There have been several updates and rumor de-bunks on Batman: Arkham City over the last few weeks. This week I’m rounding them all up, and, as expected, myself and many other hardcore Batman nerds are not pleased!
First off, if you haven’t seen the first gameplay trailer released on Tuesday, see it here. There were many awesome and strange images present in the trailer, but, to me, the most grabbing part of the whole 2 minuets and 18 seconds was Rocksteady’s song choice for their second full length trailer. “Short Change Hero,” by England’s The Heavy, provides a sound very unfamiliar to Batman’s style, and I personally like it. We often associate the music of Batman to something created by Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, but seeing the Dark Knight at work to “Short Change Hero” is a very welcome unique change of pace in my opinion. Though, I’ve already talked to plenty of haters bashing it as if it’s almost sacrilegious.
What struck me next was how super Batman appears. Insiders have previously discussed how physically empowered Batman comes off in closed demos, but I didn’t think much of it until I saw it for myself. There’s one shot where Batman drops his fist to the ground, and sends nearby enemies tumbling. And, according to those closed demos, Batman now has the ability to punch through walls, instead of having to rip them down with his Bat-claw. These new moves seem more fitting for the Man of Steel rather than the Dark Knight. Batman does a lot of flying in the trailer, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Obviously, Bruce isn’t taking flight Superman style, as he’s using his cape to glide around. This isn’t anything new to Batman at all, but what’s extremely disappointing is that in a recent developer interview, it’s confirmed that the Batmobile is NOT playable in the game, and this method of gliding, along with using his grapple gun to hitch rides on helicopters, is Batman’s primary source of long distance travel. This is my biggest WTF about this game so far. I, as I’m sure millions of others did, expected the Batman: Arkham Asylum sequel to take the stage to Gotham City, which it has in its own way, and I know (story wise) it would be somewhat of a challenge for the Batman to infiltrate Arkham City with a Batmoblie, but I mean COME ON!
In the above interview, the guy says they didn’t want to make a “driving game,” and wanted to focus on Batman as a Caped Crusader in the unique environment.
That’s total BS to me.
I appreciate that Rocksteady is focusing on Batman as a character, but we all basically wanted “Grand Theft Auto: Gotham City.” From previous developer interviews, Rocksteady basically said by having the game set in Arkham City instead of Gotham City, it allowed them to create a more unique environment, as opposed to the mostly empty sandbox you’ll find in GTA or Red Dead Redemption. That all sounds really great, but I’m pretty sure the Batmobile was what most fans most anticipated about the BAA sequel. But not just the Batmobile, the Batplane (or Batwing…whatever you choose to call it) would have been equally amazing.
On the subject of missing key elements of the sequel, it’s confirmed that Arkham City will be an entirely single player experience. Remember all those rumors about Batman and Catwoman multiplayer mode? Forget it! Rocksteady says creating both a single and multiplayer mode would have basically watered down each, and they decided to set their sights on making one amazing campaign, instead of a mediocre story and multiplayer mode.
All of that is fine with me, but still very disappointing. Part of me was hoping to see a two-player experience just to see if Robin would be making an appearance in the game. It’s been said that the “Arkham universe” the game occupies is set somewhat early in Batman’s career, and he may not have — or may never — come into contact with Robin. And where the hell is Alfred? Sure, he’s probably dusting the massive penny in the Batcave, and I appreciated Oracle in our ears in the last game, but I’m hoping our trusty butler makes some kind of cameo in the next game.
But enough about the Bat-Family. The extensive rogues gallery is much more important in this game. Officially confirmed so far are the Joker, Harley Quinn, Dr. Hugo Strange, Two-Face, Catwoman, the Riddler, Mr. Zsasz, and Calendar Man. Unofficially confirmed are Mr. Freeze and Talia Al Ghul, who both have voice actors credited according to IMDB, and Rocksteady says they still have plenty more of Gotham’s craziest in store to annoy the World’s Greatest Detective. I would love to see classics like Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Hush in the game, as well as an actual boss fight with Clayface, instead of just a cameo, but what really interests me is Talia Al Ghul, and how Ra’s Al Ghul will play out in the Arkham universe, but I have a feeling we’ll be waiting for the third game to see how that all culminates.
Perhaps it’s too early to already be thinking about Arkham 3, assuming there even will be another sequel, but where would Batman go after Arkham City? As mentioned earlier, Rocksteady didn’t want an empty Gotham, so expanding the environment seems unlikely. Perhaps abroad to the Middle East to battle Ra’s. Or maybe something as simple as a return to Arkham Asylum itself? The developers seem determined to make this series as pure a Batman experience as possible, so any interaction with the Justice League or any other heroes seems unlikely, unless it’s a brief reference.
Well, if Arkham 3 is meant to be at all, it’ll be interesting to see what direction it goes in. The answers surely lay in the final acts of Arkham City, but we’ll have to wait until October 18 to finally get our hands on it.
I’m very curious to see what — if any — fun props come with the Arkham City collector’s edition. With Arkham Asylum we got got the mounted replica Batarang (mine sits proudly among my collection of Batman TPBs), and I’m praying that Rocksteady outdoes themselves and packages a functional grapple gun with the new game, or better yet, a fully stocked utility belt. But I’m gonna be pissed if it’s some lame Two-Face coin replica…I already have about four or five different Two-Face coins in my collection. I don’t need a new one.
Luckily, we don’t have to wait another seven months to get the Arkham City party started. In May, DC Comics releases Batman: Arkham City #1, written by the brilliant Paul Dini, who also penned the story for the video games, with art by Carlos D’Anda, who did the beautiful art that came along with the character profiles in Arkham Asylum. The comic series will fill in the gap between the two games, as if that matters, because, if you’re really a Batman mark, all it takes is Paul Dini’s name on the cover to sell you. And you can expect the full review of Batman: Arkham City #1 here on the The Comics Console as soon as it drops.
So that’s all there is to know about Arkham City so far. There are still plenty of more big announcements to be made, and demos to be shown, both of which I’m sure we’ll see at this year’s E3. What are you most looking forward to in Batman: Arkham City?
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