Batman: Arkham Origins – Taking the Series in the Wrong Direction

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, a new Batman game in the Arkham series is coming to current generation consoles courtesy of Warner Bros. Montreal. Rather than moving forward, the new team has decided to go for a prequel, a common direction choice this year, showing off Batman’s younger and less experienced side. While Warner Bros. Montreal’s Christmas Eve beatdown has potential, I can’t help but feel that the game is headed in the wrong direction.

*Continue reading only if you’ve completed Arkham City (shame on you if you haven’t by now) or don’t mind spoilers.

Arkham City is rife with references to the Batman continuity across various media. Simply playing the main story without diving into the side missions or hidden secrets scattered around the city will leave you unaware of the important messages Rocksteady left behind.

Commissioner Gordon

In the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC, the player can interact with Commissioner Gordon, which reveals some interesting dialogue. Jim Gordon says the following:

“When this mess is cleared up, we need to talk about that other problem. Remember?”

The statement is believed to be referencing the cremation of The Joker in the comics. Starting up Arkham City 3 and jumping right into Batman staring into the lifeless face of his greatest rival right before he is released into the flames would be a powerful beginning. Given that Origins is a prequel, we won’t be finding out how Batman is currently dealing with the loss of his long-time enemy. Not to mention, this would set things in motion for the next part of the puzzle…

Robin

The Robin in Arkham City, as we know, is Tim Drake. He is the third person to take up this iconic identity as Batman’s sidekick. Although we don’t see much of Robin in the game (at least, not until the DLC), we have all the information we need. Tim Drake is currently Robin and Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has donned the black and blue outfit of Nightwing, as seen in the add-on content. This leaves Jason Todd, the second Robin, missing in action. Why is this important? As I mentioned above, The Joker is gone. During his time among the living, he killed Jason Todd while he was still Robin. However, all was not as it seemed as Todd borrowed Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit and came back, but this time he would return to the streets under Joker’s old title: Red Hood. His anger with Batman for not killing The Joker and allowing him to die causes him to target his old mentor. Going forward in Arkham it might have revealed this painful and strained relationship between the two former partners as well as giving Batman a capable new foe. The superhero gone rogue might have even found himself teaming up with another one of Bats’ old friends (one that received little screen time) looking to get revenge: Thomas Elliot also known as Hush.

There is another route they could have taken with Robin, but not Todd. Instead, they could have focused on further developing Tim Drake. Eagle-eyed players may have noticed a positive pregnancy test around Harley Quinn’s clothing in Joker’s Hideout. In the DLC, Harley Quinn’s Revenge, it is revealed that it may have been a false positive. Several negative pregnancy tests litter the ground around a crib containing a Joker doll, leading us to believe Harley Quinn is dealing with the emotional fallout following the realization that she is not carrying Joker’s child. If you heard Quinn singing “Hush, Little Baby” during the New Game Plus credits, you may have been reminded of the twisted Batman Beyond episode where she sang the same song. In that episode, a much younger Tim Drake had been transformed into a mini-Joker after succumbing to torture and brainwashing. The next Arkham installment could have explored Batman fighting to avoid the loss of another Robin, and the demented form that Drake would take on. Seeing those two stand face-to-face with Drake sporting some Joker makeup would have been nothing short of intense.

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Josh Garibay


10 Comments

  1. BroccoBeef
    April 14, 2013, 3:10 AM

    You couldn’t have put it better. I really hope Rocksteady is on the hush-hush with the new bats title. I’m definitely getting AO, but all of those possible story routes, plus the endless others, would be more epic. Can’t wait to see if your theory is true though.

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  2. Bruce Wayne
    April 14, 2013, 4:08 AM

    I call it bulsh*t. You have no idea what so ever how to take forward a story. Your writing was typical of anything that can be read on the internet. You tried hard enough to sound deep. You tried very hard to make the reader feel that you have original ideas. But I’m sorry to tell you that you are NOT!

    The origins story can be a great one. The gameplay can be amazing given the studio handles it right. You are outright bashing something you don’t even know about. At this point all we know is WB Montreal is not as experienced with Batman-Arkham franchise and may or may not handle it well.

    Although I do agree to one of your point which is: HUSH. I felt Arkham 3 would revolve around HUSH being main antagonist with misc characters. But this doesn’t could the fact that you’ve called the game BAD even before knowing anything about it…. right in the title of the damn article!

    After saying all this I’d like to see who’s right and who’s not.

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  3. Josh Garibay
    April 14, 2013, 4:16 AM

    @Bruce Wayne

    At no point do I state that Arkham Origins is going to be a bad game. In fact, the title says that it’s simply taking the series in the wrong direction. At the end, I even state that ” I’m not worried that Arkham Origins is going to be a terrible game because it doesn’t continue the current storyline.” All I point out is that it continues to leave Arkham City players in the dark regarding Rocksteady’s hints.

    Do I believe Arkham Origins will be a solid title? Yes, I have faith in it. Taking a stance on its direction and its quality are two different things. I was not focusing on the latter (unlike several other outlets) like you seem to think. Even if Rocksteady was making this prequel entry, I would have stuck to my points.

