Sunday, May 21, 2017

Batman Arkham Asylum (PC) Review

This is the first comic book based video game I played to completion. There are a lot of things to like about Arkham Asylum, but it has the usual console game design flaws.

The highlight of this game is the combat. It is a lot of fun when they let you have a free reign on how to approach enemies. There are often multiple ways of approaching an area. Stealth is almost always a viable option, and the game does a good job of giving player the tools needed to make different strategies possible. Chaining combos and using the batarangs to stun enemies is fantastic. I did not mind retrying certain sections a few times over to get the perfect result.

Gothic art inside the asylum

Visuals and audio are fantastic. The game is locked at 60FPS. I did not mind this. The graphics are excellent, and I loved the setting. The game is set in the asylum at night. The art stays true to the source with the gothic architecture and the nighttime setting.

Music and voice acting are also excellent. Joker is the highlight among all the characters. Batman as usual is very monotone, Joker being the exact opposite. Mark Hamill did a fantastic job as the voice of Joker. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Player movement is a common complaint with console ports. GTA 4 is an example of sluggish player movement. Not the case here. It’s smooth and responsive.

All the complaints I have with this game are the console design choices. Checkpoint saves only, with no save slots. The only option allows you to load the last checkpoint. Yet again, the PC version suffers due to console limitations. While this is not a major problem, it can be annoying during certain tedious sections, especially the longwinded boss fights.

Asylum courtyard

In certain sections, the camera perspective switches to either a fixed perspective or turns the game into a platformer. The scarecrow sections could have been so much better, but in the name of gameplay variety, they felt compelled to do this. I do not care for it at all. These are by far the most boring parts of the game. Thankfully, the game is not very difficult, except for the final boss fight, which is needlessly frustrating.

Another annoying issue is the unskippable intos whenever the game is launched. There is a manual fix for this.

There are far too many hints throughout the game, and the interface can be very cluttered because of this. It doesn't leave a lot to the player imagination. I looked through the game options to see if I could disable the hints, like I could in Bioshock and Deus Ex Human Revolution, but there is no such option.

Joker Asylum

The game employs this very unoriginal concept of magically locking doors to restrict movement, and they magically unlock after whatever predefined event is completed. A console classic, the low hanging fruit of game design. It was annoying when Wolfinstein (2009) did it, and its annoying now.

I paid $4.99 for this game, and I think its worth it. I would not recommend paying anything more than that. Also, I did not try for 100% completion. I do not have that kind of time in life. I have a lot of games to finish, so I stuck to the main quest. Steam tells me I played a total of 16 hours to beat the game.

In closing, it can be a lot of fun, but it suffers somewhat because the developers did not take full advantage of the PC platform.

Verdict - Wait for sale.

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