Two Excellent Games, Two Decent Ports
Avaliado nos Estados Unidos em 7 de abril de 2017
(Note: This review is based on the Xbox One version.)
In 2009, a company called Rocksteady released "Batman: Arkham Asylum" to the then-current generation of consoles, and it was incredible: featuring a story in which Batman is trapped in Arkham Asylum with a rogue’s gallery of his most famous enemies, intuitive controls and an atmospheric presentation gave the player an unprecedented sense of *being* the Dark Knight. (The first time you grab an enemy from overhead and leave him dangling from a gargoyle, then swing away while his friends start panicking and trying to figure out what’s going on—well, there aren’t many gaming experiences quite like it.) A couple of years later, Rocksteady followed up with "Arkham City," which took the previous game’s virtues and added a considerably larger world to explore with a longer main story and more side content.
Now, both games are available in a single package, "Batman: Return to Arkham." They’ve been updated to run in the latest version of the Unreal Engine, supposedly bringing them up to par with the technical standards of the current generation. As we’ll see, that’s not entirely true. But if you’ve never played these games before and are wondering if this new release is worth your time, the answer is an easy and emphatic yes.
If you already own or have played through these games, the answer has more to do with individual preference. When it comes to the graphics, I would say that on the whole, environments look a little better, while characters look noticeably worse. Specifically, all of the character models seem badly over-lit, completely losing the play of shadows that was such an effective part of the presentation in the original versions. This isn’t a huge issue in Asylum, where Batman spends much of his time alone. But in "City," with its greater proportion of character-drama cinema sequences, it’s hard not to think back on how nice the character visuals looked in the originals.
This cosmetic qualm, however, is my only real complaint, and I want to reiterate that while it’s annoying, it shouldn’t deter anyone who really wants to play these games. The games themselves are still fantastic, and in this release they include all of the DLC. For "Asylum" this mostly means some extra challenge maps; with "City" it’s a collection of amusing costume changes (you can even play as the animated-series Batman) as well as additional game content, including episodes with Catwoman interspersed throughout the main story and an entire additional campaign that takes place after the main game ends.
Both games have their partisans. I personally prefer the first one; I think "Arkham City" sprawls just a little too much for its own good. But they’re both superb, and with this collection, you can try them both and decide for yourself which you like better. The only thing that isn’t included is "Arkham Origins," the stopgap title released on the way to the final installment, "Arkham Knight." Rocksteady has shown a desire to play down the existence of "Origins," so its omission here is not surprising, if a bit disappointing. (Its development by a separate studio may also play into its absence.)
"Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City" both stand the test of time exceptionally well, so again, if you missed these games in their original incarnations, now is an excellent time to catch up. If this is a retread for you, it will be a matter of how much you want to revisit them (and perhaps how proactive or lazy you feel about digging out your old system to do so). I bought this collection despite having played both games years ago, and I never regretted it. Graphical quibbles aside, they remain extremely compelling experiences.
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