Overview of Batman Arkham Game Series

The Batman Arkham Series has come to and end with Batman Arkham Knight – the last game to conclude the Arkham trilogy. Even though, trilogy is wrongly used – there are four games in the series.

*In order of release dates.

As you might know already, the Batman Arkham Knight PC port was poorly made, and Steam, along with others like GoG, and GreenManGaming, have pulled the game from their stores.

Batman Arkham Series

The publisher for the whole Batman Arkham series has been Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – an alliance with Eidos Interactive was agreed for the first release; Rocksteady Studios were in charge of the first two iterations, and the last one – development wise. Only Batman Arkham Origins was developed by newcomer to the franchise Warner Bros. Games Montreal.

Those in charge of the PC port for Origins, and Arkham Knight, were Iron Galaxy Studios. Basically Rocksteady outsourced the task to another company. Sources have it that there were only 12 developers working on porting the game to PC, which is unbelievable.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Knight

Holy framerates Batman, your Arkham Knight PC port is just a spit in the face.

Also, unfortunately for us, and the gaming industry as a whole, Rocksteady, and Warner were aware of the issues plaguing the PC port 6 months prior to its release date. This is incredible shady, more so, when you find out that no PC titles were sent out to reviewers.

The first two titles of the Batman Arkham series were incredibly well received. Some consider them the best super-hero video-games to hit the gaming industry. Selling botched releases to fans seriously feels like trying to milk one last drop from the huge cow.

Batman Arkham Series - Harley Quinn, and The Joker

A couple made in Heaven, or Hell, or Purgatory, mayhaps even the Abyss.

But let’s put everything aside for a moment, and focus on the history of the Batman Arkham series, what standard it has set for the industry, and how much it has influenced gamers across the world.

Of course, we’re going to start with the first one. Without further ado, I give you…

Batman Arkham Series                     Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

The Batman Arkham Asylum title was released in May of 2009, and  I remember calling it the best comic-book video-game of all time.

The fresh, and fast paced combat, bundled with a great story made it sell like crazy. Of course, it got a Game of the Year release at the end of 2009, which includes more content, and the ability to play the game in 3D – hey, more bang for your buck is always welcome in my book.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

It’s time to dance Gigi!

I tried it without reading any reviews first – I was going through a I-Want-To-Be-Shocked phase, don’t ask me why, because I don’t have an answer to give you. That’s just how I felt.

The first hour of the game gripped me to my sit so hard, I’m lucky I didn’t eat any Taco Bell that day, or boy, you could’ve nicknamed me Mr. Brown.

You see, Batman Arkham Asylum was the first video game done right – featuring a super-hero. We had all of these horrendous titles that were developed only to promote movies. Remember those IronMan games? Of course you don’t, nobody played them.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

But AA seemed different, and felt different – voice actors were exceptional, and the plot created by Paul Dini felt refreshing. You don’t even need to be a Batman fan to enjoy this incredibly well done third-person action game.

The setting for the game is that lunatics of Arkham Asylum, the infamous loony bin of Gotham, has been over-run by its patients. Who can stop them from escaping? You guessed it. Old Bats comes to the rescue. Actually, he’s there while the riot starts.

Caught in the middle of the whole thing, Bruce Man, ah, Bat Wayne, damn it, Batman needs to resolve the situation or innocent lives will perish. How can mentally unstable patients organize themselves into groups, and take-out key element of whatever security was in place?

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

Bats never forgets leg day.

With the help of The Joker of course. Batman apprehended The Joker easily, and brought him back to the asylum. Go figure, it was according to The Joker’s plan – setting up a dinner party with Bats as the guest of honor, or main course.

Batman doesn’t only beat his enemy’s to the pulp, he employs a precise, and efficient stealth tactic to take down his foes. Along with a dizzying variety of devices, and Wayne Enterprise secret gadgets at his disposal, our caped crusader wreaks havoc through the unknowingly, and drunk on glory, mental patients.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

The Batarang Express!

With just two buttons, you can perform attacks worthy of Hollywood movies, and while you advance through the story mode you gain experience points, subsequently leveling up – points for leveling up are awarded, and you can upgrade your attacks, and gadgets.

Your usual mental patients, and The Joker’s henchmen don’t pose a threat, but when they come in groups, welp, it’s a little bit hard to counter-attack. This is where Batman Arkham Asylum really shines. The combat system made it feel incredibly entertaining, and the fact that Bats was so gosh darn fluid in his moves added to the experience.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

A warning sign appears on top of an enemy when he was just about to successfully land a punch, or a crowbar, telling you to counter-attack, or you’ll be in a new world of pain.

