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Batman: Arkham Asylum – Still Worth it After 15 Years?

Batman: Arkham Asylum – Still Worth it After 15 Years?

Batman: Arkham Asylum was a game released by RockSteady Studio in August 2009. It was very well received by both critics and gamers, but the question now is, Is it still good compared to new generation games?

I will be rating this game from 1 to 10 in multiple categories, based both on the standards of its time and the standards of overall gaming. (I will review the PC version of the game. However, I have experienced both PC and console versions and have not noticed that what device it is played on has a significant effect on the experience.)

Gameplay

The overall game was actually unique for its time and had multiple elements that were still considered new. Open-world games such as this were just starting to come into popularity due to the amount of time it would take to create a full map that could run stably. Often, games were made into levels to reduce the amount of rendering that needed to be done. This open-world design enables a game to be explored as the player wants. However, Arkham Asylum can still be considered very linear despite this open-world design. 

While exploring the map, there is a heavy emphasis placed on combat, often requiring the use of stealth and/or utilizing the environment. Combat was actually fluid compared to many other combat games in the latter half of the 2000’s. The environment and the way enemies were positioned in parts would often force players to adapt strategies, which separated the game from some of the more hack-and-slash styles of other games.

My main critique of the combat aspect of Arkham Knight is that nine out of ten fights were quite easy due to enemies being predictable and therefore easy to exploit. This meant that the only difficult fights were challenging because of either having a boss fight (and many of the bosses felt pretty easy to deal with as well) or having some sort of factor in the environment that put the player at a significant disadvantage.

Compared to other games at this time, I think the gameplay deserves 8.9 out of 10 due to its many cutting-edge features, but it would be unfair to say they were one-of-a-kind against games such as Assassin’s Creed. 

Compared to modern games of similar genres, I think the gameplay still holds up quite well despite how linear it feels and the lack of difficulty in most fights. I rate it 7.6 out of 10.

 

Story

The game starts with the player escorting Batman’s iconic nemesis, the Joker, to Arkham Asylum. Very quickly, everything goes to chaos and Batman must regain control of the Asylum while uncovering more of the Joker’s plans. The further the story goes, the more the player realizes the depths of the scheme. In the end parts, the Joker’s plan, which is to release a massive amount of Toxin (a strengthened version of Bane’s iconic Venom super-steroid) to the inmates of Arkham Asylum, is completed, and the player must combat many toxin-enhanced enemies with roid rage. There is also a strong emphasis on finding a way to reverse the effects of the toxin. 

If the player is playing with the Scarecrow Nightmare DLC, which is included by default in most games purchased, the player will often be harried by Scarecrow. This doesn’t add a whole lot to the story, but it does create a unique series of miniboss fights.

The plot is relatively simple but mostly cohesive, so I will rate it 5.2 for both 2009 games and modern games.

Atmosphere/Details

The atmosphere is where this game really shines. Most places are poorly lit and have a grimy feel, yet it works perfectly for the gritty storyline and serious feeling that is often associated with the Dark Knight. The Asylum itself truly feels like a grim place that no person would want to go. To compliment this atmosphere is a brooding soundtrack, fully completing the oppressive dread the player is meant to experience. 

The details themselves are mostly good, with scattered papers, trashed furniture, and crumbling walls to emphasize the turmoil happening in the story. However, some areas seem a little bare. These areas are often just meant to be passed through, but the short period passing through does create an unfinished look that detracts from the immersive experience.

This atmospheric detailing is actually well done, for both standards of its time and today. I give it a 9.8 for atmosphere/detailing in 2009, and a 9.3 compared to other games today. Overall, it is quite on point.

Graphics

The game requires a 1GB GPU, which was standard among the newer games of 2009. The graphics themselves are pretty average but appear flat when compared to modern games. Overall, there isn’t anything especially bad or good. I’d give it a 7.1 for 2009 games. 

As mentioned before, the textures do appear a bit flat, and it’s very noticeable against modern games, so I rate it 4.9 for today’s standards.

Overall

Overall, I think this is a great game. There are very few moments that I found dull. That said, some of these duller moments go on for a lot longer than a moment. Another nitpick of mine is how linear the design is. However, the atmosphere is done well. The fighting system feels really fun with how much interaction with the environment is allowed.

There is a dropoff between games from its time and more modern games. The scores average out to about 7.8 for the late 2000’s and 6.8 for modern games.

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