Arkham City Part 16: Batman v. Rubble

By Shamus
on May 11, 2017
Filed under:
Batman

As Batman punches his way into the steel mill, Clayface-Joker gives a televised speech to his goons, who don’t know about the “two Jokers” gag. To them (and to the player) it looks like Joker has been fully cured. Since Harley Quinn stole the cure a couple of scenes ago, it’s reasonable to expect he would have used it by now. But there is a little clue for the player if they stick around and watch the entire speech instead of jogging off to give free naps to the next batch of goons. At one point the view shakes as the cameraman coughs, and the cough is clearly Joker’s voice.

Batman has to open some doors, climb over some puzzles, punch some goons, ambush some snipers, and generally engage in the sort of stuff that makes this game so fun to play. Near the end of the obstacle course Batman runs into Harley Quinn, who has been bound and gagged in a side-passage.

The game doesn’t make it at all clear what happened. Did Joker tie her up for laughs? Which one? And why?

For the record: Batman isn`t hitting Harley in this shot. He`s just pulled a piece of tape off her mouth so she can give us exposition. Sadly, she doesn`t explain how she got here, which is kind of important for understanding the story.

For the record: Batman isn`t hitting Harley in this shot. He`s just pulled a piece of tape off her mouth so she can give us exposition. Sadly, she doesn`t explain how she got here, which is kind of important for understanding the story.

What I think actually happened is that Batman’s quasi-girlfriend Talia ambushed Harley and stole the cure. The game doesn’t really explain this, and there’s no way for first-time
players to guess at this point because Talia hasn’t shown up yet. As far as the audience knows, she’s still sitting in Ra’s Al Ghul’s lair, pouting.

The dialog has already made it sound like Joker has obtained the cure, which means the audience naturally assumes that Harley delivered the cure and was tied up afterwards. Which won’t make any sense to them. She’s in the middle of Joker’s lair, so it seems like she must be in this position on Joker’s wishes. Harley doesn’t say why she’s tied up, which makes this scene a bit of a head-scratcher the first time through.

At the end of the steel mill, Batman meets up with Clayface-Joker, who looks healthy.

From Joker’s point of view: Harley went out to steal the cure but never returned. But then he decided to act like he had it anyway? And then Batman comes in and demands the cure, and Clayface-Joker doesn’t think this is strange? Or maybe Harley delivered the cure, and then Talia somehow stole it back before Joker managed to take it, and so Joker… tied up Harley?

Whatever. The while plot revolves around this vial of blue science juice and the story has it changing hands entirely off-screen and doesn’t tell us about it until later. Drama requires clarity, and this isn’t clear. It’s confusing one way before you know about the two Jokers gagWhy is Harley tied up in the middle of Joker’s base after bringing him the cure? and confusing a different wayWhy is Joker pretending to be cured when (from his point of view) Batman already took it back? after you know about the twist. You can invent some fanfiction after the fact to untangle this, but it’s still kinda muddled.

At any rate, Batman and Clayface-Joker have a huge brawl with goons and weapons and even a Titan monsterWho, I should note, isn’t dead of toxin poisoning.. It’s one of my favorite fights in the game. Which is good, because I hate the scene that follows. In fact, this is basically the point where all the cut corners and missing pieces of the Joker plot comes back to bite the writer and the whole thing starts to unravel.

You fight a Titan, one of the Abramovici Twins, a ton of goons with various weapons, and Joker. Joker is interesting because he fights like a regular goon but he`s immune to all the takedown moves.
You fight a Titan, one of the Abramovici Twins, a ton of goons with various weapons, and Joker. Joker is interesting because he fights like a regular goon but he's immune to all the takedown moves.

After Batman wins the fight, Protocol 10 begins. Hugo Strange orders his attack helicopters to do just what it says on the tin, and the first salvo of missiles brings down the ceiling where Batman and Clayface-Joker are fighting. Some rubble randomly lands on Batman and pins him. Clayface-Joker skips over to finish him off. Talia enters and offers Clayface-Joker access to the Lazarus Pit in exchange for letting Batman live. Clayface-Joker accepts. She surrenders her sword to him. As she says goodbye to Batman she slyly points to the tracking deviceIt’s actually Batman’s tracker, which he put onto one of her guards earlier in the evening. on her jacket, indicating she expects him to follow.

This scene simply does not work. It’s driven by contrivance, it doesn’t make sense, and every character is out of character. Moreover, some of them seem to have read the script. Let’s look at the participants and see how the story fails each of them…

Batman

Batman is trapped and can do nothing but passively watch the cutscene play out. I know just how he feels.

Batman is trapped and can do nothing but passively watch the cutscene play out. I know just how he feels.