There’s no Batmobile, thank God, you’ll see why later – more exactly, in Batman Arkham Knight.

Detective Mode was another feature that made Batman worthy of the Game of the Year title. Superman’s kryptonite is well, kryptonite, but do you know what Batman’s weakness is? Bullets, dear sir, bullets that can penetrate his mortal flesh. This is where Detective Mode comes quite in handy.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

You grapple to a secluded location near the ceiling where those pesky henchmen can’t really see you. Now it’s fun time. Pay attention how they patrol the area, and when the timing’s right grab, and immobilize them – usually with just a press of the button. After you’ve had your fair share of incapacitating enemies just get down, and do your thing.

You might be enticed to think of Batman Arkham Asylum as your average franchise designed for children – the 90s animated series were indeed so, and before Cristopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, we always looked upon our beloved caped crusader as a super-hero that inspires children, but AA is thousands of miles away from being a child-friendly video game.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

Who’s a big boy?!

This is why it was so loved by many gamers. It blends adult themes with the 90s animated series so well, that it shatters your world – in a good way!

Actors from Batman: The Animated series make a spectacular comeback in AA – Mark Hamil reprises his role as The Joker, Kenvin Conroy is once again Bats, and the lovely, but bat-shit crazy Harley Quinn, is voice-acted by Arleen Sorkin.

It’s dark, and eerie, especially when Scarecrow make his appearance, and Bats’ nightmares become reality.

AA has so many memorable events, but a few still haunt me to this day. I don’t think I will ever forget when Victor Zsasz, holding a knife to a female doctor was screaming at me to stay back, the doctor was yelling at me to save her, and The Joker was telling Victor to gut her like a pig.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

Definitely not you.

The Riddler isn’t the goofy villain that has been cemented in our brains by Jim Carrey’s portrayal in Batman Forever – which I highly enjoyed as a kid, but despise as a young-adult. He is one of the most sadistic sons of bitches that the DC universe has to offer. After a riddle that ends with the dismembering of a baby, you’ll want to hunt Riddler for the entirety of the game.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Asylum

Scarecrow makes his debut in a spectacular surreal way, and his gas concoction brings Bats’ nightmares to the real world. These encounters are so well designed that they will stick until you finish the game – I dread, and love them equally.

The Batman Arkham Series had a phenomenal great start, and a sequel was expected. Batman Arkham City was next – bigger, better, and with much more villains to harass.

Batman Arkham Series                      Batman Arkham City

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Could Batman Arkham City fill in the big shoes that AA left? Our expectations were sky high when it was released way back in October of 2011 – we had to have the next big thing.

Guess what? It was even better than Arkham Asylum.

Batman has more fluid moves, the combat is just sheer entertainment, a darn huge open world to explore, and more villains to dismantle.

I find Arkham City the best title in the Batman Arkham Series. As soon as I started playing I realized that I can’t put it down no matter how long I tried, or how much I loved getting paid doing my job – I wasn’t fired, but let’s say I had a sudden family emergency.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Batman Arkham City picks up months after events of Arkham Asylum end. Former Arkham warden, Quincy Sharp, has been elected as the mayor of Gotham, and just like something out of a comic-book, he decided to give inmates from BlackGate Prison, and mental patients from Arkham Asylum, a whole part of the city just for themselves.

Gee whiz Quincy, you just set up their criminal network for them. How did you even get elected in the first place? Did you promise Gotham that their city is going to be the first to land on the Sun?!

The zone is in the heart of Gotham, and it’s being run by Dr. Hugo Strange, and your job, as Batman, is to find out what in the blazing hell is going on there.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Dr. Hugo Strange, your next door nostril inspector.

Rocksteady Studios brought the core of AA, polished it, added a ton of new stuff, and it made Arkham City feel like home. You brawl with just one button, counter-attack with another, and Bats can leap anytime he wants. The best thing – it’s all super-easy, and getting into it mid-playthrough isn’t a pain in the butt. This is the way I made my friends take up the new Batman Arkham Series.

New counterattacks, new combos, and the fact that you can use every gadget in your arsenal with just one hotkey made me giggle in excitement while I paved my way with incapacitated henchmen – remember kids, Batman doesn’t kill, he just maims for life. It’s way better to have no limbs, than to die, says Bruce Wayne, glorified master detective, and psychopath.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Caaanooooooonbaaal!

