UTTER SPOILERS FOR BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS TO FOLLOW
Batman: Arkham Origins may be garnering snorts of derision from 'hardcore' gamers who know that it's essentially a jazzed up retread of the previous game in the franchise, but as novice gamer, I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of swinging through the dark skies of snowy Gotham, leaping down into an alleyway full of thugs and letting rip on the scum of Gotham's underbelly for no reason at all.
It got me thinking though, there are truly aspects to this (apparently) disappointing game that our beloved cinematic Batman could really do with copying. Aspects that are intrinsically Batman at his most Bat-manish. And with a fresh start to the franchise, fresh cast and crew, fresh costumes and a fresh concept (fighting freakin' Superman!), it feels like just the right time for Batman to learn a thing or two from his Playstation counterpart.
Become The World's Greatest Detective
Last night, while playing through Arkham Origins for the second time, I put down the controller and marveled at something I'd never seen outside the pages of a comic. It was Batman being the world's greatest detective. Some of you might not know (hopefully I'm wrong) that, rather than Caped Crusader or Dark Knight, 'World's Greatest Detective' was Batman's original tagline. He debuted in Detective Comics for goodness sake. Something EVERY movie ever has failed to illustrate is the fact that Batman occasionally is like the best cop you've ever seen. This doesn't count. The cold rational mind of a genius billionaire analyzing crime scene after crime scene to narrow down the list of subjects is as much a Batman staple as the Bat symbol. The movies just don't want us to know that.
The moment in question that birthed this entire whimsical article was Batman's investigations into what happened in Lacey Towers. Using 3D reconstruction technology my Batman was able to recreate the scene of the crime and exactly how this little game of murders went down. All he had to do was figure out who the players were.
Arkham Origins lays down before us a digital blue techno-noir crime scene. One that requires the player to realize that different parts of this crime occurred at different times and different places in the room. I spent an enjoyable hour or so going through the different scenario's, perpetrators and victims in the freezing tower block before discovering that last crucial bit of evidence (always a bit of fabric caught on a nail!) and cracking the case. Alfred was delighted when my Batman radioed in explaining a new villain known only as The Joker had orchestrated the whole thing.
It blew my mind that I'd helped Batman figure the case out, I felt a genuine sense of achievement when it was all over having used logical thought alongside the Bat to solve the case. This needs to be transmitted from the screen, if Warners can introduce Batfleck in a scene half as complex, intriguing and downright thrilling as the Lacey Towers investigation, we'll have the Bat we deserve.
GIVE US BARBARA!
I mean, I can't I make it simpler. Whether she's Oracle, the spiky daughter of the Comish or the epic and deadly Batgirl, Barbara Gordon is a beloved and very easily integrated part of the Batman universe. Arkham Origins does a great job of painting her as a hero in waiting.
Embrace The Phantasmagorical
One of the most impressive things ALL the Arkham Games have managed to do is maintain the distinctive reality first popularized by the movies, and inject a massive dose of the supernatural into the mix. Batman's first encounter with one of Gotham's resident cryptids is in Blackgate prison where he encounter Black Mask's uber-henchman Killer Croc. Croc is Mask's muscle at this point in the game. He serves as a fantastically fun first boss on the top of the prison itself. Now I'm not advocating boss battles in movies, but I love the way a giant crocodile man is really just an average day in Gotham City. The Arkham Games don't try and explain his mutations (except in extra-curricular media), he's just one of the heavies, helping out Black Mask and getting the job done.
By looking to Arkham, Warner Brothers could maintain the verisimilitude propagated throughout the Dark Knight trilogy (something they're want to do after Nolan's box office success) and still tap into the dark mutated side of Gotham's criminal underworld. This is how you do it guys.
The Unusual Suspects
Do you know who that guy is in the picture above? Chances are you don't. That's Anarchy, a V For Vendetta style radical urban terrorist. He's totally a part of Batman's lore, with his origins dating all the way back to 1989 but hardly anyone knows who he is. Arkham Origins rebooted the character into a radical youth ready to end corruption in the most violent way possible. And it worked. He may have sounded like a whiny struggling actor but the character was effectively introduced to a whole new audience. An audience who didn't need to see him in the primary villain role.
What Arkham does really great is feature characters from Batman's rogue's gallery in a way that they feel like small fry for the caped crusader. As they should, the Joker is ALWAYS the primary villain because he's a villain prepared to do things the others will not. Anarchy's M.O. is bombs, shock and awe, something Batman can clean up in his sleep. I'd love to see smaller, less well known villains popping up in minor roles. No one wants Anarchy as the final boss, everyone wants to punch him in the face though.
Are you listening Affleck? Probably not, but I had to get these things off my chest after playing through an epic Bat adventure!
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