Having been a Batman fan as a child, I still enjoy playing the vigilante hero in games. And to find an almost perfect Batman game, you don’t need to look further than Batman Arkham Asylum. The game deserves to be called as the Game of the Year because of many quality features. Originally developed as a console game, you can see the effect of it when you play it in PC.
The game came out in 2009 but I replayed it recently to write this blog highlighting all the features and some weaknesses in the game. For a game that was done in 2009, the graphics are high standard. My ATI Radeon HD 4670 supported the game to be played in highest settings so I was able to enjoy the maximum quality out of the graphics. The in-game video and the gameplay quality are almost at par which is impressive for me.
The story was simple yet intriguing. Batman was transporting Joker back to Arkham Asylum where Joker had set up a trap and took control of the island. Batman had to fight through all his foes and rescue the staff of Asylum and uncover a master plan by Joker and a conspiracy that was going on.
The game creators captured Batman’s movements and styles pretty well in the game. The combat moves up close or setting up traps for enemies are all typical of batman. Sometimes you can fight hidden by hanging in Gargoyles and catching a henchman off-guard or you can jump into a middle of a gang of henchmen talking and start fighting. Hand to hand combat also has counter attacking which if you time correctly will not only defend you from taking damage but also counter attack.
One of the other feature in the game that I find realistic to Batman is the way he grapples. Batman’s grapple can be used only on ledges or tops where you can grapple to. So you can’t simply grapple everywhere you go. Further into the game, you unlock additional tools that you can use in the game.
The interactions between Batman and his foes like Joker or Harley or even Riddler are in-character. I enjoyed listening to the interactions between Harley and Joker or Riddler mocking Batman’s intellect while trying to solve the riddles. One of the collectable items are interview tapes of patients of Arkham. It is interesting to listen to the tapes. Even though you don’t have any visual of what’s happening (they are audio tapes), you can listen to it and imagine it well. And if you listen carefully, they clue in on some of the back story of characters in the game and give clues to how Joker managed to set up his plan.
Difficulty wise, I would categorize it as relatively simple (played in hard difficulty). The actions are interesting but you can jump into a group of henchmen and can take all of them down without getting a single hit if you are comfortable with controller and sharp to observe. Only henchmen I found a bit difficult are those who carried stun batons since you can’t stun them and attack them. Knife wielders do most damage but easy to stun and attack. Gun henchmen can attack from a distance but if you are observant, you can take them down quickly and make sure no other henchmen take the gun after that. Most of the big bosses like Bane or the Titans you face here and there all require the same actions. Quick Batarang and Dodge. The game requires a lot of patience if you want to play avoiding damage.
Gameplay requires some old fashion climbing here and there or crawling through vents. But thankfully you can escape death if you fall down in your jumps. I appreciated that feature because I would have been annoyed if I had to replay from last checkpoint because I fell down in a jump.
Having said all that, the game does have it’s weaknesses too. One of the minor issue I had with the game was the Inverted Takedown ability. You need to upgrade it and I would highly recommend this to be the first upgrade you get. Batman will hang down (don’t necessarily have to hang down but I enjoy doing that) from gargoyle and when a henchman is right below you, you can catch him and tie him down to the gargoyle and leave him hanging. I enjoy doing that as batman but what I had a problem with is that the thug makes a lot of noise when batman does that. It should have been a silent ability. If you don’t immediately grapple to another platform after doing the hanging, you will be found by other henchmen.
Another annoying feature that I believe the game developers thought might make players play longer but I found annoying is collecting items. Some items are hard to find and some are visible but unable to reach. Further you go into the game, you unlock more tools of batman or upgrade the existing tools. And then you have to go back to the old places to use the tool to get the item. I found this annoying because I had to walk through the same places again and again to collect the item instead of playing the main story. For new beginners, I would advice not to waste your time collecting items or trying to solve all the puzzles as it distracts you from the game. Keep playing and collect the obvious ones or solve the riddles when you can but don’t keep running around trying to figure out where they are. Because you may not have the tools at the time even if you find them. Once you finish the game, it allows you to walk through the island. So you can do the collecting after that when you have all the tools.
