Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
In fall of 2011, we received the gift that was Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City is the outstanding sequel to the award winning Batman: Arkham Asylum for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and the newly released Wii U console. With its entertaining story, strong freeflow combat, stealth gameplay mechanics, and the immersion of an open world structure, Arkham City surpassed its predecessor in every way. It was a richer and more engrossing Batman experience that truly made the player feel like the Dark Knight himself.
Now, a new game in the “Arkhamverse” has been announced. Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel that highlights the Caped Crusader’s first encounters with signature villains like Deathstroke, Black Mask, and The Penguin. Despite all of the excitement and utter bliss that immediately came with this news, there is skepticism amongst hardcore Batman fans and gamers. Some fans are disappointed that the game isn’t a continuation of Arkham City’s cliffhanger ending (if you include the downloadable Harley Quinn’s Revenge, it leaves a lot of gamers wanting more). Others are skeptical that the game developer Rocksteady (of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City fame) is not working on this prequel, leaving Origins in the hands of Warner Bros. Games Montreal. Based on the information released from websites like IGN, and a Game Informer interview with the team developing Origins, there is a lot to look forward to though.
First of all, Origins goes back to Batman’s early days fighting small-time criminals and first encountering the super villains that reside in the darkness of Gotham City. The Unreal Engine used for the previous two games is making its return, with the smooth combat gameplay and graphics that made Arkham Asylum and Arkham City hits. The Montreal studio is also doubling the scale of the open-world playground found in Arkham City, allowing players to roam Old and New Gotham. Like the last two games, Gotham City will be filled with side missions like criminal activity, puzzles, and collectables. WB Montreal is in close contact with Rocksteady about how to maintain the DNA of what made the Arkham games so great, yet they aspire to leave their own mark on the fantastic game franchise.
Oh, and you get to use the Batwing to travel from place to place! THE BATWING.
Returning to the plot, Arkham Origins is not about the start of the Dark Knight’s heroic career – watch Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, or read Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One for that. It’s about Batman’s first encounters with his greatest enemies and surviving one of the most dangerous nights of his life. To get into more detail, Deathstroke and several assassins have come to Gotham on Christmas Eve to kill The Bat! Now, you may be saying, “Batman is stronger, smarter and just better than those assassins combined! No challenge at all! He’s The Batman, right!?” But, we are playing as a less experienced Dark Knight. Watching a more vulnerable and unpolished Batman fighting and developing complicated relationships with his rogues’ gallery will be interesting to watch unfold. What characters and events shaped Batman into the great detective that he was in the previous games? Only time will tell.
The announcement has really sparked interest in how this prequel will re-imagine the series due to a new and ambitious game developer with a fresh new direction. So much potential lies with Batman: Arkham Origins, and hopefully it’s a worthy successor to Arkham City, continuing a fantastic gaming experience in Gotham City!