• Batman: Arkham Asylum


  • Action Adventure


  • Rocksteady Studios


  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Release Date:

  • 10/18/2011 (North American consoles), 11/22/2011 (North American Windows)

On Wikipedia:

  • Yes - Spoilers


  • Windows, Mac


Hardest Boss:

  • I remember Mr. Freeze gave me a lot of trouble.

I really enjoyed Batman: Arkham Asylum when I played it back in 2016. Lots of people did (not necessarily 2016, but the game itself). It was able to avoid a lot of the problems that comic book-based games had in the past. When you take into account that Superman 64 was just ten years prior to Arkham Asylum, it's especially a breakthrough...though unlike Arkham Asylum, that game was hampered by technical issues, incompetent development, and issues with Warner Bros./DC Comics. While Superman 64 later became YouTube fodder on how not to make a video game, Arkham Asylum did well enough to have a sequel greenlit. I will note that this review does have a major spoiler at the end of it, so be warned.

Promotional image from Steam page.

The premise of the game is that Dr. Hugo Strange basically engineers a way to have a section of Gotham City sealed off as some sort of extended prison camp, but it doesn't really feel that way, and the major parts of the game are all just setpieces dropped randomly onto the map. Going to Wikipedia, it looks like the game was originally supposed to be, you know, an actual CITY with streets that the Batmobile could traverse, which would have been kind of cool but it would also have people wondering if it started out as an Escape from New York video game (sadly unfulfilled, it's a great concept). Luckily, this design change was made fairly early in the game, though the whole "Arkham City" concept is a jumbled mess, even if it ends up still working in the end.

As alluded to in my review of my review of Batman: Arkham Asylum, my "personal" Batman canon is the DCAU, then switch to The Killing Joke, then the Arkham series. The Killing Joke works to connect the two, with both Harley Quinn in the series and having assistance from Barbara Gordon, who (in the main comic canon) retired as Batgirl after Joker shot her in the spine (The Killing Joke) and works as "The Oracle". Additionally, by cutting out Batman Beyond and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker the appearance of Robin (Tim Drake) and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) make sense (unfortunately, they're only DLC separate from the main campaign).

Poison Ivy's green skin is a bit weird compared to DCAU's version, but she DOES have more cleavage. (from Steam user "Dokuz")

More of the "Batman Rogue's Gallery" does show up and has major appearances in the game. Once again the Riddler has his little green question marks to collect, but you never actually even see him (much less fight him). In fact, some of the villains you don't directly fight. The Penguin, for instance, has been shown to be competent in hand-to-hand fights, here, you just fight rooms of his goons. You even fight Solomon Grundy at some point, one of the generic Justice League side characters without being tied to a specific franchise (though did appear in the DCAU at one point).

I do have some comments though...as much as I have come to regard Zero Punctuation/Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw as a hack, there's lots to agree about in his own review of the game...the game does feel too "sequelly" and tries to go even larger and bigger...yet never seems to stack up the same way Arkham Asylum did. One reason, I felt, was that Arkham Asylum had this whole intricate map with all these "Metroidvania" aspects, where new gear would allow you to access new areas and/or get around quicker. Arkham City doesn't have that. Back to ZP, the fact that sidequests and collectibles get locked out after certain storyline flags, that's a big problem too...but I didn't go into the game planning to 100%. I just wanted to play a video game. It excels at that, actually. You can glide around the city and pick up enemy chatter (mostly forgettable, though I do remember some goons speculating that "Harley used to be a dude"), and because it's a modern game for modern audiences, doesn't pose too many problems in progressing through the plotline.

The plotline as presented follows what happened to the Joker (he took up Bane's venom and the end boss of Arkham Asylum saw you fighting a roided-up Joker). According to Wikipedia, the late Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman, of course), called the story "really, really dark" and brought comparisons to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. I would disagree...it's probably not even as dark as Arkham Asylum, the only similarity being in that the Joker dies at the end. It's neither dark and depressing as the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, nor 2019's Joker.

Arkham City is also the last game in the series I'll play (and as I see it, the canon ends here). As of this writing, Warner Bros. Games is going to release another game in the series, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which sounds like another series entirely, just like how Super Mario Land eventually lead into Wario Land 4, or how Police Quest led into SWAT 4.