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Batman: Arkham Asylum Mac Review

It’s rare in this current climate of games when I’m actually compelled to finish a game, let alone replay it on numerous occasions like I have Batman Arkham Asylum. Upon examining what’s drawn me back on numerous occasions, I have come to the conclusion it is because of the story, gameplay and atmosphere.

In this third-person action game you play as the Dark Knight, who’s about the encounter the longest night of his life within Arkham Asylum. The Joker has broken free and Batman as always, captures him and returns him to the mad house (Arkham) only for the Joker to break free once inside the Asylum and set into motion one of his greatest ever plans. Throughout the game, you are introduced to a number of villains from Batman’s famous rogues gallery such as Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Bane to name a few. Batman has well and truly fallen for the trap this time, hasn’t he?

 

Enter Batman: Arkham Asylum for Mac

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Mac)I have seen the combat described in many different ways, but I see a lot of similarities to God of War here. Mixing free flowing combat, chaining together combos and counter block mechanics, Batman gives you have a potent formula for combat. You can even use special abilities mid-move like throwing a bat-a-rang or three (once upgraded) to knock an enemy down. It really is a lot of fun to try out different tactics whilst taking on the horde of the Jokers goons.

Predator mode is unlike anything I had ever played before this game. Essentially, you get to stalk enemies from high up vantage points. You can then hang guards upside down from gargoyles after you catch them by surprise. Dropping down and sneakily rendering them unconscious by choking them out is another option, or simply go in all guns blazing and glide kick into a group of enemies. Before doing any of those, be sure you switch to the appropriately named ‘Detective Mode’. This turns on a type of blue vision, and highlights everything in your current environment. This is very handy for picking out armed thugs. So be sure to switch to ‘Detective Mode’ before swooping down from the shadows to deal out some rough justice as to not find yourself in a sticky situation.

Mac games Batman Arkham City

Its not all brawling and lurking in the shadows. There is also a mini-game segment which revolves around stealth when Scarecrow pulls you into his Fear Toxin fueled nightmares. This really breaks up the pacing of all the combat, and I swear the first time it happens you actually think your Mac might be experiencing technical issues. It’s all very well designed, and as I said, gives you a totally different focus whilst quickly switching between cover trying to avoid Scarecrows gaze.

The boss battles are poorly implemented in my opinion. Your forced into the same actions time and time again. A well timed bat-a-rang to the face, dodge then attack. This becomes repetitive and tedious towards the end. This is such a crying shame as the rest of the game is first class.

Finally, the upgrade system. As you venture through the Asylum, you gain XP which can then be used to purchase upgrades from the Wayne Tech division of Wayne Enterprises. These upgrades allow you to upgrade Batman’s offensive/defensive arsenal as well as adding new combat abilities. It’s not the most innovative system nor is anything groundbreaking, but it serves its purpose and those extra gadgets and extra armor really come in handy later in the game.

 

Presentation

Arkham Asylum is gorgeous! FACT! The presentation of this run down Asylum is nothing short of astounding. This looks and feels like the Batman universe from the comics I love reading so much. You can really tell a lot of time, effort and attention to detail was taken when piecing together the levels. At times I found myself just grappling between gargoyles and gliding between buildings just exploring the open plains of Arkham. If you can find the highest point in the Asylum, you can try to glide for as long as possible to really appreciate this gorgeous yet grotesque setting.

Mac games Batman Arkham City

The character models are outstanding, with Batman looking like an absolute bad-ass. What really impressed me though was the way in which Batman’s appearance altered during the course of the game. At the end of the game, he looks like hell after being beaten, bludgeoned and even injected with Titan during one stage. The Joker looks like you would expect: a tall gangly figure but with a face only a mother could love.

My personal favourite is Poison Ivy. She is a little minx even with green skin. All around, the character models are outstanding and again they look like they have come straight out of the comics.

Mac games Batman Arkham City

It was hard for me to pick a feature which stood out more, the art direction or the voice acting. The voice acting won by the closest of margins.

To me Batman is Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill is the Joker. I grew up watching Batman TAS (The Animated Series) so seeing these cult figures from the Batman Universe return in video game format is the biggest joy I could have ever experienced. Hamill’s portrayal of the Joker is perfect in every way. He makes you laugh, makes you feel sick and sometimes outright scares you. Conroy as always is cold, calm and calculated in his approach.

