Victor gives a SPOILER FILLED rant as to why Batman: Arkham Origin’s bait and switch didn’t work for him
I’m pretty stoked for Batman: Arkham Knight. Even though the game is slated to be released next year, the trailers for the game looked great. They’re introducing a new villain (the titular Arkham Knight), a larger Gotham City and I’ll finally get to drive the Batmobile! In preparation for its upcoming release, I picked up a copy of Batman: Arkham Origins three weeks ago. It’s been on my backlog list for a while now and, since I haven’t been playing anything seriously lately, it seemed like a perfect time to play and finish it!
Set a couple of years into his career as The Dark Knight, Batman’s legend is just starting to grow. This has made him a thorn in the side of the crime lord Black Mask. Black Mask puts a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head and eight assassins, including Deathstroke, Shiva and Bane, are vying to claim the prize. It’s a pretty neat set up for a video game as you know what’s coming. You know the bosses you’ll be facing. You have an idea of the tone for the entire game. You know exactly what to expect.
And, you know what? I liked the idea of introducing some of the lesser known villains in Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery! I mean, not many people know about Black Mask, so making him the primary antagonist was a stroke of genius in my opinion. The sky’s the limit and they can do practically anything with him here!
From the outset, I was enjoying the game. I’ve played both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and this game felt like I was playing those great games again. Sure, Gotham’s a pretty crappy place to live but, when you get to play as the Caped Crusader and glide through the massive city, crack a few skulls and find a few Enigma data packs, it’s easy to feel at home.
After playing for a couple of hours, I just completed my first real boss battle with Deathstroke; the one with Electrocutioner doesn’t count. It was a pretty epic fight and it took all of Batman’s skill and knowledgeable use of his gadgets to defeat him. The Penguin then tells Batman to solve the apparent murder of…
Wait, how can he be dead? He’s supposed to be the big bad guy, right? Well, anyway, after investigating the crime scene, Batman deduces that it was a decoy that was actually murdered and the real Black Mask was kidnapped by an unknown criminal known as the Joker.
I didn’t like where this was going. Sure, the Joker is Batman’s archenemy but I wanted something fresh, which Black Mask was giving me. Well, I thought it would be a nice to have a Joker cameo in the game. So it wasn’t a big deal. Anyway, after figuring out that Joker needed Black Mask to access the Gotham Merchants Bank, Batman heads over there.
Then this happened…
After the cutscene, I paused the game, stood up and just… reflected on what I just watched. I was disappointed, to say the least. No, I was pretty angry! Not only did they “reinstate” The Joker as the main villain in the game, they made him the one pulling the strings all along! As much as I love the character, I think they should’ve given the spotlight to someone else!
After this happened, all of the promise the game had seemed to just vanish into nothingness. The idea of having eight assassins targeting Batman becomes more of a side note rather than a plot point. Tracking down and facing Shiva and Deadshot even become side quests, for God’s sakes!
Like the previous two Arkham games, the entire game revolved around bringing the Clown Prince of Crime to justice. It’s been done already! I even intentionally avoided reading much of the plot of Arkham Origins just so I would be surprised at the direction the game will take me! And then I got this? I think it would’ve been better if I looked through all the spoilers so I wouldn’t be so irritated at the reveal!
I thought I was getting a fresh take on Batman and a new story when I got Arkham Origins. Instead, if felt like a rehash of the previous installments. And I think that’s what really pissed me off: it squandered the potential to set it apart from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It had a chance to delve deeper into Batman’s mythos and tell a riveting storylines from the comics like The Long Halloween, Hush, No Man’s Land, War Games and Court/Night of the Owls. These stories, like many others from Batman’s long history, have one thing in common: they don’t have The Joker as The Caped Crusader’s primary foe. So it should be possible to make a good Batman game without the Joker involved! They had all of the elements necessary to do that here. But they didn’t.
I powered through Arkham Origins and I did enjoy the game to a certain extent. But the plot twist revealing the Joker was really Black Mask soured the whole experience. I know I would’ve had a much better time with the game if they just tried something different.
Arkham Knight right now still looks pretty good and I’m still excited to get it. I love the design of the new villain but…
…if it turns out the Arkham Knight is a resurrected Joker in power armor, you’ll probably drive me insane! During The Killing Joke, the Joker said ” All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” Well, let me revise that quote of his: “All it takes is one bad plot twist in an Arkham game to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”
Surprise me, Rocksteady. And break away from the pattern of making the Joker the main villain in an Arkham game.