Thursday, April 28, 2011

Batman: Arkham Asylum by Rocksteady Studios

Batman: Arkham Asylum by Rocksteady Studios
Released 2009
Rated T for Teen
Released on PS3, XBOX 360, and PC

Plot Summary: Batman: Arkham Asylum is an 3rd person action/adventure video game in which the player leads Batman through a most dangerous place, Arkham Asylum. The story starts out with Batman escorting the Joker into Arkham Asylum, the Joker laughing and showing no worry or remorse whatsoever. Then, the Joker traps Batman in the asylum and escapes, forcing Batman to traverse the asylum to escape himself. Players will have to employ Batman's cunning, his detective skills, stealth, gadgets, and hand to hand combat if they want to survive. Familiar faces and villains such as Commissioner Gordon, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, and Bane all make appearances.

Critical Analysis: Many people who have played this game, including myself, think this is not only the greatest Batman videogame to be released, but the greatest superhero game. In the past, developers have gotten perhaps one aspect of a superhero correct, but never as lovingly and thorough as Rocksteady Studios did for Batman in this game. Batman: Arkham Asylum is arife with obscure references to Batman comics, backstory for villains and characters, and the very dark and gothic feel of the Batman universe. It seems that the game was designed around Batman as a character instead of designing a game in which to throw Batman.

Controlling Batman feels right and fluid. With a press of a button, the Dark Knight can glide past security guards, throw Batarangs, and knock out guards. The combat system eschews button mashing in favor of timed button presses and group attacks. The game drip feeds the player a new gadget that opens a new door or finds a new secret every few hours, so there are always new things to do and explore. Arkham Asylum is an island, and most players including myself will gladly explore every inch for every last collectible item.

However, those collectible items can be the downfall of Batman: Arkham Asylum as well. Especially in this generation of video games, developers have been accused of adding hard-to-find collectible items to artifically lengthen a short game. In my opinion, the collectible finding in this game was fun, partially due to the new abilities that are unlocked from time to time. Some gamers could find it tedious though.

Reader's Annotation: The Joker has trapped the Dark Knight in Arkham Asylum. To escape, Batman will have to fight both his inner demons and some regular old outer demons.

Author Information: Rocksteady Studios are based out of North London and is comprised of 90 industry professionals. They are currently working on the sequel to this game, entitled Batman: Arkham City.


Genre: Action/Adventure Fantasy

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: N/A
Reading Level: Ages 13 and up

Challenge Issues: N/A

Why I included this title: As an avid graphic novel reader, I was excited to hear about a well-executed video game that featured a superhero. I'm also a big fan of Batman. Many teens are into graphic novels and video games, this is a guaranteed shoe-in for most teen gamers. Playing as Batman makes the player feel like they are Batman, so this would be a hit with teens.

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