The Dark Knight Rises hype has washed over the world like a wave, and has left many fans (myself included) with a Batman withdrawal. But fear not! We live in a world blessed with some of the greatest Batman games in years in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. If you haven’t played these games I suggest doing so, as they are great. In fact, recently revisiting them got me asking: What could possibly be next in the gaming world for Ol’ Bats? As a side note, this article may contain spoilers for the previous two games, but if you are tearing your hair out in fanboy anticipation like I am, read on. I know a good hair replacement surgeon anyway.
1. Holy Silver Age, Batman!
Back In July, Variety.com made the claim that the new Batman game from Rocksteady would be a prequel set in the silver age of Batman, utilizing an art style to harken back to that era of the Caped Crusader. While interesting, I don’t think this will be the case. Arkham City ends with too many interesting ideas for Rocksteady not to take advantage of them. The DLC Harley Quinn’s Revenge decides to take away one of the more interesting ones, but regardless, I want to see how Batman handles the loss of the Joker, and to see that rage harnessed into DESTROYING criminals. As far as I know, this could be one of the first opportunities to see how Batman handles this loss, and conveying this story in the way of a video game instead of the comics is a nice way to show the audience a “what if” scenario, without hurting the comic mythos. Joker has always been Batman’s antithesis, but it has always seemed to me that Batman secretly “likes” having the Joker around. What’s the point in playing dress up if no one else is playing right? After saving Catwoman from a sniper shot (courtesy of Joker) Batman almost sounds excited when he realises “It’s the Joker”. With the Joker gone, I doubt Batman will get that excited again.
The article also mentions that this “silver-age” Batman games’ plot would surround Batman’s first encounter with the Joker. Don’t get me wrong, I think a silver age aesthetic would be incredibly cool, and fun to see… but I don’t want to see it as a full game separated from one of my favorite series of all time. A level in my favorite series? Another plot-based DLC? Definitely. Quite frankly, I think that’s where this rumour is going, with Batman being tortured by his memories of the Joker and being pushed psychologically he deals with his death. Leaving him wide open for certain fear-based villains to take advantage…
2. Eff’ing Scarecrow
Scarecrow was definitely a highlight in Arkham Asylum for me, and while you don’t encounter him directly in Arkham City, his presence is everywhere. From finding his hideout with a gassed victim to using a Vigenère cipher on a number sequence read out in the world’s creepiest voice on the cryptographic sequencer and getting the lovely message of FEAR WILL TEAR GOTHAM TO SHREDS. I would love to see Scarecrow make his comeback in the next game, and I would love to see it made in a big way. Think about it. Batman is already psychologically down, ruminating on the fact that (in his eyes) the Joker will never be brought to justice. What better time to get a face full of fear gas than now? My eyes are watering just thinking about the level design. Take the best of Joker, twist it’s features into something EVEN MORE horrifying, kick Batman in, and watch him scream. Make Bruce confront the questions that he probably never wanted to. Does he believe he is the cause of the Joker? In fact does he think ALL of the villains are his fault? How about making Batman confront the lost souls he is “responsible” for by letting Joker live? The possibilities are there, and I want to see them exploited.
I love playing Arkham City. It has one of the most detailed free roam environments I have ever seen, which makes looking at even the seediest parts of Gotham a joy. I don’t think Rocksteady needs to go much bigger with the environments, and if it means sacrificing the pain staking details then I am out. Plus I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to see vehicles either, because that little treat usually comes with a bad aftertaste of spending 15 minutes driving a virtual car to a virtual place for every. Single. Mission.
Stealth and Combat on the other hand I just want more of. Environmental takedowns in Arkham City were hard, and fast. The combat feels like Tony Hawk Pro Skater sometimes due to the fact that it is inherently simple to bust out combos, keeping your combo going is the name of the game, and you and a couple of buddies can really get competitive trying to set a high score. But y’know what? I want more of that. After all, if anyone should be doing kick flips (or flip kicks) it is the Dark Knight.
In the end I know I am just going to have to make do with whatever Batman game I get, but until then my Batman game can be as outlandish, and awesome as I want. Now if you’ll excuse me Batman needs my help. The evil Lion Gods have descended upon Gotham and only Bruce Wayne’s collection of Fabergé eggs can stop them.