Batman: Arkham City – what we want to see

Arkham Asylum was kind of a miracle. After two decades of mediocre, misguided attempts at bringing Batman to life in videogames – usually through lazy or rushed movie adaptations – who could have dreamed that a team of relatively unknown British developers, working with writers and actors from a relatively old animated series, would finally succeed in getting the formula exactly right, not only for Gotham's Dark Knight, but for superhero titles and licensed products in general?

Our choice for 2009's Game of the Year was easy.

With great success, however, comes great pressure. A sequel to Arkham Asylum was at the top of our most-wanted, most-anticipated list before we even finished the original, and last week's announcement of an official title (Arkham City), a release date (Fall 2011) and new villains (Catwoman, Two-Face) has raised our excitement to an almost unbearably high level. Based on your reactions to the news, we know we're not alone.

So how can Batman: Arkham City possibly live up to these ecstatic expectations? How can Rocksteady improve on near-perfection without ruining what we loved in the first place?

Here are our dreams and demands… share yours below.

Stranger, scarier settings

The Joker isn't crazy… he's insane. Uncontrollably, unpredictably and unapologetically so. This is not a man of minimalist restraint. This is a man with neon green hair and bright purple pants, a man who builds amusement park deathtraps, man who throws twisted ticker-tape parades in his own honor. Yet, in the first Arkham Asylum, his demented decorations are limited to some graffiti, a few fireworks and the scattering of chattering toy teeth. Even his hidden lair at the end of the game is just a big, dark room with a chair in the middle.

In Arkham City, we want to see The Joker and other villains fully embrace their bizarre senses of style. Arkham Island was old and historic, with buildings established decades before, but since the sequel is set in the random sprawl of Gotham, more extreme customization is possible. Two-Face should be able to take over an entire apartment building and split every room's design into creepily contrasting halves. Mr. Freeze should have a whole refrigerated warehouse with mementos from his tragic past encased in blocks of ice. And Joker? Well, the haunted carnival ride teased in Arkham City's trailer looks about right to us… which is a very promising sign.

More than one type of enemy

Rocksteady nailed the combat in Arkham Asylum – a beautiful blend of stealth, gadgetry, expert martial arts and messy, improvised barroom brawling that faithfully captured how Batman overcomes crime in the comics, television shows and recent films. Too bad much of that was wasted on fighting the same generic goon over and over and over again. See that bald, incredibly bland beefcake in the image above? Congratulations. You've now experienced 90% of the game's enemies. Throw on a dirty tank top or a little clown-face makeup and you're close to the remaining 10%.

While this army of escaped Blackgate prisoners made sense in the original's storyline, we'd better run into a lot more variety during the sequel. Not only enemies with different faces, different voices, different hairstyles and different body types, but enemies that clearly match the theme of their boss villain. Penguin and Two-Face wouldn't hire shirtless, snarling thugs… they'd send out well-dressed, well-equipped gangsters. If Poison Ivy shows up a second time, we want to battle her evil plant creatures, not the exact same guys that worked for Joker, relocated to a greenhouse.

Better boss battles

Batman's infamous rogues gallery is portrayed perfectly in Arkham Asylum. Not only are we spoiled by the appearances of a whopping seven major villains, with cameos by dozens more, but each and every one has the perfect look, the perfect voice, the perfect personality and the perfect interactions with our hero.

… Until they stop talking and actually start fighting, anyway. Then Poison Ivy, a master seductress and genius botanist, is suddenly reduced to a giant Lost Planet boss with ridiculously obvious weak points. Joker, a mad scientist of comedy who relies on gadgets as much as Batman does, is suddenly a tank-sized, punch-happy, albino version of The Incredible Hulk. Harley Quinn, who gracefully flips and cartwheels her way through every cutscene, is suddenly reliant on an electrified floor for survival.

These encounters were still fun, of course, but they felt cliched and gimmicky compared to the rest of Arkham Asylum's menacing realism, and instantly reminded us that we were playing a videogame. Fix them or get rid of them altogether – the last thing we want in the sequel is Two-Face on steroids.


DC Comics

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  • bitchassafriBLAMamericANTISTA - February 17, 2011 12:30 a.m.

    there was more than one enemy: goons with fists, goons with knives, goons with electro sticks, goons with shotguns, goons with assault rifles, goons with sniper rifles, crazy people, titan people, and ivy's plants
  • starhaw - November 24, 2010 5:47 p.m.

