For the ‘best game’ today we selected a newer yet still historical milestone in greatest games. What makes Batman so much fun to play? He’s stealthy, lurking in the shadows to catch his prey, yet he’s also brawny and built to slug his way through any mob of goons. He’s the world’s greatest detective, using a belt full of gadgets to sniff out a trail, but his suspects tend to be larger-than-life sociopaths with outlandish costumers. He’s a troubled hero and probably crazy, but in a stoic way; nobody wants a Batman who doesn’t keep it cool.
The Batman experience includes many contradictions, and Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum threads its way through all of them. Though this third-person action adventure throws him into a wide-open setting known as Gotham City, it constrains all the action to the buildings and caves of Arkham Island.
Batman gets to throw down with the goons, but he also hangs from the rafters and squeezes his buff-physique through narrow ventilation shafts. We might not get the opportunity to dive too deeply into his psyche, but the darkest parts of his are drawn out and mirrored in the skewed surroundings of Arkham Asylum, the dungeon like equipment that litters this institution, and most of all, a few nightmarish doses of a hallucinogen.
The main antagonist is the Joker, and the cat-and-mouse game he plays with Batman mirrors the structure of the game itself. He runs the Bat through a maze of traps and challenges, all built to distract Gotham’s biggest hero while a more sinister plan plays out in the city. While the final battle with the Joker, and really most of the gamer’s boss fights, is the weakest part of the game, don’t miss the hidden tapes of interviews with Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and the rest of Batman’s rogues gallery. The villains are almost as fascinating as Batman himself, acting, arguable as two sides of the same coin.