If that kind of trailer didn’t make your mouth water, you aren’t a fan of Batman or the Arkham video game series. I happen to be both, and as a word of warning, I am pretty excited about this new game based off of this trailer alone, so don’t expect me to be %100 percent impartial.
Then again, any nerd worth his word is going to recommend this game based off of Facebook hearsay alone. Memes expressing positive emotions ranging from satisfaction to pure ecstasy are littering their comment boards, and the trailer above was released only recently.
The excitement is not without reason, either. Rocksteady studios, the guys who make the Batman Arkham seriesย the Batman Arkham series is back in the game. Literally. They are the original studio that made the first game Arkham Asylum and the legendary Arkham City. The only Arkham games that haven’t made its mark was its last game Arkham Origins and the Blackgate game for handheld systems, and that was when Rocksteady took a hiatus. Having the team back along with Kevin Conroy as Batman puts most of my misgivings as ease right off the bat. Add an in game Batmobile with amphibious assault capabilities and your golden. I sure as shooting am not the only person who feels this way about it either.
This is, of course, the industry hype machine hard at work. Actual gameplay footage have not even been released yet, and already people are ready to camp outside to wait for their copy. Hundreds of thousands of people. We probably won’t see any actual gameplay until E3 shows it off to the public. I’ll be sure to update when that happens.
What I will say about both the trailer and the screenshots included herin is that they are beautiful. Gorgeous. Trickles of rain practically sparkle on the reflective shield plates of the Bat mobile as the glowing headlights shine through the front wheels. Harley Quinn’s color scheme is as brightย and well contrasted as ever, and her smile is practically photogenic. While it is easy to dismiss pretty much the entire trailer as a non interactive cut scene or movie reel, the game is only launching for PC and both the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have the technology to make this look possible. This is probably going to be the most graphic intensive Arkham game of the series, and if the hype is to be believed, the final one.
From a Narrative perspective, it makes sense to make this the last hurrah for the trilogy, although I have a nagging suspicion that if this game does as well as they hope, Warner Bros. is going to make at least five more games in this series with or without Rocksteady. It happens all too often; A game completes its story, goes gold, and to make even more gold the publishers milk it for as many publications as possible, with plot lines that jog in place. They do this to make money, secure the brand, and keep the interest alive long enough for the team to possibly come back to make lighting strike twice. That’s why theyย made Halo 4.
A bigger concern then the possibility of the Arkham game mill churning long after the series finale is the theย villain they made for the game. While the prospect of a super creative team like Rocksteady adding a new villain to a franchise that is famous for having some of the best villains seems promising, the concept they are pitching us seems to be more then a little lack luster.
He is literally called the Arkham Knight.
They are basically just making a Dark Knight Doppelgรคnger. While the comic book and video game industries are no stranger to having heroes literally face themselves, the fact that they pretty much just redesigned the character slightly seems a bit lazy if not repetitive. Whats more is that if the screenshot below is any indicator, they might have an even simpler premise for the new villain that is even less original then you might think
That’s right; he’s got a gun in his hand. While being anti-death and anti-gun is almost at the core of Batman’s being as a character and a central part of his moral compass and internal conflict, this scenario has been played out before again and again in comics and animated movies. Ever hear of the Red Hood? If you have, you probably are already seeing a bunch of parallels stack up with him and the Arkham Knight. If you haven’t heard of the Red Hood, all you really need to know is that he is a resurrection of an older version of Robin who rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket and Red Hood/Helmet, fights crime, and isn’t afraid to kill criminals with guns. WB even released a straight to DVD animated feature starring him and the Joker as primary antagonists. The center conflict was why didn’t Batman kill the Joker even after the Joker killed Robin. Yeah; that kind of thing actually happened in the comics. The resolution was that once you kill a person, you can’t take it back, and that Batman always finds a way to solve problems and fight crime without killing anyone. If the Arkham Knight turns out to be Robin, and they end up arguing about how to protect the city without killing people, the fans are gonna roll there eyes, and I will be the first in a very long line to do so.
But frankly, even if the game’s storyline is a little hackneyed, it will have shine to spare and plenty of side missions and amusement to more then make up for it. I already am seeing some good design decisions being made, and most of them revolve around the brand new mechanic that much of it’s PR is centered around-the Batmobile.
The way they made the Batmobile seems brilliant. While it is cool that you can basically drive over water, that speaks more of a smart design decision then simply a cool mechanic; it solves the problem of crashing the car into the water and negates the need for invisible walls outside the game’s world border. Plus, it would make sense that a billionaire vigilante who wants the best tactical advantage over the worst of the worst super criminals to invest in a vehicle that can double as both a performance car and a speedboat. Chasing criminals over multiple kinds of terrain should be a breeze. It also seems to incorporate a pretty standard feature in the Batmobile that works both as a game mechanic and a way to avoid design problems. It uses AI to control itself and come back to Batman. This has been done before, with things like Epona’s song in Zelda, so it shouldn’t be hard to execute it. Plus, giving it commands like a Titan in Titanfall makes sense both from a development point and from the story mode. Batman is always controlling his car remotely in all his iterations, often to good dramatic and tactical effect. I look forward to speeding over the water, ejecting from my Batmobile, gliding over the bridge, and letting my trusty vehicle take most of the damage while providing cover fire as I dive down on a sniper. Genius.
Plus, even if the core villain seems a little weak, the central plotline holds some promise. The voiceover at the beginning of the trailer more then likely belongs to the Arkham Knight, and it may very well be him/her declaring martial law. The villains seem to be taking the city by storm in a way that seems less stilted and preachy then the end of Dark Knight Rises. Plus, having multiple gangs cooperating and arming themselves suggests some kind of truce to their power struggle suggest something big is going on. That, and the mass evacuation over the bridge, plus the armed gunmen chasing down cops rather then vice versa. The Joker is rumored to reappear in this game despite the ending to Arkham City, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his ugly face under the Arkham Knight’s helmet (Spoiler alert!). Rocksteady made great plot twists and drama in the past, and they might do it again one last time.
The website says it will be released in 2014, but rumors are starting to circulate that there might be a delay in its release to 2015. They are unconfirmed at the time of this post, but in the event they are true, I would actually be thrilled. Yes, I hope they do delay the game another year and so should you. Why? Because good games take time, and great games take a lot of work and a lot of time. The Sistine Chapel wasn’t built in a day, and if it was, it wouldn’t be the Sistine Chapel. Rocksteady would be wise to put their labor, their love, and some TLC into this project, and if they need another nine months to give birth, so be it.
I will be reviewing this game as soon as I can.