Rocksteady Studios set the world ablaze when they released the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum videogame back in August of 2009. While picking up numerous accolades for technical achievement and character performance, Arkham Asylum set a new precedent and proved that a quality Batman game was capable of being made. Earlier this week, they unveiled the first official gameplay trailer for the next chapter in the series. Arkham City is poised to keep that momentum going strong by staying true to the core gameplay mechanics of the first and adding new dynamics into the equation.
This article will further elaborate on some key improvements that I feel could effectively push this franchise to the next level and make it a certifiable 2011 Game of the Year recipient. Do you guys agree or disagree with any of the ideas on this list? Feel free to express your opinions in the comments section below.
5) The Best Of Both Worlds
Once Detective Comics decided to introduce the world to the complex lifestyle of billionaire Bruce Wayne, fans easily became drawn to the Batman phenomenon. The storied franchise went on to generate billions by debuting through several different media outlets. Graphic novels and movies emphasized darker themes of death and violence, while kid friendly cartoon iterations sought out to teach valuable lessons on why crime doesn’t pay. One of the main reasons why Batman: The Animated Series receives such high praise is because of the dedicated team of voice actors, writers, and artists that made up the production staff.
When making Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady devised a formula to combine the authentic voicework of characters with the raw emotion of mature themes and situations. The end result is a perfect balance of both worlds that aims to please all fans across the board without diminishing the legacy of the franchise. Seeing Batman deal with the death of a police officer, and Harley Quinn being called a bitch were pivotal instances that separates this game from feeing like a kid oriented experience. Arkham City can expand upon this dynamic by having the same bold approach to storyline and character interactions.
4) Surprise Villain Encounters
The roster of enemies represented in Arkham Asylum included several notable characters like the Joker, Poison Ivy, Bane, and Killer Croc. The sadistic mind games orchestrated by Scarecrow were easily the most surprising and gratifying of the title. Even the idea of using the Riddler to reference other villains was a clever tactic that went a long way towards acknowledging their existence and setting them up for appearances in the sequel.
Based upon past videos we can confirm that Two-Face, Catwoman, Dr. Strange, Black Mask, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, and The Joker will all play a role in Arkham City. However, what other surprises are in store is anyone’s guess. Also worth noting is the cliffhanger at the end of Arkham Asylum involving the floating Titan crate being grabbed by an earlier foe. Depending upon what part of the country you live, some endings either showed Scarecrow, Bane, or Killer Croc as the culprit in question. It will be very interesting to see which direction the team goes in explaining this angle.
3) Improved Detective Mode
Rocksteady played around with the notion of adding crime investigation and forensics into gameplay to create a unique detective element that was missing from previous Batman games. The player was also able to distinguish the location of enemies and use their surroundings to devise tactical manuevers. Arkham City can enhance this concept by offering more clues and mini interrogation games into the mix. Rockstar games and Team Bondi have proven that they are fully invested into this practice by making it the cornerstone of the L.A. Noire gameplay experience.
One of the biggest reasons why Batman is a popular character in the DC universe is because of his gadgets and superior detective solving abilities. Perhaps the recent trailer has essentially shown us a glimpse of how this system can work. Dr. Strange has made reference to the fact that Batman is the main reasoning for the city being in complete chaos and solving clues could easily become the difference maker in tracking down the answers. The team has also elaborated that the system is currently being overhauled. Ultimately, only time will tell how these fixes will improve the overall process.
Morality in regards to decision making was one element that shined through in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. When Batman had to decide between saving either Harvey Dent or Rachel Dawes, he had to make a choice based upon what would yield the best results for Gotham City.
In terms of Arkham City, I’m not expecting this particular option to be available but I do believe it would be a welcomed addition in future titles. Truth of the matter is that everyone expects Batman to always make the right decision regardless. Rarely do we see instances were the character faces am ambitious obstacle and struggles to decide how to go about handling it. There is always a guarantee that someone will disagree with such motives and it would be insightful to see how the studio addresses these topics down the road.
1) Game Defining Moments
Every critically acclaimed AAA title usually has a genre defining moment that factors into creating a memorable gaming experience. For Uncharted 2, there were several exciting moments were physics, reaction, and maneuvering played a vital role in regards to your survival. By that same token, Dead Space 2 blew away gamers with intense sequences that were both challenging and fun to play.
For Arkham Asylum, the hallucinogenic sequences leading up to the Scarecrow encounters were easily some of the signature markout moments of the game. They extended the backstory of Bruce wayne while making you powerless to what was happening around you. I’m expecting Arkham City to up the ante in this department and shift either how you would normally solve puzzles or use combat measures against your opponent in evolving circumstances.