Harley with Warden Sharp in Batman: Arkham Asylum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have quite a bit to say about these two games… I sorta should break it up into 3 posts, one about Asylum and one about City, because I beat City while back, while having only beat Asylum about a half hour ago… Yet another video game franchise I played backwards. Just the kinda guy I am, I guess.
First, I should say… I got Asylum home a few days ago, and played the bajeesus out of it for probably about five hours. The X-box did not save my progress, so when I came back the next night, I was at square one. Normally, I’d have just turned it off and gone to read or something, but these games are ridiculously fun. I almost didn’t mind re-playing the beginning content at all. Although, I could have done with a “Skip” function for the introduction sequence…
Anyway here are my thoughts on these two games.
I don’t know much about the Batman cannon. I never read the comic books, though I did watch the original TV show when it was on Nick at Night years ago. I probably saw a couple dozen of them. I also watched the cartoon that was on in the early / mid 1990s. I am familiar with most of the characters. However, before playing these games I had never heard of Oracle, Crock, Bane, or the Al Guhls. I don’t recall them ever having appeared on the shows I watched.
Not only that, but I never even realized that Liam Neeson‘s character in the Dark Knight movies was Ra’s Al Ghul until yesterday when I was trolling IMDB. I’m not the quickest when it comes to these things, OK?
However, the story line is at least enjoyable in both games. I got into the story, I got into the characters, etc. The dialog in Asylum was kinda weak. Batman had a lot of lines where he sounded very cliché, but other than that, the story worked for me. I’m sure there are die hard comic fans out there who hate it for some kind of “that never happened” reason or what not, but for the typical gamer like myself, it did the job.
Like I said before, I played Arkham City first, which was probably a mistake. The combat system in City was probably the most polished, fluid combat in any game I’ve ever played… Which isn’t saying a whole lot since I can count the games I have played in the last 15 years in less than a minute. But even still, I think a person would be hard pressed to come up with a more enjoyable, rewarding combat system.
That said, the combat in Asylum was pretty close. You can tell that THAT was the breakthrough combat system of its time, and they only just put a polish on it for City. There were a few things I missed, having gotten used to them being there in City, like the bat claw grab, clothesline, and slam move, and how you could throw 3 batarangs in fast succession, and the quick use of gadgets by holding LT and hitting a key… but all in all, it wasn’t difficult to shift gears into the Asylum combat.
I will say, I was disappointed by the boss fights in Asylum. Each “big” boss had his/her own “thing”. The mini-bosses were basically all the same. The mini-boss is a Titan-filled inmate. He runs at you, you hit him with a batarang, and get out of his way. You hit him, climb on his back and ride him around while he stumbles around beating on things. Rinse, repeat. Then later, you come to another “boss fight” and it’s another of the same thing, but this time there are added thugs. Next time, there are thugs, and you’re in a smaller room… Then next time, not only are there thugs, and the room is small, but now there are two big guys… Rinse, repeat.
Now, the Harley fights were basically beat up thugs, although in the second one, the floors would electrify, so beat up thugs and move from one platform to another as necessary.
I really enjoyed the first Scarecrow fight, it was complete with a really weird introduction, hallucination, etc… Not really sure what was up with running around the busted building landscape, felt a little like an old-school side-scroller (e.g. Contra), but I thought it was neat. Dunno if there was any significance to the fact that you beat the round by getting to the batlight and shining it on his torso… But OK. So I did the first one, and that was cool… The second one was introduced by Bruce re-living his parents deaths, and then more side-scrolling, avoid the gaze, and then OH! Thugs. Then more side scroll, then the batlight. The last was more of the same. Rinse… Repeat. Continue reading