Although Batman Arkham Asylum can be a little cheezy in the dialogue at times, it's perfectly forgivable in a comic book superhero and this is a fun game. The story begins with Batman escorting a captured Joker to the Arkham Asylum located on Arkham Island, but as this was accomplished too easily, Batman's suspicions are running on high. Sure enough, Joker has his own reasons for breaking into jail and shortly thereafter escapes his confinement and releases all the other inmates of the Asylum. Among them are many of Batman's infamous arch-enemies. Throughout the game you will find doctor/patient interview tapes that give the background of these characters and when they were first introduced in various editions of the comics. As these open up, you can access their biographies in the menu as well as see models of them in the trophy room.
One of the doctors of the Asylum has been experimenting with a drug that causes gigantism and Joker wants the formula to build an army of Titans. The doctor's research notes are located somewhere in the Asylum and Batman needs to find them before Joker does. Unfortunately, hostile prisoners now control all of Arkham Island.
This is really just a simple game and unfortunately quite short. It's only lengthened by content in the form of challenges mockingly issued by the Riddler. So the story and main quest can end, but full game completion won't register until all the riddles are found. I never liked this approach, as I prefer the story and side quests to finish at approximately the same time. It leaves me feeling that the character, and therefore myself, has lost purpose when the game is reduced to a mere collection of items and open challenges. There are also challenges that become unlocked in the menu, which act as virtual training. However, several become unlocked very late in the game and I feel they would have better served the player had they been more timely to using these practiced skills in the main game. Personally, I just lose interest after the character's purpose is removed, so this extra content is not an attraction for me.
I did find the Riddler puzzles distracting to the story. Although it's nice to have extra ingame content, puzzle solving requires using the scanning mode. That meant searching an area and scanning every few seconds in every direction. This lends itself to the temptation of staying in detective mode all the time, which will literally give you the blues. This broke up the continuity of the story. You could do these later, I suppose, but solving them gives you experience points towards updates and opens up the challenges that can help you practice moves - and you will need practice as the boss fights are really quite challenging.
Combat is a combination of your movements plus scripted animations. It's a bit on the button mashing side, but the results are pretty impressive. With combo moves, button instructions appear and disappear on screen as they are available during combat, but the action is often too fast to react to them. It hardly seems to matter in the end. Just keep button mashing and you'll get the points. The mechanics of gameplay somewhat resemble AC Brotherhood. Since I had just played that, the similarity was quite obvious with counter and special combo fighting. However, I think AC edges out on top for the mechanics by reducing it to a very few buttons pressed in context. In fact, it caused me a bit of adjustment problems as I kept trying to use the moves from AC. LOL! The other similarity is virtual training.
What I did like was the way that this game makes you strategize your moves. Batman doesn't carry guns, but often comes up against armed enemies, so the optimal strategy is swooping from his lofty vantage points or stealth kills. His cape acts like a parachute, so it's hard to take damage from heights. In fact, the game might be a bit too scripted in this regard, but we certainly can't have Batman falling on his face. Besides, it's loads of fun swooping around like a bat. What Batman does have in his arsenal is a grapple hook, batarang and various other bat toys that can be upgraded.
Drug induced sequences are a nice addition to the game for a change of pace, but the intentional lack of camera control during these sequences can be quite frustrating. At these times, the camera is locked into certain angles and the directional keys don't behave in the usual manner, thus making control more difficult - at least on the keyboard. I'm not sure if the same applies when using a controller. This ups the difficulty, of course, and although I say Batman is a fairly simple game, dealing with the enemy can prove quite difficult in places.
The graphics are pretty good, but many of the scenes are tinted with blue or penitentiary green, which makes for a certain lack of sharpness in the details. I've been finding this in a few games lately, so I wonder if it's an intentional art style. Whatever it is, I don't much care for it and prefer my characters clearly distinguishable from the background. But it's just me being too picky. The map is also quite small and bears a certain resemblance to point and click games in that you retrace the same ground over and over.
One last thing, key binding is located in the launch settings and is not accessible in the game. Why developers do this is quite beyond me. However, regardless of its faults, Batman Arkham Asylum is still a pretty good romp and has many fine points and lots of fun gameplay.