What other superhero games can learn from Batman: Arkham Asylum

What Superman should learn

The Man of Steel’s games have infamously ranged from super shitty (Superman 64) to not quite so super shitty (Superman Returns). While the flying in Supes’ last game was pretty decent, it couldn’t plaster over the fact that all you were really doing was beating up massive tin men using a rubbish combat system. So Clark clearly needs a lesson in beating people up, then. And if there’s one thing Arkham does really well, it’s kicking baddies in the crotch.

Obviously, Superman being as hard as week-old bread, coated in steel and laced with reinforced titanium means fighting traditional goons in balaclavas is out. So the developer might have to upset fanboys by pitting you against fellow Kryptonians, even though they’re all supposed to be dead. At any rate, give us a meaty combat engine, built on convincing animation that sells Supes’ strength (i.e. copy the one in Arkham) and we might forgive DC for never giving us a Jimmy Olsen stealth game.

What Spider-Man should learn

Oh, our beloved Web-slinger. Where did things go so horribly wrong? Well, we’ll say around about the time the novelty of Spider-Man 2’s ace swinging mechanics wore off. Still, Spidey and his powers have been nailed, so at least there’s a solid platform to build on. If developer Treyarch is handed the reins again, it should treat Manhattan with the same reverence Rocksteady has given Gotham’s asylum. That means no sacrificing detail for scope and no more rescuing f**king kids’ balloons.

Sure, swinging from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty is great. But what’s the point if there’s nothing to do but rescue bags of air or hang criminals from lampposts? We want Spidey’s next bite at the Big Apple to be filled with inventive objectives and interesting missions –like Arkham’s Riddler challenges – that encourage exploration and lateral thinking.

What the X-Men should learn

The recent Wolverine tie-in almost nailed it. Focus on the best thing about your character – namely his ability to grow his skin back and slice men’s spines in two – and build your game around that. Trouble is, it got too bogged down in slashing, torn vests and rippling bicep… eh, killing stuff. Most of the other X-Men games, be it the movie titles or Marvel Ultimate Alliance, have also been too samey. Arkham, however, constantly mixes up its gameplay.

Rather than merely focusing on throwing explosive cards at evil doers’ groins with Gambit or freezing folk with Storm, future X-Men games should combine different styles to create a more interesting, varied game. How about stealth sections where you strategically sneak past baddies with Nightcrawler’s teleporting skills or on-rails flying sections with Rogue? Mixing the action up would also help pacing. So hopefully, we won’t want to mutilate our eyeballs with adamantium claws the next time we pick up the mutants’ game.

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