What single-player gaming should be…

Batman: Arkham Asylum for PC (I'm enjoying it, "only" 47% done)

The date is January 2, 2010. No sign of any HP news or rumors so far… so before we get all busy with CES 2010 (Consumer Electronics Show) and the rumored new HP notebooks and stuff, I’d like to take some time today to talk about gaming.

For the last two days before the New Year, I had probably the most exciting and enjoyable single-player gaming experience of 2009. Batman: Arkham Asylum (yes it has a superhero in it, but it certainly won’t be small little children playing this game) is a game which came out in September 2009 for PC, and yes, I’m noticeably late to the party (3rd person perspective games have never been my thing, but a recent experience of Metal Gear Solid 4 on a friend’s Playstation 3 has motivated me to try out more recent 3rd person games for PC*). In terms of single-player replay ability, the Left4Dead series are easily at the top for most re-playable games recently released but in my opinion, Arkham Asylum takes the cake for single-player playing depth.

I’ve spent about 12 hours spread out over two days (New Year’s eve and the eve before the eve) and I’m only 47% through the game (see my little screenshot above). I estimate it’ll take me about 26 hours in total to complete the entire single-player of Arkham Asylum – which is excellent! Compare that to the 4.5 hours it took on the latest Call of Duty title: Modern Warfare 2… and Modern Warfare 2 pales in comparison with its overly short single-player campaign. Granted, Arkham Asylum and Modern Warfare 2 are two games of two different genres but Arkham Asylum is a great example of how single-player should be on every game.

Not only does it take several days (or longer, if you don’t spend too much time playing in one sitting) to complete the game’s single-player mode, the game also makes you feel like you’ve been playing much longer than you really have (especially with some scenarios where you have to sneak around and be stealthy, combined with several high-packed, heart pumping fights/boss fights – there’s a really nice stark contrast here). Arkham Asylum’s gameplay essentially gives you a dose of some ‘stealth’ elements along with quite a bit of action, though it won’t be replacing games dedicated to those respective genres anytime soon.

Oh, did I mention the graphics and environment are both awesome (save for the few pre-rendered cutscenes. My eyes tell me they’re pre-rendered because the details and graphics in cutscenes are much coarser and lower resolution). The “world” of the Arkham Asylum island is nicely sized, and though you have to pass through or go back to some places at times, you don’t really feel “oh no, I’ve been here before, why am I here again” because there’s always something new: be it new bad guys having come back to patrol the area or giant “beanstalk” plants bursting through the walls and floors, presenting the need to find another way around.

What single player gaming should be: Sufficiently long with a good story line (this should be one of the top priorities in my opinion) – 24+ hours of singleplayer gameplay should be good, some level of non-linearity or dynamic/changing in-game elements and/or plot twists. With that all said, I think Eidos (Arkham Asylum’s developer) has won me over and just turned me into a potential customer for the upcoming sequel, Arkham Asylum 2. *Note: I still stand by the fact that I really wish someone would make an MGS4 port for PC!!

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