Arkham Asylum

Thanks to my wife clearing out the evenings, I played and finished Batman: Arkham Asylum in a week on February 28, 2016.

arkham asylum

Here are a few (few!) quick thoughts about the game; there’s so much that could be said:

  • “No one’s that selfless…” from the Riddler and “What are you??” from Scarecrow – both quotes about the inability of evil to understand anything but itself
  • The interaction of the villains, what they think of each other and how they comment on each other’s behavior was really well done
  • The dates on the tapes, hint/point to a larger world (you didn’t have to include that kind of detail) Each of the tapes is a mini-story in itself, and the Harley getting with Joker, Scarecrow being bested, Zsasz and his doing, etc.

The game started me down the Arkham road and has let to some of the best story, combat, and all-around enjoyment I’ve had with this hobby.

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Field Notes: The Road to Arkham

Reading The Road to Arkham drives you up to Arkham Asylum with the Joker in tow and drops you off right where the game Batman: Arkham Asylum begins.

It’s a short but good prequel to the game and there are several details that get us ready to the upcoming adventure:

  • Oracle is working with Batman right from the start and see how their relationship works, with each bouncing ideas off the other as to how all these villains could have been so “easily” captured
  • Black Mask is mentioned, someone we won’t met in-game as a major player until Batman: Arkham Origins. Nice name drop!
  • We see the Joker go after the current mayor of Gotham, pre-Quincy Sharp. Not a huge plot point but interesting after playing through the games that we get Mr. Sharp’s precursor
  • Zsasz makes an appearance, and it’s pretty clear you’ll be seeing him again soon

The Dark Knight’s instinct tells him that something’s off, that this was all a little too convenient as we arrive at the Asylum where his instinct will be proven to be dead on …

Road to Arkham 1

Good call

Field Notes: Batman Arkham City (Comic)

Spoilers for the Batman: Arkham City comic follow

The Batman: Arkham City prequel comic is a great direct lead-in to the game. Like Road to Arkham walked you right up to the start of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the City comic does a fantastic job of getting you ready to dive into the game that shares its name.

The strongest point of this work is how Dr. Hugo Strange is set up to be an intellectually equal opponent to Batman. Using both mayor Quincy Sharp and the Trask brother and sister to push Gotham to not only accept martial law but the building of Arkham City shows Strange as a master of getting events to head in the direction he wants them to go.

Strange’s machinations almost wipe out the Dark Knight, but thanks to Catwoman’s unlooked-for rescue he’s able to survive. Here again we see Dr. Strange’s obsession and study of Batman, almost catching him for the last time.

Arkham City Comic Cover

I enjoyed how Strange knew that Batman would come and search through Mayor Sharp’s files to try to find out more about him, then next simply observing Bruce’s movement as he infiltrated both Joker and Penguin’s gangs. Studying an opponent to find a weakness is something we’ve seen the Dark Knight do again and again, so here we see how Hugo’s methods stack up – they stack up well.

There are other details that add to the story; Harley Quinn saving the Joker from guards who wanted revenge, the perspective of the Joker that they “got in” to Arkham first and could set up a new criminal enterprise unencumbered, etc. These points give us more insight into everyone’s head and where things are headed.

Strange gets the final word in the last issue (“Exposure”) however, and it’s fitting as he lays out his strategy and the current state of the Arkham-verse going through each of the other players in the drama, how their goals (and indeed their persons) are inferior to his, and how Batman is his only real opponent:

Only you are capable of comprehending the true stakes of this life and death game.

Hugo Strange’s summation is the perfect send-off for this story and setup for the next one. Well done.

 

Field Notes: Batman Arkham City, End Game

Spoilers for Batman: Arkham City End Game follow

Batman: Arkham City End Game has been the most rewarding of the extended storied around the Arkham-verse that I’ve read. The art style and story shine and add to the overall Arkham experience by not just giving you more to know about the characters, but by making you feel more for them as well.

With how many twists Arkham City had and how devious the Joker had been set up to be this comic had to be written in order to show that the he was actually gone. And how is that final end portrayed?

End Game page

Image courtesy of IGN

There’s only one way to go to make sure someone’s really dead – incinerator.

The art style – more than the other Arkham comics I’ve read – has an impact on the mood of the story, giving it a mystical and solemn vibe. Continue reading →

Field Notes: Assault on Arkham

The Batman Arkham Universe includes Batman: Assault on Arkham, the direct-to-video release from 2014.

Batman Assault on Arkham banner

I didn’t know what to expect and but I enjoyed the movie – the characters and the setting were Arkham through and through and it added more life to the universe, seeing Continue reading →

Field Notes: Arkham Unhinged

I’m marching towards Batman: Arkham Knight and before playing it I want to wrap up any extended lore from the previous games. First up, the Arkham Unhinged comic book series.

Batman Arkham Unhinged Cover 1

There are 58 issues is all and the canonization is a bit fuzzy as things don’t always match up with the games but I think there are elements that can be mined to enhance one’s experience of the Batman Arkham series.

Unhinged has been described as a prequel but it goes all over the all place. While this makes it Continue reading →

Field Notes: Batman Arkham City, Page 6

This is the sixth and final entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game

Since the Joker’s death at the end of Arkham City, Harley Quinn has been grieving in her own way by taking over the gang and planning a trap for the Dark Knight.

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Grieving her own way

While being even more silent then usual at the conclusion of City proper, neither Robin or Oracle has heard from Batman since he went into the Joker’s recent haunts to stop whatever Quinn was up to. Continue reading →

Field Notes: Batman Arkham City, Page 5

This is the fifth entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game

It was a battle to get here but this is it – I’ve faced countless thugs and the bitter cold in a city run by madmen, to find myself here at the end of this adventure. Let’s talk about it!

Strange Days

Confronting Dr. Hugo Strange was epic, but the man behind the madness of Wonder Tower disappointed me in his motivations.

hugo-strange-in-arkham-city

Black gloves continue to get a bad reputation

The prequel comics and game did a good job of presenting Strange as the mastermind, so when he mentioned a “master” just before his climactic last stand I didn’t know where things would go. However having Ra’s al Ghul be that puppet master was a let down, and it’s my own fault.

Continue reading →

Field Notes, Batman: Arkham City, Page 3

This is the third entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game

I continue to be amazed at how much Batman there is in this game. If you were someone new to the Dark Knight’s now seventy-seven year public history, you could play this game and get it – get what Batman is all about, from the characters to locations and motivations driving everyone forward. It’s great stuff.

Gang Related

The way the gang activity is portrayed throughout the story is well done. The chatter of the thugs gives you a ground up perspective of the events you are reacting to, and enhances the environment around you by giving it more history (if even very recent history).

Continue reading →

Field Notes, Batman: Arkham City, Page 2

This is the second entry on my play through of Batman: Arkham City. Be ye warned that there will be spoilers for as far as I’ve played and please avoid spoilers for me if you have any comments concerning future segments of the game

Environmental Proceedings

The more I play the game the more the environment draws me in; the ambient sounds and moody visuals all add up to an experience that continues to draw me further in with each moment.

A list of some of these:

  • The snow fall and the way it sticks to Batman’s cape
  • Criminal walkie-talkie chatter
  • Intermittent police sirens
  • Lighting and position of the moon
  • TYGER helicopter giving a play-by-play of me beating up street thugs and other guard chatter

Each of these examples, while not a main point in the story, all enhance the story even if I’m not consciously aware of them at the time.

Continue reading →