Batman: Arkham Asylum took us all by surprise. I was fortunate to get an early playthrough whilst doing a review for Netguide magazine.
I’d be brave enough to say that Arkham Asylum was the best comic book video game ever produced. The game captured the essence of the Dark Knight to perfection. Portraying Batman as he should be: the worlds greatest detective, rather than simply concentrate on the warped mind of a man who likes to dress up as a bat.
A sequel was inevitable. But how would developer, Rocksteady Studios, top the first game?
Upping the ante, Rocksteady have shifted the action from the asylum into a specially walled off section of Gotham City, dubbed Arkham City. Within this area the city’s scum is kept securely locked away from the good folk of Gotham.
The Batman: Arkham City comic book series serves as a prequel to the game. Issue one starts six months after the events in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
A severely injured Joker is still suffering from the effects of the body altering Titan formula, as well as the hiding served to him by Batman at the end of the last game. The tormented Joker has realised that his plan to destroy Batman, both mentally and physically, has failed- that for all his efforts, the joke is on the him.
Former Arkham Asylum warden Quincy Sharp is now Mayor of Gotham City, having taken Batman’s credit for sorting out the trouble in the asylum. Under the guidance of an unseen person, he promises to stamp out costumed villains once and for all. The dedication of a new city hall symbolising a the rebuilding of the city’s battered moral.
Meanwhile, the scarred former district attorney, Harvey Dent aka Two-Face, is having trouble with two of his former employees. Brother and sister, Terry and Tracy Trask took a shine to Dent’s stash of Titan (that they were supposed to be guarding) and turned themselves into the super-human freaks, T&T.
T&T set about on a sibling crime-spree, building up to an attack during the opening of the new city hall. Batman foils their plans, but not before the same unseen person that has been manipulating Mayor Sharp triggers the explosives planted within T&T’s bodies. This attack leads to the construction of the wall district of Arkham City.
Whilst the writing isn’t dull, the story is pretty obvious. I was a bit wary of the potential spoilery nature of this review, but I’ve not told you anything that you won’t suss out ten pages into the book. The artwork is top-notch, but I’d have liked to have seen a style that was a little closer to what we are going to see in the game. Veteran Batman scribe, Paul Dini- writer of both of the Arkham games, knows his craft well and does his best to set the the scene for game, delivering a semi-plausable reason for why part of Gotham City to be turned into a maximum security prison.
Batman: Arkham City is a video game tie-in and, to be honest, it shows. Despite the caliber of those involved the plot does nothing to break its bonds, marching in a straight line to the conclusion of this first issue.
If you are a fan of the games, you should buy Batman: Arkham City. If you are a regular comic book fan, you should probably spend your money elsewhere.