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Video Game Review: "Batman: Arkham Asylum": Game of the Year Edition

"Batman: Arkham Asylum" Game of the Year Edition for PlayStation 3 cover.

"Batman: Arkham Asylum" Game of the Year Edition for PlayStation 3 cover.

Quick Info

  • Developer: RockSteady
  • Publisher: Warner Brothers
  • Released: May 11, 2010
  • Platforms: Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3 and 4 (Version reviewed is PlayStation 3)

What is "Batman: Arkham Asylum"?

It's been a long night in Gotham City; Batman has returned Joker to Arkham Asylum, only for the Clown Prince of Crime escapes his captors and instead of trying to leave, he captures Commissioner Gordon and takes over Arkham, taunting Batman so that the Dark Knight will try to stop him.

As Batman, you must battle your most iconic foes while solving puzzles the Riddler left for you while stopping Joker's evil plans before he can escape from Arkham Asylum and destroy Gotham City.

This Game Lets You Become Batman

"Batman: Arkham Asylum" was made back when superhero games weren't known for being particularly good. They were usually just seen as quick cash grabs for the latest superhero movie, vaguely tying into whatever superhero movie that was coming out that year. And movie tie-in games tend to either suck or be really good.

The superhero movie tie-ins aren't really good, with a few exceptions for the first two Spider-Man movie games that I've played, for the most part, licensed superhero games suck badly, because the people making them know they're just making another movie tie-in game, and you don't have to put in a great deal of effort for those.

But RockSteady decided to go with a different approach, base the game's story on something original, not a movie or a comic book storyline, they wanted to make you feel like you are Batman, and with that approach in mind, they created the game, and fans were excited since there hadn't been a standout Batman game in some time.

Fans were even more excited when Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin returned to voice the characters Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn respectively. Having veterans of Batman: The Animated Series just made it even more exciting, because many gamers grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and associate the characters with their voices.

We were all looking forward to this game; I bought a PlayStation 3 just for this game because I didn't have a computer that was good enough to run it.

This is Arkham Asylum, you'll behere all night!

This is Arkham Asylum, you'll behere all night!

A “Batman” Game for Newcomers and Longtime Fans Alike

If you love playing action-oriented video games and you like Batman, you'll love this game. Even if you just know about Batman through any of the movies or if you've watched Batman: The Animated Series, the Emmy-winning '90s cartoon, or you're a diehard Batman comic book fan.

This game is accessible to anyone, you don't have to know a thing about Batman, and it’s a lot more fun if you do know a lot about Batman, but even a non-fan can just enjoy it as an action game. But it's got a lot of Easter Eggs and references to Batman comics and other media that fans can enjoy as fan service.

The Graphics Still Hold Up!

The graphics look okay, but they do seem dated now that the current generation, the PlayStation 4 is out now. They still look good, and I know that the Return To Arkham remaster came out on October 18, 2016, but from what I hear the remastered version is a mixed bag regarding what they've upgraded when it comes to graphics, but the PlayStation 3 version still looks pretty good, they did improve the graphics in Batman: Arkham City, but this still holds up.

There is graphical pop-in sometimes because there are no loading screens, but it's not too obvious. I also noticed the lip sync with the audio is off sometimes when characters are talking to Batman.

The Gameplay Is Simple to Learn, but Complicated to Master

I found the controls were simple to learn, and I love that it was so easy for me to pick up and play the game. Even though the basics are easy, timing counters and keeping your combo streak alive make it complicated, and even though they don't have the quickfire controls for using the gadgets in combat controls like the sequel Batman: Arkham City, it's still a lot of fun to play, but when you've gotten used to being able to quickfire gadgets in the middle of combat, not being able to do that makes me wish it had been in the first game.

A stealth takedown in "Detective Vision".

A stealth takedown in "Detective Vision".

The Strategies Are Varied, but Gameplay Is Repetitive

The gameplay is fun, between fistfights with thugs and taking them out stealthily, the gameplay won't always be the same, but it feels repetitive if you play for long periods of time. Fortunately, this is broken up by Scarecrow hallucinations, which pop up when you don't expect them, various Riddler puzzles you can solve while exploring Arkham Asylum or finding the Spirit of Amadeus Arkham files.

The combat is pretty fun, but I find that the counter button, triangle for the PlayStation 3 (and PlayStation 4) doesn't always register when I hit it, so I'll hit the block button and I'll still have a thug punch Batman in the face.

The Riddler puzzles are challenging, but if you don't like puzzles you'll probably skip them. Although if you solve them all, the result is very amusing, especially if you're a Batman fan!

Audience Poll:

Rocksteady Had a Brilliant Anti-Piracy Deterrent!

