Batman: Arkham City releases in just five days, and everything you need to know about the anticipated sequel is right here! A Batman video game was never supposed to win Game of the Year honors, but Batman: Arkham Asylum did just that. Now, the squeal is right around the corner, and anyone following the development of this title can tell you it’s sure to blow the last game out of the water. Though Batman has been a power house franchise for decades, Rocksteady’s “Arkham” Batman is already transcending media in ways most entertainment brands can only wish. But before we’re off to lose ourselves inside the walls of Mayor Quincey Sharp’s prison, let’s experience the sensation that is Batman: Arkham City.
The story so far:
Previously in Batman: Arkham Asylum, we saw Batman spend one of his most challenging nights in and outside of the halls of Arkham Asylum, facing off against some of his most dangerous villains, all as part of an evil plan devised by the Joker.
Batman prevailed and won the night.
The story, crafted by long time Batman scribe Paul Dini, picks up in the comic book mini-series, Batman: Arkham City, right where Arkham Asylum leaves off. Quincy Sharp, former warden of Arkham Asylum, is now mayor, and has commissioned the creation and activation of Arkham City, a portion of Gotham’s slums bought and made into a super prison, under the guidance of his psychiatrist, Dr. Hugo Strange. Batman, obviously weary of this new Arkham, breaks in to investigate, and gets caught in the middle of a turf war between Penguin and Two-Face, all while a weird mystery with the Joker is building. In addition to the five part Arkham City comic is a five part digital series, still written by Paul Dini, but featuring a different artist in each chapter. These digital extras focus closer on the inmates and their personal agendas inside Arkham City. While maybe not essential to the Arkham City experience, they are still absolutely worth reading. A collected edition of Batman: Arkham City including all five digital chapters is available now.
Friends and foes
Batman has arguably the most diverse and most interesting rogues gallery in the history of superheroes, and for hardcore fans the rogues gallery in a video game can be the make-or-break on if a comic book video game is cool. Thankfully, Rocksteady has upped the amount of villains from the last game, and there isn’t a Batman fan in the world who could be unhappy with this cast of evil…unless of course you’re a die-hard Crazy Quilt fan. Confirmed villains for the game are: Harley Quinn, Bane, Talia Al Ghul, Dr. Hugo Strange, Solomon Grundy, Victor Zsasz, Deadshot, and Mad Hatter, with Black Mask, Ratcather, and Maxie Zues hinted to make appearances, as well as a possible return of Scarecrow. And let’s not forget these guys….
Catwoman, Alfred Pennyworth, Robin (Tim Drake), and Nightwing have also been confirmed. Robin and Nightwing will be playable in challenge mode (Nightwing DLC pack available November 1, and Robin DLC pack available November 22). Commissioner Gordon will also be in the game, but, sadly, no word yet on Barbra Gordon.
kill deliver justice
Alternate costumes were a feature fans were clamoring for in the last game, and Rocksteady has delivered a Dark Knight fan’s dream come true closet of alternate Bat-suits. The Dark Knight Returns skin is the only one said to be playable in the game’s campaign, but given the sheer number of costumes, playing with them only in challenge mode is perfectly fine with me. In addition to the skins below is Sinestro Corps Batman, only accessible when buying the Blu-Ray edition of Green Lantern. And Robin sees his share of alternate costumes, as well. Also, don’t let all the pre-order exclusive claims bother you. Pre-ordering Arkham City at a specific retailer for their “exclusive” DLC only means you’ll get it early. Eventually all the content will become available on Xbox Live/PlayStation Network.
The Collector’s Edition of Arkham City is absolutely worth its $100 price tag, coming with a beautiful Batman statue by Kotobukiya, early access to the Dark Knight Returns skin, the animated film Batman: Gotham Knight, collectible cards, and the Batman: Arkham City soundtrack.
The soundtrack is actually now available on iTunes, consisting of the following tracks:
1. Panic! At The Disco – Mercenary
2. Coheed and Cambria – Deranged
3. The Duke Spirit – Creature
4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Shadow On The Run
5. Blaqk Audio – Afterdark
6. The Raveonettes – Oh, Stranger
7. ††† (Crosses) – The Years
8. The Damned Things – Trophy Widow
9. Daughtry – Drown In You
10. The Boxer Rebellion – Losing You
11. Serj Tankian – Total Paranoia
*Bonus Collector’s Edition track
12. A Place to Bury Strangers – In The Shadow
I’m not a huge fan of some artists on this album like Coheed and Cambria or Daughtry, but the entire album is heavy with Arkham City and Batman themes. The first track, “Mercenary,” by Panic! At The Disco, actually features a snippet of dialog from Dr. Hugo Strange toward the end of the song, and my favorite track, “Total Paranoia,” by Serj Tankian (lead singer of System of a Down), suggests a lot of Joker imagery all throughout. There are a few tracks I would like to have seen on this album, like “Short Change Hero” by The Heavy, which was featured in the first full length Arkham City trailer, and R. Kelly’s “Gotham City” from the Batman & Robin soundtrack remade into “Arkham City,” but over all, while keeping Arkham City in mind, it’s a great collection of songs.
There are also plans to release an album of the game’s original score in the future.
In addition to all the great extras a single video game can come with are some great little accessories that corporate America has devised because they know fanboys like me will throw endless amounts of money at them to possess such glorious items.
Power A has joined with Warner Bros. to create some awesome looking tech for your game console in the form of a controller that looks like it just came out of Batman’s utility belt. But my favorite waste of my money is the magnificent looking Arkham City character skins for my Xbox 360 avatar!
I must own it all! But the holy grail of Arkham City swag is perhaps the most elusive, as only a few lucky humans on Earth will posses it. The Arkham City custom Xbox 360.
One of these suckers was auctioned at PAX, and Warner Bros. currently has a giveaway for one of these (see details on the Arkham City Facebook page), but I really wish we were getting an Arkham City 360 bundle like we’ve seen with Halo, Gears of War, and Resident Evil.
For your viewing pleasure
Not only is Batman: Arkham City hitting shelves on October 18, but so is Warner Bros. Animation’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One. But you can catch it early on iTunes (available now!) and devote the 18th entirely to exploring Arkham City and searching for that hidden Black Canary reference the developers have hinted at.
Those wonderful toys
DC Direct will be launching Series 1 of the Arkham City action figure line in December, but before that Mattel has their own brand of Arkham inspired toys hitting shelves in November. And next year, North America will see a brilliant edition of Arkham City figures from Square Enix!
Next year we’ll see the next Christopher Nolan Batman film, and while it’s sure to be great, Rocksteady’s is the modern interpretation of the Caped Crusader that will stick with me for years to come. Batman: Arkham Asylum became the highest rated superhero game of all time, and I have to imagine Arkham City will soon be claiming that title for itself. Next week we’ll be bringing you not just a game review of Batman: Arkham City, but a full breakdown of the experience from a life long Batman fan’s perspective (spoiler free, of course). Until then, I’ll be replaying Arkham Asylum and watching Year One on repeat, psyching myself up for the 18th!
What part of the Arkham City experience are you most looking forward too?
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