Played Arkham Asylum. I must say that I am impressed with how the game was designed. The mechanics and controls are functional, all the silly Batman villains and characters are taken at face value without flinching, and the overall feeling is exceptional. My personal favourite thing about Arkham Asylum is the Predator Mode.
One of the most important tools in Batman’s arsenal is fear. When confronted with a group of armed thugs, Batman takes them out one by one, eroding their confidence until the last ones panic and fail. Predator Mode, or rather Predator Places, are designed around this aspect perfectly. There are several places in the game where Batman encounters a group of armed inmates guarding something. These places are rife with hiding places, vents and high perches. The player must stay hidden and take the enemies out one by one, by either creeping behind them, taking them out from underfoot crawlspaces, hanging down from gargoyles, or by many other ways.
The Predator parts are fun, because the player truly feels like Predator: He can see the enemies through walls, he has an arsenal of gadgets and ways to take down the enemies and being invisible is easy. But that is only half of it. The other half is the atmosphere: At first the thugs saunter around casually, tossing comments to each other, listening to their boss shouting orders from loudspeakers. When the Batman makes his first takedown, the enemies get alert, aggressively trying to find him, shouting insults. As they drop one by one, the thugs’ heartrate goes up and the insults turn to nervous shouts and questions, all the while their boss breathes down on their neck from the loudspeakers. Finally, when only about two to three thugs remain, they all become terrified, shooting at shadows and nervously asking ”What are you, Batman!?”. All the while the player keeps to the shadows, scanning the environment for the next prey. Pro-awesome.
Since Batman is nigh-omnipotent, the parts were not too challenging. In fact, most of the fun came from merely observing, listening to the loudspeakers and laughing at the poor criminals, confused and frightened at the prospect of incoming doom. Difficulty is also well-implemented: Most of the difficulty in the Predator parts come from achieving physical objectives, using favourite tactics and saving the Riddler Informants for last so they can be interrogated.
Arkham City’s Predator Mode was fun enough to leave me desiring for a game where that is the main point. Stealthing around, infiltrating places and slowly taking out small groups of enemies, and most importantly of all: Causing fear. Since most enemies in video games tend to be homicidal maniacs with no sense of fear nor self-preservation, seeing well-implemented fear is always a fresh thing.