How do you follow a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum? You’ve just created arguably the greatest superhero title of all time. You’ve just raised the bar for every licensed adaptation to come. You’ve just won over the critics, the customers, the hardcore nitpickers and the casual fans. What can you possibly do next?
Easy. Make another one.
Obviously, Batman: Arkham Asylum 2 has not been announced. If the success of the first is any indication, however, we should expect a second. Better yet, we can already predict the sequel’s most important element – villains – simply by looking for clues in the original. Here, then, is who we strongly suspect might show up.
These three are the most obvious inclusions for Arkham Asylum 2, and anyone who’s beaten the first game already understands why. Sit through the credits and you’ll be rewarded with an extra five seconds of story. They go something like this:
What many gamers don’t realize, however, is that this final scene can change. Sometimes you’ll see Killer Croc’s hand, scaly and chained. Other times, it’s Bane with bulging veins and Venom-pumping tubes. Or Scarecrow’s needle-tipped fingers. As far as we can tell, the ending cycles randomly. Here are all three for your discerning comparison:
Clearly, the implication is that one of these characters has gotten hold of the serum and will soon be a house-sized, green-eyed freak, rampaging through the unsuspecting streets of Gotham. While we doubt any of them will be the sequel’s major villain, we do expect to see at least one in a supporting role. If you were the major villain, wouldn’t you want to harness their power?
Harvey Dent is always second. Once the Joker’s been checked off – once that classic matchup is out of the way – there is no villain that fans clamor for more than the coin tosser with dual personalities. Two-Face is simply too iconic, too important and too intrinsic not to include at some point. Because of his tragic history with both Batman and Bruce Wayne (not to mention Commissioner Gordon), he’s an essential part of the universe… a universe that, so far, Arkham Asylum’s creators have been very faithful towards.
They’ve already laid the groundwork. If you listen carefully enough during the first game’s ending, you’ll hear the following from a police dispatcher:
“All units, all units… the Second National Bank was just robbed by Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face… two officers down… suspect is fleeing in a patrol car!”
The best Batman villains are those who complement, and comment upon, a unique element of his character. The Joker, for instance, shows us that our hero is a mere step away from madness himself. Two-Face preys on the man behind the cowl, capitalizing on a former friendship with Bruce Wayne. Catwoman takes advantage of his eternal loneliness.
And the Riddler? He is the ultimate foil to Batman’s intellectual side, the villain most likely to bring out the “World’s Greatest Detective” and not just another fist fight. The developers obviously appreciate this, including over 200 of the Riddler’s challenges as a side quest in the first game, but we want more. We want grand and intricate schemes, not merely trophies and puns. We want whole rooms and buildings hijacked by Edward Nigma, transformed into devious puzzle traps that require every ounce of our hero’s wit, as well as every gadget on his belt.
The villain certainly has enough motive to antagonize Batman. Listen to how smug he sounds during this patient interview, right before his escape:
Now listen to how angry and vengeful he sounds after you’ve both completed all of his challenges and sent the police to his hideaway:
Yeah, that guy’s itching for a sequel.
The Demon’s Head, as this villain is sometimes called, does not seem like a natural fit for a videogame. At least not a videogame like Arkham Asylum. To begin with, he’s not insane, removing the eerie fear factor that so permeates the original. Also, he tends to travel the globe in his pursuit of mankind’s destruction, and we really don’t want Indiana Jones or Lara Croft mixed in with our Batman.
Worst, the good guy and the bad guy would share too many weird and unwanted connections. Bruce is often romantically linked with Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter and, in the latest comics, the two share a son (who also happens to be the newest Robin). That’s a lot of distracting baggage. No thanks.
Still, he’s definitely a possibility. In the current game, you can find his corpse while searching Arkham Mansion.
Return at the end of the game, however, and the body has vanished, no doubt whisked away by Ghul’s loyal followers, the League of Assassins. A quick dip in the Lazarus Pits – rejuvenating chemical pools in the DC universe – and Ra’s will be alive and ready for Arkham Asylum 2.