Oh God this game has it all!! Sex, blow, million dollar hookers, and stolen children's candy.
Ok.. This game has none of that but still its awesome!!
Story: The Batman fresh from catching his archenemy the Joker, rushes him back to Arkham Asylum. After sensing something is fishy because he felt he "gave up almost without a fight", Batman decides to escort him as far inside as possible. After reaching Arkham's depths for its most dangerous psychopaths, Joker springs his trap. Locking most of security out and Batman inside, The Joker takes over the asylum and threatens to blow bombs placed all over the city if any cops come. Trapped inside, Batman is forced to play the Joker's dangerous games while trying to investigate what his true motives are.
The story feels like something RIGHT out of the comic book. It feels organic and well written; like when it's over you could keep on playing forever. It captures a lot of the feel of the 90's Batman television show as well as some of the darker stuff from the comic books. ..Only now because it's a video game and DC has been really loose with it's licenses that it has a bit of blood and disturbing scenes. But the disturbing stuff never goes over board and actually complements the game by showing just how disturbing these characters are, that they are serious, and why they are so dangerous.
This game itself should get an animated movie or could serve as the premise of a future Nolan film. But it should.. I mean it's written by Paul Dini..
Atmosphere: This game is beautiful. Blood stained walls, hallways littered with dead guards and doctors, the creepy Victorian era architecture... this game looks like it doubles as a set in Resident Evil or Silent Hill. The game just gets so many small details right, that you could spend hours wandering around looking for little signs of life from some of Batman's major enemies and allies. The well designs of the newer enemies and one villain in particular (Scarecrow) are kind of lame to me but besides that everything visually top notch. From the particle effects to the water that covers the camera when you go through the Batcave's waterfall, this game is hard to NOT look at.
Sound/Voice Acting: A lot of the old cast from the Tv show is back including Kevin Conroy as the Batman and Mark Hamil as The Joker. The dialogue at times feels wooden by the extra's (except for the guy who voices Spike Speigal) but anything by the main cast is spot on, being delivered with both the feeling and style of the character in mind. I especially like the little taunts from the Joker and Riddler as you journey and explore both the island and the story.
The music is good. They do their job of setting the moods of the scenes and various rooms. While some of the tunes reflect the scores of both the movies and animated tv show, you have to progress through the story to more of them. At the end in a sad note, if you decide to explore the island, you'll have to do so in silence. Just before the silent show down.. all you can hear are the distant fireworks and the music is gone.. just the ambient sounds of the area's and left over goons.
Gameplay: Nearly every thing Batman carries on him doubles as a weapon. His Batarangs destroy select control boxes and cut wires and serves as long distance projectiles, his explosive goo blows holes in walls and doubles as proximity mines and so forth. The game plays "Metroid" style so as you gain new weapons as story progresses you'll find yourself doubling back to gain access to various Riddler trophies littered through the island and secret areats with hidden dialogue tapes to provide background to the various characters.
Batman himself controls much like he should.. like a well armed bad ass ninja. There are 3 basic gameplay elements for Batman.
Basic combat against unarmed to lightly armed foes feels good. With well timed button presses Batman can take down normal foes with ease. A second button serving as a counter button, you can easily mash the button without timing for easy counters, but well timed presses are rewarded with more powerful take downs and more xp. The basic combat is fluid and well animated.
Detective mode where you check the area around you for secrets and clues to both progress the story and earn achievements/trophies. It provides you with the details about what's going on around the environment, tracks/traces various chemicals in the area's, and seek out various secret areas/photographs the Riddler left behind. The only problems with this is that the screen turns everything into a blue tint. While its all very immersive and a very creative mode, it takes away from the awesome visuals a lot as you'll probably keep it on or keep your eyes out for visual clues you'll miss a lot of the beautiful visuals.
Predator mode is where you really feel the most like Batman. You stalk your "prey" by sticking to the shadows and various air ducts. Waiting for opportunities to utilize "silent takedowns" to induce fear in your well armed enemies. Swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle, from the shadows watching for your opportunity to take another one. If you get detected you better press the grapple button rapid fire to escape the deadly gunfire (Batman's greatest weakness). The balancing on this mode is extensive and impressive.
This game plays like a dream. It is an officer and a gentleman. It feels like this game is someone's magnum opus because of the attention to detail and Batman's laundry list of reversals,flying kicks, and throws that get more and more powerful as you advance. I cannot wait for a sequel.. I mean this game has minor flaws.. but they are actually less than that.. they are almost too small to actually be problems.