When I first heard about Batman: Arkham Asylum, I wasn’t impressed. Why should I have reason to be? Outside of a few games here and there, the Dark Knight’s adventures are usually abysmal duds.

But I do love Batman the character. When Batman: The Animated Series came out back in 1992, I watched it without fail. It was such a brilliant, well written show. Kevin Conroy was a perfect Bruce Wayne/Batman. Mark Hamill was a magnificent Joker, and Paul Dini’s scripts were thoughtful and mature, bringing to life Gotham City in ways that I think most realized Bob Kane’s dark world.

Imagine my glee when I found out all parties were involved, not to mention Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn.

As you may have read, I liked the demo a few weeks back. It made me understand how the game played, as my incorrect impressions were Batman largely just snuck around to avoid getting caught. Like Sneak King with Batman in it. But stealth is an oft-forgotten part of Batman games, as is utilizing his detective skills. And of course, Batman must plow through punks and thugs like balsa wood.

I beat the game tonight.

….

Wow.

To say it’s a licensed game based on Batman can’t even begin to cover the experience. It’s more of a Batman simulator. Batman plows through multiple enemies with a fluidic grace. He hides in the shadows, silently picking off thugs one by one, so that the last remnants are running in terror. He utilizes “those wonderful toys” to emphasize why he’s never needed a gun. He deduces the answers needed to solve the Riddler’s clues (and some will give you a bit of a workout). And every inch of the way, the Joker is there, mocking you, laughing at you, and it never gets old or grossly repetitive. This is Gotham City.

There are certain areas that I can’t touch on due to spoilers. The Scarecrow’s scenes are a true treat. The Batman mythos has never been better explored and defined outside of The Animated Series. The game is full of fan service, the same way that Ghostbusters was a few months back. The game never diverts from its purpose of telling a story. Some parts may be tricky to figure out, or a fight may be difficult, but it’s solution is eventual and rewarding. The game itself feels like some of the best Metroid and Castlevania adventures, as power-ups allow Batman to explore new areas of the island, and the world changes as the story progresses.

I was blown away by how satisfying Ghostbusters was, and here I am again, nodding my head in praise for this new Batman outing.

I’ve made this comment elsewhere, but seeing that I do have a few Wii console owning only readers on here, I’ll reiterate my original thought: Play this game. If you don’t own another system, play it on PC, or find a friend who has another system and play it there. If you don’t have any friends, then make some to play this game. My intent with this blog has always been to share the joy and discovery of the gaming scene in general, so as a gamer, you owe to yourself to experience Batman finally done right.

Batman: Arkham Asylum dispels the myth that licensed games suck, or Batman games suck, and after this offering, I think it’s topped Spider-Man 2 as the most accurate comic to game yet. I really wish I could gush on my favorite parts or the cool stuff found in the game, but as it’s so new, and I went into it without any story preconceptions, I just can’t. I would love to, but not yet.

If you do play the game. Let me know what you think. I was just thoroughly impressed by the whole experience, and would like to hear from others.

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