An Embittered Love Letter To the Arkham Asylum Games

Dear Rocksteady,

I adore you. You have translated the tone and mood of contemporary Batman comics like no other, better than any film, radio play or novelisation has ever achieved. You invented stories that skillfully include and combine all of Batman’s genres; horror and psychological thrillers, action and adventure, crime and detective fiction, super-spy gadgetry romps and even the supernatural.

1267235-952337_20100304_004Hiring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to voice Batman and The Joker was a masterstroke. Your excellent casting choices carry over into the generous supporting members of the Bat-family you have allowed into your interpretation.

You have created a system of controls that allow Batman to investigate, interrogate, battle and evade his enemies in identifiably Batmannish ways. Through your sublime efforts you have allowed the most casual to the most hard-core of Batman fans to embody our eponymous hero. There is so much joy to be had in using every gadget, flying over the streets of Gotham and dive bombing into the alleyways, sneaking up on unsuspecting thugs and duking it out with the likes of Bane and Mr Freeze. You even managed to maintain a serious tone whilst Batman punches a shark in the face, I especially applaud you for that.

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Your art design is beautiful. You have created characters and the exteriors/interiors of buildings that look gritty and realistic as well as part of a comic book story. Your Bat-suit is wonderful, a clever combination of the classic design and light functional armour. Even Robin looks kinda cool for once.

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That being said, there are some problems. With all your great art design and character work why are the women so bad? Poison Ivy is just green cleavage.

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Catwoman’s suit, inspired by Ed Brubaker’s great run on her comic, is no longer functional but tight and cleavagey. Her personality is gone too, at her best she is a Robin Hood type figure who protects those in harm’s way, people whose Batman’s black and white morality deems unworthy of such treatment. Instead dear Selina is now just a big flirt with boobs and cat-puns. One of her counter moves is to kiss her assailant as a distraction, why?!?! We have a playable Robin, Nightwing and even Joker, but where is a playable Batgirl and/or Batwoman? Yes darling Babs is there, but as the wheelchair bound Oracle. Is it because their traditional costumes can’t accommodate cleavage?

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I’ve also seen the footage for your upcoming (and suspiciously overdue) Arkham Knight. Why is Batman now in heavy metallic armour? Is he Iron Man now? How is he supposed to sneak up on his foes now? Even a comic book hero can’t do backflips in something that heavy and cumbersome. Wouldn’t he accidentally kill all his enemies with a single punch now? Blunt force trauma is easier to achieve with metal. I personally never had a great need for the inclusion for the Batmobile, but it’s nice of you to include it for those that do. So why then is the Batmobile effectively a tank? Why is Batman, a noir-esque ninja-Zorro, racking up millions of dollars of property damage? I thought he wants to protect and nurture his suffering Gothamites? There aren’t any civilians endangered in that part of the city though you say? Yes exactly, this time around with new generation consoles technology please give us a living and breathing Gotham, not just another quarantine zone.

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Please Rocksteady, return to the visuals of the first Arkham Asylum. Updating them doesn’t mean putting Batman in detailed steel plates. After you’ve done that, improve the female cast members characterisation and design. You are only inches from true perfection.

Yours sincerely,

T.J. Fisk

P.S. Day one DLCs are not cool.

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