Batman Arkham Asylum definitely has made quite a name for itself, hasn’t it? I mean, who thought that it would have been such a hit with the past Batman games being, well, terrible? It was one of the best games of 2009 and maybe the best license game of all time. That statement might be a bit on the fan boy side since there are other great license games, but this one definitely pushed the bar high for other games based off of licenses. That is until the sequel was announced at the end of 2010. We didn’t hear things for quite some time until E3 2011. I mean, there are big things going for this game. It was going to be bigger and better. The sad thing though was that this would be the last time Mark Hamill would voice the Joker. So, how does this game stack up? Is it better? Or does it have the vibe people had after seeing Batman and Robin? Well, read on to find out.
The story begins with the new prison for Gotham called Arkham City. All the villains are now placed in a small city-like prison and closed out from the rest of the world. Bruce Wayne, voiced by Kevin Conroy, is giving a speech about shutting the place down due to some mysterious things happening that are being decided upon by Doctor Hugo Strange, voiced by Corey Burton. While Bruce Wayne is giving the speech, he is arrested under false pretenses and ends up in Arkham City. He is surrounded by villains and is almost whacked by Penguin, voiced by Nolan North. After a few minutes inside the prison, Bruce gets his Batman suit and decides to take down the villains running this city and see what the heck is going on. The story is great and is filled to the brim with Batman villains. Of course, it is also filled with heroes like Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing. In the end, the story is dark, creepy, gripping, and will make you feel depressed in the end, kind of like when you watch the end of The Dark Knight. It gives you a feeling that no matter how much you do, you don’t feel like you’ve won. Just get ready to feel incomplete in an emotional way after beating this game.
The gameplay featured in Arkham City is a free-roaming action/stealth game. You play as Batman for most of the game, but through codes you receive through pre-orders, you can play as Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing. You go through the city beating down thugs and getting your hands on the main big bad guys that are handed to you like the Joker, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, Solomon Grundy, and other villains. You can also fight and beat other villains through side quests, like the Riddler, Deadshot, and Poison Ivy. It will be weird to see that even some of the villains from side quests actually want your help, like Bane who wants you to get rid of the remaining Titan serum from the last game. Throughout the game, you get gadgets to help you through, like a stun gun that can also help turn on old run-down machines, bombs that can literally freeze people, and an item to turn off landmines. You also get the same assorted gadgets like batarangs, explosive gel, bat claw, and other gadgets you got in the last game. There is a lot of variety in grunts to fight off, and you will have to change your strategy depending on what grunts are in the group. It is definitely not an easy game. There are a lot more boss fights, and even the final fight seems perfect. All the fights are perfectly set up, like how Batman takes them down. There was supposed to be multiplayer, but to be honest, I don’t think it would have worked. I don’t think multiplayer would have made this game better. You see, developers? You don’t need multiplayer modes to make your game better!
The graphics are beautiful. They definitely take full use of the Unreal 3 engine, and the entire city and its people are greatly detailed. There is definitely no texture-loading like in Gears of War 3 and Last Remnant. The voice acting is outstanding, and out of all the voice actors, Mark Hamill does a great job with his final time voicing the Joker. There are also other wonderful voice actors like Tara Strong, who takes over the role of Harley Quinn, Danny Jacobs, who returns as Victor Zsasz, Catwoman as played by Grey Delisle, Two-Face as voiced by Troy Baker, Mr. Freeze voiced by Maurice LaMarche, Stana Katic voices Talia Al Ghul while Ra’s al Ghul is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, Fred Tatasciore voices Solomon Grundy, and there are other voices actors. Heck, I’ll list them off also. Peter MacNicol voices the Mad Hatter, Kevin Conroy voices Hush, Chris Cox voices Dead Shot, Wally Wingert voices Riddler, and Tasia Valenza voices Poison Ivy. They all do a great job voicing their characters and giving them such personality that isn’t seen in a lot of licensed games. There is a huge amount of things to do that will take you about 30 or so hours to complete, maybe 20 if you rush it, but overall, this isn’t a short game. The music is amazing and does a great job fitting the scenes together well.
This game is just almost perfect. Seriously, this is 10 out of 10 material! However, there are a few things that ticked me off. Even though I like how they made it free roaming, I would have preferred it to be a straight linear adventure like the last game. I mean, they stuffed so many villains in this game that I wish a lot of them could be more than side mission villains. Overall, that is really the complaint I have. I just wanted the additional villains to have the same impact as the ones like the Mr. Freeze and Penguin. I understand that the side villains fit their persona, like Deadshot being hidden or far away from Batman, but still it would have been nice to see more of the villains play major roles. Mad Hatter could have been a major player with his mind control gimmicks.
Wow, just wow! This is the best Batman game of all time. I would highly recommend buying this game! I mean seriously, this is the best license game of all time. I know you could argue that statement, but seriously, Beenox could learn a thing or two with their Spiderman games. Hmm, maybe I’ll review that game next. Stay tuned for part 2 of this super hero holiday special! Next we look at the rather disappointing Spiderman: Edge of Time.
This game gets a 9 out of 10