A big fan of Batman I knew I was going to love this game from the trailers and screen shots, I played the demo on both Xbox360 and PS3 and after much debate I choose the PS3 version as it had the Joker extra challenge pack which I will mention a bit later.
You start the game wheeling the Joker into Arkham Asylum, Batman has just caught him but feels that the Joker let himself be caught but for what reason? Too late, Joker has trapped everyone in Arkham Asylum with help from his psychotic beau, Harley Quinn and has let all the prisoners loose and it’s up to you to sort things out.
I am feeling a lot of love for Mark Hamill for his voice acting; it really is spot on and seems anyone these days who plays as the joker does so brilliantly. First off I was worried that Ledger would never be able to top Nicholson but outclassed him and then Mark Hamill again performs the voice acting role with class.
The beginning of the game is very different from the demo with a 10 minute intro of you following the joker deep into the Asylum before he springs his trap, you will pass through some of the characters you later meet within the game too so keep an eye out
Once the joker escapes the game eases you into the combat side of things against a few of the inmates and then challenges you against one of the bigger opponents.
The combat is very easy to pick up and you will later gain other combat moves and take downs later in the game as you gain XP which allows you to purchase moves, weapons and upgrades from Waynetech.
With Joker in charge of the island he can navigate and control where Batman goes and as you hear him over the speaker system he comes out with some funny one liner, help or hindrance to your quest. Its little things like this which makes this game stand out from anything similar; the camera will sit over Batmans shoulder while you walk around and then move around while in combat and some takedowns will be shown in slow motion.
Building up a combo allows Batman to pull off the most spectacular attacks and earns more XP and it’s also the quickest way to finish off a large group of inmates. The counter moves, take downs and different type of enemies is what stops this game becoming a button mashing fighting game, you will encounter guys with knifes which you will need to use your cape to deflect them away and others with electric rods which you will need to dodge and sometimes you will encounter these enemies all together so you will have to pay attention to who you are attacking.
Along with fighting face to face you can also choose to take a more stealthy approach, this is needed when facing a room full of goons with guns as once you are spotted they will take you out very quickly. The game has unlimited continues and every check point isn’t far away but it’s nice to get through the games with as little deaths as possible.
To help with your stealth attacks you can creep behind a goon and perform a stealth takedown also your batarangs glide attacks and the takedown which I find most fun which is hanging from the ceiling and grabbing a goon and tying him up. Later in the game the goons and rooms become harder to do these stealth attacks but that’s a good thing.
The Riddler has kindly planted trophies, maps, riddles to find and voice recordings for you to find around the island and proves an extra challenge if you wish to enhance your gaming experience. The Riddles are fun and some can be a challenge to work out but once you pick up the map for certain areas everything becomes too easy.
As you progress the game the constant combat and travels will take their toll on our Dark Knight as his suit and cape become tattered and torn and you can see his face and body becoming more bruised which is a lovely touch to the game.
The game hasn’t many flaws but if I had to say anything bad it would be that the bosses are too easy and once you work out their pattern you should be able to take down them all with ease. Also the goons AI isn’t at all challenging but these flaws are nothing to fear as this is one of the best games I have played this year and contender for GOTY.
Once you have finished the game you can then go through all the challenge modes, and if you have bought the PS3 version you will also be able to download the Joker challenge packs. No doubt you will see more of these in future downloads via the PSN [or XBM if you are playing the xbox version]
One thing I will briefly say is the Scarcow parts in the game are fantastic and provide something different to the game. I wont give it away but they are very creepy, make sure you have your surround sound turned up.