Details leading up to the release of Batman: Arkham Origins, the prequel game to Rocksteady Studios’ widely popular and critically-acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, have been monitored by fans with a mixture of interest and trepidation. Arkham Origins is the first game ever to be produced by brand new studio Warner Bros. Games MontrÃ©al, since Rocksteady is currently working on another Batman title, and will be an important test for the studio’s developers.
So far, however, there has been quite a lot to look forward to. The game is set on the streets of Gotham with a Batman who is relatively inexperienced and still trying to leave his mark on the city. Luckily this inexperience doesn’t seem to have much impact upon his fighting skills.
VG247‘s recent preview of Arkham Origins and interview with creative director Eric Holmes cuts to the heart of the game’s set-up and, in particular, the nature of each of the characters in a setting that comes years before both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
Bruce Wayne is a good place to start, and in Arkham Origins it sound like this is the name by which he’s most commonly known. Holmes revealed that the Batman pseudonym rarely gets used in the game, which takes place in ‘Year Two’ of the cowled vigilante’s adventures. Instead, the character exists in the public consciousness as a mysterious and somewhat frightening specter. And whereas in the previous games he was seen working together with the police force and the Arkham guards, in Arkham Origins he is very much an outcast:
“He’s part of the Gotham landscape but he’s not really understood yet. The mobsters think he’s a myth — some of them do — but there are ones who know he’s for real, who have met him and don’t like him… The cops still consider him an outlaw. He’s not a friend of the cops or a member of the institutions of Gotham, and one of the things I think this emotionally lends us is, Batman becomes scary when he’s not understood.”
Those cops include Commissioner Gordon, but the stolidly incorruptible man found himself out of place in a police force that, before his promotion, was rotten to the core and little better than the roaming gangs that it turns a blind eye to. Gordon is caught between a rock and a hard place, as he can’t truly trust the people he works with and his ideologies and priorities clash with Batman’s. Holmes explained that the commissioner is a significant supporting character in the game:
“Without spoiling it too much, this is a big part of our story. The Gotham landscape before he became commissioner was a very different place. It was corrupt, full of very bad cops who didn’t like him and didn’t trust him because he didn’t take bribes, he wasn’t one of the boys and he stood for things they didn’t.
“One of the things you’ll start to see happening throughout game is that people start to believe in Gordon, they start to believe in Batman. These two guys stand for different things: Batman stands for justice. Gordon stands for law. They’re very similar but they’re not the same, so those two guys are in conflict for a lot of a story. We know where they end up but we don’t know how they got there, so that’s part of the theme of Arkham Origins.”
VG247’s Dave Cook, who previewed the game, also noted that Bruce’s youth is reflected in his relationship with his friend and Butler, Alfred Pennyworth, who is tasked with trying to keep his employer from being too reckless and putting himself in harms way – as much as that is possible when said employer has decided to dress up like a bat and fight crime. In the mission being previewed, Alfred tries to dissuade Bruce from walking into an obvious ambush, but the stubborn and hot-headed vigilante ignores this advice and heads out to meet Firefly’s challenge.
Speaking of Firefly, one of the big appeals of Arkham Origins for fans of the comics will be the showcase of villains who have all been called to Gotham by a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head, placed there by a mobster known as Black Mask. Though Black Mask is the main antagonist, Joker will appear in both the singleplayer and multiplayer campaigns, but Holmes refused to elaborate on what part Joker might play and simply said that fans will have to find out by playing the game.
In addition to the pyromaniac Firefly, who blows up Gotham Bridge just to get Batman’s attention, other villains featured in the game will include a female version of the snakelike contortionist Copperhead, expert sniper Deadshot and the mind-manipulating Mad Hatter. Eight assassins in total will be pitted against the Bat, so we should be getting some very interesting boss fights (hopefully without interfering minions thrown in).
Read Game Rant’s own hands-on preview of Batman: Arkham Origins to find out a little bit more about the game mechanics, and tell us in the comments what you’d like to see from the various characters in this ‘Year Two’ story.
Batman: Arkham Origins will be released on October 25th 2013, for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC & Wii U.