This story has handled Batman very poorly so far, but this scene seems to hold the very idea of Batman in contempt. Batman – a character built around the idea of preparedness, a guy normally thinking so far ahead his behavior is almost supernaturally prescient – spends the entire night sidetracked and in the dark before having other characters solve the central mystery and explain it to him over the phone. After that he gets randomly pinned by rubble. It would be okay if Batman was outsmarted or outmaneuvered by Joker, but losing due to random bad luck diminishes both our hero and our villain.

Forcing a player to win in gameplay and then forcing them to lose in a cutscene is already a clumsy and unsatisfying way to resolve a conflict in any game, but having it happen to Batman by random chance is a triple foul. It negates a hard-won player victory, it drags Batman even further from his defining attributes, and it makes it look like Joker didn’t have a plan.

To twist the knife a little more: When Talia offers Clayface-Joker immortality, Batman blurts out, “Talia no! He’ll be unstoppable!” Because of this, Clayface-Joker “knows” she’s telling the truth and accepts the deal. Batman, who is usually portrayed as stoic, thoughtful, and a master strategist, is now a dumb blabbermouth. The writer couldn’t stop at making him impotent, they had to make him incompetent.

This writer seems to be incapable of giving Joker (either of them) smart plans, so their only tool for creating setbacks is to have Batman behave foolishly. We might be able to tolerate this scene if this was just one moment in the story, but after a long night of having Batman get blindsided, distracted, and tricked, it feels like they’ve destroyed the core attributes of this character to serve their story.

Once Talia leaves, why does Batman continue to sit there like a lemon? Why doesn’t the scene at least depict him trying and failing to free himself using gadgets? Why doesn’t he tell Oracle about the situation he’s in? Why doesn’t he call on Robin for help?

Talia Al Ghul

Hey Talia, aren`t you a ninja? Why not just shank this guy, give Batman the cure, and win? Isn`t killing bad guys like, your whole deal? WHY WOULD YOU SURRENDER TO JOKER? Dunce.

Hey Talia, aren`t you a ninja? Why not just shank this guy, give Batman the cure, and win? Isn`t killing bad guys like, your whole deal? WHY WOULD YOU SURRENDER TO JOKER? Dunce.

Talia just happens to be here at this critical moment. Yes, she’s actually just got done stealing the cure from Harley Quinn, but there’s no way for the player to know that at this point. If this was the only questionable thing in the scene this wouldn’t be a problem, but in such a traffic jam of contrivances it looks like another sloppy shortcut on the part of the writer. The fact that it’s (sort of) explained later doesn’t save the scene in the moment. Also, having her drop in from the raftersThis room is clearly depicted as having a lot of dark catwalks and such overhead. would make this less goofy. As it stands, she sort of casually walks in from nowhere in particular, which makes her appearance feel even more random.

She’s a trained Ninja. She’s got a sword. As far as she can tell Joker is armed only with a knife. She’s dedicated her life to the League of Assassins, who believe they can save the world by killing criminals. Joker – the worst criminal of them all – is threatening the life of her beloved, and she’s going to hand over her sword? And also offer him immortality? Why wouldn’t she at least threaten him first? Why not simply attack? Later on she does try to kill Joker, so that’s clearly her long-term plan. So why is she offering this deal now? Sure, Clayface-Joker had a knife to Batman’s throat, but he took it away as soon as they began talking, long before she handed over her sword.

Even if we accept the notion that she would rather bargain than fight, it makes no sense for Talia to offer Joker the Lazarus Pit like this. It would make much more sense if she tried to bargain with Joker as if he was a common criminal. She would offer him money, weapons, technology, secrets, and he would refuse them all. Then in an act of desperation she might blurt out the Lazarus Pit at the last moment before Joker killed Batman. That would show just how much she’s misunderstanding and underestimating Joker, which would make for good character development all around. But instead she just opens negotiations with her greatest secret?

Why does Talia hint for Batman to follow her when he’s clearly trapped under the rubble and helpless? What’s to stop some random goons from finishing him off after she leaves? What’s to stop him dying when the gunships level this building? Did she read the script and know that Catwoman was going to jump in and save the day?

How is she planning to cross the water with Joker? The writer seems to have lost track of Protocol 10 here, but Arkham City is still under missile assault from attack helicopters. It’s a war zone out there. And Joker and Talia are going to sail off across the icy water together in a boat that neither of them have?

Clayface-Joker

Batman isn`t the only person to get easily distracted from core goals. Clayface is also having trouble staying on task.

