Well folks, we now live a world where Batman: Arkham Asylum has been released. And to be perfectly honest, it's really quite amazing.
It was Wednesday this week that I received a text from JB HiFi telling me that my Collector's Edition of the game has arrived and I could pick it up immediately. Somewhere (apparently in New South Wales) the street date for the game had been broken and the JB staff got a phonecall from some higher up entity saying "Put it on the shelves NOW!".
So before I run through my opinion of the game itself, let me give you a quick guide on what the Collector's Edition (also known as HOLY FUCK KICK ASS CHAMPION Edition) consists of...
Forget the box behind it (it's a fake version). The Batarang at the front is exactly like mine.
Initial reports on the internet started to rail against the Collector's Edition Batarang. Bitching about things like the quality of it and the inability to remove it from its stand so you can throw it around the house. What morons. I just wanted something that looks cool on my video game shelf and that's exactly what I got. It's sturdy (feels somewhat like wood weirdly enough), about a foot long and looks cool. Some people on the internet were whinging about the thing having 'worn-in' scratches all over it like as if Batman actually used this thing in his war on crime. Honestly, the scratches on mine are hardly noticeable.
The Prequel Comic:
About the size of a postcard and consisting of 12 pages, The Road To Arkham (written by Alan Burnett and art by Carlos D'Anda) is a lead-in to the events of the game. I found it to be best read after the game is finished as it details one or two plot points that may come as a surprise. Nothing major or spoilerific, but just stuff that makes you think "Ooooooh, I see". It reads great, looks cool and is a perfect companion to the storyline of the game.
The Arkham Journal:
Bigger in width and page size than the comic, this Journal details files from Arkham doctor Penelope Young (who is a semi-important character in the game) about every single inmate in the madhouse. 48 pages of every Batman villian you could think of (with more art from Carlos D'Anda), it's a nice little collection of the rogues' gallery.
The Downloadable Codes:
After the main storyline is finished, the game offers you specialised maps so you can fuck guys up to your heart's content.
I initially thought the collector's edition only included one code for downloading a challenge map, but I ended up with two. As part of the replayability of the game, it features challenge maps which you can either become the 'invisible predator' in a room full of thugs or other maps where you simply punch the fuck out of wave after wave of dudes. Racking up scores is what these maps are for, but also so you can unlock more stuff in the game. And also Achievements. Sweet, sweet Achievements. The two codes in the Collector's Edition are for the 'Villian' map and a map based on Crime Alley, which is where Bruce Wayne's parents were killed. Both maps are not in the retail game and I have no idea if they will be. Perhaps they will be the downloadable content that's apparently coming for the game. Who knows?
The Behind The Scenes DVD:
I couldn't find an appropriate picture for the bonus DVD, so here's a shot of Batman kicking a dude in the face. Which you totally can do in the game.
Pretty standard stuff here. Five chapters that are about ten minutes in length of the developers, composers and others talking about how awesome the game is. One bonus out of this is I finally discovered what Kevin Conroy looks like.
The Actual Game Itself:
To be honest, there probably doesn't need to be another Batman game after this one. Because Batman: Arkham Asylum is literally shocking in how faithful it is to every possible desire you could have for a video game based on Batman. I'm still reeling from how Batman games went from always being total garbage to one game completely turning that around in one shot and saying "You want it, here it is.". Because that's what Rocksteady Studios have done here. They've made the best Batman game you could ever hope for. Even besides that, it's not just a great Batman game, but a great game overall. The variety in gameplay, the environments, sound design, graphics, voice acting and writing is all top shelf. It just so happens that all those ingredients are made even sweeter by it being a Batman game. You wanna fire your grapple gun to an insanely high ledge? Check. You wanna prey on thugs and make them scared out of their minds? Check. Glide on your cape? Use a batcave? Talk to Oracle? Punch the fuck out of groups of thugs? Check, check, check and CHECK.
I could talk all day about the quality of the game, but fuck that - I'd rather be playing it. I'll just sum up by saying I am immensely satisfied with the collector's edition and the game itself is surprisingly terrific. Even I didn't think it would be as lovingly crafted as it is. And considering the amount of pre-release hype kind of shit I've talked about this game, that's certainly saying something.
Oh, I almost forgot. I finished the game last night and Ryan, you owe me 20 bucks.