With the caped crusader's second outing flapping ever nearer, it's time to lift the cowl on the original. That's right bat-fans, it's time for...
#0000BF">Grumpy Ol Gamer's
Top 5 Things To Grumble About In...
What? How dare he?, I hear you cry. I think it's unanimous that Batman : Arkham Asylum is the one standout from licensed games being that it's fricking amazing. It lookS great, it plays great, the voice talent is perfect, it's basically one of 2008's best games - if not THE best. But, is it perfect? With a property such as Batman being long established and cherished by many it's hard to live up to everyone's expectations... and as a bit of a Bat-nerd myself, here's a few things I spotted that dissapointed me...
#FF0000">--- BIG FAT HUGE SPOILERS COMING UP ---
5) WHERE'S DANNY?
Well, with Batman there are three main Batman themes that stick in everybody's head. You've got the 1960's Batman which obviously wouldn't work for this game, You've got the 1990's Tim Burton movie and then the not too dissimilar Batman : Animated Series theme. All of which carry that epic mood that you really need when trouncing around as the dark avenger. Now the music in the game was good, and maybe there was some licensing issue meaning that it just couldn't happen. But all the while I was sat there playing the game, I was expecting to hear those five ominous notes that signal the arrival of the bat. It never happened... It got really close though...
Is Mr.Zsasz a popular character? Apparently not. How can I tell? Because he's one of my favorites, and yet, even though he's making appearances in both Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins' as well as this game, they seem to get his character incredibly wrong. He was never some sort of bullying thug as portrayed in the movie, and the maniacal laughing psycho in the game is a little insulting. This is not the Zsasz I know and love from the comics. Zsasz should basically be the DC equivelent of Marvel's Bullseye. He can kill you with anything. Yes, He's insane - but that's because anyone who kills people for hell the of it, is classed as insane - But he's not some giggling loon! Usually, in the comics, he's depicted as intelligent, cold and emotionless. Only showing a hint of excitement amist the murderous rampages he often goes on. Though the important thing of it all is that he never seems to have a motive. It's more something that he feels he has to do - like a job of sorts. Sure he has his 'modus operandi' of scarring himself to keep tally of the number of people he kills, every character has a gimmick in comics, But to make him a D-grade halfwit who's down with a single kick to the head - well, that's just underselling a unique and underused character.
3) BANE SMASH!
Again, what is it with the movies and games that make them see one of Batman's most devastating foes as basically a drug-fueled mexican wrestler? Oh, there IS the costume I suppose. But, let's not forget who this guy actually is. This is the one guy who's actually managed to BEAT Batman. As much as the Joker manages to f*ck with Batman mentally, BANE was the one guy who broke him physically. In the Knightfall saga, which introduced him, he orchestrated a breakout from Arkham Asylum and Blackgate prison at the same time. Which lead Batman on a seemingly hopeless gauntlet of enemy after enemy as he sits back orchestrating the pieces like a game of chess until finally, seizing his moment - he strikes, leaving Bruce Wayne broken. What does this character become in both movie and game? The equivalent of the Governator and MachoMan Randy Savage's adopted kid with the IQ set to below fifty. Not only that, as a boss character in game he's just a repeat version of The Rhino from the Spider-man games using the simplistic dodge out the way so I bang my head into the wall routine. Another wasted opportunity.
2) WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVE?
Well... as long as he has his computer, that is. Rarely do you ever actually have to solve anything in this game. The answers are handed to you on a silver platter, all thanks to Batman's Detective Vision. Supposedly, his cowl is hooked up to the know-it-all Bat-computer which is programmed to highlight... Vent covers? Now, I enjoy the legwork parts of the game, where you're following scents and traces of things in the air - but VENT COVERS?! and... GARGOYLES!? Firstly, what technology can tell that a protuding piece of rock is something of interest? That's some clever programming Mr Wayne, but ... well, it doesn't take a detective to work out where you go next - that big glowing thing!
1) YOU'RE JOKING, RIGHT?
I know, bringing up the character problems is probably a bit tedious. But, well, this guy's different. Joker was handled perfectly throughout the game, dark, cunning, ruthless, smart and an overall of menacing and amusement in equal parts... until you reach the finale.
Now again, the Joker is a smart man. He doesn't always think things through properly, but there's a plan there somewhere. It's an insane one, but still HE knows what he's doing... So when, in the final section of the game, Joker (Knowing full well the effects) injects himself with the Venom formula then grows into some weird 70's punk clown... well... well, just look at him! I understand that the writers had to do something big for the final showdown. But to have Batman's number one villain become another Bane clone (see number 3!) is downright insulting. The guy falls for the same Oops, I missed! routine thrice in a row. Admitedly, when he leaves the fight to pander to the local press the first time, it was believably in character. But to then fall for the same stunt several times? I'm sorry, but he's supposed to be better than that. He can work out almost every event that leads Batman to this point, but can't predict what's going to happen when he turns his back on the dark knight? He's supposed to worry so little about the detectives fate, he leaves it to the grunts who've done SOOO well, this far? C'mon, sir - I expect better!
...But you know what?
It's all forgivable! This game is fantastic. Every aspect of the game is well above par for any licensed game before it. That doesn't usually say much, but when a game actually makes me want to play it through again less than a day or so after completing it the first time, that's got to stand for something. Yes, the characters aren't perfect and there's a few niggles here and there, but with comic stories constantly being reinterpreted this could just be read as another 'Elseworlds' adventure, and as for the detective vision... It's a game. Does it play well? Yes. Whether I was actually solving things or just taking on twenty goons in an alleyway, I enjoyed every single second. Yeah, I could continously moan about story problems and game length, etc. But five or six hours of pure bat-bliss is more than most games deliver for 30+ hours. The only real issue here is that there aren't that many games of this caliber out there - and that's what REALLY makes me grumpy!
#FF0000">BATMAN : ARKHAM ASYLUM - 5 out of 5.
Grumpy Ol Gamer - One year older and grumpier tomorrow!