I’m not one for marathoning a game usualy. I’m far more likely to just dip in for one to three hours on a work night, leaving the weekends for some multiplayer fun in Gears or L4D. However this past weekend saw a change to that. With Linda out of the house on Saturday for a chocolate making workshop, the results of which were divine, I loaded up Batman: Arkham Asylum. The Last Save Loaded for this was dated January. January 2010! Had it really been so long? And why had I stopped playing? I recalled really enjoying the game, but I think Linda saw me playing, started her go and for some reason I never jumped back on when she had finished.
So here we where, over eighteen months later and I powered up the XBOX to continue my story. Having been so long I elected to ignore the old save game and start over, probably a wise move as the combat system in Arkham Asylum, whilst wonderfully executed, takes a little while to get into the timing of so those early battles helped rekindle the muscle memory for the combat. Deciding to focus, as I usually do these days, on just getting through the story I only picked up Riddler trophies I saw out in the open and had to walk past anyway, and so I made quick progress through the gameplay I had already seen. Starting at around 11:00 I was probably past my previous stopping point by 13:00, which was surprising. I can only assume I way taking a lot more time looking for clues and secrets on my first play.
The combat always entertained and the empowered feeling you get from being the Batman is spot on. Always wary of gun fire, but otherwise feeling smarter and quicker than all the enemies thrown at you. Not that I didn’t hit fights were I had to strategise, to out think the AI trying several techniques until I found the one that worked for me. Or occasionally believing I was safe to eliminate an inmate on the stealth sections when I clearly wasn’t, having to take to the rafters and leap about like a crazed fool until I lost them. But you always feel in control, that Batman knows what he is doing and will take them all down. And it’s this that sets this game above others that try the same approach. Batman should feel like this, the confidence to handle whatever is thrown at him, the gadgets coming it at just the right point to help him along ultimately overcoming the challenges to see justice done. The fact that I now wish I knew more about the universe of Batman is testament enough to the power of what has been created.
And so, with only a brief break, when Linda returned, for food and for her to check out Bully which we’ve bought On Demand for the 360 despite only just buying it for PC last week and already owning it on Wii, I finished the game at around 00:40. I’d estimate my total playtime at around 9 hours which for me is a great length of a game story. I spent Sunday picking up all the Riddler clues and Arkham history titbits I hadn’t come across during the story, a set of 3 teeth in the Mansion being the hardest to find so am left with only the challenges to master to get 100% however that might only be a dream. Whilst the combat system is fluid and fun, I am no master at it and probably never will be. Combo fights are not something I’ve ever been good at, one of the reasons that games like Bayonetta have little to no draw for me. But I already feel I’ve had my time with Batman well used. All I can hope now is that Arkham City is at least on a par. That will make me very happy indeed!