Batman has been looked at as a hulking figure of calm and forgiveness that does just justice which is capable of straightening bent backs albeit without killing and has largely been successful in that approach. We’ve always had great expectations from the superhero who was introduced in 1939 (all hail Detective Comics) and quickly found his place in the eyes of the comic denizen. And with passing time, it’s usually safe to assume that some things or people become a remembered and venerated symbol but Batman, ascended that threshold.
But I suppose talking about the Batman again from scratch would make it a wee bit insipid. So no beating around the bush much; and that’s how 2009 and the great visionaries and enthusiasts from Rocksteady Studios treated us to the dark knight in a completely new avatar, and it was so brilliantly done that it managed to start its own cult. But as with everything as outstanding and appealing, the Batman Arkham limelight has had its corners of darkness and mould. The question that lingers now in our minds is, would Rocksteady snoop in the right places with the next Batman game?
"Origins was actually a very enjoyable game but not the one to succeed Arkham City. In other words, if you had time travelled back to when the game was released, bought the game and played it, you'd have found yourself saying this in a throaty hoarse voice -"It's a game that the Batman series needs, but not the one it deserves"."
Rocksteady Studios set rock solid and spectacular foundations for games and developers alike with their game Batman: Arkham Asylum. It provided a whole new outlook to and insight into the character of Batman. This was aided by the fact that the game was largely based on the comic books and Rocksteady delivered brilliantly with their title and left nigh on no stones unturned. The game had players controlling The Caped Crusader as he grappled, glided and bounded through the facility for the criminally insane off the coast of Gotham City: Arkham Asylum. The gameplay was widely adorned by the people with appreciation as was the game itself for being so adherent to the comic books. The riddles and ability the to somewhat freely roam the facility of Arkham Asylum lent the game further appeal.
Two years later in 2011 Rocksteady Studios had stepped in to the market with their carefully nurtured sequel to the first Batman: Arkham game. Rocksteady meticulously worked to improve upon their earlier work and consummated in that approach splendidly. The second title named Batman: Arkham City continued the series’ story albeit with very noticeable improvements in the combat and the game on the whole.
Batman had at his disposal a truckload of better and newer gadgets. Combat, detective and stealth abilities saw a plethora of improvements as did the the combat mechanic which was provided with new moves and abilities. Apart from looking gorgeous, the game allowed the players to freely roam Gotham City which had become something of a super prison. Side missions were included in the game that could be played separately without affecting the main campaign. It came as no surprise that critics and players loved it alike.
"The combat was almost identical to the previous games and somehow nowhere near as appealing. The boss fights provided little relief and neither did the new gadgets or the new outlook of The Caped Crusade."
The third instalment in the Batman: Arkham series saw Warner Bros. Games Montreal usurp Rocksteady Studios from the helm and the game itself came in the later half of 2013 and was named Batman: Arkham Origins. The name itself alludes to what the game is about. Origins saw a more brusque, crude, gruff and an unkempt juvenile Batman. But as the game’s story shifted 5 years prior to the events of the first Batman: Arkham game, it seems the developers thought it right to live in the past too. As a result, the game turned out to be quite like the protagonist in the game: brusque, crude, unkempt, un-refined hinging on juvenility. Batman: Arkham Origins saw practically no gameplay improvements.
What it did offer, was a new kind of Detective Vision which didn’t have you jumping and saying “All right!! Get some!” after using it once. The combat was almost identical to the previous games and somehow nowhere near as appealing. The boss fights provided little relief and neither did the new gadgets or the new outlook of The Caped Crusade.
In short, the game was plagued with conflicting instances in the story and was bereaved of appreciation mostly because its supposed improvements couldn’t prevent from covering up its errs and thus became – in more than a way – its own undoing. Origins was actually a very enjoyable game but not the one to succeed Arkham City. In other words, if you had time travelled back to when the game was released, bought the game and played it, you’d have found yourself saying this in a throaty hoarse voice -“It’s a game that the Batman series needs, but not the one it deserves”. That sounds pretty horrible.
" One thing that NEEDS to be done is the inclusion of Robin in the next game. Having Batman act all valorous and just by beating up petty and stalwart criminals all by his hulking self is all cool, but having a companion would open up a LOT more opportunities that the game can capitalise upon."
Batman’s 75th anniversary is this year and it has re-kindled a spark in our eyes just as our hopes have sailed because Rocksteady Studios will be back to steer this next Batman game. While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, it makes sense to release a new Batman game in the year of its 75th anniversary. We’re staking our hopes on both, DC Comics and Rocksteady this time to deliver us with something unconventional with the impending celebrations of The Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary at our hand.
