Arkham Asylum: Metroid Prime with Batarangs
Fer realz, dog.
Have you ever said to yourself, “Self, I sure do wish there was a third-person stealth game where I played the goddamned Batman, trapped on Arkham island, fighting all of the major baddies like Bane and the Scarecrow, where I could hang upside fucking down from the rafters, watching thugs and seeing their fear levels, only to swoop down on top of them, grab them, punch them in the nose, and leave them hanging, trussed up like a thuggy pig?”
If you ever asked that question, prepare for an orgasm, baby, because this game is the answer to your . . . needs.
I cannot begin to describe the visceral thrill that engaged my spine as I took out a room of ten thugs without any of them ever seeing me. You know that scene at the docks in Batman Begins where he takes out all the goons in darkness? One of them shouts, “Where are you?” and Batman just whispers, “here.” Bam.
It’s like that. YOU GET TO DO THESE THINGS.
But hey, say you’re not so into the creepifying ninja type stuff. That’s cool, too. You can just swoop into a crowd of goons and go to fucking town. You’re the fucking Batman, right? So you can do this, and do it well. Combat is both absurdly simply and absurdly complex. If you do it right, it’s a fluid, bone-crunching ballet of broken noses, busted ribs, and cape-swirl induced stuns. If you do it wrong, there’s still a lot of bone-crunching.
As you progress in the game you get more . . . bad-ass (I was going to say “more lethal” but the Bat is never about killing). Your initial equipment load is “just” unlimited batarangs and the grapple gun (which, by the way, never gets old). As you progress, you’ll unlock new abilities (throw multiple batarangs, better combos, armor, etc.) and abilities (grappleclaw, detonation gels).
These ability increases are where the “Metroid” bits come in: you’ll see areas you can’t quite get to. Yet. Once you have the grappleclaw, you’ll back track to where you saw that grate up high on the wall and pop it open, which opens new areas to explore and be a predator in.
But all that shit seriously fucking pales in comparison to “Detective Mode”. Detective mode is a switch, like one of Metroid’s visors. Flip it on and all of a sudden your perceptions of the world change. You have better night vision, for one. But you know, that thug lurking in the darkness over there? Now you see him bright as day (though in a skeletal form). Further, you get a read out of his emotional state, whether or not he has a weapon, etc. Grates, doors, other special things start standing out.
Previous Batman games had focused entirely on fighting, which, you know, makes sense given that Bruce is a fucking ninja. But the most important bit to Batman – the thing that makes him the Baddest Dude Walking – is the fact that he’s the world’s greatest detective. And that’s hard to put into a game and make “fun.” But Arkham Asylum pulls it off, and does it well.
For example, early in the game, you’ll have to track down a guard. You cordon off a “Crime Scene” area and do some investigation. Eventually you find his hip flask, sample the booze, and then, using the bad-ass detective mode visor, can follow the scent of the whiskey in the air to find him.
And then there’s a whole series of Riddler-based sidequests. These run from hidden-package collectibles to real “riddles”. Find the solution, take a photo, bam, XP. Hunting down Riddler quests alone is half the fun for me.
The boss fights are hella good, too. I mean, like, fighting Bane is pretty typical (dodge his charges, jump on his back and fuck up his venom injectors, etc.) but he’s kind of a super-strong thug. The Scarecrow boss fight is clever as all fuck. I haven’t run into the Joker yet but I shiver in anticipation.
The voice acting is gold-star all the way. They got Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin to reprise their roles from the old Batman: The Animated Series. Since each of them have played those characters longer than anyone else in history, they’re kind of definitive. I love me some Heath Ledger, but Mark Hamill’s Joker is a different breed, and Kevin Conroy is the best Batman.
(It also doesn’t hurt that the story was written by Paul Dini, who masterminded the DC Animated Universe.)
What I hate: Nothing. This is one of the best games I’ve played in many moons. You will love it.
Plus: The Goddamned Batman.