Excited for the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins? We sure are. It’s not everyday that comic book character licenses are given the respectable video game treatment that they deserve. We could give you a few examples of particularly grievous offenders: Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, Fantastic Four and that awful Catwoman game from that equally awful Catwoman movie.
Batman, though, seems to have been pretty lucky. Especially in his recent Arkham series. Heck, its combat and open-world gameplay has influenced other sandbox and superhero film tie-in games (we’re looking at you, Amazing Spider-Man).
So how did the Arkham series nail it, when most other comic adaptations got it so wrong?
No Adaptation Baggage
Comic canon can be extremely convoluted. With all the ret-cons, weird story veers and time travelling insanity, there’s no way a developer can cram all of that into a series of games, much less a single game.
With the Arkham series, Rocksteady Studios took the smart approach.
The series owes no adherence to film and comics. Yet somehow, it manages to borrow and improvise upon the familiar themes of superheroism, grittiness and investigative savvy that is associated with the Dark Knight.
There are elements from the comics and movies that can be seen in the game and these add a touch of familiarity to it. That’s why the Arkham games have an endearing quality to both comic book readers and mainstream players alike.
For most of comic book fans, there are bits and pieces from established Batman stories such as Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth. Rocksteady even had Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the voice actors of the highly-acclaimed, long running animated Batman shows, represent their characters in the games, and got the show’s writer Paul Dini to pen the script.
Most mainstream players will recognise that the Batsuit our millionaire playboy wears in the Arkham series is a combination of the Christopher Nolan outfits and recent comic book redesigns. As a result, everything about the video game adaptation is fresh yet familiar with a story line that allows the game to stand on its own. Nothing feels forced and neither does it come with the smell of corporate marketing taint; it’s a game made out of pure respect for the character and mythos.