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20 ways Batman: Arkham Origins can improve the Arkham formula (Part 1)

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By: Eric Reis

If this generation has done one thing right.. it’s finally doing justice to the batman license. Arkham Asylum proved that a Batman game doesn’t have to be relegated to a beat’em up and in fact can push the 3’rd person adventure genre to a whole new level.

While Arkham Asylum focused on a creepy atmosphere, puzzle-style rooms progression and free-flow combat, it’s sequel would focus on being Batman in an open world while maintaining all previous elements. Arkham City provided more options in almost every aspect of the series. More combos for combat, more gadgets and more uses for the gadgets and finally more optional content for the player to explore.

This fall/winter the latest entry (also the earliest canon wise) Batman:Arkham Origins will be released and here are 10 ways the caped crusader can maintain his legend.

1. Detective vision is dead, long live detective vision!

Eagle eyes, I.R. Goggles, detective vision, no matter the name the purpose is the same, so many third person games have a mode akin to this for the player to better track a person or item. While The Arkham games certainly have used detective vision creatively (to solve crimes, follow clues) the biggest drawback is the inability o see the art of the environment. It’s hard o appreciate how amazing both games looked when you’re stuck seeing them in blue/gold and black.

It’s certainly a mode worth keeping as it’s integral to who Batman is and how he solves crimes, but tone down the hue saturation, let us see the great environments while solving a crime maybe relegate detective vision to a mini-map or in first person mode only.

 2. Inner monologue (Go home Max Payne, you’re drunk)

Any fan of Batman comics will tell you that one thing that separates a Batman comic from most others is his inner monologs. His thoughts on Gotham city, his past or a character show his inner turmoil and coveys a relatable (sometimes  not relatable) quality to the reader.

The Arkham games have used batman’s inner monologue for tutorials and hints throughout both games but I think now is a perfect time to add narrative to it too, Origins is supposed to be early on in his career and what better way to convey his inexperience, then through his thought process.

3. Death in the family

In the 80’s Batman fans were given an unique opportunity, to decide the fate of Robin (then Jason Todd). Would he live? Or die?… As you probably already know he died. Batman moved on he had no choice and we were shown how he deals with death. It was a brilliant way to not only involve the fans opinion (eat it, reality TV.) but also to show sides of Batman we rarely got to see.

Arkham origins is said have random crimes involving both police and civilians, Now imagine the ability to fail a side mission and have it impact the story. Not just some “trust percentage” for Gotham but have it impact future missions and the overall ending.

4. Less Ocean’s Eleven please

No this is not a plea related to George Clooney being Batman. Instead I mean the overall story is to bloated with villains. Arkham City is most guilty of this, relegating the bad guys to moving plot points or just as a shoe in boss battle. I’m not a Mad Hatter fan, but I’d much rather have a story arc for him completely separated from the main story. The side missions in Arkham City were brilliant, not having any relevance to the main plot and being just as interesting. The face removing investigation all leading to Hush was brilliant and left on a cliffhanger.. more of that please!

5. Wayne… Bruce Wayne

A great Batman story-arc certainly has it’s share of Batman moments, from cool set-pieces to creative combat Batman’s final confrontation with a foe is certainly a pay off to a dark and methodical journey. It’ doesn’t always involve Batman though. Some of the best stories involve his escapades as Brice Wayne during the daytime.

Bruce Wayne’s namesake has a history with the city (and sometimes its villains). It would be a great contrast to the dreary nighttime batman to play as Bruce Wayne as well, involving his daily life and the impact being the Batman has on him.

6. Optional dialogue (only WHO can prevent forest fires?)

In Arkham City, if I wanted to know the location of a Riddler trophy or a breakable wall, I would beat up a group of baddies and leave one behind to interrogate. What followed was a random threat by Batman and a squeal from the henchman as he was knocked out. Pretty straightforward…

Connecting to the ability to fail, I would love the ability to question bad guys for information. Side missions, optional secrets and hidden collectables could be connected, failing to interrogate someone before the run off or try to fight you could result in only getting limited information… or none at all. I can see the point where Batman has to find out the location of a helpless citizen before time runs out, and failing to interrogate someone could result in not helping them at all.

All in all.  I think giving the players choice and consequence is a must.  providing the player with a unique experience and re-playability.

7. Stealth combos  (I’m stealthy and I know it!)

Being stealthy in an Arkham game is rewarding not only in mimicking Batman, but avoiding a full on confrontation can be the difference between life and death.  In combat the more fluid you are in fighting and countering the more you build up your combo score and the opportunities to do special moves… Why not apply that method to stealth too!

The most recent Splinter Cell (scheduled for release later this year) applies a similar feature.  Performing a stealth combo (basically taking down enemies one after another quickly and stealth-fully) keeps a pace going and makes it easier o continue forward. This fits perfectly with Arkham, Having batman drop from a ceiling to take down one, then quick knocking out another followed by a batarang to disarm another enemy seems like the next logical step towards the fluid animation combat… applied to the stealth aspects of the game.

8. More gadgets (Hand me my shark repellant!)

Batman isn’t known for super strength or a flying ability.. or even 9 lives! Rather  for his smarts and science. He can analyze a situation and come up with a way to either solve a case or get out of a tight jam…Gadgets are his forte and while I don’t want to see shark repellent anywhere near this series, I would love to see what they can ad to the game. Imagine shooting a tracer at a vehicle to tag it on your map, or a signal jammer that would jam enemy communications so as to allow you to take them down easier. The series has done well thus far using Batman’s trademark gadgets and i can’t wait to see what they have in store.

9. Less Joker more ..Crazy Quilt?…

Joker is to Batman as bread is to butter, it’s true, Joker is probably the most well known comic villain in existence. There comes a point though where you can over-saturate a character and loose their uniqueness when they are constantly a focus. I’m not saying I want Crazy Quilt…who was blind until surgery gave him his vision back… if vision meant seeing rainbows and crazy unicorns (maybe he was on drugs?). I would like to see a story that involves lesser known characters and maybe even re invents them instead of throwing them away (poor Hugo Strange).

Give Batman a challenge that he isn’t used too, when we think of Riddler in this series we think of scattered trophies and picture taking riddles….but how would Mirror Man be handled?

10. Episodic content

Words like episodic and dlc can make people shiver… There is certainly enough evidence of it ruining a game experience (still reeling over horse armor Bethesda!) but when done right it can help a games lifespan and even interest! The Walking Dead vdeogame is a perfect example of how episodic content is done right. always leaving you wanting more and rewarding your efforts with shocking and sometimes disturbing conclusions.

Imagine an arkham game with episodic content. Similar to it’s comic counterpart, Batman finds more clues and information that leads a major cliffhanger… that you won’t see until next month. I think it’s a brilliant way to continue the lifespan of the game after completing the main story.  If Hush’s storyline in Arkham City was a dlc you could play say a month after the games release, i bet it would have sold just as well a the game itself!

PART TWO NEXT WEEK!

Arkham Origins is shaping up to be another classic and more information will be released in the coming months as the game is scheduled to be released this October

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Eric Reis is part of the Gamer Codex

editorial team and can be found on Twitter @zero_major

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