Arkham Asylum EP1: Satan Clown Rodeo

By Shamus
on Jun 10, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

Here it is. Listen to the cast try to admire a game to death. All this gushing and praise makes me nauseous. I’m not sure how much of that is because this is a fantastic game and how much is because it’s not Hitman: Absolution.


Link (YouTube)

(Note that at the 11:30 mark I say “Officer Cash” when I should have said “Officer Boles”. My bad.)

This game generally gets a pass for the long opening because the scene is really good by the standards of movies, and phenominal by the standards of videogame cutscenes. The opening to this game is about ten minutes of barely-interactive talking. It’s actually worse than a simple video, since the fact that it’s quasi-interactive means it can’t be skipped. You can’t even put the controller down and go make a sandwich, since you need to be there to nudge Batman forward.

But setting aside how stupefyingly risky it is to begin an action game by making the player walk implacably forward for ten minutes, the scene really does a fantastic job at putting all the pieces on the board. We get the Batman / Joker dynamic, we get that Joker is up to something and that Batman knows it, we get a look at this main corridor of the Asylum where a good chunk of the game will take place, we get the explanation for why so many of Joker’s men are here in an asylum instead of in a regular prison, we get the setup for Croc, we meet Warden Sharpe, we meet Gordon and establish his friendship with Batman, we see how the layers of security at Arkham work, we get some foreshadowing with Officer Boles, we see how Batman is ready for Joker’s move, and we see Harley spring the trap.

Note to other developers: Yes, Arkham Asylum began with a long cutscene, but it wasn’t just a bunch of clichés and dramatic visual cues. It was also packed with detail, exposition, lampshading, characterization, and foreshadowing. You should be very cautious about trying something this audacious in the future. If you pull it off, fine. But if the cutscene fails, annoys, or tries anyone’s patience, then your entire game is going to faceplant before the player even settles in.

I suppose we can think of this as the Half-Life Tram Ride 2.0: This is a sequence that worked for this game, but probably shouldn’t be attempted by anyone else.

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A Hundred!2020202Many comments. 162, if you're a stickler

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Batman bitches?I remember that game.It was ruff.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This would never work as a batman movie.That guy doenst even try to disguise his voice,its all clear and 100% understandable.Thats not how you batman.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Bah,this joker is lame.The best joker so far was the one in gotham tv show.And it will be surpassed only by the upcoming suicide squad joker.

  4. Rayen says:

    19:51 I just looked at Harley Quinn from New 52, Shorty shorts, stockings and a corset? Really? Jeez…

    Also I have taken in Basically all batman media except the comic Books. Arkham City is probably the most educational experience for Batman I’ve ever had. Also Szasz was Created for this game wasn’t he? I feel like if you check his profile it says first appearance Batman: Arkham Asylum.

    • Neil D says:

      Zsasz was definitely in the comics first. Wikipedia places it in Shadow of the Bat #1, all the way back in 1992 (which I recall fondly).

    • SpiritBearr says:

      Szasz was in Batman Begins in a blink and you miss it role where he’s a criminal who isn’t Falcone getting placed in Arkham thanks to Scarecrow.

    • Vect says:

      Victor Szazs is a Batman villain from the comics. He just gets very little attention since compared to other Batman Rogues he’s just a crazy serial killer with no gimmicks whatsoever save for carving tallies into his body and as such doesn’t really make for an interesting villain by himself. He’s in a few other stuff, including the Gotham TV series.

    • Vect says:

      Funny you should mention New 52 Harley’s design. There’s a short for Justice League: Gods and Monsters, a new animated DC film set in an alternate universe that features Vampire!Batman going up against an actually psychotic Harley Quinn who dresses up like New Harley as Bruce Timm’s self-admitted potshot at the design.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpu6yPAFHrs

    • Taellosse says:

      No, he’s from the comics. But he’s often forgotten for a couple different reasons: he’s not nearly as iconic as characters like Riddler, Penguin, Joker, or Two-Face – he doesn’t have a very distinctive silhouette or costume, and his schtick isn’t that interesting (REALLY likes killing people, and keeps track of then with tally marks on his own body); secondly, he’s a much more recent invention than a lot of the better-known characters, since he was first introduced in the early 90s (though so was Bane, and he’s made the jump to iconic Batman-villain, so it’s more the former reason).

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,enough trolling from me(for now)I want to confirm how cool the character bios are in this game.

    I wasnt into batman at all before this game came out.I liked Burtons batman movies and the dark knight,was luke warm about returns(though I like Jim Carrey,so that was a plus for me),wasnt a fan of the batman begins,and hated batman and robin.I was never drawn into the animated series(tried a few episodes,didnt like them enough to continue watching).And I dont read comics.But this game drew me in,especially the character bios and little audio tapes of the characters.So its not just for the bat nerds,it can also draw in new fans.

  6. Muspel says:

    While I agree that Batman: The Animated Series hasn’t aged all that well, since a lot of the things that it pioneered have been improved on by other shows, I want to take a minute to plug Young Justice, which is an outstanding show.

    Not a Batman show (although he does show up some), but still a great successor. It still makes me sad that it was canceled.

    • Rayen says:

      If we’re going to plug Young Justice (a phenomenal show) I would also like a plug for all it’s predecessors, i.e. Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited and Teen Titans. (especially the the last one)

      Also screw Teen Titans GO!

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Teen Titans Go is good fun, so long as don’t compare it to any other DC animated show, ever. It’s more like an early episode of Adventure Time, but with DC characters. The show is there for the laughs, not for the continuity.

        Also, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a great show, which plays the DC continuity for laughs without completely ripping it off. Although this attitude kind of means that Batman gets massively overshadowed by other, sillier characters as the show goes on. Plastic Man and AQUAMAN (whose name, like BRIAN BLESSED, must always be spelled in all caps) are the standout stars.

