“[…] one of the greatest games ever made. Period” -G4TV 5/5
“[…] greatest superhero game of all time, […] you do the math” -GamesRadar 10/10
Such acclaim for a sequel to a game that theoretically could not be bettered raised the bar, and the roof for the Arkham series, and video game development as a whole. Metacritic’s list of top rated ps3 games of all time features Arkham City as number four, with a score of 96/100. The fourth best game you could supposedly ever buy (if you’re a ps3 gamer), is getting a SEQUEL!? ON NEXT GEN!? TIME TO GET THE BATMAN SLIPPERS!
Arkham City was my favourite game of all time. I could list a bunch of personal reasons why, but none of them would excuse the fact that the mechanics, visuals, audio and storytelling ability were all awe-inspiring. Now that we look back at the 3 year old game, despite its apparent perfection, you can still see areas where it could potentially be even greater. And also where it WILL be, according to Brit devs Rocksteady.
PLEASE NOTE that I have played all Arkham games to the fullest extent… save for those two DAMN riddler trophies…
A BIG CITY OF OWLS
Get it? Eh? If you don’t, then maybe this blog isn’t for you… anyway, now that the series is oozing into our current-gen disc trays, it’s only natural to think about how BIG the map could be. Arkham Origins attempted to double the size of Arkham, keeping the map of City as well as adding a southern part of the map connected by Gotham bridge, all still bound by the then puny power of the ps3. Reportedly this new playground will be five times the size of City’s necropolis, now completely departing its old home and moving to a big, modern, sprawling Gotham. One noticeable thing about current-gen is that it allows for significantly beefier draw distances, and for a significantly beefier map it makes all sense. I mean it could only be good, right?
Well, not really…one of my main gripes with GTA V is that the map was too large that I felt that everything was diluted in either concrete or sand. City pulled off its map so well because it was so small. If we bring out the gaming physics here,
AWESOME DENSITY = MASS / VOLUME
…and because City’s map was relatively small, it was therefore brimming with immaculate Gothic detail and cheeky hidden comics references around every corner. My main worry is that because this new map is seemingly five times larger in volume, it is potentially five times less awesomely dense. Almost every building in city had its own personality, be it the ACE chemicals factory, or the movie theatre where Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed, and I fear that this change in size will have me seeing the same buildings over and over again, decreasing the enjoyment of my gliding experience. As well as this, the main allure of City’s architecture came from its post-apocalyptic undertones. The buildings were abandoned, wrecked, from old-age-eras, and reeked of the villains they contained, and now that this new map is only freshly evacuated, I can’t help but think that Knight might follow in Origins’ tracks and just create boring box architecture to fit and fill the potentially bland setting. But that is being as pessimistic as possible. The way you manoeuvred around City’s City was slow but satisfying, you moved as the real batman moved, in real time. None of this broken fast travel bullshit that Origins handed to us. It was a good idea, being able to use the batwing to get around the snow stricken streets. On the outside, it seemed amazing, as Arkham games never really let you take control of any vehicles but they have you merely witness them in cutscenes. So the addition of the batwing must be amazing. The reality of the system was very different. Unlock fast travel locations by completing objectives, and then you can select them on the map, grapple up to the batwing and witness the same fucking shitty cutscene over and over again only to be rewarded by some bad coding overcompensating and your entire system freezing, just the same bug we were subjected to when Skyrim was released. Awful. But no need to worry about that! Now you get to wipe bane off that wind shield and take the wheel of a beast of a thrilling machine, you can destroy buildings thanks to semi-destructible environments, explode tanks (hopefully they’re all unmanned. I mean it would be a bit weird if batman just started killing guys for no reason), and transport hostages and political prisoners, even sidekicks in the trunk of the car…tank…Jesus-machine…BATMOBILE! I can’t review it of course but I can see this being a healthy answer to the boring fast-travel.
BANE, BANE, GO AWAY, COME AGAIN ANOTHER DAY…
City and Asylum left some pretty obvious loose ends, and despite the games having amazing dedication to comic lore, the Batman universe is so large that the games collectively couldn’t possibly have covered even half of the people or places. People worrying that Knight will have to repeat itself because City and Asylum covered all the bat-ground have nothing to worry about, the supply is no where near run dry. There are extremely obvious nods to Knight that we get from City, including two ridiculously ambiguous monologues from Hush and Azrael, both only implying that some massive shit-storm is imminent. This tells me that the writers have had the story for Knight in mind well into the development of City, which is always a good sign. None of these niggles were addressed in the below-par DLC, as well.
YOU’RE LATE, ALICE…
So, that got delayed. Like…really delayed. Usually videogame delays are down to bug problems, and believe me, with a game that size, there’s bound to be a lot more bugs than expected, but no bugs take eight months to fix. Here’s what I think happened: there has been a lot of media attention about who the Arkham Knight is, and the most popular theory is that Jason Todd is the perpetrator. For all my fellow comic buffs, it only makes sense, right? If you’ve read the graphic novel, or have seen the animated film of Under the Red Hood, you find out Jason’s motivation to compete and challenge batman, why he even tries to kill him. A lot of people have publicly spoken about this and concluded it must be him. I think Rocksteady recognised this, already having made Jason the Arkham Knight, and wanting to retain the element of surprise, they chose to remake the story so that the identity of the Arkham Knight is changed and the media remains stunned, because otherwise the anti-climax would greatly hinder the impact of the story. It’s all so ambiguous. Reminds me of Protocol 10.
The game hasn’t come out, yet, so all I can say is…pre order Arkham Knight! If ever I broke my rule of never pre-ordering games, it would absolutely be for this black diamond-in-the making.