On Arkham Asylum…

The legend of the cowl finds its way into the minds of just about everyone, young and old. Upon the arching colored pencil marks and bouncing text bubbles, many find comfort and joy within the comic-book incarnation of our beloved Dark Knight. To those more attuned to the Television, we are once again regaled with the brilliant vocal range of Mark Hamil as he reprises his role as the clown prince of crime’s haunting melody. And, for many who still cheer at the sheer insinuation of Christopher Nolan’s grand reimagination of Gotham’s superhero, we are blessed with a more gothic and graphic look at Bruce Wayne’s inner clockwork that continues to drive his vow of ending the crime that ripped away his parents so prematurely.

No matter how you remember the iconic Batman, Arkham Asylum blends all tales of the caped crusader together into a magnificent symphony of true Superhero proportions. Simply said, this game is a sonnet of twisted Gotham beauty.

In an industry where its already difficult enough for a game to imitate the qualities of success in another, the developers at Rocksteady have done something which can only be called remarkable in that they did it all: An enthralling story that keeps you engaged from point to point; An environment that moves and breathes as a character in of istelf; a combat system that maintains simplicity while delivering a ballet of pain and justice to the Gotham underbelly; a masterfully orchestrated soundtrack that encompasses elements from both Hanz Zimmer’s silver screen adaptation as well as the cartoon’s memorable introduction music; and a perfect reunion of voice actors delivering performances that appear as if they’ve never dropped the act after all these years.

Now although Arkham Asylum pays obvious respect to Nolan’s interpretation which has breathed new life into the Batman chronicles, Arkham Asylum is a service to where the legend of Bruce Wayne first began—on paper. From beginning to end, the characters and themes are all homages to the legendary comic book series in which Batman was first worshipped.  This foundation is only reinforced by bringing back the well-known voice actors from the cartoon series to reprise their roles, and this is where the polygons appear to transform from simple flashing screens to true reincarnations of superheroes and super villains. Mark Hamil stands above the most by taking an already-disturbing Joker and turn him into a mastermind of true evil and unending chaos the likes of which we only thought possible through the late Heath Ledger’s performance.  What I find most impressive among all of this is the ability for smaller fans like myself to discover nuggets of new ideas and side stories that would only be known to the most hardcore. My good friend, who will soon be running a half-marathon as the caped crusader, joyfully asnwered my inquiry as to who this “oracle” character was. At that moment, I knew I was in way over my fanboy head—and I loved it.

Unsurprisingly, I am not the only one to herald Batman’s praise.  But even that weren’t the case, nothing will dilute the prestige of this adventure aand your absolute need to play it. Whether you’re a fan of Batman or not is not important; as a gamer, a creative thinker, or just an enthusiast of action in general, this game is promised to please any and all who choose to pick up the controller. No matter the platform or the time you have to comitt to it on a daily basis, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a myriad of great things seemlessly put together to create a product that is, in every sense, greater than the sum of its parts.

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