        • krellen says:

          Brave and the Bold is OUTRAGEOUS. And great. It’s like Adam West Batman is back.

          • Mike S. says:

            The show also had two fun takes on Superman:

            “The Super Batman of Planet X”: Batman gets to be Superman on another planet. (Which has its own Batman. Of course.) Features Dana Delaney as not-Lois Lane and Clancy Brown as not-Lex Luthor.

            “Battle of the Superheroes”: A perfect 22 minute love letter to the Silver Age Superman, plus a riff on The Dark Knight Returns just because they can.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Battle of the Superheroes is one of my all time favorite episodes of any cartoon, and I say this as a hardcore Superman fan. Its kind of like the Peter Parker emo scenes from Spiderman 3 if they’d been done right (i.e. put in a series where they fit tonally).

              I squeed when he donned the classic “King Superman” pope crown.

              Reminds me of this. (and I’d love to see what Grant Morrison could do with this premise.)

          • Joe Informatico says:

            The Brave and the Bold game they put out for the Wii was a pretty typical sidescrolling beat ’em up, but it nailed the show’s humour.

      • Dreadjaws says:

        Since we’re plugging, please all of you take a look at the Green Lantern animated series. I know some people are put off by the CG style, but please watch the series, it’s amazing. Maybe if enough people purchase the lone season in home video we can get them to make a second one.

        I doubt it’s going to happen, but a man can dream.

    • JackTheStripper says:

      What other shows have done a better job than Batman: TAS? Cause I haven’t ever seen a better superhero animated show than that one.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Does avatar the last airbender count as a superhero show?Because toph is the best batman.

      • Christopher says:

        I pretty much worked my way backwards through the DC animated universe, and I don’t think there’s any competition between Batman TAS and say, Justice League Unlimited. What I’ve seen of TAS was so oddly animated, so hard to make out and so unrefined stylistically that I prefer watching Unlimited any day. But Batman TAS was also relatively down to earth, literally and figuratively more dark, and it was the foundation that that entire universe is built on. It had an amazing impact. The animation and style might even out during the later seasons that I haven’t seen, too. So I understand why tons of people think that’s the best one they did.

        (I’m partial to Justice League Unlimited, Spectacular Spider-Man and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Young Justice, Superman TAS and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were fine, too, in their own ways.)

        • Daimbert says:

          I have to agree with this. While the first one that I remember watching was Batman: TAS, the early seasons, at least, are a bit unrefined and awkward in animation, script and voice acting. Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, and Justice League all were much improved on that score.

        • Muspel says:

          I think that the difference is that Batman: TAS was revolutionary, while the other DCAU shows were more iterative. So while the later DCAU shows are better in a lot of ways, they weren’t as massive an improvement over what came before them.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          If you look at the original seasons of Batman TAS, they really almost don’t fit in the same universe. Justice League is contemporary, TAS went for deliberate anachronism and timelessness. If you started with JLU, you’d be surprised that the same universe has lots of art deco, 50’s looking televisions and such.

          But I like TAS better. It had more soul.

    • Hal says:

      Lordy loo, YES, Young Justice was an amazing show. The fact that it was cancelled for not selling enough toys and being too popular with girls is practically criminal.

      That said, I really enjoyed the first season far more than the second. By the second season, I felt like the cast was getting too big, and the drama was amping up too much.

    • Darren says:

      Wait, what!? They actually say that!? I need to carve out some time to watch this after work.

  7. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Calling it now. Just to be the reverse of all other seasons, the drinking game needs to include instances of “In the next two games…”

    • MrGuy says:

      And also:
      “In the animated series”
      “In the comic books”
      “In the movies”

      With enhanced “finish your drink” for:
      “In Killing Joke”
      “In Batman: Year One”

      • Ledel says:

        See also: “Adam West jokes”
        “Josh non-lethally takes out a bad guy in a way in which he will clearly be dead soon.”
        “Mumbles telling someone to shut-up/stop complaining because it’s Batman.”

        Also, I’m starting the countdown until Mumbles feels like Josh isn’t doing it enough like Batman and actually gets frustrated with the combat.

  8. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I’m seriously disappointed in you guys for not making the outro music the 60s Batman theme.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      That definitely would get flagged on youtube.

    • DIN aDN says:

      My first reaction to this was “Wait, the 60s Batman had a theme tune?”,
      dun-nuh-nuh-nuh nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh
      and then I realised that of course it did; it’s a TV show, and from the ’60s no less. And then I sat there wondering why
      Duh-nuh-Nuh-nuh Nuh-nuh-Nuh-nuh
      something attached to such an iconic piece of television isn’t more prominent in pop culture and why it took me so long to process these thoughts
      BAT-MAAAAAN!

      And while all this is happening that little part of my mind that deals with music is just innocuously going over a very familiar guitar riff, until suddenly the penny drops and suddenly I’m just sitting here giggling. Thank you for reminding me of this thing :D It is a good thing.

      Oooh, actually, the old Spiderman song was great too. I wonder who did DC’s media licensing in the ’60s?

  9. Halfling says:

    So I am thinking the Spoiler Warning crew hates the combat in this game because they all used the keyboard controls, which were just not very good in either this or City.

    • Funklewrinkler says:

      I second this. They seemed built more around a controller than a mouse and keyboard, which is a modern trend I and half the internet despise. I’d like someone to posit a control scheme for this game built for the mouse and keyboard from the ground up.

      • Halfling says:

        Part of the problem is the keyboard interface ends up laggy and slow. It is definitely an issue of poor porting. I think the Arkham games were what made me finally buy a controller, it annoys me I need it but it makes my gaming life much better.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Maybe that’s why when I first tried the game it felt kinda sluggish. With all the console ports around I’ve been thinking of getting a controller but I when I tried playing on a friend’s PS3 I sucked with it. After 20-25 years of K&M controllers feel strange and alien in my hands.

