I very rarely play new games. This isn’t just because I’m a retro fan, it’s also because I’m cheap. So my version of “latest games” is “couple year old games on sale on Steam”.

What I’m currently working on is: Batman Arkham Asylum. Which I recall receiving huge amounts of gamer praise and critical acclaim (and then again with the sequel, of course). I’m about halfway in myself and, so far I reckon it does actually live up to the hype. It is all-round a very well-crafted game.

(also, an old school buddy of Rik and myself worked on it! He’s a super-smart guy so I’m seriously pleased he made it to working on stuff that’s both big-name and top quality).

First up of course is taking down punks and crooks, and there’s plenty of variety. First is the wade-in-and-start punching approach, with added combo-takedowns and dodges. Fast, fluid, and especially satisfying as Bats does a block then jams his elbow in someone’s throat, then spins round and kicks their buddy in the head. It’s actually all quite simple with only a handful of commands, which might be a weakness to some more elite players but it suits me. I’ve no interest in learning a dozen button-combinations for special moves.

I like the stealthy stuff even more though. Glide-kick down, ground takedown and zoom off again. Or hide under the floor gratings. Or leave a trap with explodey gel. A great little feature that adds to the experience is how the mooks go from confident to worried to panicky as you pick them off, one by one.

Also liking: the freedom of movement around the island as you search for various riddler trophies and puzzles.

Regarding art and design themes, I’m not much of an expert on Batman (more a Marvel fan) but it does look like a decent blend of comic-book styles, a bit of Nolan-film realism and a bit of Burton gothicness to the asylum itself. Plenty of creepy and atmospheric bits, and also great views of the grimness of Arkham if you grapple up to the top of a tower.

So, I imagine Arkham City is even bigger and better (and I’m sure I’ll enjoy that one in turn, when I get it on sale in 2013), but this was still £10 well spent.

Oh, I’ll just bitch about one minor detail: the only controller it will support is an Xbox360 pad. Which strikes me as lazy porting. Still quite playable with kb+mouse.