Batman isn`t the only person to get easily distracted from core goals. Clayface is also having trouble staying on task.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense that Clayface is going to just stab Batman after this fight. Wasn’t this whole “pretend to be Joker” thing leading up to something? Didn’t they have a plan? When was he going to do the big reveal? This fight was supposed to be the big showdown at the end of a long con with two Jokers. If Talia hadn’t come along and stupidly surrendered, what was going to be his punchline to all of this? Was Clayface just going to shank Batman without revealing the joke? What was the point of this whole scheme then?

Okay, you can argue that maybe Joker had a plan (that we are never shown) but Clayface breaks from that plan when he sees he has a chance to kill Batman. But if mindless bloodlust has distracted him from his immediate goal then why would he turn around and accept Talia’s offer?

It makes no sense for Clayface to accept this deal, since he’s already immortalI mean he was a middle-aged actor back in the 60’s, which would mean he’s almost 90 now despite showing no signs of aging. Then again, the timeline of DC Comics is kinda strange. Given that he’s giving up his greatest goal to try it, you’d think he’d worry this new scheme might not pan out. on account of being made of clay. After an entire career of losing to Batman he’s finally got his nemesis pinned and helpless, and he’s going to give it all up for immortality he doesn’t need, even if he believed it existed?

Joker

The real Joker doesn`t appear in this scene, but he is here just before the fight. Presumably he`s hiding just off-stage somewhere, watching this whole thing play out.

The real Joker doesn`t appear in this scene, but he is here just before the fight. Presumably he`s hiding just off-stage somewhere, watching this whole thing play out.

Technically Joker isn’t in this scene, but I anticipate that some people will want to defend Clayface’s behavior by arguing that he was just “in character”. As an actor, he was playing the Joker and this is what the Joker would do.

But no. Even if we try to excuse his behavior as a maniacal dedication to method acting, it still doesn’t work because Joker wouldn’t take this deal either.

“I want to live forever” has never been part of Joker’s mandate. In fact, he’s always willing to risk his life to play a crazy game with Batman. Joker doesn’t want to live forever. He wants to play this game with Batman. In some versions of the character he wants Batman to kill him. So it makes no sense for him to give up his prize for personal health and security.

Everyone Else

Even the rubble itself is nonsense! It’s a slab of concrete the size of a refrigerator, and it lands directly on Batman after falling at least two stories. Yet he takes no harm whatsoever. He’s pinned in such a way that he can breathe and he’s uninjured, and yet he can’t free himself using any of his tools or his free arm. To paraphrase a famous nitpicker, that is a very specific amount of heavy.

What are Alfred and Oracle doing? They never call Batman to check up on him? He doesn’t contact them?

Did Hugo Strange get distracted? He ordered his men to begin Protocol 10 by destroying the steel mill. As far as we can tell they hit the place once and then flew away without making any effort to finish the job.

What’s Robin doing right now? Based on what the story has told us, I guess he’s sitting in a waiting room at Gotham General Hospital, calling to nurses as they rush by, “Hey, is there any news on those 2,000 people? How are they doing? Found a cure yet? No? Do you need anything punched? No? Can you get me a pillow? Or a magazine? Oh, you’re busy? Sorry. I’ll let you get back to making your rounds. Thanks anyway.”

Fix This Scene

Let`s Make A Deal!

Let`s Make A Deal!

This scene doesn’t work. It’s driven by contrivance, two important plot details (Talia and the cure) seem to be out-of-place and won’t make sense until later, and everyone is either dumb or out-of-character. It’s not the only thing wrong with the story, but it is the greatest concentration of wrongness. It didn’t need to be.

Here is an example of how it could be fixed:

Before the fight, Joker has three doors, in the style of Let’s Make a Deal. Joker tries to get Batman to pick a door. Batman, always the straight man, wants nothing to do with it and refuses to play. So Joker picks for him, complaining how Batman is never any fun. He opens door #1 to reveal: The huge crowd of bad guys that you fight in this scene.

Once Batman beats those guys down, he picks up the Joker and beats on him a bit more. Joker seems to acquiesce, and says, “You win Batman. Door number 2 it is.” Door #2 opens to reveal Talia, tied up. Joker explains that he found her sneaking around the place. He then taunts Batman, “I’ll bet you’re really wishing you’d picked door #2 now!” Batman tosses him aside and goes to free Talia, only to have a comical metal cage dropped over him.

Joker laughs so hard he can hardly breathe, “You’re so predictable.”

Batman does the growly bravado thing, promising that this cage won’t stop him. He reaches down to lift his cage away, and electricity shoots through it. A sign on top lights up: JOY BUZZER.