    • Shamus says:

      I actually dig the combat though. Then again, I used the controller for both games. I look at the keyboard stuff Josh is doing and… yuck. That doesn’t look very fun.

      • Humanoid says:

        Did you play the Witcher 3 with a gamepad as well? Noticed Josh was using the keyboard in the stream, a scheme that worked fine for me in the previous game, but with the addition of the dodge function it just became too awkward to stick to the keyboard. (The binding for dodge being left-alt, moving my thumb to under my palm to hit it feels incredibly awkward)

      • Eruanno says:

        I tried using a keyboard for about five minutes of Arkham Asylum before I exclaimed “fuck this” and grabbed my controller. Some people may find it nice and/or serviceable, but I am not one of those people. I can’t play Assassin’s Creed with a keyboard either. It suuuucks. These are clearly games designed with a controller in mind.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Really?Ascreed is pretty easy with a keyboard.

          Asylum wasnt that bad on the keyboard,but the later ones are,because of all the gadgets you get to use in combat.Double tapping 5 and 6 while at the same time trying to use wasd is no fun.

        • MrGuy says:

          I was sort of OK with the keyboard (I just did without some of the quick gadget moves except to open a fight, and didn’t really miss them). Until the guys with the shields showed up, who could ONLY be fought by (IIRC) clicking the “middle mouse button” twice in quick succession.

          On my mouse (like many other peoples), the middle button is a clickable scroll wheel. Which meant most of the time, I’d click the button, then on releasing it the mouse would detect “scroll!” and change gadget, meaning that the next time I pressed it it refused to recognize it as being “twice in a row.” So I’d stand there like a dumdum repeatedly cape stunning and then changing gadgets in front of shield guy.

          Villains I can fight, but when the controls are griefing me, well….

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Logitech,its your friend.All my mice were logitech,and pretty much all of them had a pressable scroll wheel that does not accidentally slip forward/backward when you press it.

            Though no matter how hard I try,I simply cannot train myself to press the wheel with middle finger while using my ring finger for the right button.Ive attempted it numerous times,and it always feels unnatural and hard.And thats something I would love to learn,because Ive started binding a lot of stuff to mmb in the past few years.

        • lethal_guitar says:

          Exactly my experience also. I got the game because I heard so many good things about it, then played a little bit (using mouse+keyboard), but didn’t really like it. So I droppped it again.

          Quite a while later, after I got a controller and started playing some games with that, I went back and tried Arkham Asylum again. This time, I didn’t stop until I finished it.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        What I really appreciated about the combat when I played the first one was that you have to be really really bad at the game to make Batman look incompetent. If you have the basics, Batman will brawl competently. The challenge ramps up but not at a pace you can’t handle.

        But if you’re a hardcore gamer, there’s a whole system of flashy moves and scoring based on use of combos, efficiency, etc, that rewards mastery and skilled play. Its one of those games that approaches both audiences, unless you want a game that forces you to be awesome just to get through it.

        I find games like this makes me want to stick around long enough to actually try the fancier moves and hone my skills. The recent Mario games are really good at this too.

      • Ledel says:

        I’ve played both Asylum and City with mouse and keyboard controls. The combat was still fun and flowed really well…up to a point. That point was where you would start encountering groups of 4-5 guys with guns at once. It’s at those points in the game where you really need to use the different techniques you unlock to keep yourself safe, and it just doesn’t work. You end up flubbing on the controls and then take a half dozen hits because you lost your rhythm. I’d like to try it again now that I’m able to use a controller with my PC games, and I think this game being the next season of SW is the push I need to reinstall it on my hard drive.

    • Artur CalDazar says:

      Ever since talking with a dev about my problems with Alan Wakes camera I have tried to use whatever control method the game is intended to have.

      Seems like controller is ideal here, wonder why Josh opted for KB&M.

    • Taellosse says:

      Thirded. City definitely improves on Asylum’s combat, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it that a controller can’t fix.

      I’m personally a big believer in using the control scheme the game was originally developed for whenever possible. I see it as playing the game as it was intended. Particularly with action games like this, it’s just really hard to design a game that will feel good on both a controller and a keyboard (and frankly, for a melee-combat-focused game like the Batman Arkham games, a controller is a better interface method than mouse and keyboard overall. You gain nothing from the extra accuracy of a mouse most of the time, and having a limited range of buttons keeps the range of moves tighter and more focused).

  10. Warclam says:

    You can pencil me into the list of people kinda annoyed by Harley’s costume (I like the jumpsuit damnit), but it’s hard to get bent out of shape by Poison Ivy. Come on, it’s Ivy. If she’s wearing an outfit that isn’t eyebrow-raising? That’s eyebrow-raising.

    • Halfling says:

      Me too. I think they are trying to go with sexy mental patient nurse, but it ends up being a little much.

      I think it would have been more fun if she managed to disguise herself as one of the normal doctors. Wearing the traditional clown getup underneath for the required boss encounters.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I actually think Harley is one of the better justified examples of sexiness because the sexier she is, the more disturbing she is. She’s hot but the moment you start to like it, you remember that she’s with the Joker and that she’s completely nuts herself.

        Maybe its just me. I don’t want to find her attractive but the unsettling effect of that is perfect for this series.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      I think the original Harley suit is the one I like. I tolerate the one from Arkham City because at least is not THAT slutty, and I do like some alternate Earth costumes, but going from the main universe, it’s like they didn’t trust people to like the character unless she was in increasing states of undress.

      Which is ridiculous, considering she acquired all her popularity wearing the original jester costume.

    • Taellosse says:

      I agree that the original TAS jumpsuit remains Harley’s best outfit to date. That said, I didn’t really mind her new outfit here that much – almost all the costumed characters that appear in the Arkham games have different outfits from their “originals” anyway – Batman included – to a greater or lesser degree, in keeping with the extra grittiness and “realism” the Arkham universe is going for in its style. Her City outfit is a bit better, as a cross between the classic look and the Arkham style, though.

