As Batman: Arkham Asylum hits the PS3 Playstation Plus Free section on Oct. 8, it’s time for a trip down memory lane. Many endearing moments in this game stand out; the throw mechanic, those horrible boss fights – oh how we loved you, Bane clones – and holy crap, playing as the Joker was incredible.
Seriously. There has never been a better opportunity to experience the PS3-exclusive masterpiece that was the playable Joker. He was devilishly brutal and had an entirely different gadget set that required a new playstyle not found with the Caped Crusader.
And the series was just getting started. Arkham City brought in Robin, with his staff-based combat and defensive gadgets, and Nightwing with his electrified kali sticks and heightened acrobatic skills. Each of them had dozens of unique combat animations, offering a fresh experience (although Robin’s Ground Takedown animation was a huge obstacle for competitive leaderboard rankings, but that’s besides the point).
Then there was Arkham Origins, the much-maligned non-Rocksteady entry in the series. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for that installment, but the playable Joker in Arkham Asylum reminded me of one of the worst parts of Warner Bros. Montreal’s attempt at the series. Deathstroke was just a re-skinned Robin, and Origins hardly tried to hide it.
Enter Arkham Knight. Fans disappointed in the prequel have much to look forward to, not the least of which is a playable Harley Quinn for all pre-orders and a playable Red Hood for Gamestop pre-orders. This could be the key for Arkham Knight’s success. Although the campaign of the Arkham games has always been their main attraction, people kept playing the game to dig into the bonus content. Dozens of challenge maps with multiple characters gave the previous games legs.
Red Hood and Quinn are fan-favorite villains distinct from the bonus characters of previous games, so the potential is there for Rocksteady to nail that aspect once again. On top of that, Arkham Knight’s use of Scarecrow as a main villain could see the return of Scarecrow Challenge maps for these playable characters. The multiple delays in the game’s production should leave no excuses for lazily-made characters, not that Origins had a valid excuse.
When working on or tweaking Harley Quinn and the Red Hood for their respective bonus content, Rocksteady needs to remember how awesome the Joker was in Asylum, and strive for that quality.