Even though Kevin Conroy did not voice act for the Batman in Arkham Origins, he revealed not too long back that he was working on an Arkham game later clarifying it as not Arkham Origins. That was fodder enough for speculation that the et Batman game is going to be an Arkham game too. Of course, this time around we won’t be settling for anything near the diddly-squat that Arkham Origins provided us with.
Although veritably so, Batman: Arkham series exhausted quite a lot of characters in the three games that the series has under its name, it’s not there is no shortage of Batman’s allies and enemies and nor is there a shortage of imagination and ingenuity at Rocksteady in so far as we’ve been led to believe. This can really come in as a surprise because seeing the potential that Rocksteady and DC Comics have showcased in the past, they may collaborate to tread the less walked paths and come up with something stunning. Although a gamble, but we have our trust in the two. One thing that NEEDS to be done is the inclusion of Robin in the next game.
Having Batman act all valorous and just by beating up petty and stalwart criminals all by his hulking self is all cool, but having a companion would open up a LOT more opportunities that the game can capitalise upon. Arkham Origins was the first game to have multiplayer, but it wasn’t really what the fans of the series were expecting. Now having Robin in the game could mean that the game would be capable of co-op play, something that has been most eagerly looked at. Even in the single player campaign, Robin could act as a supporting character, something like Ellie in The Last of Us although of course moulded and re-imagined in a completely different fashion for the two games are worlds apart from each other.
"Having the Batmobile, that monstrosity of a motorbike and Batwing at the players' disposal could present a multitude of appealing avenues in exploration of the world and in presenting a more dynamic approach to the game."
Why there was a need to highlight what the three games in the Batman: Arkham series entailed was because the game developers have a lot to learn and inculcate from these earlier games. The combat system of all three games was simply splendid. The moves and the utility of all the gadgets was most apt. We’d love to see all that return in a polished manner, not as mundanely as it was in Origins. Apart from the usual increase in the number of combat moves and the refinement and tweaking of them, it’d do wonders to improve the AI of the game on the whole.
Origins had the martial artists countering our moves but that excitement was quickly quelled by other aspects. The open world in the next game ought not to be as vapid and lifeless as it was in Arkham Origins. What fans of the franchise also look forward to is improved vehicular transport. Having the Batmobile, that monstrosity of a motorbike and Batwing at the players’ disposal could present a multitude of appealing avenues in exploration of the world and in presenting a more dynamic approach to the game.
The developers need to be careful on this front especially with the Batwing, keeping aerial combat to minimum because aerial combat simulation isn’t really what we look forward to. It’d be great to have Riddler back with his enigma that sits back in the small recess of your head constantly bugging you enough to make the act of finding the answers to the riddles all the more pleasurable and rewarding. It foes without saying that the game should feature side quests that may or may not affect the main campaign. Following the steps of a number of recent games like Mass Effect for instance, it would be gleeful to have Batman’s decisions and acts affecting the game’s story as it progress. But having alternate endings is a big no. While a little dynamism is required to break the slightly linear pace of the game, having completely different endings because of the same would be hardly plausible or pleasing to most.
"Having beheld the potential of the developers in the past, it's only fair to ask this and more from them. Whatever they decide to treat us to, we'll know only once something concrete comes from the developers."
Absence of Mr. Freeze was felt too. It’d be great to have him there in the game. Catwoman should make a re-appearance for she is both, a cogent nemesis as well as an indispensable ally rolled in one which would definitely add to the integrity and flow that the story may take with its twists and turns. Having some bonus/secret missions or treasures hidden around the map would definitely be found appealing and would encourage exploration and help in furthering the gaming experience. It’s evident that Rocksteady and DC already have a lot to prove since they proved their worth with Batman: Arkham City.
This year being Batman’s 75th anniversary plunges them into a bigger pool of expectations. We all look forward to an immensely refined game that would continue the Arkham series with a generous and bountiful helping of secrets and surprises. Getting to unlock special artwork or behind the scenes/making or unpublished works might just hit it off for the new game too. Having beheld the potential of the developers in the past, it’s only fair to ask this and more from them. Whatever they decide to treat us to, we’ll know only once something concrete comes from the developers. Until then, we have our eyes peeled in their direction.
What’s your take on it? Good? Bad? Meh? Think we missed on something? Let us know in the comments down below. Cheers!