    I could def see where there would be faults in MP (when I'm talking about MP I'm talking about PvP MP) but what if while facing another player instead of the "BATSENSE" I like to call it, appearing up above the other players head, make it like the hard mode was for the challenge maps, to where you couldn't tell when was the right time to counter, and you'd have to make it fist on fist (err well you know what I mean no gadgets) or else people would be nOObing with the batarang. I can def see the faults of a MP like that (not even going to mention Coop) but I think with the combat system the batman game(s) has would be fun to fight with another player instead of it just being button mashing....I mean yeah sure there might be alot of counters from both players, countering a counter which leads to another counter so on and so fourth, but eventually someone has to win, and it would be a great way to test your skills with the combat system against another Live player...yeah sure the enemies in AA had some variance to them like shock batons and such but facing a live person who can actually make decisions would be fun..
  • miun30 - September 2, 2010 8:08 a.m.

    if you want batman arkham asylum then get! it its a legendary game with realy good grafics!!
  • loganb4295 - August 20, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    i totally agree on multiplayer but what i would like to see is maybe just maybe a coop section or alternate costumes like if you could play as catwoman they should have a robin alternate costume for catwoman freaky i know but i really want robin in this SCREW ALL YOU ROBIN HATERS
  • chunkymunkeee - August 17, 2010 12:20 a.m.

    Multiplayer is a bad idea for Batman. Switching between Catwoman and Batman I also think is a bad idea. Its about Batman and not anyone else. People want to use more technology as well. Like hearing thtough walls or night vision goggles or something. Oh, and do another sweet special edition for the game as well.
  • OD-Apache - August 16, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    An Original Show Mode would be awesome. Imagine playing through dressed like Adam West, different in-game music, different enemy voices and and outfits, to even originally dressed bosses and the original Batmobile. AND, instead of a a generic combo counter, have it on a scale from BOP! to KA-POW!. BOP! - BONK! - BOINK! - POW! - WHAM! - ZING! - OOOF! - KA-POW! That does mean a higher likely hood of Robin being thrown in, but as long as they stay cameos, its all gravy. Make it happen.
  • Sabtos - August 14, 2010 12:10 a.m.

    Agree with everything! Especially the boss battles and multiplayer. There better not be any MP. Although, I didn't mind the bat vision as much as others.
  • arkham2498 - August 13, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    I hope they improve predator mode only because at the end of the game it sucked, it was just the same thing over and over again, at least some of the time there was a twist like u have to rescue hostages but in the end it was the same isolate take down repeat
  • Kinglik7 - August 13, 2010 9:30 p.m.

    Man u hit it right on the nail. U said every i was thinkin and even gave me some things to think about. One thing i would add is a more diverse range of gadgets, more advanced stealth techniques(whether it be better hiding spots or escape routes), and DEFINITELY upgrade the A.I. there were many times wne the thugs should have heard or saw but didnt. The game should really challenge us. P.S. this is small but u should be able to disarm thugs wen being invisible predator like use batarangs or batclaws to snatch or smack guns out of their hand. REAL LONG I KNOW!
  • HilaryDuffGta - August 13, 2010 1:19 a.m.

    i dont know the multiplayer could be done right...i kind of want it to see what Rocksteady can do with Mp
  • acecrazydude - August 12, 2010 8:17 p.m.

    sorry for double post but i only think it should be a small part of the game
  • acecrazydude - August 12, 2010 8:16 p.m.

    the only multiplayer i think it should have is maybe some co op of batman and cat woman, but other than that no multiplayer
  • CandiedJester - August 12, 2010 4:12 p.m.

    Okay, I realllly need to play Arkham Asylum.
  • chrishoughton - August 12, 2010 2:06 p.m.

    if catwoman was controllable maybe they could do a seperate mini story line like they did with res evil 4, the ada missions i think it was.. it could work if the player played the game and catwoman helped batman out on the first boss or mission then she tease's batman. next thing you know she shows up at the last boss with a special gadget for batman to use. or something like that
  • rafoca - August 12, 2010 12:19 p.m.

    MULTIPLAYER YES!!!! As long as it is co-op. Think about Splinter Cell co-op and its awesomeness. The same can be done in Batman (one controls batman and the other control catwoman), but in the main campaign.
  • e.schultzy27 - August 12, 2010 8:27 a.m.

    If there is multiplayer in Arkham City they will fail the game
  • TheWebSwinger - August 12, 2010 1:21 a.m.

    Awesome article. But PLEASE PLEASE don't do Batmobile sections a la the Batman Begins game. Argh.
  • stevengibson - August 11, 2010 8:31 p.m.

    agree with everything n i think alrfed will play a role cause batman is not restricted 2 just arkham hes in gothom which means he will have 2 take trips 2 his manor 4 research n ect.(which sets up the batmobile driving sequences)oh n throw in nightwing or robin.
  • alexkirk - August 11, 2010 8:30 p.m.

    The batmobile would be sick! If the game is a city setting, than possible to get to other areas you could drive the batmobile. at the end of every section youd have to drive to the new one :)
  • SCW - August 11, 2010 7:42 p.m.

    I agree no multiplayer at all. I must say for how awesome the art direction was in the first one the actual engine powering it left me wanting a bit. Hope they can really push it, the picture of two face and catwoman already makes me believe they are.