Batman: Arkham City hands-on preview – Joker dies at the end?

It seems that exposure to Titan in Arkham Asylum has left Joker more than a little ill, and to help him get better, Harley went and kidnapped a few emergency doctors – none of whom have been able to cure Joker. One unlucky medic got shoved out of the high door in which Harley stood, dropping a good 20 or feet to the ground before writhing around in a fetal position. Joker’s goons slowly closed ranks around him, and at their center was Mr. Hammer: a hulking, one-armed clown covered in Russian prison tattoos, who tapped out a steady rhythm against the floor with his sledgehammer as he stared down at the helpless doctor.

Above: A big chunk of the footage in this trailer comes from this demo - and, we're guessing, shortly afterward

Realizing that Batman probably wouldn’t just sit and watch an innocent man get smashed, we started looking for a way in – and instead saw another doctor, one Stacy Baker – get thrown up against the grating of our tunnel and menaced by more of Joker’s men. Harley ordered her dragged away and – after picking our way through a few inconvenient jets of flame that shot out regularly – we followed.

When we found Baker, it turned out she was under guard by several armed thugs. Clearly, the situation called for stealth, and - using Detective Vision to keep an eye on everyone’s movements – we snuck up behind a couple of guards and used a new, silent double-takedown move to knock their heads together. It wasn’t too long before someone saw us, unfortunately, and as they opened fire, we were able to rapidly duck out of the way with Batman’s dodge move.

That wouldn’t work forever, though, so we selected a smoke pellet from Batman’s (surprisingly expansive) arsenal of tools – accessed with a simple d-pad menu – smashed it against the ground and used the momentary confusion to grapple up to the gargoyles and swing to the other side of the room. With the thugs thrown off the scent, it was easy to take one down with a glide kick and creep up on the rest to dispose of them silently.

That just left the guard standing over Baker, who was locked in a control room with her. He was also getting jumpy, so we ran up, smashed Batman right through the window, and took him down before he could start shooting.

By the time Baker was free, however, Harley had grown wise to Batman’s presence, and ordered her thugs to weld the room’s entrance doors shut. It turned out to be a momentary setback; while Baker fretted, Batman walked over to a workbench, picked up what looked like random components and quickly fitted together an REC (for Remote Electrical Charge) gun. Using this, we were able to fire little balls of lightning, good not only for stunning thugs but also for opening previously inaccessible, electrically controlled doors.

Armed with the REC, we short-circuited one of these and made our way back to the huge, open chamber where Harley had addressed her troops – and where, unsurprisingly, we ran afoul of the same goons we’d seen earlier. Shooting them with the REC and watching them spasm a little was entertaining, but nowhere near as fun as Arkham City’s free-flowing combat, which still manages to straddle a unique line between frantic button-mashing and expert precision.

Once the thugs were down, we used the REC to open the door Harley was hiding behind, and grappled up to its ledge – only to immediately get kicked in the face by Mr. Hammer and sent sprawling back to the ground. After he’d come down to play, attacking him head-on turned out to be unwise, especially when he had a few wingmen along. Opting to take out the small fry first, we found ourselves getting hit with leaping, hard-to-dodge smash attacks from Hammer, which brought us near death more than once.

However, hanging back and hitting him with the REC sent him into a literal spin, during which he’d blindly smack down anyone unlucky enough to be near him. And while that proved somewhat effective, it was only after we’d delivered three consecutive cape stuns that he was vulnerable to attack. And once he was, we were able to run up and – by hammering the punch button – deliver a cartoonishly rapid flurry combo that finally knocked the big clown unconscious. All things considered, he went down pretty easy once we’d gotten him alone.

Finally, it was time to pay Harley a visit – and when we did, we found her sobbing over the Joker, who slumped motionless in a chair, wearing a respirator mask. As the cutscene continued, Harley yelled accusations at Batman, saying it was his fault, that he’d hounded “Mr. J” too far until Joker’s body gave out. Scanning the scene with Detective Vision revealed that the body in the chair was indeed the Joker – and his status was “deceased.” So yeah: Joker dies at the end.

But yeah: Probably not. Either way, we’ll all find out in a few weeks, when Arkham City ships on Oct. 18 (or Oct. 21 in the UK).

