Ever since I was a kid, Batman has held a special place in my heart. I loved the movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and that spurred my love for all things Batman. So, you can imagine my excitement was through the roof when I saw this game at Blockbuster called Batman: Arkham Asylum. So as you did back then, I read the back of the case to figure out what this game was, and rented it on the spot. This was the game I always wanted. I loved Arkham Asylum, then I played Arkham City a few years later, and my love grew even deeper. Fast forward to 2016, and that excitement has taken a massive hit. With my two of my favorite games getting the “remaster” treatment, Batman: Return to Arkham should be everything I want as a Batman fan. Unfortunately, after I started plaything through Return to Arkham, that all changed.
Batman: Return to Arkham didn’t have to do a lot to improve on two games that were already great. Improve the visuals, give character models and environment more texture details, increase the lighting effects to make them more dynamic, maybe increase the frame rate, and you’d be good to go. Granted, that’s easier said than done, but what we actually received with Batman: Return to Arkham is a whole mess of problems.
One of the first expectations with a “remaster” is that it runs as good, if not better, than the original release. For some strange reason, Batman: Return to Arkham seems to have forgotten this expectation. During my experience replaying both games, I experienced decreases in frame rate, major texture pop ins, and Batman fell through the world on multiple occasions, forcing me to restart the game in order to fix it. I was dumbfounded by how often both games would stutter while I was simply running around Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. I would like to say that it didn’t happen often, but instead, this happened frequently enough for me to take notice and find annoyance in these issues.
While I do have issues with Batman: Return to Arkham, there’s still lots of content packed into this bundle. With every piece of DLC included, it’s still so much fun to beat up Joker’s goons, or to use Detective Mode to figure out a puzzle or Riddler’s Challenge. There are also tons of different suits that you can wear, ranging from Batman Beyond to Adam West’s old-school suit. Additionally, in Batman: Arkham City you get to play Challenge Mode as Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing with all their variety of costumes. All the DLC and costumes were great additions back on the originals, and with all of the included DLC, it’s nice to see them further increase the value of Return to Arkham.
If you haven’t played the Batman: Arkham Asylum or Batman: Arkham City, and don’t have a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or a PC powerful enough to play them, Batman: Return to Arkham is still a decent deal. The technical problems don’t hurt the overall experience and the games are still a blast to play. At the end of the day though, this isn’t a “remaster”, but a terrible port of two amazing games. For Batman fans everywhere, this isn’t the Arkham collection we deserve.