The Joker laughs and makes a few awful, obvious electricity puns. Batman collapses. The gameplay mechanics have already established that Batman can’t destroy or use his tools on electrified iron bars, so this trap shouldn’t feel like a cheat to the player. The Joker plays his final card:

Joker: “Do you want to see what was behind door number three? I’ll show you if you say please.”

Batman: “I’m done playing your games, Joker.”

Joker: Close enough! (Pushes a button.)

Door #3 opens, and we see an oversized revolver on a pedestal. Joker takes it and makes some more comments about how Batman is going to play his game, one way or another.

The revolver only has one bullet. He asks Batman to choose who gets it: Himself, or “the girl”. Batman quickly chooses himself, while Talia pleads with him not to. “Save yourself, beloved. Then you can Avenge me. You know you must do this.” (She’s always saying overblown stuff like this. Earlier she was trying to entice Batman to kill her father with similar language. It’s kind of her thing.)

Joker raises an eyebrow at “beloved”, and realizes he hasn’t just captured some rando Bat-ally.

Joker does some more gameshow patter and tries to persuade Batman to let her take the bullet. “Who will stop me when you’re gone, hmmmm?” Batman is resolute. Just before Joker pulls the trigger, Talia, in desperation, offers him the Lazarus Pit. Joker, continuing his “Let’s make a Deal” game-show schtick, accepts this offer.

It’s not perfect, but it fixes a lot of the problems with this scene. It shows Joker had a game in mind. The game show angle works well with Mr. Showbusiness Clayface. For the player, having Batman outsmarted by Joker is much more satisfying than having him defeated by rubble. It fixes Talia’s nonsensical behavior. It creates a situation where Batman would reasonably be trapped and in peril but not injured, which makes for a better setup for Catwoman to rescue him. The electrified metal cage gives a hand-wave excuseMumble mumble FARADAY CAGE science something. for why Batman can’t contact his allies on the radio.

There’s a lot of fun you could have with Joker’s patter and a lot of cool ideas you could play around with in the back-and-forth between Joker and Batman, but I don’t want to bloat this into tedious fanfiction. I’m just trying to illustrate that this scene didn’t need to be such a disaster.

Story-wise, this scene is easily the worst bit of the game. I suppose it’s good that it’s here and not at the very end.

Then again, the ending has a few problems of its own.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Why is Harley tied up in the middle of Joker’s base after bringing him the cure?

[2] Why is Joker pretending to be cured when (from his point of view) Batman already took it back?

[3] Who, I should note, isn’t dead of toxin poisoning.

[4] It’s actually Batman’s tracker, which he put onto one of her guards earlier in the evening.

[5] This room is clearly depicted as having a lot of dark catwalks and such overhead.

[6] I mean he was a middle-aged actor back in the 60’s, which would mean he’s almost 90 now despite showing no signs of aging. Then again, the timeline of DC Comics is kinda strange. Given that he’s giving up his greatest goal to try it, you’d think he’d worry this new scheme might not pan out.

[7] Mumble mumble FARADAY CAGE science something.


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20201959 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Joshua says:

    “This writer seems to be incapable of giving Joker (either of them) smart plans, so their only tool for creating setbacks is to have Batman behave foolishly.”

    I’ve complained about this numerous times in regards to Movies/TV: The writers want the villains to outsmart the protagonists but the writers themselves aren’t that smart and can’t think of clever plans. So, they just lower the IQ of the protagonists instead. I guess it’s the norm more than the exception. How many times do we actually get to see the heroes being smart but the villains being smarter?

    • Primogenitor says:

      I wonder if its that the writers can’t be clever, or if the writers think that the audience won’t understand something clever (which in turn means the writer hasn’t handled it well).

      • Joshua says:

        This is a more specific version of the Idiot Ball. If the Idiot Ball in general is to have a plot contrivance happen only because a character is acting dumb, this is a specific scenario where the writers want Character A to outsmart Character B, and resort to making the second character dumber rather than the first character smarter.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      Man, don’t even get me started. That kind of BS has completely ruined The Flash for me this season. And it made me very, very angry in a couple of episodes of the last one.

    • Boobah says:

      Gargoyles and David Xanatos. For the first couple seasons he’s their primary antagonist, and while he has his schemes that the heroes foil, he’s always got multiple plans and multiple objectives for all of them. So after the climax and the falling action from the protagonists’ perspective, we finish with Xanatos cataloging all the ways the episode’s events made his position stronger despite the heroes punching away the scheme they found.

      Because that’s the real trick: you need the heroes to succeed, but you can’t let them stop the villain’s Plan before the end of the arc.

  2. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Wait… did you just switch out a post meant for Friday with this one?

  3. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I actually never talked to Harley. I assumed that her tied up was a trap that I was meant to fall into, so I ignored her and went straight on to the joker.

