Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Batman: Arkham City = No Man's Land?

Lately I've been playing Batman: Arkham City, and I have to say that it is possibly the greatest video game of all time.  When it comes to my reading choices I'm more of a Marvel guy than DC, but man, Batman AC is absolutely phenomenal.  I haven't completed the game yet by any stretch, I have to grab little hour or so snippets here and there when I can, but I could easily lose myself in this game for awhile.

What really makes the game so good is the story.  With a character like Batman, who has been around forever and has been featured in so many forms of media, it gets harder to tell an original story.  Batman AC has come up with a phenomenal story that I absolutely lose myself in. 

Not only is the story good, but so is the action.  I was actually disappointed when I went to confront Two-Face and his 40 thugs and 20 or so of them just ran off.  The combat is so good I relish jumping down into an entire pit of punks that need a good thumping.

I do think the concept of an "Arkham City" is a bit far-fetched, I can't see any city just walling off a pretty significant chunk of real estate and chucking all the criminals in, even in crime-infested Gotham.  However, I've found myself lately pretending that this is actually No Man's Land, a pretty bold story from the comics themselves.

No Man's Land was a Batman event where Gotham City is cut off from the rest of the United States because an earthquake has ravaged the city beyond repair; it's basically cheaper to just wall off Gotham than to fix it.  Right before the bridges were bombed and the city cut off, the inmates at Arkham and Blackage were set free.  So not only do you have regular citizens who chose to stay battling against a lack of electricity, food, and shelter, you also have to deal with unprecedented gang activity and a pile of supervillains running the show.  It was a pretty fantastic story.

Arkham City looks like No Man's Land pretty much to a tee.  I almost wish they had gone with an adaptation of No Man's Land for the game, but the story in Arkham City has been pretty fantastic, and is, as far as I know, an original story to boot.  I believe there is a comic book adaptation that I'm tempted to get, but I actually don't know if it could measure up to the game!


  1. I honestly was disappointed by Arkham City's storyline. While it had some great moments (especially the ending), the overall plot too often fell into excesses; too many villains without enough purpose for each of them (see: Two-Face), too many goofy moments that clashed with the attempts at a darker story, and a really bad Uncanny Valley effect to the character designs. I wouldn't compare it with No Man's Land so much as Hush, the quintessential example of ludicrious storytelling in modern Batman (both from writing and art).

    Also, I'ma let you finish, Jay, but Metal Gear Solid 4 was the greatest video game of all time :)

  2. Most of the big (didn't say good, I said big!) Batman stories of the last 10-15 years seem to feature an ensemble villain cast though. I mean, using Hush as the example, you had Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, Joker, the Riddler, Ra's Al Ghul, and Clayface involved, plus Hush himself. No Man's Land featured a pretty good chunk of Batman's rogues gallery.

    And really, I'd rather see Two-Face used in a small role than someone they made up just for the game.

    I have no idea what Uncanny Valley is. And sorry bud, but the Metal Gear games don't interest me in the least. I hope we can still be friends.

  3. we're still friends even though you're incorrect :)

    Uncanny Valley is the term for how the more realistic something not real looks, the more alien it feels. I felt that even though the graphics were incredibly detailed, the character designs were so exaggerated that they didn't sell me on these characters as relatable personalities. Carlos D'Anda's designs largely fell into the Jim Lee school of "more is more"; for example, it wasn't apparently enough that the Joker was gaunt and sickly, so he looked like a scabby marionette with a chin so pointy it could pierce a submarine's hull. It wasn't enough that Bane be a muscular brute thanks to the Venom, so he looks like the Hulk with about 100 pounds of pipes on his back. And worst of all was Catwoman, whose sexuality was so exaggerated that her ass-swinging gait of a walk was less titilating than embarassing.

    And I know that it's common for modern Batman stories to have ensemble villain casts, but that doesn't mean it's a good thing. Far from it, because it dilutes the story and diffuses the focus. Was the main story of Arkham City about Hugo Strange, Ra's Al Ghul, or the Joker? Strange was in the background the whole time, and could've been the main threat, yet he ended up just being Ra's' puppet. And Ra's only appeared in one mission before that, so his presence was too limited to make the revelation of him being the mastermind satisfying. The Joker was there throughout, but he was mainly sniping from the background, and the Joker we interacted with for most of the game was an impostor, so his big death in the finale (while extremely dramatic) didn't mesh with the rest of the story. Not to mention how a large part of the game was dealing with the Penguin, who ultimately was just another thug to overcome.

    Better uses for the huge rogues gallery could be found in the side-missions, like the Zsasz phone calls or the Deadshot hunt.

  4. No offense dude, I stopped reading your response because it looked like it was venturing into spoiler territory and I haven't finished the game yet. :) I'll come back and read it when I'm done.

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