I consider the release of big triple A games to be just as much of an event these days as the release of some of the big blockbuster movies. There are conversations that I want to be part of involving these games the exact same way I want to be part of the conversation about movies. These are things that I enjoy, and I want to see the industry turn out more of what's great and less of what's terrible.
The recent run of Batman video games has been impressive, and even at its worst, the games in this series have been interesting and ambitious. The first two games, both written by Paul Dini, made major contributions to the modern ongoing print version of the character, a testament to just how authoritative this has been for fans. I thought “Arkham Asylum” was a great game, but I also found some of the layout of the game frustrating and thought there were ways to improve on the ideas that were introduced. The combat style in particular was something that elevated the game and made the flaws less important.
As you got better and unlocked things and learned how to control the character, you could string together a series of moves that made you feel like you were Batman, swooping down out of the darkness to kick, punch, and break a group of guys, deflecting bullets, using a few Batarangs to take someone out, and then swooping back into the shadows like a ghost. It was the first time any game truly captured the sensation of being Batman. I thought “Arkham City” was a more interesting story than the first game, with the same basic combat system improved. It felt to me like the perfect expression of what the first game tried to be. “Arkham Origins” had some great ideas, and I liked the emphasis on detecting, but it also felt oddly truncated, like it was half of a great game.
The new trailer for “Arkham Knight,” which is said to be the final game in the series, is pretty darned exciting if you've been playing this series as they've been released so far. I'm as excited about this as I am about “Superman V. Batman: Dawn Of Justice.” It looks like they've kept all the things that make moving around Gotham City so much fun, including gliding on the cape, the grapnel gun, and of course, Batman's powerful detective vision mode. I think these do a great job of telling stories that incorporate the massive rogue's gallery of the Batman universe without feeling overcrowded. I see why things are designed the way they are from a gameplay sense, but they still manage to work on a story level in a smart way that reminds me of the best stories with the character in print.
This new game is a fairly familiar set-up: new mysterious bad unites all of Gotham's bad guys to try to kill Batman in one long crazy night. What's exciting is the way it looks like this plays out, with some great villains set to be used. I don't know any spoilers for the game, and I don't want to know. Whoever's under that hood and pulling those strings, I look forward to all the game play that will come before that reveal is made. This is one of those games I'll play every single corner of, just to make sure I see it all. And, yes, I know this is very “dark and gritty,” and I just published a piece yesterday specifically talking about taking a shot at that trend in modern superhero stuff. But I think if any of the big comic characters deserve that treatment, it's Batman.
Are you guys looking forward to this game as much as I am?
“Batman: Arkham Knight” is in stores and available for download on June 2, 2015.