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What’s already happened: In classic comic-book style, The Joker hatched another plan for world – or at least Gotham – domination, this time using a chemical known as Titan to transform escaped prisoners and asylum crazies into an army of deformed, supersized henchmen. Naturally, the Dark Knight defeated him and returned everyone to custody. Day saved.
What’s coming next: We haven’t seen the last of Titan, that’s for sure. If you stuck around after the first game’s credits, you saw one of three villains’ hands erupt from the water surrounding Arkham Asylum and seize the leftover serum. It doesn’t really matter whose… what’s important is that either the Scarecrow, Bane or Killer Croc will deliver that chemical back to the city and into the control of a much more famous baddie.
Our money’s on Two-Face, for a variety of reasons. He’s a huge fan favorite, he was directly referenced in the ending, he suffers from a visually compelling psychosis that could translate into fantastic scenery and, most importantly, he holds a very personal grudge against Batman. No arch-nemesis can do madness and anarchy as well as The Joker, so why try? Tackle themes of revenge and tragedy with Harvey Dent instead.
Regardless of his or her identity, the sequel’s primary villain will need a proper setting in which to unleash a new Titan scheme, and Arkham Asylum just won’t do anymore. It’s a small island that we’ve clearly explored at least 90% of already. Will the franchise go open-world? We hope not, as Gotham has plenty of other self-contained environments like Wayne Manor and Blackgate Prison. An abandoned amusement park could be suitably creepy, as could an earthquake-stricken, quarantined section of the city a la the No Man Land’s comic miniseries.
And also? No Robin. Please.
What’s already happened: Imran Zakhaev, an evil Russian dude, wants to take over his country. Khaled Al-Asad, an evil Middle Eastern dude, wants to take over his (intentionally vague) country. The two work together, detonate a bunch of nuclear devices, but ultimately fail due to the heroics of British S.A.S. agents Captain Price and “Soap” MacTavish. In the second game, another evil Russian dude named Vladimir Makarov teams up with an evil American dude named General Shepherd to start a war of deception between their two nations. Price and Soap are victorious again, but not before Shepherd has framed them both as rogue traitors.
What’s coming next: Modern Warfare 2 left behind a lot of unfinished business. Shepherd may have a blood-soaked knife between his eyes, but the scarier villain – unflinching and unrepentant terrorist Makarov – is still very much at large. Why would the developers at Infinity Ward subject us to that disturbing airport massacre if they weren’t going to give us the chance to take out its murderous mastermind at some point? We expect he’ll be a major player, if not the primary antagonist, in Modern Warfare 3.
And let’s not forget that the U.S. and Russia are still at each other’s throats… or that Price and Soap are still wanted for treason. Maybe a title card that fast-forwards us “five years later” will erase all these loose ends, but we’d rather watch the crisis escalate. We’d rather experience the Call of Duty version of World War III, with additional countries and continents throwing their armies and interests into the mix. Where’s China, for example? If that government made a power grab while the globe’s other two superpowers were war-torn and weakened, we might see spectacular missions set inside Hong Kong or around the Great Wall. Unbelievable? No more so than fighting across the White House lawn.
As for Price and Soap, they’ll need help – and hindrance – in attempting to clear their reputations. We’ll go out on a limb and predict that their opposition will be the game’s next, inevitable American protagonist… until he discovers the truth and joins forces with them. As for the help? That’s easy. He’ll be an expendable British guy, with a monosyllabic “G” name, voiced by actor Craig Fairbrass… just like “Gaz” and “Ghost” before him.
Next page: Halo: Reach and God of War III