BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 6, 2018
Welcome, dear readers, to our Big Red HQ. Now, you might notice that it is quite dark around here. I assure you, there is a perfectly logical explanation for that... if I could just think of one. Truth is, I don't know what happened. One minute, I was happily working away at my latest super-secret project which is aimed at making our lives here at the Big Red HQ quite a lot easier and indefinitely more fun, and the next... nothing but darkness and silence.
All the lights went out, so I patiently waited for the backup generator to kick in and the emergency lighting to come on. After waiting fruitlessly for ten minutes, I suddenly realized that we never installed said backup doohickeys, because... well... we just couldn't be bothered. I mean, come on. It's the Big Red HQ... nothing ever goes wrong here... okay, maybe we should have thought this through a bit more before engaging in what could only be called an all-night binge of beer, pickled herring and reindeer-goat cheese pizza.
Nevertheless, it does give one time to ponder things, doesn't it. Like, for instance, the strange mood that Dennis has been in lately. All that yammering about how things were somehow "different" around here, not to mention the fact that he refuses to drink beer anymore and keeps blabbing on about "the finer things in life" and "getting back on track". I mean, what the hell does that even mean, right? We've got everything that we need right here! Well, except for heating... or light, for that matter. Oh well, it doesn't matter to me, I like the dark... I am the dark... I... am Batman!
Now, as you may have already suspected, I'm not really Batman. So why would I say I am? Well, because this week we're going to travel back towards 2009 and don the black and thoroughly stylish attire of the Caped Crusader. Yes, we're going to play Batman: Arkham Asylum! But how will we travel through time and space when there's no power, you ask? Well, a few months ago, Dennis and I have developed the world's very first double-nucleonic-inverted-subatomic-gamma-delta-kappa-double-helix battery, which has the capacity to generate and hold infinite amounts of energy and has an indefinite shelf-life. Plus, it comes in a really snazzy red color, so it also looks cool! So, fasten your seatbelts and let's go!
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 3rd person action adventure game, developed by Rocksteady Studios for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. In the game, we take the role of Batman, and we do so at the moment he is escorting his nemesis, The Joker, to Arkham Asylum, where this evil-doer is to be incarcerated indefinitely. You see, the Joker fumbled an attack on Gotham City Hall and Batman was finally able to catch his sworn enemy. Joker seems to think that the entire situation is quite funny (as he usually does) and pretty soon after delivering him to Arkham Asylum, we find out why. Evidently, Joker wanted to get caught and to be transported to the asylum. With the help from Harley Quinn, as well as his thugs, who were also housed at the asylum after a fire devastated most of Blackgate Prison, Joker takes over the facility and locks it down by threatening to blow up the entire island if somebody from the outside so much as sets foot on it, denying Batman any help whatsoever... yeah, like he needs any help at all!
The main focus of the game is divided between stealth, awesome fighting sequences and environmental puzzles involving Batman's Detective Mode. Your main enemies are The Joker's men, which are all over the island. These characters range from thugs armed only with their fists, to thugs armed with a variety of melee weapons, to thugs armed with guns. One thing they all have in common; they're all thugs and are all out to kill Batman! Apart from these standard enemies, Batman must also face-off against a number of well-known DC villains, like Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Bane, Victor Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and, of course, The Joker. Each of these cool villains present a threat in their very own way and will all need a very different approach in order to defeat them at their own game.
One of the most defining traits of Batman: Arkham Asylum (apart from Batman himself, of course) is the truly awesome free-flow combat system, which enables you to dispatch multiple enemies in a short time with relative ease. With just three of Batman's moves (attack, stun and counter), you can hit and kick your way through large groups of the Joker's henchmen. This changes when they are armed with firearms, but it works perfectly for groups consisting solely of melee enemies. Now, as you make your way through the game's story, enemies with firearms become more and more frequent and you will have to adopt a different tactic, namely stealth. By making use of floor grates, gargoyle statues and his trusty grapnel gun, Batman can enter an area unseen and scope out the situation. He can even glide down from high up statues and kick the living shit out of unaware enemies and vanishing back into the shadows a mere second later.
