The latest game is the Arkham series has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, but I finally managed to complete the game after almost seven months. I had trouble getting into the game when it launched. I finally returned to the title in earnest about two weeks ago intent on just plowing through the main story and getting it off my list. However as typically goes, achievements and collectibles pulled me down further into the game and I ended up putting in quite a few more hours than anticipated.
This is the third title of the series so far, and while the sandbox city style is more welcomed that the first games smaller levels, it really feels like combat is overlooked. I always go back to an Assassin’s Creed comparison, but for good reason. AC’s combat keeps getting better with each new game, more smooth and fluid. I can’t say the same for the Batman series, and I found myself frustrated a great deal when fighting anymore than about six enemies at once. The game relies very heavily on gadgets and combos when dealing with large groups, and I’ve never been a fan of quicktime button events. Thankfully much of the game allows you to sneak around, so I took out a large majority of enemies with silent take-downs and patience rather than brute force. Anytime I was forced into a large brawl though, I knew I was going to be frustrated by the time I was done. I’m really hoping the combat is more fluid when Arkham Knight releases later this year.
Story wise, the game is a prequel to the previous two games. I’m sure this was done because nobody pulls a crowd like the Joker since The Dark Knight, and the Joker died in the last game. The story sets us up with Batman’s origin and walks us through his first attempts at becoming the Dark Knight. I’m still very excited to see the 90’s animated series style being used as it was my favorite adaptation of Batman. However this is the first time in the series that Kevin Conroy wasn’t voicing Batman, and Mark Hamill wasn’t voicing the Joker. The studio said they wanted Batman to sound ‘younger’ and cast a different voice actor instead, and I spent the whole game thinking “That’s not Batman’s voice.” I sincerely hope he’s back for Arkham Knight. Mark Hamill however will not be making a return. He previously stated that Arkham City would be his last debut as the voice of the Joker, which I’m sure is in part due to him return to the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars VII next year.
The story remains interesting all the way through, though a bit predictable. Also I’ve never been a fan of prequel origin stories. Never make a prequel that could retcon things that were good about the original. Thankfully they managed to avoid that with this title, and they setup the beginning of Arkham Asylum adequately.
All that being said I did find quite a bit of enjoyment in the game once I finally got into it. When I last played it in November, I was ready to write the series off and call it my last Batman game. After I returned and remembered why I liked these games in the first place, I pre-ordered Arkham Knight and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.