Beware: Major spoilers lie within! Read at your own risk
While many people claim Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City to be their favorites, there is also a dark horse contender in Batman: Arkham Origins. The recently announced Arkham Knight will be released later this year, but for the sake of this argument, let’s hold it off the list until we see the final product.
Arkham Asylum knocks the nostalgia factor right out of the park but the simple and repetitive boss fights heavily labored the game. Many people would argue that Asylum featured the most coherent storyline and did not have any outrageous concepts.
Rocksteady Studios immediately went for the knockout punch by recruiting Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill in their legendary roles of Batman and The Joker, respectively.
Arkham Island was littered with Easter Eggs and cells of escaped inmates such as Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Calendar Man. The first appearance of The Riddler’s trophies and riddles were an instant classic.
Arkham Asylum’s big easter egg was the hidden room in Quincy Sharp’s office that Rocksteady basically had to reveal almost a year later because no one really looked for it. The egg planted the seeds for Arkham City with a rough map of what the city would look like.
First appearances by Hugo Strange (albeit a lackluster one), Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Two-Face, and Catwoman carried the player through fun side and main missions. Boss fights were a tad better but the standout fight was against Mr. Freeze in what some call the best of the series.
The Joker makes his return and Hamill knocks it out of the park again. Appearances by Talia and Ra’s al Ghul added more mythos to the series. The game’s story is a tad all over the place but still delivered one of my favorite endings in any form of media with The Joker’s death.
The first story DLC of the series was a disappointing one. Harley Quinn’s Revenge left much to be desired but one of the main things it did right was give the player control of Tim Drake’s Robin during a story mode.
Warner Bros. Montreal took the reins for this installment and, just like the other two games, hit some rough patches. This game was riddled (no pun intended) with bugs and glitches but, in my opinion, delivered the best story.
Despite many gadgets featuring re-skinned versions of a few from Arkham City, the boss battles were hands-down the best of the series and some came close to topping Mr. Freeze’s battle from City. We may even see Mr. Freeze top Mr. Freeze when A Cold, Cold, Heart DLC releases in April.
First appearances by more “obscure” villains such as Deathstroke, Copperhead, Lady Shiva, and Firefly led the way in the boss department. Troy Baker had the torch passed on to him as The Joker and utilized the character perfectly.
Many wonder what the game would have been if Black Mask remained the main villain but I liked the twist with The Joker and for the first time, Bane was done perfectly. Unfortunately, Montreal had to cover Rocksteady’s mistake and make Bane into the hulking goon that he is in Asylum and City. The cutscenes were beautiful and it felt like you were watching a movie.
The side missions were an absolute disappointment, as they did not offer anything new to the table outside of the second appearance of Mad Hatter. He first appeared in Arkham City. Some of the eight assassins were reduced to side missions which was almost laughable considering the emphasis on said assassins leading up to the game.
There were key relationships that were built in this edition such as Barbara and Jim Gordon’s relationship with Batman not to mention The Joker’s relationship with Batman.
For all of the bugs and issues this edition had, I thought it had the best storyline of the series. For the most well rounded game, I would have to pick Arkham City because they tried (and succeeded) to make the Riddler’s Revenge challenge maps have a high replay value. DLC such as Joker’s Carnival, the Iceberg Lounge, and the Black Mask maps that came with the Robin Pack certainly helped this.
This topic can be explored into infinite amounts of depth. For now, I will leave you with this:
Which Batman: Arkham game is your favorite? Which had the best story? All three have their strengths and weaknesses that define the game. Personally, Arkham Origins is my favorite with Arkham City close behind in second.