There is no doubt that the Arkham collection is by far the greatest superhero video game series to ever grace our gaming hardware.
With Batman: Arkham Asylum bringing a new approach to the Dark Knight back in 2009, and winning multiple Game of the Year Awards. Followed by Batman: Arkham City in 2011, which followed suit.
As this generation has proved, remasters sell very well, so it was a no-brainer that Warner Bros. would get on the wagon and release the two of the last generation’s greatest games to PS4 and Xbox One with all the DLC and some visual improvements.
Back to the Asylum
Return to Arkham is the best collection of Batman games you will find, but for those hoping for a remaster on the scale of The Nathan Drake Collection, you will not find it here.
Arkham Asylum is an old game, and even in the collection it looks dated. Textures are sharper and they look great in 1080p, but they still look bland at times and don’t shine as they could.
The biggest improvement in the engine is the lighting system, which makes everything pop and brings out details which you might have missed before.
Batman’s character model has clearly been remastered from the ground up, and everything from his helmet textures to his cape looks much better than the original.
Facial animations are still blocked and mouth movements do not pull you into the experience at all, but the voice art is so superb that it never becomes an issue. Although characters still look like robots at times while moving, this is more noticeable on the NPCs than the main characters like Batman and Joker.
Light is the new dark
Arkham Asylum is one of my favourite games of all time, and the ambience of the game played a huge part in this. Outside the asylum, lighting has been reworked, and this results in a much brighter night-time in the game.
I could not help but feel that it takes away from the dark and nightmarish setting of the original.
Combat is still untouched in the game. Movement is fluid and all those hard arenas are still as frustrating as ever.
The villains have also received some notable improvements. Killer Croc looks fantastic with his scaly skin and sharp teeth glistening in the spotlights, and Joker’s face textures seem more detailed.
Do not expect anything fancy here like sub-surface scattering, but it is enough to make it look like a clear improvement. The biggest change out of the two must be Arkham City, as they game looks great and overall is a step above Asylum.
Neon lights blind your screen while flying past them, and Batman’s character and cloak look gorgeous with raindrops dripping off them in the night. Arkham Knight still stands as one of the best-looking games of this generation, but considering the Arkham City is a remaster, it does not look half as bad.
There are a few issues though, as both titles feel sluggish at times, with performance drops in areas. The games run at 30fps, which is questionable, and given that they are ports they should have been optimized to prevent these frame rate issues.
There are also a couple of bugs like missing models, texture glitches, and some objects that just look darn ugly.
Still, Batman: Return to Arkham is the best way to experience the series, regardless of a few performance issues. The games have all the DLC included, and when it comes to Batman: Arkham City this is a bonus, as the game received quite a chunk of downloadable content.
Best time to play the trilogy
If you enjoyed the games previously and have fond memories of taking Joker down, then you will enjoy this collection.
Given that Arkham Knight is also out, it is the best time to play through the trilogy. All three would make for a great binge-gaming session and they all are spectacular titles.
Return to Arkham adds to this by delivering the games on current hardware while at the same time keeping the experience on par with Rocksteady’s standards.
Sure, you will not find Arkham Origins here, but there is enough meat to chew on.