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I think the last Batman game I played was Batman: The Movie on the Commodore 64 back in the late 80s - the one where Batman took a leisurely stroll though the various locales from Tim Burton's movie occasionally interrupted by horrible and frustrating side-scrolling Batmobile levels.
I took a pass on every other Batman game since, even the original release of Arkham Asylum on the PS3. I had a look at the demo when it appeared on the PlayStation network, and it seemed pretty good, but not good enough for me to part with any cash.
The "Game of the Year" edition is in 3D though! And that was enough to get me to reconsider. It's not "proper" 3D, in the way recent movies like Avatar are - you still have to don a pair of red and green glasses (well, technically magenta and green), but a company called TriOviz have come up with a way to make it work. Don't ask me how, but there's a really decent sense of depth when wearing the glasses, and it doesn't suck all of the other colours out of the scene like the usual cheapo red and green glasses do.
That isn't to say that the enclosed glasses aren't cheap and nasty. In the box you get a 2 pairs of cardboard rectangles cut into the shape of glasses that you must hook around your ears and wedge onto your face. Annoyingly, every time I blink while wearing them my eyelashes brush against the coloured plastic, but maybe that's my fault for not having short manly lashes!
One pair is Batman themed, and the other is a green Joker pair, so there's that...
As I said, the 3D works very well, particularly when you're inside the Asylum. Once bBatman ventures out into the grounds around Arkham the 3D becomes a little bit hard to take. It could be because there's a whole lot more going on out there than simple corridors and tunnels, but I found myself turning the 3D option off on those levels. It didn't cause a headache or anything, just made my eyes feel a bit funny.
3D aside, the game is great with good voice work from the cast - particularly Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill as the Joker. Incidentally, Hamill has recently stated that he will voice the Joker for the last time ever in this game's sequel - the upcoming Arkham Asylum 2.
It's a third person game with elements of stealth, combat and puzzle solving. The combat involves simple button presses for attack, block etc. What really works about it is that it relies on a sense of rhythm - mashing the buttons won't get you as far as getting a good flow of attacks and blocks going.
The levels are massive, and there's an extensive cast of characters to meet along the way, most of which have detailed biographies that you gradually unlock as you play. Diving into the menus to read these bios can interfere with the pacing of the game but they're a good read for Batman fans and are accompanied by nice character artwork. There are also Bioshock style audio recordings to be found along with mini puzzles scattered about by the Riddler.
The 'Game of the Year' edition also features challenge maps that didn't appear in the original release - essentially mini games where you have to beat up X amount of goons before you run out of health. They're good fun when you want a break from the main storyline but aren't quite done playing.