Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Developer: Rocksteady
Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: 08/25/2009
System Released On: Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up

Who Nominated the Game: Batman: Arkham Asylum won our “Game of the Year” award in 2009

Why It Was Nominated Batman: Arkham Asylum is only a year old, but it’s already considered to be one of, if not THE, best superhero games of all time. From the moment people played the demo of this game, they knew they were on to something truly special Back in August of 2009, both Mark B, and I reviewed the game. In my review of the Sony Playstation 3 version of the game, I said:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a type of game so rare that I have to strain my brain to think of another of its kind: a multi-platform licensed title that is actually so good it deserves serious Game of the Year consideration. It’s a wonderful blend of old school button mashing beat “Ëœem ups like River City Ransom, sandbox elements and some familiar voice acting talents sure to delight Batman: The Animated Series fans . The fact this is also an Eidos game that has achieved this level of excellence has left me with an irrational need to go to www.weather.com and enter the zip code for the City of Dis to make sure it’s not in the midst of a blizzard. Make no mistake about it – Batman: Arkham Asylum is a must buy.

Mark echoed similar sentiments, in his review of the Xbox 360 version:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is pretty much the Batman game that fans have been waiting for, as it’s a game that’s so fantastic that fans will explode from the pure joy of it all and even non-fans can play the game and come away impressed. Between the strong script of Paul Dini, the fantastic visuals, the awesome sound composition and the stellar voice acting, the presentation of the game is absolutely stunning. The gameplay is also quite fantastic, as the combat controls are intuitive yet in-depth, the stealth mechanics are entertaining and function well, Batman’s tools are all cool and fun to play with, upgrading Batman is outstanding, and the focus on detective elements adds something to the game that it really needed to feel like a Batman game. Thanks to the multiple difficulty levels, Riddler Challenges, and Challenge Maps, one play through of the game won’t be enough to sate your urge to play, and you’ll spend a good amount of time with the game, making it well worth the investment.

Now two DHGF staffers giving a licensed game this level of praise is rare enough, but when we came to the 2009 Staff Commentaries at the end of the year, no less than seven staffers included the game in their Top Ten list for the year. DJ Tatsujin wrote:

Yes, finally, someone did the impossible and made a fantastic Batman game. While its induction into the Gamer’s Guinness Book of World Records made me lose any shred of credibility I had for the publication, Arkham Asylum is indeed by far the best Batman game ever conceived. Not having its arms shackled by movie scripts and deadlines, the developer knew its source by bringing the right mix of writers and voice actors to craft one of the most compelling stories and sequence of events to be seen in 2009. The title dared to follow the source material for once and highlighted what Batman really is: The World’s Greatest Detective. This motivation grouped with the extensive use of Batman’s gadgets carried the game well beyond what gamers have come to expect from a Batman title and the wide open exploration of one of the series’ creepiest locales is an experience a gamer won’t soon forget. Arkham Asylum is one of the few games this year that I didn’t want to put down – I was glued to it through the end and it would have eaten away at me if I wouldn’t have been able to finish the story. The expansive Riddler challenges keep me playing the game still and I would say there are very few other games out there that are still worth $60 at the moment.

Matt Yeager wrote:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the best all around games on the market. The story, graphics, sound, control, gameplay, the combat and stealth parts are all so well developed and the game stays so close to the source material that it is probably the most solidly developed game on the market today. The only reason it is not on top of the list is because the game is also a short lived experience. I had beaten the game and found all of the Riddler clues in just a couple of days with little reason to play it again.

So on and so forth. At the end of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum broke Diehard GameFAN records, amassing more awards than any other game ever, breaking the record set by Disgaea, the only title to actually enter the Hall of Fame so far. Looking back at the 2009 Gaming Awards, we see that Batman: Arkham Asylum won the following awards: Best Multi-Console Game, Best Action Game, Character of the Year, Best Graphics, Best Audio, Best Gameplay, and of course, the 2009 Game of the Year. So with all these accolades and the overwhelming praise of the staff, was Batman: Arkham Asylum able to enter the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame.

All in Favour:

Ashe Collins– This is probably the best Batman game we’ve ever had, combining a neat combat system with an almost complete cast of Batman’s rogue gallery with some neat sneak tactics as well as some decent puzzles and enough to do to keep you interested. On top of the great characters, we get an original story told by some of the better scribes in the business and a fantastic voice cast marking the return of Conroy to the role of Batman and Hamilll as the Joker.
 
 
 

Bebito Jackson – Hall of Fame means, to me, one of the greatest games of all-time. Does it have to be innovative? It helps. Does it have to be original? It helps. Does it have to be unlike anything that’s ever been seen in the industry and spark a revolution for the way videogames are played, talked about, and perceived forever as we know it? Eh, couldn’t hurt. However sometimes it’s even more impactful to take something that has been done, maybe something that’s been done to death beyond ad nauseam, and improve on it and refine it and polish it and perfect it and make love to it to the point to when you pop the game in your console and press start it takes a giant flaming piss on everything else that’s ever come before it.

That’s what Batman: Arkham Asylum does. It’s not original. But it doesn’t need to be. Let’s take a look at the facts (And by “facts” I mean my opinion. Which is my word, and as such is beyond contestation.).

