Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham Asylum review

PSN describes it:

Return to Arkham and experience two of the most critically acclaimed titles of the last generation – Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, with fully remastered and updated visuals. Batman: Return to Arkham includes the comprehensive versions of both games and includes all previously released additional content.

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them into the depths of Arkham Asylum –Gotham City’s high security psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Use Batman’s legendary gadgetry, strike from the shadows, and confront The Joker and Gotham City’s most notorious super villains.

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This will also have spoilers!

A revolutionary super hero game!

What’s better than reading a comic book? Playing a video game and becoming the hero. Comic Book heroes and series that have gains attention will get adaptations such as video games, movies or TV shows. In video games, it can be a hit or miss. In the past, we have had games where the story is usually an original story like The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction or Marvel Nemesis Rise of the Imperfects and then have promotional movie adaptations like the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies and the phase 1 MCU movies. Some were good like Spider-Man 2, Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction and Injustice series and then there is the hot mess such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Superman 64 and the Green Lantern. However, DC comics and Warner Bros did something that broke the standards in superhero video games. In 2005, we had the first movie of Christopher’s Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy called Batman Begins and there was a game made for it around the same time. When the second movie came out in 2008, The Dark Knight is considered one of the best comic book movies ever. Strangely enough, we didn’t get any news of a video game adaptation. In 2009, DC comics teamed up with game company Rocksteady and unveiled the game Batman: Asylum Asylum. Unlike the movies, we were going to get Batman game where it focused on the place where Batman kept his enemies in and the game was going to use comic book knowledge as opposed to relying on any of the movies as references. This game got so much praise that it got a sequel in 2011 called Batman: Arkham City.

In 2016, Game Developer Virtuos used game engine Unreal Engine 4 to re-release a remaster collection of the first two Batman games called Batman: Return to Arkham. This game includes two games called Arkham Asylum and Arkham Knight and they were both released for PS4 and Xbox One. In this review, I am going to focus on Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Story: Welcome to the mad house!

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The story begins with Batman capturing the Joker and sending him to Arkham Asylum. Batman gets suspicious after learning that Joker made himself too easy to get arrested and he decides to escort him to his cell. However, this is all according to Joker’s plan thanks to his servant Harley Quinn. Harley hacks in Arkham Asylum’s security and this lets Joker to run free among the Aslyum recruit all of Batman’s enemies. He traps Batman, Commissioner Gordon and all the workers of Arkham Aslyum and releases all the inmates. It’s up to Batman to save everyone from getting killed by the insane patients and ruthless crooks of Gotham. To make matters worse, this is just phase 1 of Joker’s scheme. The story envelops more when he summons these monster sized minions called Titans. Titan is a highly dangerous serum made in the similar way as Bane’s steroid serum Venom but really altered. Joker is using Arkham Asylum in order to create Titan and he wants to use it on his crew and create destruction in Gotham. It’s up to Batman lock up all of his past foes again and stop Joker from creating a Titan army.

Characters – Fan Favorite Characters with Animated Series voices

For being the first game out of the series, this game has some great characters that make the story great. The iconic voices we have is Kevin Conroy who voiced Bruce Wayne/Batman and Mark Hamill returns as Joker and these two actors have voiced these characters from the popular TV series Batman: The Animated Series. We have other characters that want to kill Batman like Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Bane, Poison Ivy and Victor Zsazz. These are villains you will encounter in the story. Batman will be getting assistance such as Barbara Gordon who goes by Oracle and serves as the master hacker and the eyes and ears of Batman. Riddler also appears in this game, but only here for a side mission.

Gameplay – Feel like Batman

Batman Arkham Asylum offers many opportunities for players to feel as if they are Batman. Batman is a heavy hitter hero that can deliver amazing combos on more than one enemy and if timing is correct, you can rack up points and deliver a long chain of uninterrupted attacks. Batman also can use his trusty utility belt which has his batarangs, grappling hook and even explosive gel. That is some of the stuff you can use, but as you progress through the game, you will be able to upgrade your gadgets and even unlock more tools. Of course you won’t be able to use the Batmobile until Arkham Knight. Your cowl mask also helps you out in the game in which it will be vital to have in the game when dealing with stealth. The mask helps detect vitals in which you can pinpoint enemies for stealth takedowns and even locate any armed enemies that could potentially kill you. Even though Batman is tough, you need to think like him to take down enemies.