It's very easy to pirate games on PC if you know how, and RockSteady came up with a brilliant way to fight it. You could pirate the game and play through it, but when you came to a section of the game where you have to glide across platforms, Batman's cape wouldn't open, completely nerfing the game because you couldn't progress through the game, and that's a brilliant way to fight online piracy!

Another way to fight piracy is to buy Batman: Arkham Asylum when it's $4.99 at a 75% off discount during a Steam sale.

The Voice Acting Is Fantastic!

The late Kevin Conroy was the most well-known voice actor for Batman. If you watched Batman: The Animated Series, you've heard him portray the character. This was an interesting performance because like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the target audience for this particular Batman story is the older demographic, the same audience that grew up with Batman: The Animated Series. He's fantastic as Batman, he's been doing Batman for so long, and you can tell because he just becomes Batman in the role, and for the game, he wasn't restricted by television standards and practices for children's shows so he could be the more adult Batman that comic book fans read in the comics.

Mark "Arkham" Hamill is fabulous as the Joker. Mark Hamill has been part of your childhood in one way or another. Either as the last Jedi Knight in the original Star Wars Trilogy or as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Mark will always be my favorite voice of the Joker, because no one does it quite like he does, not even the late Heath Ledger. Mark is just so entertaining to listen to as the Joker, he just makes you both amused and terrified at the same time because with his joker, he's both funny and scary, and that's what makes his Joker stand out, that and his interpretation of the Joker has always been a memorable one, no matter what medium he's voicing Joker in.

Arleen Sorkin doing Harley Quinn again made me happy since she did not reprise her role for Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight. She was both crazy and fun at the same time, and it sounds like she never left her role as Harley Quinn. I love her work and I'm happy she reprised her role in this game.

The rest of the voice cast is fantastic too, although the thugs seem to be voiced by the same people through multiple encounters.

I Love the Challenge Maps!

I’ve always loved the challenge maps. I prefer combat over the stealth maps, but I love them both because it's fun to see how fast you can take out everyone stealthily in a room or try to beat your own high score in a combat challenge map.

Hearing thugs freak out because you're whittling down their numbers and they can't find you, is always entertaining.

Unique to the Batman: Arkham Asylum game on the PlayStation 3 are the Joker challenge maps It is fun to play as the Joker because his combat style is completely different from Batman, it's also interesting to stealthily kill the guards while they freak out when they realize that you're in the room with them somewhere.

The Scarecrow challenge maps are also fun because you have to try to survive as long as you can without being hit or your run ends.

The "Return to Arkham" Remaster Is Nice!

I bought the Return to Arkham Remaster because it's easier to record on the PlayStation 4 than the PlayStation 3. They've updated the lighting and the graphics but the game plays the same, I haven't checked Arkham Asylum to see if they have the PlayStation exclusive Joker challenge maps or not.

It does look good on my PlayStation 4 and the controls are still good. The graphics still look good too.

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Graphics still hold up, for the most part

Occasional graphics pop in

Fun, engaging story, especially if you're a Batman fan

Audio and lip sync don't always match during in game cutscenes

Excellent voice cast

Riddler trophies coudld annoy people

Excellent Soundtrack

The counter button doesn't always register that you've been hitting it

Easy-to-learn controls


Fun boss fghts


Fun challnege maps and paying as the Joker (PlayStation 3 vetsion only)


Grade: A-

This game may not be the best game in the Batman: Arkham series, but it was the one that revived the superhero genre in gaming. It's also a fun action game that will please fans and non-fans alike because it showcases everything that makes Batman entertaining.

It's got a great story, excellent voice acting, and easy to learn controls. The graphics are still decent and it's a fun challenging game with plenty to do in it. The challenge maps are fun for people who like to challenge themselves.

It does have pop in sometimes and the lip-sync is off during in-game cutscenes. The counter button sometimes won't register that you've been pushing it, but these flaws don't ruin the game for me, it's just annoying when it comes to the block button not registering that you've been hitting the counter button, especially when you're trying not to die and you have one sliver of health left and one thug is the only thing that stands in between you and refilling your health bar.

Despite these flaws, I love the game and have a blast playing it. And you will too. The PlayStation 3 does have the most content in it because it has the exclusive challenge maps to play as the Joker, but getting it on Steam for $4.99 during a 75% off Steam sale is definitely worth it too.

It's worth buying, especially if you want to catch up on the franchise now that RockSteady is finished making Batman: Arkham games, except for that PlayStation VR title they're working on. It's worth getting into the franchise now, especially since Steam sales make it easy to get the first two games, Batman: Arkham Asylum and
Batman Arkham City for $4.99 each if you wait for a 75% off Steam sale. But if you want more content, and to play as the Joker, you should get the PlayStation 3 version.

My Rating:

© 2016 ReViewMeMedia


Roxannecoltman on September 16, 2016:

Great game.