Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bat's Fantastic. Batman: Arkham Asylum Revisited.

Below me, from my hidden position in the rafters of a massive hallway, are at least fifteen of The Jokers cronies. Fifteen, big, burly, tattooed, meat-heads just looking for somebody to vent their roid-rage on. These are big, angry guys. 

But I'm Batman.

I drop from my place of hiding and fall as my cape opens with a snap; allowing me to land softly in their midst. For a couple of long seconds no one reacts as I stand calmly among them, hands relaxed at my side, then with a shout, they notice me and I find myself surrounded. If they're disconcerted by my unnerving stillness it doesn't show, and the bravest of them throws a punch at the back of my head. I see it coming and reverse the blow, then kick him in the backside to send him sprawling into his mates. Another comes at me swinging a metal pole and I catch it mid swing. A second later and I've clouted him around the head with it. 

And so it goes on; one by one they wade in until the fight develops into a roiling mass of attacking and countering, dodging and jumping. Me bouncing between them like an unstoppable, bat-pong ball of bat-fu-destruction, until they all lay across each other, slumped and unconscious. It's fantastic stuff born of a simple, yet expertly implemented mechanic of right click to defend and left click to attack. A right click - when correctly timed with a baddies punch - will trigger an awesome (and painful looking) reversal animation, while a left click will send you flying with convincing force into whoever you are pointing the screen at. When you get the hang of this you'll find yourself entering into a kind of cold, zen-like trance; judging and countering enemy attacks, then launching your own when you see an opening. Massive combos can be built up, and it looks absolutely spectacular when it all comes together and you wipe out a whole room of goons without taking a scratch. Right click and left click. That's it.

This game would be almost worth the entry price for the fighting alone. I'd buy it if it was just a linear series of random punch ups against increasingly insurmountable numbers of ugly fist-fodder.  

But you have the excellent and inventive stealth sections. The fantastic voice acting. The wonderful and convincing array of bat-gadgetry. The Riddlers' riddles. Bat-vision. The tape recordings and character bios. The superbly rendered Arkham Island that gets more and more insane the further you progress. It's a veritable bat-stravaganza of content. 

Lets just try and forget those unimaginative boss fights and Games for Windows Live. Both of which blow as much as my bat-jokes.

Get it on Steam for £14.99. 

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