Batman: Arkham Asylum
Play begins as Batman escorts the bound Joker into the depths of Arkham Asylum's Intensive Treatment ward
- Art direction, variety of stealth tactics, spectacular moments, addictive challenge maps, accessible controls, collectible riddles
- Rote melee combat, dull stock opponents, recycled bosses, some throwaway upgrades, precious few super-villains.
Finally, a Batman game worthy of the taking on the mantle. It's been a long time coming but they really hit one out of the park here. Stylish and wonderfully executed, Arkham Asylum is a visual marvel.
Price$ 119.00 (AUD)
As the hours pass, though, it seems more and more like Batman: Arkham Asylum is being pulled in opposing directions. The caped crusader's cowl is a vital piece of equipment you'll use more often than your unenhanced eyesight, since it takes a bright highlighter to the ventilation grates, destructible walls, security boxes, and simple forensic trails, but it also flattens the gritty high contrast world into a far less appealing film of blues and yellows. Similarly, you can earn buckets of experience by lining up pieces of question marks or snapping shots of solutions to the Riddler's puzzles, but not all of the 20 upgrades are useful in practice. I loved the idea of the remote control Batarang, for instance, but never did find a moment when it was preferable to a straight toss.
Luckily, the better gadgets, like the Batclaw, open up cool strategic possibilities, and thus prove much more gratifying to use. One of my favourite tricks when facing heavily armed goons was to silently drop a thug from behind, leave some explosive gel near his carcass, hide on a nearby ledge, and then wait for his buddies to come running for a face full of kaboom. Batman sometimes seems to take his sweet time climbing over obstacles or grappling out of the line of fire, and its tempting to simply abuse the gargoyles that hang high for no apparent reason in most large rooms, but the context-sensitive controls are responsive enough to allow you to craft some impressive ambush sequences that provide many of the game's most enjoyable moments.
It's a shame that some of Batman's coolest gear and tactics are only accessible late in the game, no matter how quickly you earn your levels. But there's a bigger problem, and it's one that consistently holds back the joy of playing from start to finish: most of the unarmed enemies you face and the moves you use against them just aren't terribly interesting. Timing your attacks, dodges, and takedowns to form combinations is certainly fun in a mechanical sort of way that beat-'em-up fans will surely enjoy, but when you've only got one attack button, there's little room for any personal style. What's more, one would think an asylum with Arkham's reputation for lunacy would have more than just thug, thug-with-a-knife, and thug-with-a-cattle-prod archetypes to throw in front of your punches, the occasional sniper or back-biter notwithstanding.
And where are the marquee villains? Why is almost every boss battle virtually identical? When I first met up with Bane, the ensuing clash was thrilling. When I later had to fight what is essentially the exact same creature with a different skin, my excitement took a gut punch. By the third, fourth, and fifth times, I had my attack pattern down to a science, and my expectations had taken a dive. There are two memorable confrontations against famous foes towards the end, but they can't entirely make up for the tedious repetition that precedes them.
There are two important mitigating factors that keep Batman: Arkham Asylum's flaws from crippling the entertainment value of the whole. The first is a truly fantastic collection of cinematic sequences that depict Scarecrow's attempts to break Batman's psyche over his knee. The actual gameplay involved in these brilliant interludes is a shade minimalist, but the spectacle nevertheless inspires the sort of wide-eyed wonder that rarely survives the journey from comic book to video game.
The other saving grace is the collection of unlockable challenge maps. Stalking the island for the remaining riddles when no danger remains quickly becomes tiresome, but you'll persevere just so you can sink your teeth into all sixteen increasingly tough tests of your skill. Brawling in this context suddenly feels like a performance worth practising for the sake of leaderboard bragging rights, and stealthy set pieces reward you most for taking out goons in ever more challenging and elaborately stylish ways. (PlayStation 3 owners will even get to play as the Joker in free and exclusive downloadable levels that'll be available on release day.)
You Don?t Have To Be Crazy To Work Here?
Batman: Arkham Asylum doesn't quite deliver on all of its big ideas, and thus dodges the highest of accolades, but its rousing peaks make its low points more than bearable. Its best moments of dazzling showmanship easily qualify as must-see entertainment, even if they're not sufficient to make the game as a whole a must-play.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
- Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes looks sharp, but will it survive the freemium transition?
- Nintendo's bringing Super Mario Run to Android in March, but Fire Emblem's coming first
- The Switch is a mix of Nintendo's past consoles
- Dead Rising 4 impressions: 'Tis the season to BBQ zombies with your flaming sword
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- FTSenior Systems AdministratorWA
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW
- TPAgile Project Manager. Sharepoint / PeoplesoftNSW
- CCWPF .NET EngineerNSW
- CCSenior Systems EngineerNSW
- TPGIS Developer - 6 month ContractQLD
- CCPMO Analyst - Financial ServicesNSW
- TPTechnical Support Resource-Skype for BusinessVIC
- CCProject / Portfolio SchedulerNSW
- CCBPM DeveloperVIC
- TPSenior Applications Support OfficerQLD
- TPMicrosoft Analyst ProgrammerSA
- FTJunior Software Developer - SASACT
- CCSharepoint Business AnalystACT
- TPInstructional Designer | DETQLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Manufacturing and Trade & Logistics Modules)WA
- TPAgile Business AnalystQLD
- CCSenior .NET DeveloperNSW
- FTProject ManagerNSW
- FTBranch Practice Manager - SecurityQLD
- CCDigital Communications ManagerNSW
- TPDigital Business Analyst | AgileQLD
- CCTelecommunication Operations SpecialistTAS
- FTConsultant Business AnalystQLD