Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the best games I have ever played. You play, as the title suggests, as *dramatic pause* Batman! Armed with many iconic gadgets like the batarang, grapple, smoke bombs, and many more, it is your mission to put a stop to the Joker's plans within the Asylum.
The story is exciting, and unique. As you progress, you must adapt and master new skills as objectives become more difficult to complete. Iconic characters will make appearances as you progress. Most will try to kill you, some will try to pull a fast one and try to backstab you, still one in particular will even try to eat you. You will be in danger from start to finish, captivated by the eerie environment and developing story.
Arkham Asylum is a bit dated now, so the graphics are not considered as stunning as they once were. However, maxed out, it still looks very good. The asylum is true to its comic book origins, meaning it is dark, depressing, and gives off the feeling that something more sinister is lurking behind the walls than just the criminally insane.
The world of Arkham Asylum is free exploration, but to stay interested and invested in the game, you can't really deviate from the story because the story is linear and without side missions to distract you. Personally, I am not bothered by this because there is quite a bit of problem solving and each area you enter presents a new challenge that require different approaches, so you aren't doing the same thing over and over.
The main story is fairly long probably about 15 to 20 hours depending on the difficulty. On top of that, you have a couple of miscellaneous “missions” like doing all of the Riddler Challenges and examing the artifacts found in the Asylum. While many find these boring, I personally enjoyed going back and doing these because they offered sereral easter eggs by referencing events and characters from the comics that I enjoyed. If this isn't your kind of thing, it is easily skipped.
This game is in third person, so it relies on a very effective free-flow combat system based on combos. It mixes classic fighting with silent takedowns and special combo moves that create the classic Batman that can take anyone in a fight. Included in the fighting system are the gadgets. The gadgets create a whole new host of ways to creatively finish off opponets in both direct and indirect combat.
Many complain about the fact that the Batmobile and Batwing are not present in the game except for short stints, and are not even player operated. While this is unfortunate, the nature of the game taking place inside a small, finite area really defeats the use of either one.
In terms of music and sound effects, Arkham Ayslum employs them to great effect. While the soundtrack isn’t really memorable, the small things like dripping water, metal clanking against metal, and other small things add to the immersion. The environmental and combat sounds are actually quite good. Unfortunately the dialogs are hit or miss, which sometimes hurts the characters.
Replay value (9/10):
While the plot is linear and there aren't any choices which would change the story in any way, the game provides countless hours of fun as probably the best batman simulator on the market. If the story mode gets boring, there are always the numerous challenge missions that are not part of the story that are fun to play.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a very good game, with an unforgettable setting, an engaging plot, and a loose ends that set up future games. Overall, it is definitely one of those games which you have to play at least once and I highly recommend it.