Character goes a long way. Developers know this, which is why most games based on existing characters are, at best, adequate in their construction. Ghostbusters, for example. It's a rather ordinary corridor shooter, really. Dress it up in a funny script, get a beloved movie cast back together and throw in Slimer and Marshmallow Man, and suddenly you've got something that fans will embrace regardless of the pedestrian construction. The litmus test for any licensed game is to strip away all the fan service and see if we'd still be as interested.
Within the first hour of play, Batman: Arkham Asylum passes that test with flying colours. The appropriately named Rocksteady has delivered a solid, immersive blockbuster title. It's well paced, boasts a well-judged variety of gameplay elements and is brought to life with excellent visuals, a compelling story and superb voice acting. Even if you were controlling a generic ninja rather than an iconic superhero, this would be a polished and engrossing game.
Add the Batman to that recipe and you've got something remarkable; a game that doesn't just use its famous character to make up for rote design, but one that takes a rich and detailed fictional universe and uses it to enhance an already enticing prospect. The great thing about Arkham Asylum isn't that it's a Batman game, it's that it only makes sense as a Batman game. Every plot detail, every gadget, every action set-piece ties the game back into the world of DC Comics in a way that feels utterly organic.