The two Arkham games from Rocksteady are some of the finest pieces of modern gaming, receiving nothing but positive reviews from the critics. Superhero games have never really been that impressive, until Arkham Asylum came out and let us actually become Batman for a few hours, throwing us into his gothic world head-first and creating a fantastic gaming experience. Sadly, however, the games have dried up in the sense that I have played both of the Arkhams to death. All I can do now is wait for the third Batman game to arrive.
I have been passing the time in between scouring the internet for any news on this upcoming game. The news I have found has not been overly heart-lifting. At one point, Rocksteady announced that they wanted to move away from the character of the Batman, although no one really believed that. When you can pretty much guarantee a massive amount of profit from a sure-fire hit with the gaming community, you do not shrug your shoulders and say: cba. However, the other rumours I have heard have been that the game shall become a prequel to the storyline we have seen so far. The idea is for the game to show us the first encounter between the Dark Knight and the villainous Joker.
Personally, I am not overly happy with this announcement. I was happy with the games as they were; I don’t want to be thrown into another side of the story. In my head, we were going to get four things from the third game and now I know that my vision shall never become reality. Let me share these ideas with you. I will be using spoilers, although I am pretty sure everyone knows how ‘Arkham City’ has ended by now.
4 – BATMAN AT HIS BEST
The best thing about Arkham was the fact that you literally were Batman. In the words of Christian Bale, himself, Batman is more than a man, he is a symbol. The symbol of Batman is the idea of a silent Knight, gliding over the streets of Gotham, with limitless gadgets and fighting styles in his arsenal. He has to be pretty unbeatable to live up to this expectation. This is quite easy to do in a film, because all it takes are a couple of scenes, where Batman effortlessly beats up a group of bad guys. In a game, it is harder, because you have to create an unbeatable character and then throw him into the hands of a gamer whose top hobbies are Oreo-dipping and masturbating.
This is where Arkham excelled: the developers totally pulled it off. There is a real sense that you are controlling Batman when he is at the top of his game. Sure, most of the goons you beat up aren’t even a vague challenge, but the difficulty comes from actually getting that effortless rhythm that we expect from Batman. If a bad guy manages to get a lucky punch and chip off a smallest fraction of your health bar, you leave the fight, feeling disappointed, despite the broken bodies littering the floor around you.
And then we hear that for the third game, we are being taken back to the origins of Batman. I don’t want to play Batman learning how to use a Batarang for the first time. I want to play the Batman that doesn’t see Killer Croc running at him and shits himself; instead, he rolls his eyes and grumbles: ‘again? Really?!’ However, saying that, this is one of my smaller gripes about the game. The feel of being Batman is probably still possible. It isn’t as though we watched Bale beating up the Scarecrow in ‘Batman Begins’ and thought: LOL Noob.
3 – A BREAK FROM THE JOKER
It’s great that the writers want to get the origin of the Joker into the story: it is probably one of the defining pieces of Batman canon. However, even though Mark Hamill is one of the main reasons this game was so awesome, am I the only one that kind of wants a break from the Joker? Sure, he was fantastic as a starting villain in ‘Asylum’, because we all know who he is and can fear him. However, now the series has given as a load of other villains that can take up the lead antagonist role (Scarecrow, Poison Ivy), do we still need the Joker?
He has a way of monopolising the story. In ‘Arkham City’, he was meant to be a secondary villain, yet he seemed to be so much more prominent than Dr. Strange’s character. One good thing about his death at the end of ‘Arkham City’, is that it seemed that we could finally move on from his character? It isn’t even as though the game would miss him overly much. The DLC, ‘Harley’s Revenge’ proved that. The Joker was gone, yet his presence was still felt throughout the storyline. Even if the actual character isn’t there, we are always going to feel the Clown’s legacy built into the city, especially if my next point was included…
2 – WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BATMAN?
The conclusion at the end of the game needs to be explored. The Joker, Batman’s ultimate nemesis, has finally been vanquished and Batman’s character instantly changed. This is a massive twist for the actual canon and I want to see how the Bat copes. We got a glimpse of his change in the DLC, yet it wasn’t much more than his team mates noticing that he has got darker. I took this small plot detail into fore-shadowing of the story that was to come in the third game…
… and then the writers give us a prequel. You cannot do that to the fans. We are there, at the edge of our seats with bated breath, and then you deny us answers to the questions that are on all of our minds. Maybe it is the time for a reflection into the Batman’s past, but I would rather find out what is going on with the present. It just feels like the writers are throwing away a good story.
1 – THE CANON CONTINUES
Personally, I just like the idea of the games being situated in the present of the canon. Batman is a franchise that has been going on since 1939 and hardly anyone is up to date with the storyline. Most of the newer fans’ knowledge of the character is what TV and cinema have shown us, which is a very simplistic side to the character (which is good: throwing in all of the Robins into the Dark Knight trilogy would have been impossible to keep up with). However, the games felt confident enough to take us as far as the comics have gone and continue the canon, rather than going back to a previous storyline and re-inventing it.
And it works. The game has a calm, collected way of getting all of the players up to date. During the game, we may cross Zsasz, a villain that not many people know about. The game gives us the simplest background history on the character and within moments we are up to date. It never feels like we are being drowned in story, which, considering the vast amount of information we need to catch up on, feels pretty impressive.
And I was enjoying being there, as the canon continued. I was now a part of the Batman story, as it unfolded. I want to see what happened to the Scarecrow, where Ra’s Al Ghul’s body disappeared to… There are several little plot lines that can be followed up on. Taking the story back to the prequel just feels like a backwards step, so I cannot help feeling a little disappointed.
However, I still have confidence in the game. Next week, I shall give some positive things that could come out of a prequel. At the end of the day, the two games we have been given already have been phenomenal, so it would be very surprising if the third game was a complete failure. Whoops, jinxed it!