      As a side note, I always thought it was interesting that the majority of Batman’s rogues gallery (at least the better-known and used ones), while they tend to have some sort of distinctive “look” DON’T typically run around in spandex outfits. Batman and Robin do, and so do most of the members of the expanded “Batman family” but the villains typically don’t – they usually wear some weird variation of “normal” clothes: Joker, Pengiun, and Two-Face all wear some form of suit most of the time (Joker’s are usually purple and green, of course, and Two-Face’s are usually tailored so they’re two-toned or have two different styles, and Penguin’s is often a tux, but they’re still suits). Riddler, too, is more often in a suit than spandex (though he does sometimes wear that, too). R’as al-Ghul wears a cape a lot of the time, but it goes over regular (if sort-of rakish) clothes generally. Bane wears a mask modified for his venom harness (when he’s on the drug, anyway) but the rest of his outfit is usually just a wife-beater shirt and cargo pants, Killer Croc, Clayface, Man-Bat, and many of the other “monster” villains wear no particular costume at all, just rags or nothing. There are villains with spandex costumes, but they’re generally B-list or less.

      The females are the exception: Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley wear more “typical” female super-costumes generally (though Catwoman in more recent years has started wearing a leather jumpsuit with goggles, a la her Arkham City appearance). Probably because it gives the artists an excuse to draw more tits and ass, unfortunately.

  11. Christopher says:

    Croc is so weird. In one of the few old Batman comics I read, he was this mysterious mastermind dude in a big trenchcoat that sent all of Batman’s villains against him in one night. Apparently he was a crocodile underneath that? And now a goon ever since.

    I was gonna talk shit about the combat and bosses and character designs, but everyone already knows or made up their mind, and you guys did a bit of that in this episode anyway. Instead, I’ll say I love hearing the full cast on a spoiler warning again, and I love that you sound all happy compared to zombie month, and I think Arkham Asylum’s real cool. And that last death during the ending sequence is wonderful.

    Edit: I was remembering wrong. Joker was the one using the army of Batman villains, apparently to get Batman before Croc could. Thanks, wikipedia.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Bane did that too in his introduction. It seems to be a theme.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      Croc’s entire storyline is that he suffers from atavism. His body and mind are in constant regression to more primitive forms. In some of the latter stories he was almost a mindless brute that barely retained any humanoid form. He comes and goes, though.

      That’s why he looks more like a human in Arkham Origins. He still hadn’t devolved as much.

  12. bit says:

    “I suppose we can think of this as the Half-Life Tram Ride 2.0: This is a sequence that worked for this game, but probably shouldn’t be attempted by anyone else.”

    Which is a funny thing to say after paragraphs of gushing about this opening, since that’s exactly what it’s doing.

    • Humanoid says:

      Would ‘anyone else’ as an example involve carrying around a box for Leonardo da Vinci(o)?

      • Ledel says:

        You joke, but I actually liked ACII’s opening (even parts of the Desmond escape). It did a lot of world-building and character set up that most games don’t do, or at least don’t do it right. You got a good feel for the character of Ezio and his family, even if some of the sections were stupid (carrying boxes and collecting feathers). It’s just disappointing that the second half of the game didn’t carry the character growth they were going for very well.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Every time over-long openings come up I have to mention Persona 4 because that one is two hours and still fantastic.
      It makes absolutely no sense, because on paper that should be an utter disaster. The only menu you can open is the save menu (at specific points). It’s utterly insane.
      You get some brief moments of being able to move around, one of which is added in the Vita port, but it’s mostly just dialogue, sometimes getting a choice of what to say.

      • Daimbert says:

        Yeah, it’s amazing how it works. You’d think that even on replays you’d be thinking “Just get to the action already!” but you don’t because of how it introduces the story and characters.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      While they still could have botched this, I think a few things still work in this game’s favor to make it less risky than it would be elsewhere.

      1) These are characters who were designed first to be entertaining when consumed in non interactive media. So there’s abundant inspiration for them to draw on to make the scene work. For example, the title and basic premise of this game come from a notable comic written by Grant Morrison.

      2) They had some of the creative team from Batman the Animated series, so these are guys who know how to make ten non interactive minutes interesting. Dini has a lot of experience effectively introducing villains in the space of a single 22 minute episode while still having enough time to have an exciting plot with that villain.

      3) Batman and his villains are heavily based on archetypes so people can unpack a lot of meaning quickly from relatively little exposition. Probably this was done to serve the limitations of the comic book format. Likewise, absolutely everybody knows at least a little bit about Batman and Joker (certainly anybody who would even consider buying a game about them) so Dini knows he can skip a lot of the basics and get straight to establishing the scenario while planting the occasional reminder like “Batman is smart”.

      4) Just as the creators are used to creating non interactive Batman content, the audience is used to consuming non interactive Batman content. We know that Batman and Joker can carry a scene* so we’re a little more willing to trust non interactive content with them than we would be, say, the latest Call of Duty.

      *Helped by the presence of the two returning voice actors who we know are able to deliver on a well written scene.

  13. Sleeping Dragon says:

    My first experience with the game was at a friend’s place and I didn’t like it then, the controls felt somehow awkward (keyboard and mouse). Later, after having the SW crew shower it with praise, when it came up in a bundle I decided to grab it and once I got deeper into it it was pretty fun (though still keyboard and mouse). That said… it’s Batman, it’s been a while since I read the comics or watched the animated series but I’m familiar enough that there wasn’t a whole lot to surprise me in the game. Joker takes over, inmates get released and then it’s largely a villain gallery. Thematically I think I enjoyed the City more, though I got that spoiled when I thought I wasn’t going to play the games.