The combat system is more fun, encompassed in the same simple mechanics. Gamers can choose from going super stealthy, and avoiding fights, to just downright walking down to a henchmen and bludgeoning him until all the evil leaves his bones.

While the combat mechanics are simple, and entertaining, Rocksteady didn’t want to make them boring easy, so be prepared to encounter henchmen with a few new tools at their disposal – stun rods, broken bottles, and armored outfits. It will require Bats to employ a different tactic, and not just mash a button until every foe drops dead.

Overall, once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel overpowered throughout the game. Grapple to gargoyles, and just string enemies one by one, henchmen with rifles don’t scare you anymore, because you can punch them in the gut through feeble walls, or glide kick them over railings – yay for shattering spines.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Even big iconic bosses aren’t that hard, and the only one that made me think a little bit before acting was Mr. Freeze, and that’s because I had to use different gadgets – if you have hints enabled, the Bat-computer will display a cheat sheet, and you just need to time it right to defeat Mister Popsicle.

Even though it doesn’t challenge you that much, it’s still highly enjoyable, and giving Batman the power of God doesn’t drop the entertainment value.

C’mon, you seriously don’t expect The Penguin to defeat Batman.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Stalking the girl next door.

Arkham City isn’t as big, or as open as, let’s say, Grand Theft Auto, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can’t freely explore the city. You can’t get into every building, or zone in Arkham City, and when you do it’s either a place where you can find a Riddler challenge, or a dungeon-like event where you beat-up 20-so henchmen in under a minute.

Plot wise, it’s just sweat as honey – Bruce Wayne has let himself captured, because it was the only way he could’ve gotten into Arkham City. As you already know, Dr. Hugo Strange is leading the forces, and he knows Batman’s true identity. Shockingly, he hasn’t unveiled the mystery to his allies. Unlike the comic books where Hugo told The Joker, Penguin, and others who Batman really is, and they laughed in his face.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Bruce Wayne will explore his sexuality…unwillingly.

You’ll encounter Talia al Ghul, and Ra’s al Ghul, as expected, in the game. I won’t disclose any info, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but that story arc feels like it’s trying to bring back Scarecrow’s surreal nightmares without adding anything new. Sure, they are fun as hell, but not what I expected from the whole event.

Lots, and lots of side-quests are available, and if you get tired of the main quest, you can just wander around the city, and find something to do – whether it is tracing phone booth calls, or taking up Riddler’s challenges.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham City

Riddle me this.

Paul Dini is back as the story writer along with Paul Crocker, and Sefton Hill. The plot doesn’t feel shallow, and events occur naturally while you play, and to be honest, while not Oscar worthy, it has one damn fine story telling.

Arkham City, in my opinion is the best title in the Batman Arkham series. Quality hasn’t really dropped for the next title, but something happened to Arkham Knight, which I will go into detail later in the article.

Batman Arkham Series                     Batman Arkham Origins

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

Batman Arkham Origins isn’t about Arkham at all, it’s a prequel to the Arkham plot-line, even though it doesn’t feel like an origins story – sure, it’s a young Batman, but that’s about it. Some think of the third title as a spit in the face, while others applaud the new features, and the pretty great story.

I for one consider it to be underneath, quality wise, Batman Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable.

Warner Bros. Games Montreal was in charge of the third iteration, and some think the franchise should’ve remained under Rocksteady Studios, but that’s another tale.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

Look at me, I’m Alpha and Omega baby!

It feels different, it feels like another kind of bat if you ask me, but I enjoyed it, and here’s why.

Origins tells the story of a young Batman, and the $50 million bounty on his head. You’ll fend of iconic foes, in a wasteland of a Gotham. Don’t know why it feels so lifeless, at least Arkham City had a motive, a walled off region in the heart of Gotham, but Origins doesn’t give a proper motive.

Missions seem to stick to a pattern, and their novelty soon wears off – they are usually ” Go to that place, and defuse/destroy that “. It’s not something that I expected from the series, but I take what I can.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

Here’s a knuckle electrical sandwich!

Batman Arkham Origins will strike a sensitive chord in Bats – How far can you go without killing someone?

Boss battles are what saves the title – a curios blend between almost quick-time events, and downright brawls, where villains are defeated through unique strategies.

Luckily, Warner Bros. Games Montreal has equipped the Origins title with the old, and loved, combat system – although, we might have liked it a little bit polished, why fix something that ain’t that broken, right?

A few additions in terms of gadgets, and foes have been well received, but if you ask someone what new feature they loved the most, they’ll most likely shrug in confusion – What new features? You mean those concussion grenades? Or the glue ones?

