Welcome back to the TLYW Year of Console Gaming. I cannot believe we have already reached the end of August, Month 8 of our specially extended 14-month year. The game of the month has been Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) on the Xbox 360. Even though my gaming time was limited by work and business travel, Asylum proved to be easy to learn, engaging and much more enjoyable gameplay than I expected. I managed to complete about 8% of the game on my own at the start of the month, then Harry stepped in to help last night and pushed it forward a bit more before we ran out of time. Super helpful. I am glad he wants to be supportive of my gaming. I really had no idea that the Year of Console Gaming was going to feature real-life falling in love around Month 8. Didn’t see that coming.
As you know, we are following a dramatic historical trajectory throughout the year. August was the month in which we ended the first half of the 20th century; Batman’s story and aesthetics derive from the 1940s. At the start of the game, Batman spawns on a relatively small geographical area, being an asylum for the criminally insane and its grounds. The asylum belongs to the fictional Arkham City. It has been taken over by The Joker, and other familiar characters such as The Riddler and Commissioner Gordon make an appearance.
Once again, we have both screenshots and real gameplay.
Here I am in character as Batman, beating up some thugs in a corridor. Harry picked out this clip.
Batman swoops, grapples and soars around the room, gliding down to drop-kick bad guys. This was as much fun as the horse in Red Dead Redemption back in June.
Batman gets involved in an exciting boss fight.
Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady Studios (2009), Xbox 360. A third-person action-adventure game concerning Batman and a familiar cast of characters.
Plot and setting: Batman run, swoops and glides around a dark and spooky hospital/high-security prison which has been taken over by The Joker and his gang of criminal buddies. Batman must rescue personnel, take out bad guys and solve puzzles and problems.
General remarks: As readers may remember, I really didn’t like God of War 3 back in March because I am not used to platform gaming and I found it linear and constraining. There was too much puzzle-solving while being trapped in one room or even one spot. I was afraid of having the same problem with Batman: Arkham Asylum, but even though there are puzzle-solving elements and more than a few platforms, I needn’t have worried. Asylum gives you the feeling of considerable freedom as you jump and glide around large buildings.
Thumbs up: Excellent graphics considering it was 2009. The physical mechanics of Batman’s movements are incredibly satisfying and he can fly, swoop and glide long distance with ease and grace.
Thumbs down: There isn’t much to criticise, this is a light-hearted and fun game. I suppose if I wanted to find fault, I could complain that it felt a bit shallow. This is family entertainment, based on a comic book character, in the form of a very sleek platform game, it was never going to have the same adult moral dilemmas and open-world, sandbox complexity of Skyrim or whatever.
Return to? I might return to the Asylum, in the future. It didn’t feel like the kind of game you would commit to for months or years but it did offer accessible and light-hearted Batman fun, just right for a bit of casual gaming here and there.
It’s almost September and time for a new Game of the Month! Coming this Friday.