Saturday, 29 March 2014

Batman Arkham Asylum: Game design review

Winner of multiple awards, Batman Arkham Asylum needs little introduction. I enjoyed my time playing the game and even went back to find all the collectibles and hidden items. That being said, there are parts of the game which I feel could be improved.

Game issues:
1) Camera is a bit too close when walking or gliding- Often your cape will obscure the action making it hard to see where you're going. This is especially annoying when gliding because you can knock people out if you glide into the right spot so its important to control where you glide.

2) Lack of freedom to decide when to engage in a brawl and when to stealth- I found as the game progresses that it was extremely limited. You have to Brawl here, you have to be a Predator here the game says. There are no multiple pathways or multiple choices like in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Here's another instance. Near the end of the game, I wanted to avoid the enemies in the main areas of Arkum asylum. So I went to one of the doors to the next area only to be told "You have to defeat the enemies in the area". Why couldn't I just walk through the door like I had done countless times before? It wasn't locked or anything except by the contrived requirement I beat the bad guys.

Its a small nit pic considering the game has solid action and gameplay but something I feel could have been done better.

3) Stealth system- Its sometimes hard to know when guards detect you and how hidden you actually are in Predator mode gameplay. This occasionally leads to situations where you think you're safe but get spotted or vice versa. Also, you can't hide unconscious bodies which makes guards go into the alert when spotted.

4) Detective mode is too useful to ever turn off- Detective vision is great but way too useful as it reveals important spots and enemies. It also dyes the entire world greenish grey and the only reason to turn it off is to enjoy the world in normal colour.

5) Brawling camera and distance- Brawling is fun but sometimes the brawling camera is sometimes too close. Occasionally it is also sometimes hard chain combos sometimes as its hard to judge distance and direction of how far Batman can actually attack.

7) Finishing enemies that have been knocked out is too slow. Almost pointless in a brawl as there's no way to knock enemies away so attempting to finish an enemy leaves you vulnerable to other enemies attacking

8) Boss battles are boring- Boss battles are nearly all about fighting henchmen rather than villains which is a shame really. What boss battles there are aren't particularly exciting either.

9) Villians aren't really fleshed out. No real story or understanding of their motivations. Assumes a familiarity with the world. This is good and bad in a sense. I enjoyed it being a comic book fan but others might not.

10) Instant death scenes like in Scarecrow or killer croc sections. These sequences can be very frustrating as a misstep can lead to instant death and requiring a somewhat lengthy wait for the sequence to reload while the villain mocks you.

Batman certainly deserves its accolades but the lack of flexibility in the gameplay in my opinion serves to remind us even great games have flaws.

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