Superhero games are notoriously bad, like remarkably bad. It’s a stigma that has plagued the genre for years. That’s why no one was waiting for 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, I mean even the name has it set up to fail, named after the fantastic graphic novel made by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, and we all know how much nerds hate remakes. I distinctly remember hearing games journalists talk about how underwhelmed they were about the whole idea because it was simply a game with superheroes in it. Well Rocksteady studio changed that stigma for the better when it was released, now days I keep up with reviews and thoughts from various gaming sites but having heard nothing about the game before it was released I was stunned to say the least when it got amazing reviews.
As soon as I was able I bought the game expecting it to be good but I was wrong it was fantastic, it hit so many of the right buttons for my kind of batman fan, you immediately buy good fortune when you hire Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil to play Batman and Joker respectively, (Batman: The animated series) and then you hire the father of Harley Quinn and so many other great batman stories to pen the game. Immediately I was in, and I hadn’t even played it yet, from the kinetic combat that made you feel like batman to skulking on a gargoyle slowly picking off scumbags the game finally did the impossible and made a worthwhile superhero game. So it would be impossible for them to repeat that success right? Rocksteady was an unknown studio to me and many others before the Arkham series and now they had become the studio that brought batman games to life, so announcing Batman: Arkham City became a whirlwind of speculation.
Rocksteady again released Arkham City to rave reviews, but this time everybody was expecting it, we all knew they could spin this yarn into gold, which is why it’s that much more impressive. And instead of waiting for the review I bought it day one without a second’s hesitation. Without a doubt it was my favorite game that year and it’s become one of my favorite games of all time, not only was I not trapped on an island full of crazed lunatics I was trapped inside a city with crazed lunatics, the map had been doubled if not tripled and filled with so much details and so many Easter eggs your head would pop, the game went from Metroidvania to Metroid-sandbox. It was incredible all still including the great combat and gadgets, the game truly made you feel like batman as clichéd as that sounds.
So this marks the end of an era, this year Rocksteady studios will release what they say is there final Batman: Arkham games, after the shocking end to Arkham city it will be interesting to see the best superhero game ever come to an end. While I eagerly await the final instalment of the Arkham series I’m brought back to something Paul Dini said during the first games production, he felt of these games as a continuation of the batman the animated series all grown up, so while these games are technically sound well-made games you can tell that there is so much more to them than what meets the eye. And while the title best superhero game ever may not hold a lot of water because most of them are bad, even the ones that came after the Arkham series (I’m looking at you “Amazing Spider-Man 2”) Rocksteady has built something beautiful were nobody thought you could build.