Monday, December 17, 2012

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Retro Review)

It is time to turn over a new leaf.

No Longer will I keep my fans waiting. I will give you the schedule as promised, and will do my best to stick to it. If I cannot, I must instead give you a post explaining why.

In this case, it is because I was learning to use new Video capture software and making thatn video took a lot longer then I anticipated. I will need to start on my Video Reviews a lot sooner. 

Anyway, I am going to take a crack at making a Retro Review this time around. For those of you in the dark  about that concept, it basically means I will review a game that has been out for years (as opposed to my usual months) and reflect on both its historic significance and what it brought to its current generation and/or genre. In this case, I will be reviewing

It might be hard to remember, but there was once a time where people dreaded the oncoming release of a new Batman game. The Batman franchise had a rough time entering the game industry, to say the least, as it's earlier titles were most often either bad cop-in of movie titles or sloppy, glitch riddled games made more to cash in on the Batman trademark rather then do it justice. Games like "Dark Tomorrow" and "Return of the Joker" seemed to almost prove that Batman wasn't destined for video game stardom. At least not until a little development team called Rocksteady came along...

I remember the first time I saw this game on shelves. I was getting Dead Space 2 for my Xbox 360 over at the local GameStop when I spotted a rather professional looking Joker illustration on Gameinformer Magazine. I decided to skim through it a bit, and noticed two things: one, that they were obviously making a new Batman game, and two; judging by the screenshots, it looked pretty good. I felt a rather amusing mix of excitement and disappointment at the prospect (I had plans to make a Batman game of my own) and looked forward to seeing what this new team had to offer. I preordered a copy of my own, bought it when it was released, and played it on my PS3. That was about six years ago; my jaw hasn't left the ground since.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the most important games to be released in our generation; not just because of what it did for the Batman franchise, but the impact it and it's better known predecessor "Arkham City" did for the way games are made today. Without it, the intuitive counter button systems and the AWESOME cinematic in game moments of today would probably have been overlooked in favor of some flashier gimmick. Plus it demonstrates how strong of a story you can tell with the interactive medium. The opening scene by itself give the player an unrivaled experience that even modern day movies have a hard time achieving. While it can be argued (and rightfully so) that it borrowed a lot of elements from a previous game called "Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay" (a great title for a movie tie in, recommend buying it.), it does offer a lot of psychological and dramatic elements that were unusual for a game at the time, in particular a Batman game. It proves to this day that our medium, the video game, is just as good a storytelling medium as any blockbuster movie or best selling novel; if not more so.

The thing is, Batman: Arkham Asylum is the brick and mortar that made games like Arhkam City, Sleeping Dogs, and any other video game with grapple guns, unlockable secrets, and simplistic attack combinations. Generations are paved with these kinds of games, and Arkham Asylum proves how taking a big risk (and making a Batman game at the time was a big risk!) can not only make you stand out, but rocket you into first place and make your game and its predecessors revered for ages to pass. Not bad, Rocksteady; not bad.

Anyway, now is the time for my traditional Seven Word Synopsis. It will do the same as it ever did; two word for the good, two words for the bad, two words for the recommendation. This time, however, I will assume you are buying it used, only because most copies of the game are either used, dirt cheap, or some sort of "Greatest hits" brand nowadays. So here is my Seven words if you want to brush up on your video game history over the last decade.

Seven word Synopsis

Made Franchises

Batman Oriented

Great Superhero Game.
For those of you wondering why I changed the last three words for this game, I am following the request of a commentator. You see, kids? Ask and ye shall receive!

Thanks +Michael Tunnell. Your feedback is appreciated.

That's it for the retro review. If you have any interesting tidbits about this game's history that I overlooked, leave a comment and share it with the world. 

For Tomorrow:

See you then...

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