Batman. A name that strikes fear into the hearts of the evil, or that conjures homophobic images of bulges in tights, depending on exactly which Batman you're talking about. Batman can be the cheesy, Adam West live action cartoon from the 60's, the inspiration for Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo. It can be the small-chinned Michael Keaton version from the 80's, a series which gradually got campier and campier until the costumes themselves featured nipples. It can be the cutting edge films of the past few years, which the death of an actor helped to propel to undeservedly glory heights.
Batman can also be the massive-chinned polygonal brute that puts nose-snapping hurt on thugs and super-villains alike in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the recently released game by Rocksteady Studios. Simply put, this last is the best of all the Batmans, mainly because it puts you in the costume--which thankfully lacks nipples of any sort.
Enough has already been said about Arkham Asylum without me adding to the fray. The combat system is, indeed, genius; the stealth mechanics are fantastic; the gadgets are Batworthy. What I want you to notice is the sound.
When you play through Arkham Asylum again, and you know you will, listen closely. From the voice acting to the crunches of the Dark Knight pounding some poor goon into the floor, the audio department got everything right. That's a rarity, to be sure; throw in the atmospheric, could-have-been-a-movie-score music and you've got a bona fide hat trick.
Batarangs have that metallic whoosh you'd always imagined. The roar of the Batmobile's engine, during its brief appearance, is dead on. Batman's Boy Scout voice belies his ridiculously pure morality long before the conclusion of the game demonstrates it. And those punches--well, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of one of those blows. Whether it's Batman getting beaned on the noggin with a pipe or the Caped Crusader caving in Mr. Zsasz's face, you can feel the your own fillings coming loose when you hear those painful thuds.
Few games get every aspect of the audio as perfect as the shotgun sounded when you got your first sound card and listened to the effects in Doom. Batman: Arkham Asylum is just one of those titles. Play it again, and revel in not only what you see, but what you hear.