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  4. fukurou
    April 14, 2013, 7:01 AM

    Some good points about the unfinished business/fans left hanging as to what happens next.

    I feel you should highlight the fact that the quote between Batman and Jim Gordon can only be seen when playing the Harley Quinn DLC, and not the main game.

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  5. Ed
    April 14, 2013, 12:40 PM

    I see your points on the origins taking it in the wrong direction but I don’t think I agree with you. Remember that Rocksteady hasn’t announced what they’re working on. They could be working on a next gen batman arkham title that is a follow up to arkham city. Also pointing out that this next batman game could also be a back story to the future arkham game Rocksteady could be working on. Arkham Origins could have a story to tell that has importance to the game that’s set after Arkham City. Truthfully, it’s too early to judge a game we haven’t seen anything of. The only thing we have seen is a few screenshots and I think most people would agree that they look great. Everyone is all worried that this next game isn’t going to be good just because Rocksteady isn’t working on it. It worries me a little but WB Montreal has full access to the custom unreal 3 engine and other multiple things used by Rocksteady on the previous games. Plus Rocksteady said they’re very confident in WB Montreal saying: “We are confident this talented team will craft a fantastic experience, bringing the origins of the Arkhamverse to life.” That gives a little reassurance if you ask me. Yes, you will have to continue to wonder about all the learned secrets in Arkham City but I think in the long run we will be satisfied with this new game.

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  6. Josh Garibay
    April 14, 2013, 2:19 PM

    @Ed – You claim you don’t agree with me, then go on to say exactly what I said at the end of my article:

    “Rocksteady has said that they are currently working on a game that they aren’t ready to reveal. It may be that Warner Bros. Montreal is giving us a Batman game to tide us over until Rocksteady is set to unveil the true follow-up to Arkham City.”

    Also, as I said to commenter Bruce Wayne, I’m in no way saying that Arkham Origins is going to be a bad game, it’s the narrative’s focus I’m looking into. To help everyone understand, it’d be similar to someone discussing the new Devil May Cry reboot. Some people were upset by the new Dante and his story. However, claiming you don’t agree with the series’ evolution doesn’t mean you’re calling out the gameplay simultaneously. You can have a separate opinion of each. It’s the same basic case here. Pointing out a missed opportunity to extend the rich narrative is not me predicting that Arkham Origins is going to flop.

    Hopefully that clears up people’s confusion. There seem to be a lot of people that believe I’m condemning this game as a failure.

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  7. JDH
    April 14, 2013, 11:49 PM

    I don’t believe the Arkham games will be done with this Origins game. I see (at least) 4 games in the franchise. This prequel will simply add more depth to some of the lesser and side characters. An assassin based story implies Ra’s al Ghul could be involved. Penguin, Deadshot & Black Mask (a character who wasn’t utilised very in City) can be given more depth also. Same with Talia, and Bane, Two Face, Catwoman and Riddler (who could continue his side character status). These plots that are outlined in Arkham City can be made more impacting if they (or additional ones) are foreshadowed from years prior. Azrael, Hush, Scarecrow & Red Hood could definitely enter into the equation for a 4th game down the track set AFTER City. Even Ra’s al Ghul and Talia could be brought back with the whole Lazarus pit thing. There are alot of casual fans that aren’t sold on the idea of a ‘Joker-less’ Arkham game though. Origins could help show how that could work. I think a Scarecrow, Hush, Riddler 4th entry, and then a Red Hood, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia 5th Entry which could also serve to introduce Damian. Then think about the Azrael story they could do as well. Arkham is far from over my friends. :)

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  8. deadguy7
    April 15, 2013, 4:39 AM

    I find it funny how uptight everyone is getting about the time period this game is taking place in. the “Arkham” series has no real direction to improve on. the first game took place in the Asylum, and they followed that with the idea of Arkham city, and as a great a game as it was, it cornered itself with the events that took place toward the end of the game, so it only makes real sense to backtrack a bit now and play from a fresh perspective, and finally focus on the true setting of Batman, Gotham City. The good thing about this franchise is that it has done a great job of blending elements from every media of Batman, comic, movie, and cartoon. I think it’s a great idea to take it back and play from an earlier period, I want to see what they can bring to the table this time. My biggest concern is how sudden the game was announced and it’s already due to come out this year. I don’t want a rush job to ruin this franchise.

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  9. Kristinkelly
    April 17, 2013, 12:54 AM

    I agree with all statements that have been said, I’m extremely extatic for the game.
    Minus the fact so far it seems as though there will be no joker or not Harleen Quinzel.
    That was a big let down, I hope they at least surprise us with maybe a little story line or maybe
    Even hints as to what’s going on with them.

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  10. Scotr
    April 28, 2013, 12:44 PM

    I have to say as much of a fan of Batman I am I would be a bit disappointed if Divk Grayson isnt donning the Robin outfit in AO.

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