    I guess you can excuse the Joker acting as if he has the cure by saying that he doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s lost it. If everyone thinks he has it, they won’t be trying to stop him from getting it. If anyone does claim to have it, he’ll know that they’re not just telling an easy lie. Keeping your enemies confused is just general good policy.

  4. silver Harloe says:

    Aww, snap. I just wrote a longish reply to a post you hid/deleted (perhaps you released it on a time frame you weren’t happy with?) and when I will freaking learn to write my posts in notepad so I don’t lose them when something hiccoughs on me? I hate hate hate when I spend 20 minutes editing four paragraphs and they all poof :(

    To be clear: I’m not blaming you for anything. You absolutely can and should be able to delete or recall posts at your whim. I’m annoyed with myself for never learning.

  5. Zekiel says:

    If I recall correctly, using BatVision during the fight with all the goons and Joker reveals that Joker doesn’t have a skeleton making it a rather big clue to the fact that he’s not who he is claiming to be. (Of course you’re unlikely to using BatVision during combat so most people would miss this, including me if I hadn’t read about it somewhere)

    Also – everything you said about the stupid character actions in this scene is pretty much spot on.

    My only explanation for Talia not just trying to stab Joker is that she actually isn’t a ninja herself. (I don’t think she ever does anything ninja-y in this game.) But then she does carry a sword and why would she do that if she’s no good at using it?

  6. Syal says:

    I don’t know much about Clayface as a character, or how well-known the Leqgue of Shadows is to Gotham as a whole, but if an unknown person suddenly tried to change my mind with a previously unheard-of superpower, I might accept on the basis of finding out exactly who they are and whether they’re part of something bigger.

  7. Scampi says:

    At the end of the steel mill, Batman meets up with Clayface-Joker, who looks healthy.

    Actually, I found it quite obvious that both Jokers are present, as the Joker “in the mirror” (apparently behind a kind of window or something alike) looks embarrassingly sick but the one turning around was completely healthy by appearance. Also it’s visible their movement is not exactly in sync, Clayface Joker always lags a bit behind real Joker’s movements AND his clothes are not mirrored: for example his flower is on the wrong side when he turns around, so he didn’t even expend the effort of preparing his costume properly…what a shitty actor…

    • Neil D says:

      It’s really an indication of how little I expect from games, that when I saw that the first time I just mentally shrugged, and thought “wow, idiots used the wrong character model”. In a way, it made the final reveal more impressive – “oh, I see – I’m the idiot!”. If I’d given the creators a little more credit (and I really should have, based on Arkham Asylum), I might have figured it out.

      • Falcon02 says:

        I’m constantly impressed by the level of effort the developers went through.
        Shamus is able to highlight so many cases where they went the extra effort to differentiate between Clayface-Joker and real-Joker before the reveal what I was completely oblivious to on my playthrough. I only played through it once, but this series is making me consider another play through.

        For example the simple camera-man cough Shamus mentioned… I didn’t even give it a second thought on my playthrough. But it required them to put the thought into putting such a small thing in the script and Mark Hamil read both sides differently…

  8. The whole of Arkham City feels a lot more video-gamey compared to Assylum, which is fine because that atmosphere sort of works with a comic book story, but this part always felt worse than the rest. I didn’t even mind the contrivances for the most part but the Joker (who you don’t know is Clayface at the time) immediately buying into the whole Lazarus Pit offer felt a special sort of stupid.

  9. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    My only problem with the suggested version of the scene is that it falls into another problem: cutscene bullets. The player is constantly shot throughout the game, but THIS gun and THIS bullet will be fatal. Trust us. Examples of cutscene bullets for illustration’s sake:

    *SPOILERS*
    -Uncharted 2. Nathan being shot once in a cutscene is a TREMENDOUS setback that nearly kills him. Throughout the rest of the game, being shot is something that is cured by squatting and scowling a bit.
    -Final Fantasy 7 Crisis Core: Zach commonly fights enemy mooks with assault rifles as a basic enemy type. They shoot him repeatedly at point blank range as a basic attack that is completely nonthreatening. At the end of the game, being shot repeatedly (to be fair… thousands of times) wounds Zach, then damages his gear, then kills him.
    -Assassin’s Creed III: At various moments, Connor takes special damage from cutscenes that hurts more and cripples you as opposed to gameplay damage which never does this.

