Batman: Arkham Origins. It’s what I’ve wanted since I put down my Xbox controller after wrapping up Harley Quinn’s Revenge: another installment in Rocksteady’s consistently stellar Arkham franchise. I hold Batman: Arkham City in the highest regard, it being my favorite game of all time and all, and as a result, I hold the studio that developed the game, Rocksteady, in the highest regard as well. It’s a great story too, about a completely unknown studio rising from the darkness of cheap iOS games to create two masterpieces in a stellar one-two punch that began with 2009’s Arkham Asylum and continued with 2011’s Arkham City.
So when it was announced that Rocksteady would not be developing Arkham Origins, the third (or, technically speaking, first) installment in the Arkham series, I was more than a little put off. Even when the studio said that they were confident in the talent at Warner Bros. Montreal, I still wasn’t convinced. But then I heard that it would run on the same engine, and gameplay would remain very similar, so I got my hopes up.
And then the 40 second teaser trailer dropped, and that was awesome. Really, this game had me at the first full trailer – the wonderfully rendered CGI, an excellent fight scene, and the reveal of the big bad at the end was all reminiscent of a certain trailer for Arkham City. Needless to say, I am really excited for this game, and I really can’t wait for it’s release in November. The same is no doubt true of many other fans of the first two games, or even people new to the franchise who stumbled across any of the three trailers, or read an article about it on Kotaku or IGN.
WE WANT THIS GAME. But the question is, do we really need it? I’m sure that it will be a great game, and I have confidence in the new studio. Surviving a night of being hunted down by nine assassins – including Bane, Deadshot, and Deathstroke – as Batman is going to be a lot of fun. That, I can already tell, based off of the last two games and what we’ve seen in the trailers so far. We haven’t exactly seen any gameplay, but some of what we’ve seen certainly looks in game certainly looks in game. But I’ll ask again; Do we need this game?
And the answer is, honestly, no. One could argue that we don’t “need” any game, but that’s not exactly the argument I’m trying to make here. The argument that I’m trying to make is one for another Arkham game, but one that is not Arkham Origins. With comic book characters these days, it seems like we always need to be retold their origins. Right now, we’re getting Batman: Zero Yar, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo. We already have Frank Millar’s Year One, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, along with a host of other Batman origin stories, or stories about a younger Batman.
What we end up with is another tale about a young Batman. And the story isn’t exactly the sprawling story that Arkham City had. Combine these two factors and we’re left with a game that is clearly intended simply as a filler title. It’s going to be glorious filler, that much is pretty much solidified at this point, if I’m going to be quite honest. Going back in Batman’s timeline isn’t exactly the best way to go for this precarious third entry into a gamin franchise. It’s key, because it’s often where you make or break your franchise, and having a third entry that’s filler isn’t exactly the wisest idea.
Ubisoft tried it with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, which was a really awesome game. It rode off of the series’ high point, Assassin’s Creed II, and then, from there, the franchise has steadily lost steam, which is sad. I don’t want to see that happen to the Arkham franchise, where, upon getting to the third game, we’ve gone through too much filler and people have just become disenchanted with the franchise. Personally, I feel like it’s an even worse idea because they have decided to explore the past. Couldn’t they have just done nine pieces of story DLC, spread out over three games, each with a part of Arkham Origins’ story?
Anyways, what I really want is to see them move into the future with an Arkham game that takes place in the future. What that would be, I couldn’t really say, because, well, the end of Arkham City felt like a natural ending. That said, a bunch of stuff was opened up by the game’ side quests – the best examples being Hush and Azrael – and easter egg’s, such as the Scarecrow and Croc easter eggs. My hypothesis is that Rocksteady is working on that game right now, but they want to release a game every two years, and, at this time, the next game just isn’t ready to be released yet. So what do you do? Throw out some filler to the hungry audience.
In some ways, I’m grateful that they did this, because it keeps the Arkham franchise relevant as we enter a new era of gaming, filled with cloud computing, better graphical fidelity, and a small army of new and exciting IP’s. Many games will fail to stay relevant, so I’m not surprised a bunch of franchises are putting out new games before we enter this new era of gaming. I’m also happy that we are getting more Arkham before Rocksteady puts out a sequel to Arkham City, which I’m sure the will at some point.
That said, I wish that they would put out a game that isn’t filler. The Arkham game that we both want and need, the one that adds to the experience while carving out a new story for Batman, something that adds to his character, rather than simply going back and looking at him before he becomes the hardened crime fighter we all know so well. Will I buy this game? Yes. Will I love it? Probably. But it’s still filler, and that kind of annoys me.