One of the major issue I found in the game is it’s conversion from console gaming to PC. Since the game is produced by Microsoft for PC, they have enforced the controller to be Xbox. So other controller like Logitech Wireless RumblePad II is not configured properly. This is a major flaw (or marketing manipulation that I dislike) in all Windows Live games that exists in this game too. There were 3 key issues I found that required custom editing of the configuration file (make sure you take a backup of the file before you edit anything. Or else you’ll have to reinstall it again if you mess it up). You need to make the file editable (by default it’s read only) and then make it to read only after the editing.
Issue: The direction batman walks is in reverse. So if you push the left analog stick forward, Batman will walk back towards the camera instead of forwards.
Solution 1: Go to BmGame folder and Config folder within it. Find a configuration file called DefaultInput.ini. Search for XboxTypeS_LeftY.
You will find a line (the 1st search result) saying
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_LeftY”,Command=”Axis aBaseY Speed=1.0 DeadZone=0.3 | Axis aRawLHJoyUp Speed=1.0 DeadZone=0.0″ ).
Replace it with
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_LeftY”,Command=”Axis aBaseY Speed=-1.0 DeadZone=0.3 | Axis aRawLHJoyUp Speed=-1.0 DeadZone=0.0″ ).
The change is in Speed (both Speeds in that line) where the value is changed from positive 1.0 to negative 1.0 (there is a – in front of 1).
Solution 2: In the game launcher (BmLauncher.exe in binaries folder of the installation), go to SETTINGS. Choose MOVEMENT CONTROLS at the top. Change INVERT FORWARD/BACK to INVERTED. (I found out this solution after I edited the config file)
Issue: The gadgets in cross diagonal axis are not accessible through D-Pad.
Solution: Only way to change this is by editing the same configuration file as Solution 1 and changing the left and right D-Pad keys to rotate through the gadgets. Annoying but it’s better than having to use the Keyboard for the switching. To do this, go to BmGame folder and Config folder within it. Find a configuration file called DefaultInput.ini. You will have to make 2 changes here.
Issue: This is not so much an issue but a personal preference. In most games that supports PS3 controller format, the action key is usually Button X (Button 2 in Rumblepad II). But because of Xbox controller format, the keys 2 and 3 are reversed. Similarly 1 and 4 are reversed. I found that very uncomfortable. So I decided to switch them in the configuration.
Solution: Go to BmGame folder and Config folder within it. Find a configuration file called DefaultInput.ini.
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_A”,Command=”DebugCamSingleFrameStep | Run | ContextSensitive |CapeGlide | AcceptConversation | Evade | DebugMenuSelectA | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_B”,Command=”HangFromVantagePoint | BlockBreaker | DebugCamMoreSpeed | OnRelease DebugCamNormalSpeed | ExitAgilityMode | SkipCutscene | CancelGadget | DebugMenuSelectB | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_X”,Command=”QuickStrike | AttackSilentFinish | DebugMenuSelectX | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_Y”,Command=”Grab | ActivateNoise | AttackFearFinish | DebugMenuSelectY | SpecialMoveCheat | CancelBatarangCamera”)
should be changed to
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_B”,Command=”DebugCamSingleFrameStep | Run | ContextSensitive |CapeGlide | AcceptConversation | Evade | DebugMenuSelectA | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_A”,Command=”HangFromVantagePoint | BlockBreaker | DebugCamMoreSpeed | OnRelease DebugCamNormalSpeed | ExitAgilityMode | SkipCutscene | CancelGadget | DebugMenuSelectB | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_Y”,Command=”QuickStrike | AttackSilentFinish | DebugMenuSelectX | CancelBatarangCamera”)
.Bindings=(Name=”XboxTypeS_X”,Command=”Grab | ActivateNoise | AttackFearFinish | DebugMenuSelectY | SpecialMoveCheat | CancelBatarangCamera”)
should be changed to
If you want the edited Configuration file without wanting to edit it yourself, you can download it here. But make sure you take a backup of the original file and make the file editable (untick read only option) before overwriting with this file.
Overall, I really enjoyed playing Batman Arkham Asylum. This is one of the games I played 100% including collecting everything to unlock bios of the characters in Batman.
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