I personally really liked the combination of stealth and brawling. That is how Batman does business, after all. The puzzles you come across along the way make for a nice break from that action. Whenever you come across such a conundrum, you can enter Batman's Detective Mode, which gives the screen a blueish hue and outlines nearby enemies and other points of interest in orange. Friendlies and knocked out or deceased enemies are shown in bright blue, so you this mode also comes in really handy when assessing a combat situation and planning your strategy accordingly. But, back to the puzzles. These usually challenge you to find a trail left by particular molecules, be it in the form of alcohol residue or any other trail that can be followed by using multi-billion dollar techniques.
Batman wouldn't be Batman if he didn't have a range of fancy Bat-toys. Luckily for us, he does! These toys range from the most basic Batarangs to the radio controlled variety, to Decrypters and Analyzers, a Grapnel Gun, a Line Launcher and, my personal favorite, Explosive Gel which allows you to destroy fragile walls and sections of floor. Sometimes, if you time it just right, you can even take out one or more enemies this way! All of these extremely useful items are neatly tucked away into Batman's utility belt which, although it's no longer bright yellow, is still an integral piece of Batman's equipment. Almost every tool at his disposal can be upgraded by using the WayneTech upgrade menu. This menu also allows Batman to upgrade his fighting techniques and his armor, so it's a very useful system. To be frank, without it you wouldn't stand a chance of defeating the stronger enemies.
I could go on for hours and hours about this game, because it's so much fun to play. Batman has always been and will always be my very favorite superhero, mostly because of his grim demeanor and awesome gadgets. To be the bat just feels more than awesome and the people at Rocksteady really managed to capture the essence of what, to me at least, makes Batman so very cool. Story-wise, the game is really well-written and features a very talented voice cast, adding another layer of awesomeness to this already excellent game. Just trust me, if you're into action / stealth-adventure games, than you'll really want play Arkham Asylum (assuming you didn't already that is).
And with that, dear ladies and germs, we have come to the end of yet another voyage of the Big Red Timemachine. Oh good, the lights are back on! Now I can finally get to the bottom of what happened. I hoped you enjoyed our time together and will join us again in two weeks when it is time for Dennis to take the helm once again. Speaking of Dennis, where the hell is that guy? Dennis? Dennis! DENNIS!!!! Oh, there you are... wait, what the hell happened to you? What do you mean, "what do you mean"?! You've showered. You've shaved... wait... you're even wearing cologne instead our usual au-de-beer. You've even combed your hair! And what's with the cigar and cashmere robe?! And don't you start with that "finer things in life" shit again. If I have to hear that one more time, I swear I'm going to strangle someone!
What's this? Yes, I can see it's a flyer! But what is it for? A all vegetarian Zen singles retreat for men with anger issues and megalomaniacal tendencies?! What the hell am I going to do there? I have no anger issues and you know it! No, I don't... no, I don't... NO, I DON'T!!!!!!! God-dammit Dennis, if I wasn't so busy taking over the entire galaxy, I would smack you upside the head with a two-by-four! What do you mean "I've just proven your point"? That's it; I need a damn beer... or twenty! NO, I DON'T WANT ANY 40-YEAR OLD BRANDY!!!!! I went out with an 18-year old Brandy once; that was quite fun... but that's beside the point! I don't want all of your fancy-schmancy crap. I just want a cold beer. Now leave me alone! "Repressed feelings?!" "Therapy?!?!" You know what, to hell with it. I'm done talking! I know I promised I would never use the thing again, but it's about time I dusted off my shotgun. You just stay here and sip your hoity toity beverage, I'll be back in a bit...
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
Rocksteady Studios & Eidos Interactive & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment