Why 13 years later, Arkham Asylum is still the best Batman game

August 25, 2022

The most painful experience of my entire life occurred at EGX around four years ago.

In the retro section of the hall for exhibitions in the middle of a row of LCD televisions that were black and plastic was a boy around 10 years old. Inquiring about what passes as a retro in the modern age, I sat there for a moment as the loading bar stopped spinning and the scene I witnessed was a sigh of hollow anxiety that was akin to existential fear.

In the vicinity there were Pac-Man Cabinets and CRTs sporting Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog blinking across their monitors, this youngster was not playing Arkanoid or Asteroid as well as any other, however, he was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum on PS3. PS3.

It was the Ark of the Covenant opened and my skin slid off and my bones fell to dust.

At that time I was also old.

It’s true, Arkham Asylum wasn’t a game I’d read in magazines, been handed down by my dad in the early ’90s, or purchased an unreleased ROM in order to claim I had played. This was an experience I’d purchased, completed, and loved in high school. Now, it was playing in the same room with Space Invaders and other stone-age creations.

If you’re ever thinking of scaring yourself with the constant progress of time, consider back to the day you first got your console. It may be the very first one that you bought by yourself and the one that you played the most playing with as a kid, or simply the one that you knew by heart and then work out when it was released.

Then, you can take the number and search for another event happening in the world in the exact same location as the events you’re referring to.

If your console included it was the Nintendo 64, I have some bad news to share with you. This year, the console will have been out for 27 years. the console first came out in the year 1996. In the 27 years prior to when the N64 was released in 1996, the Moon landing did happen (or did it happen? …).

My first console used to be it was the PlayStation 3. I saved for years to buy it right at the time I was just a teenager, and I played it almost every day until I graduated from the university. The fact that we’re near to the same distance from the initial North American release of the PS3 as the PS3 was from the original Gameboy is an incredibly terrifying idea, but it means that we can gaze back with a rose-colored lens at the myriad of fantastic games that were released on the console like the powerful and stone-cold classics that they are.

One of my favorites, Batman: Arkham Asylum was released just as it entered its teenage years, making it roughly the identical age of Batman’s ward Robin. It’s a better time to think about what made it so amazing.

Batman: Arkham Asylum starts in a typical foreboding manner in the cold and wet street in Gotham City with the kind of cutscenes that are shown on rails nowadays and the Batmobile speeds across the streets into Arkham with a grumpy Batman behind the wheel and a screaming Joker behind the wheel.

In a way, it is a step to an early instance that is exactly the type of exposition on rails that I’m complaining about, which is where you walk with solemnity NPCs whose pace and stride you can never match, and that was beginning to become popular in blockbuster movies at the time.

However, that walk – while strange strings build in the background – accomplishes two important elements that set the mood for the remainder of the contest.

It first will introduce you to the dream team consisting of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill – yes, that’s right – as Joker. Two fantastic performances that perfectly convey the spirit of both characters.

However, what it will do is put you in the cowl and cape that is Batman in a more quiet moment in which you’re thinking about a similar idea: “something’s not right, what is Joker up to?”

This instantly puts you in an even deeper role-play than you’d think and establishes the notion that you’re in the same place the same things, making deductions and responding to the same situations as your character, working them out simultaneously and driving their reaction instead of just watching a movie about superheroes and feeling disengaged from the actions of the character.

When the inevitable happens and you’re hit in your face with one of Arkham Asylum’s longest long-lasting legacy, the third-person battle, in which you’re in a flurry of bad guys chanting combos including timing dodges, reversals, and timing dodge as you progress towards closing moves that zoom in the camera and slow it down to make it clear every crack.

Naturally, Batman wasn’t the first to create third-person brawling, however, in the same way as how every FPS has adopted Modern Warfare 2’s control layout to be the standard layout, it established the standard blueprint in such a way that players would discuss “Batman-style” combat for years following.

It was simple and empowering enough to fit the character whatever your skill level, but scalable enough to actually provide some variety encounter-to-encounter. There were gun-wielding guys as well as guys who carried knives, large guys who can block kinds of skews that you could take on throughout the board.

It was enjoyable to get it right, and a slap in the face if you got it incorrect, yet it can be quite frustrating. No matter how many villains within the Batman universe it was, the majority of battles were going to involve the Joker’s goons. visually separating them from the fight was not always easy. I’ve lost a lot of combos due to my auto-locking on a blocker which required swinging my cape at the whim of a.

While it may appear old-fashioned, however, it’s actually more polished than other games you’d consider to be its successors. When playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for instance after an arbitrary point when you’re progressing, every fight is a struggle due to the overwhelming power. Batman: Arkham Asylum had an excellent combination of effort, energy, and knowledge.

Another area where you felt confident yet human, is in the puzzle-solving and this is due to another of Arkham Asylum’s powerful mechanisms: Detective Vision, where the technology of x-rays inside Batman’s armor would reveal important information on objects and enemies within the vicinity.

It’s not as if Batman came up with the idea of an overlay in the universe to direct players to important things (the previously mentioned Assassin’s Creed series included the game’s “Eagle Vision” a couple of years prior, for example) however, it certainly made it easier to look about and making connections in your surroundings. It also reinforces the notion that you’re the Batman and not only Batman as the smartest player in the room, offering a glimpse of the hidden machinations that make him appear omnipotent to non-believers.

In the most recent gameplay trailer of the upcoming Gotham Knights, it was fascinating to observe how the system has evolved and has incorporated concepts from other RPGs that are popular and it’ll be interesting to see if the system has begun to look worn out after 10 years of consistent service.

It’s the hidden subterranean world that also allowed Batman: Arkham Asylum to be packed to the brim with Easter eggs. One of the most appealing aspects concerning the video game is the way it draws upon the entire fascinating history of Batman to cover the majority of his characters from the monolithic Batman canon.

I was completely enthralled by this in the early days because I believed it was a huge step to make it possible to create the possibility of a licensed game. It wasn’t a simple cash taker like the majority of games I had the nerve to try on the PS2 or an arcade-style beat-em-up game like the legendary Marvel titles, it was rather a well-thought-out idea that could make the best use of the world that it was set.

Consider the two primary villains you’ll meet outside of Joker for example an earlier Suicide Squad Killer Croc and Victor Zsasz. They’re both minor villains and are presented as if they have the same history, which shows that this isn’t just another origin story. You’re immersed in the action with a known character as well as a lot of well-known material to draw upon.

It all holds up pretty well really and, even though some things like the lack of a jump button are very dated relics of that era, we’re still struggling with some of the main issues Arkham Asylum faced today.

The famous final boss fight, in which you engage in a typical punching game with an over-excited Joker has been criticized as an anticlimactic scene. This is a slight possibility that I can attribute to the plethora of big-budget films that will be released in 2022 (Dying Light 2 Horizon: Forbidden West to mention a few).

Then there’s the double-edged sword of the location. All of the action takes place on one night of grueling struggle to The Caped Crusader in the same place giving the story a heightened concentration that isn’t present in the larger sequels to the franchise, Arkham City and Arkham Knight and Arkham Knight, which have more downtime and side-quests to divert your focus.

But it’s true that there are many white-tiled corridors and the same gargoyles and a monotony that even a mandatory sewer level won’t be able to fix.

However, filling an open world with interesting diversions is only one of the many complex issues modern major-publisher games must deal with. It’s only natural it is that Gotham Knights is built on the solid base from the Arkham series When it launches the best elements of it are likely to remain the same as the one that was fantastic in Batman: Arkham Asylum 13 years ago.

 

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