Batman: Arkham Asylum (XBox 360)

batmanbox360Everyone knows that usually when a summer blockbuster comes out, usually a crappy video game of it will release within the same week if not the same day as the movie.  Such was NOT the case for the greatest comic book adaptation to a movie to date: The Dark Knight.  Why?  Because The Dark Knight video game WAS NEVER MADE!!  Instead of having game publishers and developers regurgitate a game based on the movie, they decided to hold off.  The decision made developers loose potentially an extra $100 Million in marketing revenue.  But developers (as well as the Joker) are now having the last laugh.

Batman: Arkham Asylum recently released for X Box 360, PC, and PS3.  (PS3 has an exclusive feature where you can unlock the ability to play the whole game as the Joker.)  Arkham Asylum is a brand new story of everyone’s favorite caped crusader.  The game begins with Batman transporting the Joker to Arkham Asylum; the prison located on Arkham Island for the most dangerous criminals in Gotham City.  But when the Joker pulls a fast one and immediately takes full control of the entire asylum, only Batman can restore order to the chaos that quickly ensues.

Game play is a combination of my favorite genres of gaming.  Rocksteady Games (Manhant) together with Eidos Interactive (Tomb Raider franchise) have masterfully crafted this unique and brand new gaming experience.  With three different level difficulties, you can test your bat skills to the limits and immerse yourself in the countless Easter eggs, mini-games, puzzles, objectives, and crime fighting skills.  The default character controls are simplified but the right combination of them to unlock new moves, suit and equipment upgrades make you want to explore the possibilities instead of just ‘button smashing’ when you approach enemies.  You can choose to either take them down silently or not to your discretion.  One of the coolest features is ‘Detective Mode’ where you get a thermal reading of your surroundings and you can even see the enemies’ heartbeat increase as you make your presence known only to vanish again.  Frankly, there’s just too many cool things to mention in this review.

The graphics are outstanding.  Don’t let the almost-comically large appearing Batman and over-the-shoulder camera setting fool you into thinking his movements and the controls will be bulky and unnatural because they’re not.  My TV does not have HD capabilities and it the game’s characters, cut scenes, and overall environment still look breathtaking.  To anyone who has read my reviews for movies, you know I compare films and story-lines of films to other films.  Well… if I must… it’s part Splinter Cell, part Tomb Raider, part Final Fantasy (that’s right, it has RPG characteristics.)  And if you still don’t know what any of that means… it doesn’t matter!  Just go out there and play it!!!

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