Strangely enough, I found myself rooting for the Joker at times just because I wanted to see if he could actually make Batman snap. The rest of voice acting is spot on: Harley, Ivy, Bane, Jim Gordon, they all put on stellar displays. There are a few dodgy NPC characters and some of the lip syncing is out of time, but this really isn’t enough to pull you out of the immersion.

 

Performance

Batman Arkham Asylum, is not a very demanding game graphically speaking. You will find most older generation iMacs and MacBooks will run this game at a steady 25/30 FPS on the lowest settings. It goes to show the quality of the port from Feral Interactive, being able to play the game on older machines. The game ran well on my rig with medium detail, and all other graphical options switched on. I rarely suffered any technical issues, the odd frame-rate drop here and there, but nothing to stop me enjoying the experience of being Batman.

The minimum system requirements:

  • OS: OS X 10.6.8
  • GPU: 128MB
  • CPU: 2.00GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 10GB

My mid 2011 iMac:

  • OS: 10.8.3
  • GPU: AMD Radeon 6750M 512MB
  • CPU: Intel i5 2.5GHz
  • RAM: 12GB

 

Verdict

The Good

  • Deeply character driven
  • Excellent combat
  • You feel like Batman

The Bad

  • Poorly designed boss battles
  • Upgrade system is lacking in detail

Final Word

Batman Arkham Asylum is a masterpiece. A love letter to Batman fans everywhere. Never before have I been drawn into a gaming expierence as much as I have with this game with its gripping story, exquisit combat and immersive atmosphere. All these points addded together make Arkham Asylum a must own for any gamer. Period. Arkham Asylum is clearly one of the best superhero video games of all time.

You can get it from the Mac App Store.

Note from Ric: This article comes from author Mark Gregory.

  • When I replay Arkham Asylum on my top of the line late 2012 iMac I wish it had antialiasing support like Arkham City does. But that’s kind of a minor complaint considering the graphics look great anyway especially at my monitors native resolution and sitting ~4 away sitting on my sofa playing it.

    Also, both this game and Arkham City are some of Feral’s best games in regards to true 5.1 surround support when enabled with the proper setup and 5.1+ channels enabled in Audio MIDI setup.

    • Smoke, thanks for the response. Nice for you to touch upon sound and praising Feral. I agree it is a fine port.

  • Marc W

    I already played it on PC years ago. One of the best Games in the last years. As it was in the Feral-Bundle I will definitly play it again. I wonder how it will perfom on HD6970m.
    Feral does a great job right now with general quality, i.e. Gamepad-Support etc.
    I bought a game from Ubisoft lately, and that was the poorest port I have ever seen in my short Mac-User-Life.

    • I hear lots of gamers complaining about Ubisoft ports. I haven’t tried one of their games for a while but we are planning on reviewing an Assassins Creed sometime soon, we’ll report back!

    • Was that port Assassins Creed 2 by any chance? Seems a shame they just stopped with the Mac platform though. Why invest time and effort to develop something then stop.

      • I actually find the AC ports they did better than people give them credit for. They even have full 3D (surround) sound with the proper setup. On the other hand they do need as fast a Mac as you can get your hands on to get the most out of them. But I can play AC: Bro on my top of the line iMac maxed out very well. I would have liked if it would have had gamepad support but I play it just fine with keyboard and mouse.

        • No gamepad support is just silly these days. AC is best experienced sitting back in your comfy chair not sat upright with a keyboard and mouse.

          • That reminds me of the excuse from microsoft for not bringing Alan Wake to the PC. “Some games are more suited for the intimacy of the PC, and others are best played from the couch in front of a larger TV screen” Later on Remedy brought the game to the PC and it was just fine with the “intimacy” of the PC. 😛

          • I think most games can be played either dude.

      • Marc W

        Yes, I’m talking about AC2.
        I do not understand why they do not let the pros from Aspyr or Feral do the work if they are just not capable of doing it right.
        And why still no Anno on Mac? Ubisoft and Mac just don’t work well together.

        • Feral and Aspyr can only do so much. I want to see more developers trying there hand at Mac ports dude. Means more games eventually.