FACT: It’s the best Batman game ever made.

FACT: It’s awesome.

FACT: It’s the greatest superhero game of all time.

FACT: No really. It’s like seriously awesome.

FACT: It’s the greatest 3D brawler of all time.

FACT: Kevin Conroy is the voice here instead of Christian Bale so Batman no longer sounds like a giant constipated douche bag.

FACT: The amount of homage and fan service toward the intellectual property crammed in without sacrificing quality is astounding.

FACT: Mark Hamill OWNS you.

FACT: Besides winning our Game of the Year award for 2009, Arkham Asylum also won… Best Multi Console Game. Best Action Game. Best Graphics (think about that, a game developed on multiple consoles instead of one optimized for a single platform won the award for best graphics). Best Audio. Best Gameplay. And it made Batman our Character of the Year.

FACT: Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

I rest my case. Now of course, we have incredibly stringent criteria set in place to make it all but impossible for even the best games to get into the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame. This is by design and half the fun. Make no mistake however; those who don’t vote this in are all mentally handicapped. They are also horrible people. The kinds of horrible people that if you were to look down in their basements you would find homeless people locked in cages. They are also dumb. And gay. And they hate God. This is my word. And as such is beyond contestation.

AJ HessBatman: Arkham Asylum finally did the impossible: It delivered an amazing Batman game. Yes, there were some faults, but the largest was perhaps repetitive boss fights. Every boss fight is the same, in every game. Use mechanic X to lower health bar on target Y until defeated. Combat was presented in a new, flowing-attack style, detective work was as important as fisticuffs, and of course, Batman had access to all those wonderful toys. The visual style of the game was only topped by the audio, with Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising their iconic roles from Batman: The Animated Series/

James Hatton – You could argue that Batman:AA is a mix of fighter & stealth and there are games that do both of those a smidge better. You could also argue that the sky is purple and that I’ve never humped a pillow because it “just felt right.” You would be wrong on all accounts.

Batman being dark and gritty isn’t original at all, but making that grittiness still feel exciting and downright creepy is a Herculean feat that this game does in spades. If you were somehow a video gamer, somehow missed the last 50 years of pop culture, and had no idea what Arkham Asylum was – by the end of playing this game, you recognized this building as the living and breathing entity that it is supposed to be.

The only flaw I found is that the missing villains are teased for the sequel, but for the first time in a long time of playing video games, I was thrilled there would be more Arkham to explore in a year or two.

All Opposed?

Alexander Lucard – Look I adore this game. It’s the best Batman game ever and easily the best Super Hero game ever. My problem is that the game is too new, and as it’s only been out for a year, it is simply too early to judge whether the game deserves entry. For now I vote no on the grounds of wanting the game to age a bit and then come back to it for a second vote. I really don’t know how well this will age, but as I personally feel it’s just too new a game to merit entry into something like a Hall of Fame.
 
 

Christopher BowenBatman: Arkham Asylum is a good game. Don’t get me wrong on that. But to make the Hall of Fame, it has to do something more. Arkham Asylum, though a great game, is *just* a great game. It doesn’t really break down any barriers, it just executes known archetypes better than other games do.

We could give the game extra points because it’s a comic book license that happens to not suck, but is that really something to praise a game for? If we’re going to do that, then this isn’t even the first Batman game to do that; the NES game based off of the original Tim Burton movie was also an outstanding game.

Just being good isn’t enough to make the Hall of Fame. If we’re going to use a baseball reference, Arkham Asylum is the Dale Murphy of the medium; great numbers, but not enough to justify inclusion into the hallowed halls.

Guy Desmarais– This is most probably the greatest Batman game ever released, but that alone is not enough to put it into the Hall of Fame. It may have been our game of the year, but I don’t think that the game has enough staying power to become a true classic. It does not really introduce anything sensational to the genre, outside of finally giving the world a decent Batman game.
 
 
 
 
 

Chuck Platt – BAA did a lot for the Batman franchise. It was a bridge between the animated series, the comics, and the movie franchise. It is definitely the best game version of a superhero ever. Hell, BAA made me like stealth. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the game is weak, the brawling loses its appeal quickly, and the last boss battle is terrible.
 
 
 
 

Aaron Sirois – I still disagree with the notion that this is the best superhero game of all time. For me, that would probably be one of the X-Men Legends games.

More to the point, I disagree with the feeling that the game is particularly great. I still think it is merely good and has some serious flaws. It was ultimately disappointing to me, which I said in my column way back.

In no way do I feel this game deserves a place in a hall of fame.

Michael O’Reilly – It might be the best superhero game of all time but it does nothing new or innovative. It relies too much on things other games refined long before Arkham Asylum was ever thought of.
 
 
 
 
 

Result: 4 in favour, 6 opposed, 40% Approval: REJECTED

Man, tough crowd. The most award winning game in DHGF history and it still doesn’t get into the hall. Maybe that has more to do with the actual games that came out in 2009 and that Batman: Arkham Asylum was a big fish in a small pond, or maybe it’s just that the game is too new to be judged as a classic or not. Either way, the hall still remains a game of one.

Next Week: We’re done with previous GOTY winners. Now it’s time to move on to other titles. The first of which features not one, but two plays on my name and a castle that doesn’t know which way is up. See you then!

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