    • Scampi says:

      By now I got used to the idea (annoying as it is) that all gameplay does not depict the supposed actual events of any game but only an idealized version of the events game designers really imagine take place.
      Why does Batman not get killed by any of the hundreds of knives he got stabbed with during the night? Because he never actually got stabbed by this many inmates. The fights (and most of the gameplay) are only the means of stretching the gameplay to result in a lengthy experience instead of having only few encounters. Also, no matter how long the player actually plays, the time passed will be at certain points during specific scenes.
      Though I think it is depressing that I don’t really play the “actual” events, it is probably the best approach any developer can take to this kind of game. Or am I actually to believe that Batman took several breaks during the night of AC to take augmented reality dives through virtual hoops because he thinks: “Why not, if I jump enough of them, Alfred will send me more toys.”
      So for the sake of plot, this knife is not deadlier than any other knife in the game, it’s just that this is the only time Batman actually gets threatened at all, according to the author.

      Edit: Thanks very much to Shamus for finally allowing deletion of one’s own comments. I posted this one as a reply to the wrong original posts twice before getting it right.
      It may come in handy at other times as well.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        This is absolutely part of the Animus conceit in the Assassin’s Creed games. It’s especially prominent in AssCreed 1, where your health bar actually represents the degree to which you’re “synchronised” with Altair. If you take a hit, you lose synchronisation — so the game is implying that the real Altair wouldn’t have taken that hit. Of course this probably means that the real Altair murdered hundreds and hundreds of people without ever being scratched, but there’s only so much videogameyness that the Animus conceit can cover.

        • Mousazz says:

          Altaïr didn’t necessarily kill all the people that are depicted in the game. From what I remember (I couldn’t find any PDF online, weirdly enough), the manual already states that Lucy injected several gamifications to help Desmond integrate into the Animus, such as the piles of hay (which AC: Revelations then completely shatters by allowing Desmond to jump into one IRL). It also explains (I think) why Assassin’s Creed doesn’t have any swimming (I really doubt Altaïr didn’t know how to swim), and I wouldn’t be surprised if all those women getting accosted by the guards, assassinatable templars and flags weren’t in Desmond’s memory as well. I also doubt the piece of Eden made Altaïr remember to how counter attack and kick people in the middle of combat.

          That still doesn’t explain Altaïr killing so many people in the defence of Masyaf, while going after Talal, while going after Robert de Sable in Arsuf, and while going after Al-Mualim in Masyaf, though.

    • Retsam says:

      That doesn’t really bother me, because I can accept “able to survive being shot” as a gameplay conceit, but don’t expect the cutscenes to play by the same rules. I always view the gameplay as more of a “metaphor” for the hypothetical “canonical” version of what happens.

      It actually bothers me when games go to far out of their way to explain, in character, things that I think are best just left as gameplay conceits. (e.g. a particular RPG which goes out of its way to explain why you’re able to loot people’s houses that you enter)

    • Falcon02 says:

      I’m actually fine with this idea, as others have pointed out I don’t really consider the gameplay injuries are not part of the “story.” Those bullets/knives are not nearly as targeted and precise as the plot driven cutscene ones. You could rationalize it as Batman is moving so fast mid fight in other scenes he’s only getting grazed plus his body armor, but in the cut scene Joker is able to line up the shot and target his weak spot/more powerful weapon, etc.

      But, I don’t think that rationalization is required as the I just accept HP bars in gameplay, but rarely apply those same rules to cutscenes.

      That said… I do have one issue…

      “Batman tosses him aside and goes to free Talia, only to have a comical metal cage dropped over him.”

      This feels to me like another example of Batman getting caught off guard for something he really should be on the look out for… despite a desire to free Talia, I’d expect Batman to expect some expectation of a Joker Trap waiting for him when he went for Talia (maybe Joker would have 1 trap Batman sees and avoids, but causes him to go into a second trap that he didn’t see?)

      Of course as always with such examples, I do forgive Shamus the fact that he came up with this relatively quickly, unlike the game writers who had more time and help to work through such things. And even with that one potential contrivance, it still is much more logical than the original scene…

      • Jabrwock says:

        Considering how often 60’s Batman ended up in ridiculous traps, it makes you wonder if he’s just humouring Joker…

        Maybe the cage out of nowhere doesn’t surprise Batman. He was expecting it, and lets it fall, knowing he can just break through. It’s the electricity part that catches him off guard. He was assuming it to be just another silly annoyance as part of Joker’s taunting (like the guns that pop a flag), not an actual obstacle.

        • Syal says:

          Or there’s an axe blade swinging at Talia so Batman doesn’t have time to do anything but charge forward and hope for the best. And then the cage traps Batman and the axe blade turns out to be a really elaborate water balloon.

