Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PC exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum. Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme. Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner, Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.
The Story mode finds Batman overseeing the transfer of the Joker to Arkham Asylum. This is apparently all to the Joker’s plan, as Batman receives an invitation to a party there. Sure, it’s a trap, but it’s Batman, so of course you waltz right in.
The action starts early, giving you a chance to try out the controls on a couple of the Joker’s goons right off the bat. All it takes is the two mouse buttons, and you get to pull out an enormous number of martial arts moves that are as beautiful to watch as they are devastating to henchmen. There is also opportunities to counterattack, which are indicated by lightning bolts over an enemy’s head as they are about to strike. These martial arts work well in the early parts of the game when the goons are unarmed, but later you’ll face enemies armed with knives, cattle prods, and guns.
Fortunately, these moves all get upgraded, along with your arsenal of gadgets and equipment as you go through the single-player game. As the fights get harder, your skills keep up, forcing you to learn to use the new techniques and skills as you go through the game. These abilities will be essential when you get to boss fights, which are a refreshing change from combat through the rest of the game.
Combat is not all that Batman will have to overcome as you’ll guide him through the halls of Arkham. There are a ton of puzzles around, only some of which are required to continue along in the story. There are also hundreds of question marks spread throughout the game, riddles put there by the Riddler that will give you opportunities to unlock portions of the backstory, acquire bonus items, and gain additional experience.
Overcoming the many riddles and puzzles that are found in the game is helped along by the inclusion of a Detective mode. This alternative viewing lets batman see many things that are otherwise invisible, such as places that can be destroyed with explosives, or enemies, even through walls. The addition of this mode makes a single play-through of an area unlikely, and is a feature that makes strategizing the best way to handle set-piece areas even easier and more fun.
Once you’ve unlocked them, there is even more fun to be had with the eight challenge maps. These revisit areas from the Story mode, and provide a mixture of combat and stealth-based play. These maps all have the capability to report your high score to an online leader board. In order to gain a decent score on there, though, you’ll have to earn medals, which are acquired by taking enemies down in specific ways. These can be exceedingly difficult, at times, requiring you to play a challenge over and over again to get it done, but the feeling of accomplishment is usually sufficient for the amount of time it took.
All in all, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a treat for Batman and action fans alike. It’s good to see the Dark Knight fly once more.