The Riddler to star as major villain in Batman: Arkham City

He’s not just a creepy, cocky, disembodied voice anymore. New Batman: Arkham City screens reveal that The Riddler, relegated to collectible taskmaster in the original game, will play a much larger – and more visible – role in this October’s sequel. Look, he’s got a face, a costume and even his own hideout!

Though The Riddler (aka Edward Nigma, aka E. Nigma) never appeared physically in Arkham Asylum, his quizzical presence and influence were everywhere – from tiny green trophies and question mark graffiti to a complex network of environmental puzzles. His character gave developers at Rocksteady the perfect excuse to load their game with DC Comics trivia, plus an astonishing amount of fan service, so I’m excited to see if those aspects of the sequel will be expanded as well.

A few details you might miss if you’re not studying thesescreenshots at full-size:

• The Riddler’s surveillance station is located inside a Sionis Industries warehouse or factory – you can see the logo on his dashboard controls. Previously, I’ve speculated that villain Black Mask, aka Roman Sionis, might show up based on how many of the game’s official images featured his name, but now it seems that The Riddler is just using his buildings as a makeshift headquarters. Or are they working together somehow?

• Guards are being bound, tortured and possibly killed on some of those television monitors. See the electrocution? The Riddler is more than arrogant in Arkham City… he’s deranged and dangerous, using innocent victims as pawns in his mental showdown with Batman. Is this why The Oracle has gone missing, to be replaced on your earpiece by Alfred?

• With an unbuttoned collar and extremely loose tie, Edward Nigma isn’t as meticulously dressed as usual. Either the previous game’s defeat has truly sent him over the edge, or this shot of his frustrated face is taken later in the sequel, when the World’s Greatest Detective has worn him down with superior solution skills.

• Batman can hold people while ziplining now? Please let that ability extend to enemies, too!

• And finally, take a closer look at the concept painting of The Riddler below. Cool cane, but I’m talking about the statue – it contains what appear to be working gears. I suspect these collectibles won’t be as simple to grab in Arkham City as they were in Arkham Asylum. Some may be booby-trapped.

UPDATE: Now that the first Riddler images have been revealed by Warner Bros. and Rocksteady, I’m finally free to tell you about the first Riddler video, which I was shown at GDC earlier this month. At the end of a half-hourgameplay demo, Batman spotted a billboard with the following words written in green spray paint:

“Turn on, tune in before someone checks out. 275.00 325.00.”

When he used his Batradio to track that frequency, the game faded into a short trailer, beginning in what can only be described as the inside of Edward Nigma’s brain. The camera zipped from one glowing question mark-shaped synapse to another as The Riddler repeated some of his overconfident lines from Arkham Asylum. Then we realize, through a few quick scenes, that The Riddler is no longer merely taunting… he’s kidnapping prison guards and police officers, then leaving them in timed puzzle rooms full of gears, saws and blades. One particularly terrified hostage reminded me of Renee Montoya, Gotham PD’s most famous member after Commissioner Gordon.

By the end of the video, Riddler has transformed from arrogant to downright angry, practically spitting out his final words, “I’m better than you!” The stakes? They have been raised.

Mar 16, 2011

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Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!