    • Jon Wood says:

      IIRC, the bad guys in Arkham games aim for center mass. Batman would have Joker confined in a cage, without much room to dodge. He could shield his face with his gauntlets, at which point Joker shoots him in some unshielded portion of his head, waits for Batman to be stunned, and then shoots him in the uncovered portion of his face, angled upward.

      The devs said that Drake’s “health” is actually his luck. When it runs out, THEN he actually gets hit. Even if it doesn’t kill him, it presumably hampers his vital mobility.

  10. Polius says:

    For most of the game, I never really had any of the nit picks you talked about Shamus. I’m the sort to go through the story then take it apart afterwards and this game was good enough for me to enjoy it in that way with no problem. But this scene had me throwing my hands in the air. “Call Robin! Call Nightwing, BE BATMAN! Something!” It takes a lot for me to get thrown out of a scene and this one did it.

    • Scampi says:

      Lately I realized there is a non-canon bad ending hidden here. If you have the version where you get to control Catwoman after this scene, you get to let the idiot die in his stupid predicament if you decide “Nah, he’s not worth leaving the money behind.”
      Regretfully, the game is then rewound to the point where you have to make the call so you can decide again…apparently Catwoman doesn’t have free will.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Well, what else could they do at that point? They’ve already let you walk away and given you an appropriate ending for that. It’s not like they can let you just keep playing as a burgler in a whole new city, not unless they wanted to double the game’s budget to attach an entire new game onto it.

        • Scampi says:

          Well, in general I’m fine with this not being the canonic ending. What I don’t like is the handling.
          I would have accepted being taken to the ending, having the credit roll, the game telling me I fucked up by letting Batman die and allowing me to reload to the savegame before I made the choice.
          For some reason I do NOT like the idea of leaving, credits rolling, then being forcibly rewound, basically being told: “We don’t care you chose this way. Chose the other. NOW. Especially since I actually was glad there was another ending, as the game notoriously bugs out at the next scene for me and I had hoped it might be able to just accept a different ending and say goodbye.

  11. Dovius says:

    What are Alfred and Oracle doing? They never call Batman to check up on him?

    Which is made worse by the fact that there’s several points in the game where they call you up in response to random vital blips transmitted by Batman’s suit, but apparently body-wide blunt force trauma isn’t.

    I guess it just wasn’t quite as urgent as an elevated heart-rate on someone that does heavy cardio all night for a living.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Well, considering the number of times Batman has been knocked unconscious this evening, they probably just roll their eyes back at the Bat Cave when the blunt trauma alarms go off. Maybe there’s some Bat Tape over the blunt force klaxon at this point.

  12. Jamey says:

    Minor grammar issue after the last image: “These scene doesn’t work”

  13. Moridin says:

    I mean he was a middle-aged actor back in the 60’s, which would mean he’s almost 90 now despite showing no signs of aging. Then again, the timeline of DC Comics is kinda strange. Given that he’s giving up his greatest goal to try it, you’d think he’d worry this new scheme might not pan out.

    Assuming this is even the same continuity and the same world(like you said, comicbook continuity is strange), by the same token Batman would be almost as old (if not older) himself. As I understand it, the way DC and Marvel go about fixing it is that comicbook time advances at a different rate, generally around 1 to 5 ratio. So events that took place in a comic that was published 50 years ago ACTUALLY took place only ten years ago. This obviously causes all sorts of other issues, but it does give them an excuse to keep around characters who should have long since died or retired.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Fair enough. Clayface is just probably immortal because he’s magically made of clay for some reason then.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      Actually, DC Comics have rebooted their universes a few times, each time advancing the timeline. The problem is that Shamus seems to confuse pre-Crisis Karlo with current Karlo, which is like confusing Arkham’s Batman with Adam West.

      Since the Arkhamverse is its own continuity anyway, clearly Karlo is not the age Shamus assumes, particularly since in Arkham Origins Karlo seems to still be around as a movie star, not having yet transformed into Clayface.

      In any case, his transformation into a clay monster has probably turned him immortal anyway, so the point is moot.

      • Shamus says:

        I’m not confusing pre-Crisis Karlo with current Karlo, but only because I don’t even know enough about the DC universes to properly confuse them. I’m basing my assumptions about Karlo’s age on the events of the game:

        Karlo’s origin is that in his heyday he made the movie “The Terror”. The movie is supposedly showing on the screen in the theater at the end of the game, and it’s in black and white. So Karlo was an adult when they were still making B&W movies. That means he’s in his 80s at minimum. (And possibly much older.

        Again, you could argue that Hollywood of the the DC universe was still making major B&W movies into the 70’s, or whatever. But that’s where I got my assumptions about his age.

        • Syal says:

          That’s likely the intention for The Terror, but I’ll point out Johnny Depp has made some black-and-white movies.

