In A Nerd’s Honest Opinion: Batman: Arkham Awesome
Most successful gaming series end on a trilogy; this is especially the case with a series as well received as the Batman Arkham series. As such, I’m going to assume a third Batman Arkham game is on the way some time next year. In honour of that impending title, and so Rocksteady has time to take my advice into consideration, a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone, this piece is dedicated to providing some ideas for said game.
Ok, so how best to arrange this? Well a list of 5 or so ideas should do, though my lists usually imply some sort of ranking order within the ideas listed. In this case however, ranking ideas would suggest some are more important than others and instead I want each one to be considered with the same determination. I’m going to suggest a list of 5 ideas that all need equal consideration, they need to collaborate and they need to intermingle with one another for the most effective Batman game.
For the game to feel fresh and innovative, it’s going to need to avoid being based entirely around Batman V.S. one or more of his long standing super villain rivals. It’s a great structure for video games; however, Arkham Asylum just did it too well and Arkham City exhausted almost every possible bad guy worth fighting. I propose Batman has to work with a villain instead, and in process had to hurt a particular set of civilians or aid that villain against his will. While that may not sound like Batman’s usual practice, he’s not being forced to do so by said villain. Instead, there is some other sinister force endangering Batman and he needs to collaborate in order to survive. Moreover, and if Batman does not collaborate with his rival super villains, he will be unable to prevent the loss of millions of lives and destruction of Gotham. This plot will allow for morale choices to be made by the player, choices that say, could affect whether a group of innocent people die or a super villain goes free. It’s a relatively basic idea and definitely needs working on, but it certainly has merit and will push Batman’s character to its absolute limit. Forcing Batman and the player to weigh up choices on a moral scale will not only present a more interesting story in itself, but through testing Batman’s fundamental beliefs, it’ll give us a chance to see the more human side of Batman.
I think this will come down to which villains he’d encounter? Not Joker obviously, perhaps the Riddler or Ra’s al Ghul. We can assume then that Batman as well as the villains are trying to escape and are only capable of doing so with the aid of one another. The game could revolve largely around Batman but needs sections where you play as the villain. Perhaps there are situations where Batman falls into a trap and the player is given control of the villain setting up said trap, as a sort of flashback event. I think another great idea for the plot would be the inclusion of at least one other character from within the DC universe but outside of Batman’s, like The Flash, Green Lantern or of course Superman for example. Even if you never get to play as them, their presence would indicate an even more dangerous situation than if Batman were to tackle it alone. Even better, and by making the threatening force a villain from another DC universe, someone considerably dangerous but that presents an entirely new challenge to Batman, having no idea of that person’s or group’s weaknesses or psyche, would make a great plot device.
This is difficult, I mean, how do you trump the size of Arkham City or the detail of Arkham Asylum? Remember, it can’t be too out there, it needs some level of believability. I think that a few linked locations, potentially outside of Batman’s comfort zone, say not in Gotham, could have definite potential. Somewhere where he isn’t familiar with his area and must do more than usual show up and kick ass. Instead, he might need to scout ahead and tactically retreat to consider his options. Furthermore, and outside the range of his bat cave, Batman must once again rely on others to overcome the loss of access to the usual resources he has at disposal. This will not only add reason to aid a particular super villain but will force Batman into a more survival rather than detective style of play.
Perhaps, and as mentioned in ‘location’, Batman is far from home and must make do without all his gadgets. In order to do so, he must either create what he can out of what he can find or make use of a variety of the villain’s gadgets. This would not only allow for an interesting and new diversity to Batman’s arsenal but further the plot of working with the villains as well.
There isn’t that much to say really, obviously the visuals need to match the setting decided upon by the developers. The one addition I would suggest is that the game needs to accommodate according to character. This would mean that when playing as a super villain, perhaps Riddler say, you would see world as graphical novel, this also better represents the flash back state of the game. It would be difficult I know, but not impossible.
Now I know many of the ideas would be hard to implement, chief among which would be the change of aesthetic to accommodate the character change. Though my biggest point is that while many might look upon another Batman as a weakening of the series, one sequel too many so to speak; there is potential for so much more from this franchise. The Batman Arkham series is brilliantly designed and well executed; now all they need is to break the comfort zone with the plot and its accommodating devices in order to create a truly awesome Batman game.