The Batman: Arkham series has housed some of the best superhero games of all time – Spider-Man 2 and perhaps Deadpool aside – so it's easy to see why Warner Bros and Rocksteady decided to return to Arkham with, er, Batman: Return to Arkham.
Consisting of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City (along with all DLC), right off the bat it's hard to ignore that Return to Arkham is excellent value; £30 may seem a bit much for two old games, but considering they're both damn fine action games and have stonking amounts of replayability, the price is justifiable to most.
But does the gameplay hold up?
In short, absolutely. Sure, the way Batman slides along the floor when performing combos is a little goofy – and the fact that so many games have based their combat off of Arkham's fighting system does make it seem a little dated – but punching up thugs as the Caped Crusader still feels powerful, with thumps crunching and goons reeling as you pummel them. Combos are easy to string together but hard to develop, making the moment when you pull off a perfect varied combo seem all the more satisfying.
Traversal still feels good too: gliding is responsive, using the grappling hook isn't frustrating and is really quick to use, and overall it's pretty easy to stay stealthy or evade enemies thanks to the excellent movement responsiveness. While the gameplay isn't quite timeless and does have a few bugs – mostly clipping issues – Return to Arkham feels surprisingly fresh for a seven-year-old franchise.
What's best about Return to Arkham, though, is the pure attention to detail that Rocksteady applied to the games. Exploring the open worlds of both Asylum and City (the latter especially) can lead to masses of secrets, Easter eggs, and backstory components that give the Arkham series its excellent personality. If you haven't already guessed, there's a lot of replayability in this remaster.
Not only that, but the DLCs (for Arkham City especially) add something that most DLCs don't: a completely new way of playing. Sure, the fundamentals are the same, but playing as Catwoman plays very differently to Batman, as does Batman to Nightwing, plus the storytelling in each DLC is as good as that in the base game.
Of course, since Return to Arkham is a remaster, we have to talk about graphics and technical stuff, which is arguably the biggest shortcoming of this game. While developer Virtuos has managed to port both games into Unreal Engine 4, neither entry looks the better for it. In fact, there are instances where the change in lighting and colouring ruins the moody aesthetic of the previous-gen versions, though this is off-set by some improved texture work here and there.
Fortunately, technically, the game is sound – once again, Arkham City especially, which feels more smooth and fluid than Asylum – and speaking of sound, the audio design of both games is excellent, with outstanding voice acting and an excellent atmosphere.
Batman: Return to Arkham isn't the greatest ever remaster, but the price offers excellent value and the gameplay of both Asylum and City still hold up. Couple two of the greatest superhero games of all time with their DLC, and you get a lot of bang for your buck here.
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I never had a last gen console besides wii, so I'm getting it
Given the choice Sam would it be this collection or Arkham Knight if you could only pick one to play on the PS4?
Wow, a 7/10 seems harsh.
This is definitely a 9/10 to me. I mean, both of these games are two of the greatest of the seventh generation. And not one but 2 games included on disc? Better looking than the original releases and with all included DLC?
Shoot... this is an absolute must have for any gamer.
From all the reviews I have seen, this game collection is essentially two incredible games that have only been moderately updated for next generation. Definitely worth picking up if you never played them or want a physical copy of them, but if you have them on any other platform, there doesn't seem to be a reason to pick this up.
As great as these games are, I'll wait for the definitive collection. No Origins, no buy. I already own both on PS3.
@JaxonH "Better looking than the original releases"
This part is actually debatable which may have lost it a point or two
@themcnoisy Easily this collection. It's hard to fault either Asylum or City - they're both far better than Knight - and you'll also get much more value from Return to Arkham than Knight. However, if you've played Aslyum and City to death and haven't played Knight, then you should probably get Knight if you're looking for something new.
@JaxonH @PorllM While I agree that both games are 8/9s out of 10, I gave this a 7 because for a remaster, it's quite lacking in the graphical and technical department. I understand that both of these games are excellent, but the main selling point (and actual point) of remasters is that they're supposed to graphically update older games, and Return to Arkham pretty much failed on that. Still, like I said, both are excellent games!
@wiggleronacid Pretty much. As I said above, these are two excellent games that have barely been remastered at all, so it's pretty much only for people who haven't played the games before or just really want to play them on PS4.
@Fight_Teza_Fight I imagine they didn't include Origins because it's technically not a Rocksteady game, but it's quite disappointing that it isn't present. Maybe in a few years they'll make a complete collection, but I wouldn't count on that.
@Anchorsam_9 I can't understand why they didn't stick to Unreal Engine 3 aiming at stable 60fps instead of going UE4; videos show the games now constanly fluctuate from 50 fps to 20 fps! A remaster should use the extra power to solve the old gen problems (and Dark Souls 2 or Naugthy Dog games on PS4 demonstrate it's possible) instead of creating a better looking but still defective experience.
@themcnoisy This is collection is two great games, and Arkham Knight has the batmobile in it. This all day.
@Anchorsam_9 Which would you say is the best way to experience these games as I have them on 360 but really can not be bothered to mess around with that as it's just not worth the effort to switch all the wires round and wait 5 hours too turn on...
Arkham City was one of the best games I ever played, and Arkham Knight took things to a jaw droppingly higher level. City was really a breakthrough from Asylum and I oly skimmed the review, but the music across all games is so, so good (on Spotify, too). £30 is pretty steep for games that are so old, but £20 from ebay is absolutely fair! Snap it up
Wasn't that keen on Knight, but I loved City on my Wii U so I may pick this up and see what it's like without the motion controls and the Bacofoil Batsuit.
I liked Knight a lot, but Asylum is still the best one. I'm not that keen on City to be honest.
Asylum is easily the best of the series, the atmosphere is amazing which city traded for an open world. This would have been a day one purchase for me had they simply given us these on Unreal 3 at 1080p 60fps with a few new textures. I can't for the life of me work out why they thought it'd be a good idea to change the look so much and not even have 60fps, so I'll pass unless I ever see it really cheap
@get2sammyb Maybe because Asylum was the first and made such a WOW impression? Or maybe because the story was more linear and less sandbox-y? Either way, while I enjoyed City and am currently enjoying Knight, I also consider Asylum the best.
@PostmanPatinator It really depends if you're fine with spending £30 for the sake of convenience or not. If so, then go ahead, but honestly I'd recommend just playing them on your 360 if you already own them.
Something about how unloved arkham origins is super funny to me.
Yes, I didn't like the story pacing of City, it had a great idea but a large section felt like padding and stalling (The Penguin and Freeze chase the macguffin bit) .
Replayability is definitely not as high as you claim. As someone who grinded through 100% of AA and AC at their original releases, i was STILL burnt out when AK came out. The grind is real in these games if you want 100%.
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