I've never been much of a fan of Batman...the television shows, comic books, films - its just not one of those things I've invested much time in. I ended up ordering Batman: Arkham Asylum after hearing about the delay of Splinter Cell: Conviction, and I can quite happily say I am very glad that I did.
The game see's you play as Batman, a gritty hero focused on bringing villains to justice. You were tricked into bringing the Joker back to the Arkham Asylum, where he sprung his trap, after escaping your grasp, he was free to torment you at his will, with the aid of thugs, and familiar foes.
The story is excellent, and well fleshed out that people unfamiliar with Batman's lengthy history (like myself) will not feel lost in the game. The amount of polish to the game is amazing, as you progress through the story, you'll hear snippets of information from guards, be treated to excellent voice acting and be fully engrossed in a stunning, well built world teeming with secrets.
The game has many elements, but none feel tacked on just for the sake of it. The exploration aspects are enjoyable, the platforming solid, the riddles excellently implemented, the stealth elements satisfying and varied and the FreeFlow combat system - although seemingly limited from the start, could have you clutching your controller as you franticly try to master it during the combat challenge rooms.
As you progress through the game, completing your goals and uncovering secrets, you'll be treated to an almost never ending stream of rewards. From experience that is used to improve Batman's abilities and new Gadgets to help him beat his enemies, to Character Profiles detailing Friends and Foes alike,
and even Audio Recordings of interviews conducted within the asylum itself. You'll always feel like you're making progress, and filling out the world even more. Finding all 240 secrets may sound daunting, but is enjoyable, even with a bit of backtracking to previously visited area's, as your new gadgets allow you access to places previously out of your reach.
Its hard to say anything too specific about this game without spoiling it in some way, but there are two moments in the game that stand out for me, that were so fresh and clever, that it actually had me take a moment to just go 'Wow!', something very few games manage to accomplish these days.
As you progress through the game, I'd recommend also playing the challenge rooms as you unlock them, like me, you'll probably learn some helpful tips in making the story mode even more enjoyable. Be warned however, the final three combat missions take some doing, but offer a great level of satisfaction upon
completion. I thought the story mode lacked a few enemies, but earning three Batarang Ratings in each combat mission certainly made up for that. There are also leaderboards for all challenge rooms, so for those that enjoy competing with the best, there can be a lot of fun to be had out of these.
The exclusive Joker levels that come with the PS3 copy of the game are enjoyable, you play as the Joker himself with a unique set of moves, however, unless you're really into the leaderboards, there isn't a huge incentive to replay these sections. If you own both a PS3 and X360 and you're on the fence which platform to buy Batman: AA for, the Joker levels are great for diehard fans, but you won't miss out on much if you'd prefer to buy the X360 version of the game in my opinion.
I've enjoyed this game the most out of any other newly released title this year, for fans of action/stealth games, this comes highly recommended, if you're a fan of Batman on top of that, this is a must play game.