In both the PS3 and PS4 version (probably also Xbox One), you can also play as the Joker and take on challenges. There are two type of challenges you can do for both Batman and Joker: combat and predator challenges. In combat, you face four waves of enemies and it’s your goal to rack up points for a high score and get three medals. In predator challenges, you need to take down your enemies in a creative way in order to get three medals. When playing as Joker, your missions is similar to Batman but with limited gadgets. Joker is equipped with a gun that can kill anyone, but it only has one bullet. He has an explosive chattering teeth toy that can sneakily travel and explode. In stealth missions, it’s also important to use his x-ray glasses which allows him to see his enemies, but unlike Batman, he is stationary and can not move around and wear at the same time.

Review – A Great Superhero game?

Being the first game out of the trilogy, does Batman Arkham Asylum bring out the inner hero inside of us? Yes! I played this game in my PS3 and then later I bought this game again for the PS4 and I am still impressed in the game. I like how Rocksteady took risks and wanted to create a story that wasn’t based on any of the movies nor any other media. The game borrows story elements from the comics and combines it into one to create a story you would not see in a comic book. The voice acting is just so great! Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill nails it as Batman and Joker. Thanks to these voice actors, I got hooked on watching the Batman: The Animated Series show. Kevin Conroy is an incredible voice for Batman and Mark Hamill does the best laugh for the Joker. The combat mechanics is so satisfying. I love the ability to play around with my attacks and choose how to defeat my opponents. I could break limbs, toss them to others or even use a batarang. The predator challenges is another fun factor. I really like scaring the enemies and taking them down like a predator coming for the kill. The way you fight Batman’s enemies is really different than you would usually fight them. Some bosses like Bane and Poison Ivy have health bars where you have to fight them head on. Some bosses doesn’t require a fight, but you have to do challenges. When facing Scarecrow, you have to traverse through his nightmare hallucinations without getting caught by him. For Killer Croc, you have to avoid making any environmental noises or be prepared to stun him. Harley Quinn boss battle is pretty average. You have to just fight her minions. For Zsazz, you need stealth to take him down. Overall, the bosses in this game is very creative and it really makes you think like Batman.

The only things I can think of that would be cons for my pros is that this game is what I like to call a humble start. Unlike Arkham City or Knight or even Origins, once you complete the game, there’s nothing much you can do except do Riddler’s Challenges, start a new game or play the challenge mode. Once you beat the game and defeat Joker Titan, the game feels barren. You are stuck in the island where you can explore Arkham Asylum.  This isn’t free roaming world either so overall, the game plays like a hallway, but it makes sense since it is about Arkham Asylum. Batman’s enemies that were selected in this game was great, but the roster of enemies later increased in Arkham Asylum. We don’t get to face people Mr. Freeze, Penguin or Two Face until the sequel. I remember seeing the trailer for Return to Arkham and seeing the comments made by people disproving the HD appearance on both games. Honestly, either this game got an update has time passed or I didn’t recognize it, the game still looks good. As a side suggestion, it would have been cool if the game included a special story on the Joker on how he got arrested in the beginning. This would give us the ability to play around as the Joker and see his eyes in the story.

Conclusion

Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham Asylum is a remastered game that brings back the iconic Batman for the PS4 and X1. Is this remastered Arkham Asylum an improvement or downgrade? To be honest, it’s neither. The game runs pretty smooth for the PS4 in both sound and gameplay wise. If you like the game from PS3 and Xbox 360, you’re going to like this one. Batman Arkham Asylum is the cornerstone of the iconic Arkham series. This game shows that a superhero game can be great without having to rely heavily on movies or comic book arcs. Thanks to this game, we later got some awesome titles like Arkham City, Knight, Origins and even the Injustice games. Marvel would later do Marvel Spider-Man (PS4) in which rivals the Arkham series. Batman Arkham Asylum offers a great handful of fanservice. The game gives players the ability to be Batman and see through the mind of the dark knight. The game has many great voices that feels like a blend of the animated series and live action movies. The combat and stealth adds a lot of fun factor for players. The game would be a success that it got sequels. If you didn’t see your favorite villain, it might be a possibility that they are in the next game.

What do you think about this game? Comment down below on your opinions on Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham Asylum.

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3 thoughts on “Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham Asylum review

    • It is awesome. I totally recommend this game if you want to have the best Batman experience. This game should be cheap. You can buy this collection and get Arkham City.

  1. Pingback: Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham City spoiler review | Matt-in-the-Hat

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