  14. Dt3r says:

    Your optimism and praise sickens me! Where’s the nit-picking?

    (Good choice of music for the ending credits though)

  15. guy says:

    Yeah, the opening sequence is really excellent and does a great job of selling Joker as bad news; he’s chained up with people pointing automatic weapons at him and it’s everyone else who’s intimidated.

  16. JackTheStripper says:

    I really liked Arkham Asylum, but I always considered it a solid 7/10. The problems it has are mainly with shallow mechanics, repetition (how many vents are you gonna open?), rail-roading (only one way to progress), and little challenge (puzzles for children for the most part). But what it does do, it does it very well and is noticeably polished. A perfect example of a simple game done well (and what most indies, considering their limited development capabilities, should strive for).

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      You have a very different definition of 7/10 to most game critics. 7/10 in game critic language is “it’s awful, but at least it isn’t fundamentally broken”.

      • JackTheStripper says:

        Yeah, it gets really hard to judge games by their score when pretty much all of them are 7s, 8s, and 9s. By my rubric, a 6/10 is acceptable and 10/10 is perfect.

        • Lachlan the Mad says:

          Oh yes, you’re absolutely in the right and they’re in the wrong, I’m not disputing that. Most game critics seem to award every game 5 points for free if the game works on their computer and none of its systems are actually broken. Subtracting 5 points from every game review score and pretending it’s a rating out of 5 stars is actually much more informative.

        • Humanoid says:

          With games it’s harder than shorter forms of media to differentiate between low scores. I mean if a game genuinely warrants a 2 or 3/10 score, who’s going to play long enough to split the difference? Whereas rating a movie on the same scale, there’s less chance of the reviewer giving up a tenth of the way into it. I have a mean streak and would just give a game 0/10 in that case, but editors would probably frown on that sort of thing for a professional review.

          • MrGuy says:

            Which is a great argument for why “x out of 10” is a stupid way to rate videogames.

            It’s actually also a good reason why x out of 10 isn’t great for movies. It’s less about whether you CAN meaningfully differentiate between a 2/10 and a 3/10. It’s a question of whether making such a distinction is meaningful for anyone.

            I’m struggling to imagine a situation where I’d be really interested in whether a critic rated a movie 2/10 vs. 3/10. Both ratings mean “There are a few small redeeming qualities, but I really didn’t like the movie.”

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      The thing is though, it feels so good when you get the 3-pronged batclaw and you are just rippin’ out vents all over the place.

  17. Eruanno says:

    It’s weird how my biggest complaint about the Batman Arkham games is Batmans slow-as-butts walking animation and the camera that goes along with it. “I’m Batman and I’m going to walk around all stiffly while the camera hangs around reaaally close behind me so I block a lot of the field of view to the left.”

    That’s actually really my only complaint. Everything else is great.

    • Humanoid says:

      Well that’s fairly natural, ever since the 60s, every new Batman costume has become increasingly elaborate, restrictive, and generally uncomfortable-looking, so it makes sense Batman becomes slower every time. One day he’ll go back to lycra and wonder how he ever lived without it.

      • MrGuy says:

        And then he’ll realize that, unlike in the 60’s, now all his adversaries actually carry firearms and apparently enough bullets to support a small civil war, and realize that maybe the body armor was actually not a terrible idea as he slowly bleeds to death.

        • Mike S. says:

          That sort of appeal to realism doesn’t lead to wearing armor, it leads to not being Batman. (There being no amount of armor that’s actually proof against the concerted effort of dozens of guys with guns if it comes down to it.) The fantasy that is Batman is a lot more about being too fast and smart to tag with a bullet than about being able to withstand them. (That’s the other guy.)

          It’s especially obtrusive in a shared universe full of other people (including his own close allies like Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, etc.) who stick with light outfits.

  18. Vect says:

    The thing about Killer Croc as a guy with a skin condition and scary teeth was that it was used for the Joker comic by Brian Azzarello, which is it’s own one-shot story set in it’s own world. Of course, he’s a big scary black man rather than a big Arnold-looking dude since Killer Croc is actually a black man.

    Also, I’m pretty sure Gordon’s VA is not the one from the animated series.

    The thing about the combat is that it’s very rhythm-based. Button-mashing won’t really help and it’s all about having it flow. That and as an action game, animations are fairly important. Supposedly the game was originally meant to be a straight-up rhythm game at one point.

  19. silver Harloe says:

    I liked the first two Burton-Bat movies, and didn’t like the others that tried to follow his lead. Well, I used to like them, when they came out. I just can’t get into Nicholson anymore. His Joker was the same as his every-one-else-he’s-ever-played and that kinda grates on me in my old age.

    I liked the first two Nolan-Bat movies, and didn’t like the third at all – I just don’t consider them canonical because they were too ‘real’, and Batman isn’t set in reality. But I liked them as “what if” movies.

    I was big into the comics while most of you (save Shamus) weren’t even born yet, but I still consider the animated series to be pretty much the epitome of Batman. I stopped with comics around the end of the century, though, mostly for financial reasons.

  20. thebob288 says:

    I feel insane saying this about a Dc licensed show right now however… The current flash tv show is probably my favorite modern superhero media since the batman cartoon. Its happy its fun and its not afraid of being the flash. Theres a character whos self elected job is coming up with the names for all the supervillians gorilla grodd shows up at one point and the villains are refereed to as a rogues gallery. Barry allens defining character trait as a super hero is not how brilliant at ass-kicking he is (he kind of starts out being terrible at his powers as would I) its how nice of a human being he is. Theres an episode where in the opening hes having a good day and so he just goes around painting peoples houses for them and fixing all their minor problems and I like to think he just does that all the time. Listening to all your praising about this being adult but proud of its origins and getting into the characters and the weird stuff like killer croc i’d just like to say please watch the flash it brings back so many memories of the old justice league and batman cartoons I’d love to see what you guys think about it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I was really surprised by how positive that show is,because in the very opening it says “when I was a kid,my mother was murdered and my father was framed for it”.Yet barry remains such a great cheerful guy.

