Do You Grapnel?

There are many things I wanted to be growing up, but the one thing that always stood out, was to wear tight black clothes (with cape), a faux 6-pack, and a mask with horns.
While this may sound like some people’s average weekend (not judging), I’m actually talking about becoming… The Batman.
Thankfully, this has been made possible with one of the game series I’m currently streaming, and of course, I’m talking about the Arkham series!
Now I’ve finished beating the stuffing out of a random assortment of villains in Arkham Asylum, and finished gliding through the air like a glorious… bird in Arkham City, I’d like to impose my opinions upon you.

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

It’s very hard to be unbiased, when you’re a fanboy of the highest calibre, but I will certainly do my best to judge possibly the GREATEST games of all time.

Let’s begin with Arkham Asylum.
The game itself begins with you escorting The Joker into (would you believe it) Arkham Asylum, and being The Dark Knight, you know that something serious is about to go down.
This is where you see that even with today’s graphics, this game still holds its own. It’s no Witcher 3, or anywhere near the oncoming storm that is Cyberpunk 2077, but let’s not forget, Arkham Asylum was released mid 2009.

Moving swiftly on, you encounter battle after battle with various thugs. Big thugs, little thugs, armored thugs.. lots of thugs, and at this point you’ll start to really see where this entry game of the series gets its well deserved praise – the combat.
Watching it may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but when you have the controller, dashing from foe to foe, breaking legs, crotch punching, and fly kicking, it’s hard not to have that smug “look at me” smile splattered across your face.
Not all fights can be finished with such graceful brutality, there are many points in this game that require you to be one with the shadows (or just high up on a gargoyle head).
These are usually pointed out to you by a bunch of guys bragging about how big their guns are, at which point, you want to get your hide on. These phases are just as enjoyable, and really help break up the combat, keeping it fresh.
The aim of these stealth phases are (you guessed it), don’t get shot. This is achievable (not always easily) by (and not limited to):
Sneaking up behind a dude and choking him to the ground
Squatting on an uphigh structure (aforementioned gargoyles do well) and tying an unsuspecting victim upside down until he passes out, leaving you to grapnel away to the next cover, like some kind of bondage-esque Tarzan (and here comes my first critique of the game) who is seemingly invisible to the people who at times, are looking right at you flying toward them.

Now I don’t know about anybody else, but I feel like, if I’m specifically looking for a “bat-like” person, my eyes are naturally going to glance upward, and even if they’re not currently looking up, I’m DEFINITELY going to notice, a gigantic man in black leather flying toward/over me (sorry Batsy).

Photo by Cassidy James Blaede on Unsplash

This then brings us to the next portion of the game, boss fights. The boss fights I found to be one of the easiest sections, this may be because Batman is meant to make these 1v1 encounters look as pitiful as they often do in the comics. Only when the boss encounter is a big bad guy encompassed by an army of lesser minions, do they then become challenging. Don’t take this as a criticism however, remember that you’re playing the game as the “Immortal Batman”, an entity that strikes fear into all villains. This isn’t to say that the boss fights are boring, or uninteresting, they each bring their own variation of required tactics and I would hope that most gamers would have played this within the last decade of its release. But on the off-chance of a spoiler, there are certain fearful boss fights that almost make you believe you’re in a warped reality trying to evade whatever is thrown in your path, like say, a large scarecrow. And these particular scenarios are what makes the scrawny looking (in most cases) bossman, actually make you work for a win.

There are very few games that grip me from start to finish, multiple times. But something about the flow of combat, the levelling system, stealth missions, various collectibles, and the (seemingly easy) bosses bring together a truly fantastic experience that I find myself comparing essentially all other action/adventure games to. For example, “Why does Ezio keep jumping on this damn crate when I’m just trying to walk forward… Batman wouldn’t do that” and so on.

I hope that if you haven’t played this outstanding entry to the Arkham series, that my clearly one-sided review has almost pushed you into giving it a chance.
The next in the series is Arkham City, and if Arkham Asylum really got you into the Batman groove, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Click here to check out the Arkham City review!

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