm never going to finish this battle. The fighting is simple, but there is a nuance to the fighting that adds to combos which ends up putting Batman in some of the coolest fight sequences as he floats between, over and through waves of thugs.
But fighting is just one element. Batman is a detective. Being a detective you get to walk around and examine lots of different things. Since Batman is also known as The Dark Knight you have plenty of opportunity to move around stealthily or swing from a dark corner down onto an nervous thug. With the funding of the Wayne fortune Batman has every toy at his disposal for...uhm...well...detecting things. With a simple press of the L2 the view switches to an almost wireframe view of the immediate area with certain important objects standing out in orange (a nice complementary color to the typical blue view that Detect mode normally runs in). Thugs and good guys stand out as skeletal frames when in Detect mode (thugs with guns show up in red). You start off with the Batarang but end up getting explosive charges, a Batclaw, a repel line and a micro transmitter to disarm computers and other electronic devices. Each Bat-toy fits perfectly within the context of the game.
One of the other nice design elements of the game is the fact that you can collect Riddler trophies within the game. The trophies help to build up XP for improving the Bat-toys as well as help to unfold additional story elements for some of the villians. Some trophies seem impossible to get at first glance, but once you have all of the Bat-toys you can go back to the hard to get trophies.
This allows for multiple play throughs without the environment becoming too stale or boring.
At this point I haven't even loaded up the Challenge rooms, but I'm looking forward to switching modes and playing as the Joker. Speaking of the Joker--hot damn Mark Hamill does a fantastic job. Not too hamtastic with the peformance, and plenty of nuance when the moment calls for it.
More later folks.