      The upcoming legends of tomorrow promises to be similar,because one of its leads will be ray palmer,who is so far portrayed as a lovable goof.Funny how such happy spin offs came from the grimdark arrow.

      • Nicholas says:

        I actually really like that they went in the different direction for Flash, because aside from it just being so damn fun it means whenever they do crossovers you get these contrasting worldviews and goals, which leads to more interesting situations.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Indeed.Seeing barry react to arrow torturing a guy was marvelous.Also,the only time I liked oliver was when he guest starred at flash,where he was legit badass.

        • Mike S. says:

          The conflicting worldviews and different MOs and power levels also essentially let them do Batman/Superman riffs with the serial numbers filed off.

        • Bloodsquirrel says:

          The thing about Flash that’s driving me mad is how absurdly bad Barry is at using his speed. I knew going in that there was going to have to be some contrivances to keep Barry from instantly winning every fight, but they’re not even trying to make it plausible. Barry is so fast that he can move people around the city before they even realize what’s going on, but he can’t take Captain Cold’s stupid gun away?

          It’s getting so lazy that my frustration with it is overcoming the ‘fun’ of the show.

          • Welcome to “why speedsters are hard.” Most of the Flash (even in the comics) is him apparently forgetting what he’s been able to do in previous issues/episodes. These include running up buildings, vibrating through things, whether or not he can be tripped, whether or not his brain runs as fast as his feet, etc.

      • Humanoid says:

        “when I was a kid,my mother was murdered and my father was framed for it”.Yet barry remains such a great cheerful guy.

        Taken without context, my detective instinct concludes that Barry was the one whodunit.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          You wouldnt be completely incorrect in that assessment.

          He went back in time to duke it out with the reverse flash,but when he decided to get his younger self out of harms way,reverse flash killed his mother.However,he then traveled back in time once more(its complicated)in order to save his mother,but in the end decided not to do it.It makes sense when you consider how the third(well,to be precise,the first)time he went back in time and fix a bad thing,he caused other stuff to go bad.

  21. Artur CalDazar says:

    I am so excited for another season of largely positive spoiler warning!

  22. Grudgeal says:

    Just to reinforce was Mumbles was saying about Harley: Arleen Sorkin’s voiced Harley in this game, just as she did in the DCAU. Tara Strong took over for her for Arkham City and Injustice and has generally been the ‘go-to gal’ for the character since, though Sorkin also voiced Harley in DC universe online.

    And for the record, I don’t think I could have heard the difference if I hadn’t been explicitly informed. Tara is an incredibly versatile, strong voice actor.

    • Mumbles says:

      The fact that I couldn’t remember when Arleen quit is proof of how great Tara is :3

      • el_b says:

        troy baker in origins did a pretty good impersonation of hamills joker, but a bit ‘darker’ sounding…grittier, especially with his song at the end. in the end though it WAS just an impersonation, as his va, hamill is a pretty hard act to beat.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I liked this spin on Joker. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the Hamill Joker but I like seeing riffs on these characters and seeing Joker as a little more rough and thuggish and less of a fop kind of puts me in the mind of Ledger’s Joker.

          I see this as a Joker who is establishing how dangerous he is so that he can later toy with our expectations by being more unnervingly affable.

        • modus0 says:

          To me, Troy Baker’s Joker almost sounded like a younger version of the character (as it should, with Origins being a prequel), but with the occasional bit where he sounds like Mark Hamill giving a plausible progression to the later (timeline-wise) Joker.

  23. Henson says:

    See, I have a problem with the end of this intro sequence. Batman follows a fully-restrained Joker deep into Arkham, feeling that something is off, very suspicious, ready to burst into action…and then lets him go off with just ONE GUARD. This feels so contrived.

    Yes, I know that Boles let this happen, but does Batman really not see a problem here? Does Arkham not have strict rules about escorting dangerous criminals? Anyone else on duty gonna chime in about how stupid this is? No?

    • Majere says:

      Arkham’s incompetence is kind of an immutable aspect of the Batman canon in all of its incarnations so I never really question it anymore because it’s just a rule of the setting by this point.

      • Henson says:

        You may find this strange, but I’ve never seen the Arkham staff as incompetent. Overconfident sometimes, sure, (“Dr. Crane, escape the tightest security ward in existence? Impossible!”) but when something goes wrong, it seems more due to the master criminals outsmarting them than straight out incompetence. Here, it doesn’t feel like Joker hasn’t outsmarted the guards at all. He’s taken advantage of a very obvious, stupid mistake. One more guard, and this whole plan is over before it begins.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Not sure if the whole plan would be in tatters – Harley has control of the doors by that stage, and all the Blackgate Penitentiary mooks are there ready to rock ‘n’ roll. So, even if they’d kept The Joker trussed up like Hannibal Lecter until he was in his cell (which would certainly make rather more sense from the guards’ point of view!), the overall plan would still have been able to go ahead as, er, planned.

          • Steven Jensen says:

            A simple (although less cinematic/exciting) solution would be simply just just the light’s off, have the Joker’s shout “Honey i’m home!”, have you hear a few man giggling quietly, a muffled sound of the guard & Doctor and then turn the lights back on showing all the convicts already inside the arena, the joker free and the 2 staff members knocked out and Batman breaks the glass and jumps in.
            And this kinda boring solution would cover a few of the problems mentioned by Henson: let’s say there were instead 6 guards instead of 1, there are 12 convicts so it makes sense for them to lose. If the Joker was still in the Hannibal thingie then the convicts freed him up. Batman would probably be okay with not going besides the Jokers since 6 guards seems reasonable (not for Joker standards, but by regular convict standards)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      This was already deep inside the facility however,at a point where there the opportunities for escape are minimal.Of course,joker didnt want to escape,but rather take over,which is not something one plans for.

