Grave Injustice: Three Reasons the Arkham City Sequel Might Suck



By James Hilton

Rocksteady proved one thing with the Arkham series: first, that it was possible to create a superhero themed game that was good; and second, that Rocksteady itself was capable of producing something good.

Indeed, Batman: Arkham City remains among my top three favorite games, not solely because I’m endeared to Batman, but because it perfectly blended linear narrative and open-world exploration. The plot was thrilling and flowed consistently and was complemented by even pacing, while still allowing for free roam exploration that didn’t overwhelm and dilute the plot.

In all, it was a superb game, and moreover, it was an excellent sequel, a feat that doesn’t always happen in the gaming ‘verse.

Naturally, I’ve been steeped in eager anticipation for the inevitable third installment ever since, but early rumors and here-say appear to spell doom for Arkham 3 before it’s even been announced.

It can’t be that bad? Can it?

So, why will the final chapter of the Arkham franchise probably suck?

Silver-aged Era Prequel

Early reports seem to indicate that the next installment of the series won’t be a sequel at all, but a prequel reflecting the Silver Age of the Batman comics (ranging from about the mid-50s to the early 70s).

Not only is this simply an awful idea all around, but I feel like the sole reason they’re gearing a prequel in this direction is to incorporate members of the Justice League into the fray and build hype for the film adaptation they’re still Hell-bent on producing.

Furthermore, a prequel would completely subvert all the side quest content that was setting up potential story arcs for a sequel, such as the emergence of Hush, Azrael’s prophecy, and the discovery of Scarecrow’s secret cache of new fear toxin. With all this tantalizing set-up for future stories, it’s disappointing to think that none of it will come to fruition.

It’s still batman James.

Most disappointing of all is the fact that the developers appear to want to depict the first encounter between Batman and The Joker, which is a tad impossible considering that there will be…

No Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill, who has voiced The Joker in animation for over two decades, made it clear that he’d be retiring from his token role as the Clown Prince of Crime, presumably so he turn his attention to playing Luke Skywalker again. Arkham City served as his grande finale, and his departure from Batman lore was finalized with The Joker’s death at Arkham City’s climax.

Do the developers intend to replace Mark Hamill; that is, to depict The Joker without his signature voice actor? Who could possibly rise to such a role? John DiMaggio? Billy West? Wayne Knight??

For this reason alone, a prequel should be avoided, because Mark Hamill’s performance as The Joker simply can’t be topped. I suppose when the tantalizing notion of turning a buck enters a video game writer’s fertile mind they’ll be willing to spin a story in any direction, regardless of the integrity of the plot.

No Rocksteady

Rocksteady foregoing involvement with the next installment surely spells doom for the franchise. When games change hands midway through a series it doesn’t exactly bode well for the story.

Moreover, head writer Paul Dini announced that he’d be moving on to other projects, leaving Arkham 3 bereft of its leading creative team member. Without its original developer and head writer, it’s a wonder they think that another installment will even be worth the effort — oh wait: money.

Likely Next Gen-centric

With the launch of the Xbox 720 and PS4 all but immanent, it would not be surprising if many upcoming games will be released exclusively for the new consoles to force conformity among the gaming community and guarantee profit for the next generation of systems. After all, we live in a world where the iPhone 5 S will hit shelves before the 5 has even had a chance to collect dust on the store shelves.

It’s not the rain, those are my tears.

The point is, I’ll probably be forced to purchase an entirely new freaking system if I want to play Arkham 3. Although, with all the negativity surrounding initial rumors of the game, there’s a very good chance I won’t play it at all.

I do hope I’m wrong, but in my experience creative integrity appears to be an attribute sorely lacking in today’s industrious world. Sadly, a fantastic set of games being butchered at the onset of the final act is injustice any day of the week.


5 Responses

  1. IntrinsicRandomEveny

    May 14, 2013 11:27 pm

    Completely agreed James, also devastated by what they want to do with this “prequel”.

    Perhaps the nastiest thing about all of this is that the only thing the new developers want to take from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City is the name “Arkham”.
    Oh yes, they do want that, they certainly want to leech off the marketing potential built by the success of the last two Batman Games.

    If they were honest about it, they’d drop “Arkham” from the title and simply make this a new game featuring a new take on Batman… after all, they have no interest in preserving the core characteristics that have defined the Arkham series so far, with particular respect to the actors, the writing, and the story arc.

    I doubt I’ll be playing their prequel. I can only hope that one day, after this escapade into JL prequel-dom has been demonstrated to be a poor decision, some momentum might build for making a true “Arkham 3″ game. A vain hope perhaps.

  2. Brandon

    July 29, 2013 9:31 pm

    Seriously give it a chance. I was disappointed to hear Conroy wasn’t batman in this but I’m willing to give batman a fair shake before I possibly write it off as a bad game. I grew with Conroy as my batman.

    Yes honestly trying to top Arkham City is near impossible, but they are not trying to top it. They are creating something new with what has already been laid out before them. But you should give it a chance before condemning it. Don’t focus on the negatives, focus on the positives and the new things they wanna try and bring to the table. You are acting like they will never make a 4th and continue the story that was set up at the end of Arkham City. Are you a fortune teller? No so don’t say those side mission stories and the more important, batman dealing with the death of the joker and the effects it has on Gotham are never gonna be continued.

  3. D.o.s.

    August 27, 2013 3:10 am

    well, Arkham Origins looks like its gonna be awesome, its also due out on october 25th, which means it’ll be out on all consoles, 7th gen and 8th (just like what they did hen they released games for both the ps2 and 3 when the 3 was new) and the fact that its a prequel doesnt mean it’ll be bad. Yeah i was dissapointed when i heard there was no hamill or conroy, but the new guys sound like younger versions of them anyway, which fits with the prequel. I think the guy thats doing the joker is doing a good job of emulating hamils take on joker, and besides, he did good as nate in uncharted, so he’s got experience in the voiceover department. I say give it a chance. The multiplayer aspect looks good, getting a chance to play as the bad guys henchmen and take over territory of other bad guys is a brilliant idea. I do hope they carry the story on from ‘City@ cuz i wanna know the effect the lazarus pit had on clayface, but to be honest short of making it ‘Arkham World’ (the jokers idea, not mine) how far can they actually take it. A prequel is a good thing because it means we get to play bruce when he was starting out, it’ll be like ‘Year One’ but playable. and this time he has a bounty on his head. You shouldn’t knock something till you’ve at least tried it.

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