And so we come to the end of this series. Scroll down for some final thoughts, and a poll regarding what game we’ll cover next.
I complain a lot about how Batman behaves in these games. From Arkham City onward, he seems to be clumsy, violent, reactive, stubborn, and generally bad at working with his teammates.
People often stick up for the games like so:
- You have to understand, this is Batman having a bad night. This is his greatest challenge yet! He’s blindsided by Hugo Strange and poisoned by Joker. Also, Talia is the love of his lifeIs she though? and that’s distracting him.
- You don’t get it, this is a younger and more inexperienced Batman than we’ve seen before. It’s fine that he’s a clueless, violent, undisciplined, dumbass, because we’re seeing him before he developed into the hero we know.
- You’re not paying attention. See, this is Batman pushed to his limit. The entire city is falling apart and he’s been poisoned by Scarecrow. That’s why he’s not acting like himself.
In isolation, I might grudgingly accept one of these. But what we have here is a string of excuses for why our hero never seems to be himself. Every game features a larger world than the one before. Every game has more extreme stakes than the one before. The games feel the need to go bigger and more epic. And of course the Joker needs to be hogging the spotlight in every game, even if he’s not our primary antagonist.
What we end up with is a series of games when Batman is always out of character. He doesn’t respect his teammates or value their input. And lets not forget his penchant for torture and terror:
- In Arkham City, he hangs THE MAYOR off a building to terrorize him into talking.
- In Arkham Origins, he brutalizes multiple suspects, including the sequence where he intends to ramp Sionis’ pacemaker to 200Bpm. Shit, Batman. At least waterboard the guy. It would still be immoral, but at least it would be safer.
- In Arkham Knight, be threatens to crush someone’s head under the wheels of the Batmobile. Again, this guy is not a detective and he’s nowhere NEAR being a superhero. I don’t know who this thug is, but I wish the writer would stop pretending he’s Batman.
I don’t want this to come across as too absolutist. I’m not saying that Batman can never get angry, or never disagree with his allies, or never fall into a trap. These things are the fuel of conflict and drama and there is lots of room in Batman’s character for mistakes and human frailty. But the Arkham games – in their attempt to portray “epic” stories – are obsessed with turning up all of the conflict to 11, all the time. The result isn’t that we feel like extreme circumstances have pushed Batman out of his “normal” behavior, it’s that it feels like “angry, impatient, reckless, belligerent, and unreasonable” is his normal behavior.
So that’s Arkham Origins. Next up, Chris and I are going to play something co-op. We’ve narrowed it down to a short list of 4 potential games, and we’re curious which one you’d prefer. So below we have a poll where you can rank the 4 games.
I made it so that you can only take the poll once. This means that in order to participate, you need to have a gmail address. I realize this is annoying for those of you who try to avoid the big G. Sorry. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have to sort through thousands of entries due to a cheeky ballot-stuffer. If it helps, I won’t see you email on my end. I should only see your answers.
I’ll leave the poll open for a couple of days and then let you know the results.
EDIT: The Poll is closed. I’ll post the results next week.
 Is she though?
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
The Best of 2014
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.
What is Vulkan?
What is this Vulkan stuff? A graphics engine? A game engine? A new flavor of breakfast cereal? And how is it supposed to make PC games better?
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
A wild game filled with wild ideas that features fun puzzles and mind-blowing environments. It has a great atmosphere, and one REALLY annoying flaw with its gameplay.