  24. Hal says:

    Wow, one of the rare Spoiler Warning games that I’ve actually played. (I don’t play a lot of video games these days. Stupid adulthood and its stupid responsibilities.)

    My major complaint with this game was the collectibles. I spent more time hunting down Riddler clues, audio recordings, and the various other odds and ends than on the actual story itself. That dichotomy is really driving me away from a lot of games these days; the completionist in me can’t leave those things untouched, especially because you might get some fun lore or a cool item for collecting everything. But as I said above, play time is limited, and I resent all the time I spend tromping through the same corridors over and over, poking at stuff to figure out how to get the doodad I know is there.

    It’s gotten to the point where I’ll just avoid games altogether when I know that’s a significant part of the gameplay. (Achievements play a similar role, oddly enough.)

    • Taellosse says:

      I solved this problem by making peace with using online guides. If I’ve gotten most of the way through a game like this and haven’t found all the doodads (and I care enough to bother at all, which isn’t always the case) I pull up a guide in another window/my laptop (if on console) and follow it to find what’s missing. Saves time and avoids frustrating me so much with hunting crap.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,guides are pretty much a must for me whenever a game has collectibles.Especially if it doesnt allow you to come back to a level after you finish it.

        • Taellosse says:

          Oh, if it’s a level-based game with collectibles, odds are I won’t even bother getting them all. I’ll look, but I won’t beat myself up about it if I miss some, and I probably won’t go back later, guide or no, to fill in those I missed. I just don’t have that kind of patience anymore. Open-world games, or semi-open ones like Arkham, I may be thorough with a guide if I like it enough, but level-based ones? Forget it. Too frustrating even with a guide.

      • James Bennett says:

        Ever since the hidden packages in GTA 3 I have been totally okay with using guides. The problem with using guides is, assuming you’ve been picking up collectables as you go, by the time you get out the guide you’re not sure which items you’ve already collected. So you’ve got a list of 100 (or whatever) collectable locations, with ambiguous and sometimes confusing directions about where to find it. You’ve found 60 of them already, but you’re not sure which 60. So you follow the directions to each item and if it’s not there you ask yourself, “Did I already pick this one up, or am I just not following the directions properly?”

        It seems like in every game that has collectables, there’s at least one item that’s a pain in the ass to find even with a walkthrough.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Yep – and if you’ve been doing that, and found a good number of them, it makes it even more fun when Riddler wails to Batman:

        How are you doing this?!? Are you looking it up on the internet!?!

        • Viktor says:

          That was my favorite line of the game because I wasn’t. I’d made it that far without a guide, so Riddler there is sure I’m cheating when really I’m just smarter than him. It’s a perfect Batman moment.

          (I finished the game without touching IGN at all. I’m pretty good at collectible hunting, but I rarely have the patience for it. Here it was easy enough and I WANTED to beat Riddler legit.)

        • Ledel says:

          It was another one of those jabs the developers were making at the gamer his/herself. It was to make you feel like, if you were using the internet to find them all, then you were really letting the Riddler win. You weren’t solving his riddles, someone else did and handed it to you on a silver platter.

          I was starting to get frustrated trying to find the collectibles, but when I heard that line I went another 10-20 before I started considering looking them up again.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Nice! – I hadn’t thought of it that way (@ both Viktor & Ledel). Pretty cool that the line works either way round! – although your way is certainly much more Batman…

          (So… “My” Batman?:

          http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/3/39027/1291428-1286410_1284162_1106802_129068914885200491_super_super.jpg)

    • James Bennett says:

      I know what you mean about the collectables. I spent a lot of time hunting down random collectables. It’s driving me crazy watching Josh run past all of those joker teeth. I spent so much time wandering through levels trying to hunt down the last two or three remaining joker teeth.

      Also, I’m pretty sure you need to snap a picture of the question mark in the Riddler’s cell. I don’t think you can do that yet, so even if you know about it ahead of time, you have to remember to come back to this room later.

      Despite my gripes about collectables I loved the crap out of this game (and City). It’s the first beat-em-up type game where I actually bothered to get good at the combat. After I beat the game I spent a lot of time doing the various challenge missions. It was a lot of fun.

    • modus0 says:

      The best thing to do for the collectibles in the Arkham games is leave them until you’ve finished the story/gotten all of the gear upgrades.

      Because they love putting things behind barriers that you need some gadget the game doesn’t give you until about 3/4 the way through the story.

  25. Grudgeal says:

    Personally, my main issue with this intro sequence is how Gordon is built like a linebacker. I mean, sure, he’s a police officer and looks positively skinny compared to Batman. But he still looks more like a professional athlete than a 50+ year old man, and considering the Joker and Zasz it’s not like this engine *forces* all the male models to look like beefcakes.

    • Taellosse says:

      He’s a bit more heavily muscled than is typical, but Gordon is usually depicted as a fairly hefty guy (smaller than Batman, but no shrimp, and not out of shape at all), so this isn’t TOO outlandish.

      • Grudgeal says:

        Yeah. I guess I was just expecting him to look like his animated counterpart, since everyone else (except Killer Croc) did.

        I guess that having *that* be my irrational hang-up just shows how generally well-done the rest of the sequence was.

        • Taellosse says:

          Well, he kind of does, actually – it’s just that the TAS art style is so simplified and angular that he doesn’t look musclebound in that, but then hardly anybody does, even the really massive guys.

    • Vect says:

      I think it’s just because he’s using what seems to be a default model for the males, which all seem pretty heavily built.

  26. Neko says:

    I know it’s the first episode and everyone has things they wanna say; in fact, I love how this season looks like everybody’s gonna have a lot of really awesome stuff to say. And I know that with Ventrillo, cross-talk is inevitable. And for all I know, this has been addressed in the very next episode already. But Rutskarn wanted to say something about not liking the combat, and not being a particularly huge fan of batman, but kept getting cut off. I just want to hear the end of that thought! Don’t leave me hanging!

