Up-front, I love the Arkham games. They finally gave me a video game that made me feel like the Bat. I even love Origins, which has gotten shit on by a ton of people. Though, I admit, the reason I love it is Troy Baker’s performance as the Joker. He nailed it so flawlessly that it did Mark Hamill’s Joker proud. For real, he took all his cues from that, and it was so awesome. It was a great introduction. But, the best game in the franchise, to date, is Arkham City. For real, don’t you say it’s Arkham Asylum. You’re an idiot! Arkham City had it all. It had great villains, cool locations, sick boss fights and a story that was both dark and engaging. It really stripped away some of the flim-flam of Batman and showed us that he really is a common thug, which is an interesting perspective to take. Going balls-to-the-wall with that game took guts, and Rocksteady did it almost perfectly.
When I saw the debut trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight, I ain’t gonna lie, I was both confused and a little worried. For starters, it had this monologue that I’m assuming is Thomas Wayne, giving his last will and testament to Bruce. It makes it sound all important, and there are neat little jabs that make it sound like he would not approve of his son’s double-life as Batman. But then it becomes a very inspiration and action-packed trailer that makes this game look like it is just going to be a lot of ass-kicking. That bothers me for a couple reasons.
The first is that the Arkham games have not been especially uplifting. For real, Arkham City had an unbelievably bitter-sweet ending (and I don’t count Harley’s Revenge. That was terrible and as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t exist), with Batman’s girlfriend, Talia Al Ghul getting shot and killed, which, since her father is dead, probably means that the League of Assassins is dead. You don’t know if Clayface lived or died. The Joker unleashed a plague with his blood on the city (since I don’t count Harley’s Revenge as a thing, I don’t see it as plot-conveniently cured) and potentially killed dozens. Dozens upon dozens of criminals dead within Arkham City. And most importantly – the closest thing that Batman will ever have to a human connection, the Joker, is dead. I am sure that his death hurts, because as the Joker pointed out – they have been trying to kill each other for so long that, if you take that away, what do they have? Not much, as far as I can see. Arkham City ended with Batman carrying the Joker’s corpse out of the theater and laying him on a police car, then leaving, without saying a word. I have no doubt that the death of his greatest foe left its mark on him. This kind of bittersweet darkness can’t just be ignored. Not without the narrative sucking ass. Oh, and I forgot – Hush was seen having made himself out to be a perfect copy of Bruce Wayne, telling him that he is going to be getting revenge on his former friend in a very ugly way.
The second reason is that these games were all about the darker aspects of the worth of Batman. It never showed the carnage and gore, but you heard NPCs and read log entries about just how vicious and brutal the world of these games was. To have a debut trailer for this franchise be so uplifting and almost hopeful, it’s a little off-putting, and leaves me wondering if Rocksteady is just going to spoon-feed what they think the audience wants to end this. Fuck that! I want this game to be filled with the dark and creepy goodness that made the other games so damn nice to play.
So, what would I like to see? I have a rough sketch of what I hope this game is. First, it’s been a LONG time since the events of Arkham City. With the Joker dead, things have gotten a lot better in Gotham. The police are finally able to step up in a way they couldn’t before. Which is good, because the Bat isn’t quite the badass he used to be. He’s still doing his job and fighting crime, but his heart just isn’t in it the way it used to be. The death of the Joker still haunts him, and that’s not all. There was a pretty awesome screenshot of someone in a Batman-like suit that looks pretty cool (and hopefully leads to a sick bossfight, like Deathstroke). Some are speculating that it’s Damian Wayne. I could get onboard with that. Not to mention – what has Hush been doing. He wasn’t about to let Wayne go, after all.
However, Batman’s repose is broken when Scarecrow and a number of other villains finally see that if they don’t take this chance to get their revenge on the Bat, they may not get another. The bulk of the rogue’s gallery of Batman come to make the most of one last night. One last score that will end it once and for all. Meanwhile, other forces are at work. Other villains who are plotting things for Batman, such as whoever this dude in the ninja-Batman suit is. Forces are gathering as Bruce has to finally face down the end of his time in the mask. So much of what he loved is lost. Now, a choice has to be made. Does he keep doing what he is, or does he hang up the cape and cowl, before her loses it. Maybe have him losing control, letting inner violence that has been contained for years finally start to seep out. That would be a nice little way for the Joker to get the last laugh, wouldn’t it?
Like I said, I love these games. I am going to be playing this one, because I want to see how the franchise ends. I just hope it does what they have built justice, instead of sucking. Let me know what you think about it all.
Until next time, a quote,
“Sometimes I wonder if all this will end with one of us looking down at the other’s corpse, trying to work out what to do next!” -The Joker, Batman: Arkham City