A Quick Guide to Batman: Arkham
Batman: Arkham Knight is finally here!
It’s the fourth installment of the Arkham series of Batman video games, and the series’ first installment of this generation.
As big Batman fans ourselves, we’re definitely excited. We even have a brand new Arkham Knight costume, in the image of the titular character himself, coming up shortly afterward. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to the entire series as it stands so far.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Written by Paul Dini (a Batman veteran whose resume includes Emmy award-winning work on TV shows like Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Batman Beyond ), Arkham Asylum kicked off the Arkham series with its release in 2009. The crux of the game’s story is a plot by the Joker to trap Batman in the titular asylum with all of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals. At the same time, the Joker readies an arsenal of weapons to unleash upon the city, one of which being the neurotoxic chemical Titan.
Through a combination of stealth and combat, the player must navigate the asylum and search for a way to stop the Joker’s plans. One of the new tools available to the player (i.e., newer than Batman’s standard-issue batarangs or grappling hook gun) is Detective Vision, which, when toggled on, highlights various points of interest within the environment, not unlike the Assassins’ “Eagle Vision” in the Assassin’s Creed game, for those familiar.
Batman: Arkham City
The second part of the original Batman: Arkham trilogy, Arkham City, was released in 2011 and takes place one year after the conclusion of the previous game. Once again, Paul Dini served as writer, and Mark Hammill continued his role of the Joker from Asylum. Arkham City’s plotline shares some similarities with that of Asylum’s, but with more than its fair share of twists. The “Arkham City” in the title of the game is a new prison that’s been erected in Gotham City that encompasses much of the slums and otherwise run-down urban areas of the city. Batman has been incarcerated by Hugo Strange, who serves as the warden. He must not only overcome the villain’s master plan, known as “Protocol 10,” but must discover a cure for the Titan toxin introduced in the previous game. The Joker, after realizing that Titan is killing him, introduces the substance by Batman via injection.
After its release, Arkham City received perfect scores from respected outlets like Game Informer, Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magazine, and Electronic Gaming Monthly. Asylum got great reviews, too, but even four years later, City is still generally recognized the best superhero video game (and, by some, the best video game, period) ever made. Quite literally, it simply took the best things about Asylum that made the game great, and let players play with them in a brand-new, more expansive arena.
A spinoff mobile game, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, was also released in 2011 for Android and iOS. Set before the events of Arkham City, with the prison’s construction announced in the opening sequence, the game focuses on one-on-one battles between Batman and various villains throughout the streets of Gotham.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Released in 2013, Arkham Origins closes the original trilogy of Batman: Arkham games and also serves as a prequel to the games – it is set five years before The Joker puts into action his schemes in Asylum. As a younger Batman, the player’s main adversary in Origins is Black Mask, who places a bounty on the Dark Knight on Christmas Eve. This draws an influx of villains to Gotham, with whom Batman must battle.
As the first Arkham game with a depth of online multiplayer modes, as well as an all-new open game world to explore, Origins is typically regarded as a great game that suffers only from “hard act to follow” syndrome. Backstory and character development were two of the game’s most oft-reported strengths, while the somewhat repetitive and recycled gameplay were seen as relative minuses.
Origins got its own mobile spinoff too, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. Months after the conclusion of the main game, The Joker, Penguin, and Black Mask have overthrown Blackgate Prison and have each gathered a legion of fellow inmates to serve as private armies. Batman is sent to quell the uprising in a mission that ends up serving to strengthen the partnership between himself and Commissioner Gordon that’s seen in Asylum.
Batman: Arkham Knight
This is it: the forecasted end of the Arkham story arc. Even though Batman: Arkham was indeed supposed to be just a trilogy, Arkham Knight is set one year after the conclusion of City and is intended the close all the loops and tie up all the loose ends. As promised in various trailers and teasers for the game, Scarecrow is Batman’s main enemy this time around, after uniting the rest of Gotham’s supervillains into a single force. Poison Ivy, Penguin, Harley Quinn, and Two-Face, among others, are all featured, too. As for the Arkham Knight himself, he’s a brand new character for Batman to fight.
Accompanying the release of Arkham Knight is another mobile platform spin-off game, titled Batman: Arkham Underworld. In this game, players control the villains instead of the heroes. By assembling teams of classic comic book supervillains like Harley Quinn and The Riddler, players can build their own criminal hideouts and form their own organized crime underworld empires of recruited thugs. In this way, the idea of the game is to dethrone Batman and take over Gotham as the greatest kingpin of all time.