  27. Daimbert says:

    I knew that you’d do this to me … and, yet, I let you do this to me anyway.

    Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are games that I have for the PS3 and am intending on playing at some point. Due to changes in schedule, I’m revamping when I play games and so what games that I’m planning on playing. I was thinking about putting Arkham Asylum on the list … but then decided to slot Record of Agarest War Zero — which I had already restarted playing — and Lego Star Wars into the available slots. As I did so, I read or remembered that Spoiler Warning was going to do this, and while I don’t watch the episodes I DO read the articles and often the comments, and knew that this would make me want to play the game. And it did. But I still won’t.

    Anyway: Damn you Neo-Featherman!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      If you are afraid of spoilers,you shouldnt be.Asylum is pretty much your straight batman/joker story,no super secret twists or whatever(which doesnt make it bad I must say).Plus,the gameplay will still be fun even if you know the story.Its the city that can be spoiled.

      • Daimbert says:

        No, it’s not about spoilers. I generally don’t mind getting spoiled, but then again I’m a person who can watch, read or play a game over and over again many, many times. It’s mostly that when the articles and comments talk about the good things in the game and the things that were fun, I get tempted to play it and, well, see that for myself. So, essentially, it’s kinda a “That WOULD be cool! I should … oh, wait, Agarest War first. Yeah.”

  28. Kian says:

    Man, I’m going to actually have to play the game now. I’ve had it in my steam library for ages.

  29. Taellosse says:

    I’m excited – it’s been quite a while since there was a Spoiler Warning I actually would watch (I only watch when it’s a game I’ve played – otherwise I spend every episode trying to follow the game and missing the commentary, then having to rewind to pick up the commentary. When I’m already familiar with the game, I can let the dialogue and events in the game flow by more easily). Tomb Raider was the last one, I believe.

  30. WILL says:

    Long overdue! I hope the Batman nerd discussion keeps going, this is the most optimistic I’ve seen you guys in a while.

    Having a full cast is great too!

  31. Thomas says:

    I really do prefer Arkham Asylum so much over City. Asylum is just a much smarter neater design.

    For example, compare this intro sequence to City’s intro sequence. In City it’s absolute rubbish that doesn’t convey emotion, it doesn’t set up anything interesting and it doesn’t convey the setting because City’s setting is just terrible in a way No Man’s Land wasn’t.

    Arkham City is The Dark Knight Rises of the Arkham trilogy, it might be more fun, but you can’t get anything from it if you pay attention.

    • Phantos says:

      I think you’re exaggerating just a tad. I didn’t love everything about Arkham City, but I would never think to compare it to the 2nd-worst thing that ever happened to the Batman franchise. I think overall it was a much less idiotic presentation. At least Arkham City’s third-act twist made sense and was actually cool.

      It’s such a good twist, I actually wish Rises had used it.

  32. Phantos says:

    One thing I noticed that was odd about the opening to this game: The Joker’s line: “Now let’s get this party started.” at about 12:00. He says it very slow and quiet in the game.

    In the trailer, it sounded a lot different(00:50). Louder. More menacing.

    I wonder why they changed it.

  33. Phantos says:

    Wait so…

    It’s okay for Poison Ivy to be half-naked as a practical means of distracting stupid, horny dudes, but when Harley is half-naked or fanservicey in Nu52, that’s… bad?

    I’m confused… Halp. D:

    • Otters34 says:

      Sure, comrade.

      See, it fits Poison Ivy here because her whole schtick in this incarnation is the contrast between her appearing to be a human, but actually a murderous plant-person who wants to kill all animal life. It’s a dichotomy between her outward and inward natures.

      Harley Quinn is dressing up in this game for the Joker, because she’s still in the ‘obsessed with the Joker’ phase. Same reason she wore her clown suit and white paint in the old show, because that way she fit in with the Joker’s gang.
      Harley in the modern comics dressing up in…whatever that thing is, was because she was a female character in the middle of a bunch of men and they needed ink-tits.

  34. Dragmire says:

    I’m so so SO curious if the tone of this seasons’ commentary will mirror Bioshock’s.

    Good luck Mumbles, maintaining group positivity may be a challenge by the conclusion of the game, but don’t give up!

  35. SlothfulCobra says:

    Once you get a hang of the freeflowing combat, between that, the pacing, the setting, and the story, Arkham Asylum is pretty close to a perfect game. I still like it a lot.

    Arkham City always rubbed me the wrong way. Large parts of its story are kind of feel like garbage. The pacing is pretty nonexistant since you always have a bunch of things you have to go do, between random mook encounters, sidequests, and Riddler physical challenges, the game runs you ragged with no real downtime. The city is hard to properly navigate since there are no real intact roads and you can always easily blunder into a hive of jerks with guns on accident, and the aesthetic of an 18th century manor makes much less sense in a modern city.

    It still has all the technical ingredients of Arkham Asylum with some more gadgets, but whenever I think of playing it again, it seems like such a hassle.

  36. Steven Jensen says:

    Yeah Chris is right, i’ve never heard of anybody named Steve Blum other than a character played by Spike Spiegel whenever he is not hunting baddies in space while being the coolest person in the galaxy of awesome…

  37. Ledel says:

    Since we’re talking about combat can we talk about all the praise these games get for the combat? People talk about it like the developers built the combat up from scratch, but when you look at it, it’s more like they took the Assassin’s Creed combat and cranked it up to 2-3X speed. You get surrounded by several mooks at once, they only attack you one at a time, and counters are the best way to handle almost every situation. Arkham definitely does it better, but Assassin’s Creed laid all the groundwork and suffered all the birthing pains of this combat style.

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