        • Jay Allman says:

          That Karlo was in a black-and-white movie doesn’t necessarily mean that “The Terror” is supposed to be a decades-old movie. In the BTAS episode “Mudslide” we see a clip of a movie starring Matt Hagen [the Clayface in BTAS continuity] and it’s in black-and-white. If BTAS can stylistically mix the present, the past, and the alternate so that computers, black-and-white movies, and dirigibles all co-exist, why can’t the Arkham games — which greatly resemble BTAS — do the same?

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      The sliding-scale “comic time” rule is more Marvel’s thing. Aside from a few events which are fixed in time because they’re tied to specific historical events (e.g. Captain America got frozen in the closing days of WWII), every other past event happened “a while ago” (e.g. Captain America always got unfrozen a few years before the present day, whenever that present day may be). DC Comics tend to attach their characters more to specific time periods (which is odd because their world is more different from the real world than Marvel’s world is but whatever), which is why their big crossover crisis events tend to involve resetting the world’s continuity. Of course Marvel are not immune from major continuity resets either (e.g. House of M, One More Day), but they don’t usually involve resetting the entire universe.

  14. [quote]“I want to live forever” has never been part of Joker’s mandate. In fact, he’s always willing to risk his life to play a crazy game with Batman. Joker doesn’t want to live forever. He wants to play this game with Batman. In some versions of the character he wants Batman to kill him. So it makes no sense for him to give up his prize for personal health and security.[/quote]

    He doesn’t care if he lives ‘forever’, but in this game, he sure as hell wants to live! Self preservation is pretty much the basis for every action he takes in AC, needlessly convoluted though it may be. Yeah, it’s not the actual Joker making this call, but I seriously doubt Clayface wouldn’t be capable of realizing a pit that makes you live forever might have some use for a guy who just lost access to the science juice he needed to…y’know…not die.

    Side note: If I remember correct, Joker deliberately put Harley in a corner so Batman would find her. There’s extraneous dialogue that’s overheard at some point explaining it.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      I don’t know about that, but the reason I didn’t find anything strange about Harley showing up tied to a post there is that it’s the kind of thing the Joker would do just for fun.

      • Warclam says:

        I assumed it was a sex thing, which made me disinclined to continue thinking about it.

      • Nessus says:

        This. Randomly messing with his own people is a standard part of the Joker’s shtick, and his relationship with Harley is usually coded as abusive, so I just took it at face value and didn’t really think about it beyond the initial reflexive “Wha…?”.

    • ehlijen says:

      I can buy that. He might not actually want immortality, but the pit might just cure his disease, and if he really wants to die, he can probably still find a way later. Immortality isn’t quite the same as being unkillable.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        I believe that the Lazarus Pits aren’t actually a source of permanent immortality anyway? Ra’s al Ghul spends a lot of time looking for new ones, so I believe he’s somewhat dependent on them to keep his lifespan going. They can cure diseases and resurrect the dead, but they aren’t a one-stop permanent elixir of life.

  15. Dreadjaws says:

    I agree with the analysis for the most part, but I don’t think this is correct:

    “I want to live forever” has never been part of Joker’s mandate. In fact, he’s always willing to risk his life to play a crazy game with Batman. Joker doesn’t want to live forever. He wants to play this game with Batman. In some versions of the character he wants Batman to kill him. So it makes no sense for him to give up his prize for personal health and security.

    See, the major part of Joker’s personality is that he’s unpredictable, so any kind of reaction by him would be excusable. I know this sounds like a crappy excuse to not care about writing, but the truth is that such unpredictability actually does have some sort of consideration: Joker does whatever he thinks is funny.

    Yeah, he’s willing to risk his life, but he’s also willing to do good or even do nothing just to piss Batman off. How many times has he attacked other villains just so they didn’t get to ruin his fun with Batman? How many times has he put fake bombs just to screw with Batman? And what could upset Batman more than Joker being immortal? He’d do it just to have Batman consider that he should have killed him when he had the chance. Hell, there’s precedent for this. Take, for instance, the “Emperor Joker” storyline.

    Now yeah, there’s probably no excuse for Clayface to take the deal, unless, of course, he’s not truly sure if he’s immortal or not. The thing about the Arkhamverse is that some villains are too recent to be truly aware of the reach of their abilities.

  16. Son of Valhalla says:

    It’s pretty obvious Batman wanted the Joker to have immortality.

  17. kdansky says:

    Yep, this scene shattered my suspension of disbelief when I played it, and I did not take anything in the plot seriously after. Which was a shame, because the final twist was cool, and it made no sense to my any more, because I hardly paid any attention, because the writer had lost my trust.

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