 Sep 30, 2011


  • jackthemenace - October 3, 2011 8:40 a.m.

    Looking forward to B:AC now. Especially with Harley Quinn. Hope to God the Joker storyline isn't going to take up the whole game again, as good as the last one was. Having loads of different Villains stories should be really fun to play through.
  • rob619 - October 3, 2011 4:51 a.m.

    Couldnt Gamesradar just go into gameplay, graphics aspects rather then going into actual storytelling of a game, which is why we buy the game for! Should really in the preview discuss, gameplay, graphics and sound etc.
  • Elementium - October 2, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    We'll have to see. The Joker isn't immune to death, but if he does die I'm hoping it has significant weight. This is also just a game and not the comics so that has to be taken into consideration too. ALSO now I know not to read GR articles if I don't want spoilers lol
  • StoutFiles - October 2, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    In a world with Lazarus Pits, no character ever dies. See Jason Todd. I do have a problem with the title of this article being on the main page, it was a huge spoiler.
  • Milliarto - October 1, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    I'm sure it's a ruse to trap Batman. Batman, Joker, R'as Al Ghul and other various characters in the Batman franchise have either stopped their hearts to appear dead with the help of meditation, drugs or will power and have always come back. Not to mention how many times a character has appeared dead only to be brought back to life. Who knows, maybe a dash of the Titan serum will bring Joker back. The Joker is the most iconic character in the Batman franchise. Batman's nemesis. The Ying to his Yang. They wouldn't dispose of him in a game this way. I also don't think it's fair to blame GamesRadar for spoiling anything. This is a games journalism site. If the developer showed GDar this gameplay footage and didn't embargo the information, they obviously wanted these fine journalists to report it. Heck, it's their duty to do so! Besides, if Rocksteady showed this to journalists they obviously anted this information out there to get the hype up for the game. This conversation that we're having is just what they wanted! We are all that much more excited for the game and eager to find out what really happened. Besides, it's Batman, do you really think they're going to kill of his nemsis so soon into the game?
  • LeSieg - October 2, 2011 7:12 a.m.

    Fictional characters do seem to have a poor grasp on what this whole "death" thing is.
  • StoutFiles - October 2, 2011 2:48 p.m.

    Whether he's dead or not, a major plot point was revealed in the article title. I should be able to read the main page without having the storyline spoiled.
  • lewis-barclay - September 30, 2011 2:58 p.m.

    The day joker does die is the day they will replace him with some new angst filled douche no one cares about. But batman working with bane (judging by the pic). awesome
  • Yeager1122 - September 30, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    Its just some kind of ruse to trap Batman joker will never die.
  • tekkenLilli - September 30, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    Joker will never die. He'll be plotting against Batman behind the scenes and getting back at him. Best game is just around the corner. I can't wait for it to come out.
  • shawksta - September 30, 2011 8:14 a.m.

    Its obvious bait, its ALWATS bait, when it comes to Batman. I cant wait for this game!
  • Sjoeki - September 30, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    I thought that whole first thing was over.. damn. Mark hamill said that this game would be his last time voicing the Joker, so in that case I would rather see him die then have another person voicing him. On the other side, if you ask me, the Joker is THE enemy of Batman, there are others but he is the most iconic, so it'd suck if he died.
  • AngryScotsman - September 30, 2011 8:37 a.m.

    Mark Hamill never said that Arkham City was the last time he was voicing Joker, he just said that it was hard to top compared to Arkham Asylum.
  • Sjoeki - September 30, 2011 10:11 a.m.

    I hate to be a wise ass, but if you don't believe me take a look at this site: Or google it or something.
  • AngryScotsman - September 30, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    It is I who hates to be a wise-ass, and yet...!/HamillHimself/status/80781798900113408 There you go.
  • Sjoeki - October 1, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    Okay you're right and I'm glad I'm wrong!
  • JoeMulvihill1 - September 30, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    haha, the screenshot of batman punching one of penguins goons looks like a screenshot for facebreaker 2. KO! also i cried a little when i read the word co-op. why did you have to use that word!
  • Hobogonigal - September 30, 2011 7:17 a.m.

    First!!! Sounds good but doesn't have the hype it should from the first game. Might consider getting this when it releases...

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