The masterminds at Virtuos Games have been hard at work on Batman: Return to Arkham for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This amazing remaster includes two classic Batman games—Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City—in one amazing package. With updated visuals and all previously released DLC, Batman: Return to Arkham is a Batman fan’s dream come true.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Rocksteady Studios, Virtuos Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Genre: Action / Adventure
Modes: Single-player, online challenges
ESRB Rating: T (Teen 13+)
The Batman and Joker dynamic
The overall story in Batman: Return to Arkham revolves around the relationship between Batman and his archenemy, the Joker. The game begins after the Joker assaults Gotham City Hall and is caught by Batman. Believing the Joker allowed himself to be captured; Batman accompanies the Joker to Arkham Asylum, which temporarily houses many members of the Joker’s gang, who were transferred there after a fire at Blackgate Prison. The Joker’s plan is revealed when Harley Quinn takes control of the security and the Joker escapes into the facility, aided by a corrupt guard who kidnaps Commissioner Gordon.
The adventure continues in Arkham City where we find that Batman is imprisoned in a huge new super-prison enclosing the decaying urban slums of Gotham City. He must uncover the secret behind the sinister scheme, “Protocol 10”, orchestrated by the facility’s warden, Hugo Strange. In Arkham City, Catwoman plays as the game’s second protagonist that further expands the games story and includes encounters with the likes of Poison Ivy and Double-Face.
Solid gameplay mechanics
I have always enjoyed the gameplay from both of the Batman Arkham games, and Batman: Return to Arkham does not disappoint. The same great gameplay mechanics that made the original games enticing are present in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remakes. The best part about these games is their unique and varied gameplay. You get two games that are part-brawler, part Tomb Raider-style platform adventure, part stealth game and part puzzler. Each of these elements is finely tuned and implemented in such a way that they work seamlessly together.
Batman has a plethora of items and gadgets at his disposal including the Batarang, grapple, and explosive gel that can be used to defeat his enemies and foil the traps set for him. Batman’s Bat-Computer is at your disposal allowing you to discover new clues and pieces of information that you may have missed at the crime scene or was not visible to the naked eye. The batclaw is one of my favourite gadgets and is absolutely brutal in battle against Batman’s enemies. Catching your enemies off guard from either behind or above is wildly amusing, and delivering the final blow is has never been as satisfying.
Beautifully remastered graphics and solid voice acting
Virtuous Studios did an amazing job bringing both Batman Arkham games to current generation consoles. The textures and animations in Batman: Return to Arkham are simply stunning when compared to the original titles released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Every once a while you will encounter some graphical issues and collision detection problems that allow you to see inside of character models and have your hand disappear into the wall. Luckily, these minor glitches are far a few between and do not detract from the superb gameplay and amazing visuals. Virtuous Studios definitely deserves a pat on the back for the great work they did.
In addition to the beautifully remastered graphics, both games contain some solid voice acting. However, it is Mark Hammill’s pitch-perfect performance as the Joker that seals the deal. He captures every drop of Joker’s sadism, intelligence and sheer insanity. Kevin Conroy delivers a solid performance as Batman, delivering his lines with punch and growl.
Lots to do after you complete the games
Even though Batman: Return to Arkham is a compilation of single player games, there are additional online challenges where you can compete in online rankings against other gamers from across the world. Challenges include best combination of devastating attack combos against Blackgate prisoners, surviving for as long as you can against toxic attacks from the Scarecrow, and solving puzzles as quickly as you can. Are you up for the challenge?
Furthermore, each and every character are beautifully documented with a detailed biography and well referenced in relation to their presence in the Batman comics. Additionally, there are audio tape recordings of the villains with the physiatrist at Arkham Asylum. These provide greater background on each of the villain’s stories and are definitely worth finding and listening to.
Arkham City is full of secondary missions that will easily double if not triple the gameplay time of the game. There are secrets hidden throughout the game that are worth discovering, and additional adventures including “Harley Quinn’s Revenge” that can be played independently as it takes place after the events told in the game.
Batman: Return to Arkham is a must buy for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fans. Even if you are not a huge Batman fan, both included games are solid action/adventure games that are fun to play. From solving puzzles to using Batman’s man gadgets, Batman: Return to Arkham recreates the sense of thrill and adventure perfectly.
Aside from both campaigns, Batman: Return to Arkham contains all the skins and DLC challenge maps that will keep you more than busy with the game long after you have completed the primary missions. I have to admit, I was a little worried that both games might not have aged well. To my surprise, both games are every bit as fun to play as they were when first released. Even though this was my fourth time playing through these games, my experience was just as thrilling and exciting as the first time.
+ Two fantastic Batman games with oodles of content
+ Same intuitive game mechanics
+ I never get tired of Batman!
– Minor graphical and collision detection issues
– Nothing new for previous players of the games
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5 (80%)