The main reason I got a Playstation 3 was because my DVD player had died and I wanted to get a BluRay player, and the PS3 was the only “next generation” video game system which provided that.   I guess you could say I was able to kill two birds with one stone.

As it was around Thanksgiving when I was in the market for the PS3, I looked into what the Black Friday deals would be, and I managed to score an awesome deal – getting a PS3, Dark Knight on BluRay, and two games (the hit “inFAMOUS” and the game I was planning on buying first anyway – Batman: Arkham Asylum).

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Arkham Asylum.  Based on the reviews I had read online and some friends of mine who own copies of the game, I figured it would be better than previous Batman-related games I had played.  I’m not a huge gamer, though, and there was a decent chance that I wouldn’t be any good at the game.

What I found was an extremely rich game, full of Batman lore, great graphics, enjoyable cut-scenes and easy-to-control-yet-challenging gameplay.

I’m not a Batman fanatic at all, though I have loved the character ever since I saw the Michael Keaton / Jack Nicholson movie a couple decades ago.  I’ve never had a comic subscription before, and I’m sure that I own less than 20 Batman issues (unless you count The Long Halloween trade paperback I have, which combines a year’s worth of issues into one huge story).  You definitely don’t have to be versed in the history of the character or many of the villains to enjoy the game.  You’ll learn a lot about all of them while you go through the game.

As you venture through the game trying to complete the objectives as they’re presented to you, The Riddler has 200+ side “quests” to do – some of which involve destroying all the Joker’s mechanical “teeth” setup in various spots, while others involve solving riddles by finding an object along the way which would be the answer to The Riddler’s puzzle and “taking a picture” of it.  What could be a very difficult task is made easier by finding maps in the various areas of the game, giving you a general idea of where Riddler elements can be found.  Even if you cheat and use the internet to help you figure things out (which I did twice), it’s still fun and challenging to find things.

Of my friends who I’ve spoken to about this game, we agree that the best parts of the game involve The Scarecrow, a villain with whom I was unfamiliar prior to the Batman Begins movie, and whom I didn’t really respect as a villain until this game.  I won’t give away any spoilers, but when you play the game, you might think your game system / copy of the game has a glitch in it for the first few seconds of playing those parts. The Scarecrow parts and a couple other areas are kind of creepy, but still very very cool.

The gadgets Batman has at his disposal as he goes through the game are pretty cool.  I would’ve liked to have a level where I could control the Batmobile or the Batwing or even one of the motorcycles, but alas, the rest of the gadgets you can use make up for the lack of vehicles.

The Challenge mode continues to be enjoyable for me, with stealth and brawling options available for either a button-mashing session or a strategic session of thug hunting.    If you’ve got a PS3 (or are considering purchasing one), you can download free content from the Playstation Network which allows you to play some of the challenges as The Joker, which actually makes for a significantly increased difficulty in completing the challenge.

There’s a sequel in the works, and for the first time EVER, I’ll probably pre-order it as soon as I can to ensure I get to play it as soon as possible.  I just hope they don’t change too much about the original.