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

Stealth mode is made a little bit stupid-easy. Bats is equipped with a remote grapple that immobilizes thugs without even walking under a certain gargoyle – it feels a little bit like cheating when you have a let me through button.

The Shock Gauntlet gadget feels a lot like cheating, because once charged after beating a couple of foes, it can be activated, and everything that made combat fun will disappear. Punch through riot shields, and armored thugs like it’s pound cake.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

Map design is what you’re accustomed to, but with a lifeless city inbound. Textures, and buildings are rehashed from Arkham City – the northern half of the map is almost the same.

The southern island that’s connected through a bridge, which you tediously need to often cross during quests, doesn’t excel in any way.

It might appear that there isn’t that much to do in Origins, and playing it is dreadful, but I assure you, that’s not the case.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

You’re going to be constantly terrorized by either henchmen, or iconic villains like The Penguin, Mad Hatter, or Anarky Deathstroke is a well-received addition to the title, and you’ll see more of him in Origins, than you did in Arkham City.

Side quests are aplenty, and the new radio towers, which you need to unlock for fast travel, are quite great, and make the game feel less like a Batman Taxi service. Radio towers are somewhat mini-fortresses that you need to clear of foes, and they also involve a little bit of puzzle solving – nothing that will strain your brain.

The new detective mode is fancier, and more efficient. I know it sounds like a cliché, but the zoom and enhance crime investigation is seriously impressive. It’s a visual wonder.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

You can reconstruct events through augmented-reality to find clues. Unfortunately, it’s really not that interactive and clues are highlighted for you – you just need to scan them, and get the piece of the puzzle.

It was once foretold that Batman Arkham Origins would be the first title in the Batman Arkham series that will feature a multiplayer mode – and then developers rested on the seventh day.

Yup, it has multiplayer, a weak shallow multiplayer that feels like a poorly made third person shooter. Three-man teams compete with other groups for controlling a territory.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

A young Penguin!

Robin makes an appearance in MP, and ironically, doesn’t appear in the single player campaign.

The MP mode isn’t available for Wii U, but owners of the console aren’t missing that much. You might play a couple of matches, and find it fun, but because it feels mediocre, you’ll look for a proper shooter.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Origins

There’s no such thing as bad pizza. The same goes for Batman Arkham series titles. Origins is in no way bad, it’s actually pretty interesting to play a young Batman who hasn’t yet made contact with The Joker. Maybe because the first two titles in the series where so perfectly developed, we see Origins as left-over pork from two days ago.

I can certainly say that I loved it more than Arkham Knight – which featured an absurdly stupid story, paired with a big punch in the gut for PC users.

Batman Arkham Series                         Batman Arkham Knight

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Knight

I covered the Batman Arkham Knight last week, so I won’t go into specifics right now.

Why do I feel Batman Arkham Knight to be such a disappointment? Well, mostly because as a gamer, I condemn the acts of big studios that think it’s okay to release a botched title, knowing that it isn’t fit for a platform.

Publisher, Warner Bros. and developer RockSteady Studio knew six months prior to release that the game was buggy, but it kept the release date. At least, after the consumer backlash commenced, they took the game off of Steam, GoG, GreenManGaming, and other digital retailers.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Knight

Arkham Knight feels like unwrapping a huge box on Christmas day, only to find out that you received socks, a ton of socks, from auntie Maple who is stupid rich. The potential is overwhelming, and when you think of the possibilities you just get sad deep inside.

The plot, like I put it last week, is absurdly stupid, the Batmobile has terrible controls, and more importantly, the whole game feels like a Batman walking simulator if you try to play it on PC.

There are a few points to the story which I found interesting, but nothing that stuck.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Knight

The Batman Arkham series proved to be one of the most loved gaming franchises of the past five years, and it’s popularity isn’t faltered that much by the Arkham Knight botched PC release.

I don’t believe publisher Warner Bros. when they’re saying that this is going to be the last title – If it sells well, it’s gonna have a new sequel, or a better origins retelling title.

I loved playing as one of my favorite psychopaths, I loved how the architecture of the building perfectly conveyed The Dark Knight. Hopefully, the franchise won’t turn into Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed – a new title each year, and with each year something old is slightly redesigned, and put on a pedestal.

Batman Arkham Series - Arkham Knight

Nightwing, Batman, and Robin

With these final words, I highly recommend you to play all titles in the Batman Arkham series, and see for yourself if you love the caped crusader’s tale, or not. I know I do.

If you have something to add please do so by posting in the comments section below.

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