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What we already know about Batman: Arkham Asylum 2

We certainly didn’t expect this minor Batman villain to feature in a sequel, but the trailer clearly indicates that he will. With the exception of Arkham Asylum’s gate at the beginning, the largest and most obvious sign in the footage reads “SIONIS” in big block lettering. Roman Sionis is Black Mask’s true identity.

Who is Black Mask? He’s a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who also lost his parents. Only he was the one that murdered them and then carved his trademark headpiece out of the wood from his mother’s coffin. As an adult, he ran his father’s cosmetics business into bankruptcy by selling a beauty product that disfigured hundreds of unsuspecting women. Wayne saved the company, much to Roman’s everlasting resentment. This dark past is referenced twice in the first Arkham Asylum game.

We’re not sure why the SIONIS sign is located inside an amusement ride. Perhaps the trailer is simply mashing locations together, and Batman will be forced to visit a cosmetics factory – or department store – full of horribly scarred Sionis test subjects. Gotham Splicers, anyone?

Some fans are already speculating that the game will be open-world, with all of Gotham City free to explore. Yes, the camera zooms back to reveal skyscrapers and urban transit lines, but we seriously doubt that the entire metropolis – or even a substantial chunk of it – will be included. The series is not sandbox, and a probable release in late 2010 / early 2011 does not give developer Rocksteady enough time to transform it into such. Don’t expect a fully operational Batmobile or Batplane. Not yet, anyway.

Besides, look at those makeshift concrete walls. That hastily strung barbwire. The familiar Arkham guards. The asylum is still a secure, self-contained location that will consist of several separate buildings, or sections. Sections like the previously discussed, now dilapidated Iceberg Lounge. Or the Sionis cosmetics factory. Or Gotham General Hospital, where Joker got his blood bag. Or this:

Not to bore you with more bragging, butwe called thisback in September, too:

“Batman’s always battling villains on rundown roller coasters, or chasing them through cobwebbed funhouses. Gotham City clearly has at least one out-of-business carnival… possibly dozens. Like the asylum, this setting is bordered, manageably sized and packed with themed zones. The Joker is right at home here.”

And voila, the trailer includes an abandoned amusement park, complete with creepy track-riding corpse. Need more evidence? At the start of the video, when the camera is pulling away from the Arkham wall and through the passing train, there’s a poster to the left side. It’s barely visible, but we think it reads “Wonder City – Cancelled.”

As we wrote in September:

“Gotham is ravaged by an earthquake, quarantined by the U.S. government and abandoned by much of the population. Gangs and supervillains carve the metropolis into territories: Mr. Freeze, Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow, Joker, Two-Face and even Lex Luthor all claim a piece of the pie. Batman would have to visit each area in turn, slowly but surely taking back his city.”

Why would Arkham Asylum be moved into the middle of the city, where insane criminals can easily wreak havoc on the infrastructure and citizenry? An earthquake or other far-reaching disaster is the only feasible explanation. Since Joker’s injuries imply that the sequel takes place relatively soon after the original, perhaps Arkham and Blackgate inmates were moved temporarily so that repairs could be made to their respective facilities. After all, the asylum was just torn apart by Poison Ivy’s tentacles, while the prison is still damaged by Joker’s fire.

Then the earthquake struck, “temporary” turned into “semi-permanent” and the crazies ran loose on Gotham’s streets. Batman will have to enter the new Arkham and restore order once more. If you doubt us, check out the trailer’s final logo. It’s concrete. It’s cracked. It’s crumbling. It’s No Man’s Land.

Dec 15, 2009

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