The internet is aflutter with the leaked details of the latest Batman game, apparently titled Batman Arkham Insurgency. At least that’s according to a “disgruntled” Warner Bros Games employee who released the info on Reddit.
While the Reddit thread has been closed, and the claims are under much scrutiny, what has been reported is incredibly disappointing, if it’s true.
Back in January I wrote about some of my hopes for a future Batman game – after it was initially rumoured that a future WB Games Montreal Batman game would feature Damian Wayne (Bruce’s troubled son with Talia al Ghul). I speculated that WB may opt to create a new joint continuity for video games, supported by the Suicide Squad game (now cancelled) that was being developed in parallel.
It’s another prequel
While the last WB Montreal prequel, Arkham Origins, sold well it was by far the critics’ least favourite Arkham game – and rightly so.
The gameplay often felt clunky, the story was less interesting, and it lacked a certain Arkham-ness that the lore-drenched Arkham City had managed to achieve.
By the time we’d finished Arkham Knight, it felt like the story of this particular version of Bruce Wayne had been told. As a player, I didn’t find myself wanting any more background on any of the characters – yet that’s what we’re allegedly about to be treated to.
It’s disappointing on two counts. One, anything WB Games come up with is going to be restricted by what happened in existing Arkham games. Two, everyone has had enough of origin stories – Batman’s early life and career are actually quite boring. New is king – give us new.
So this is by far the most disappointing rumour to emerge from the leaks. I LOVED the Arkham games, and hold them very dear. Arkham City is one of my favourite games of all time, and was hugely influential in me getting into comics as a whole.
But after four games and six years, the story feels thoroughly told. When rumours of a new game surfaced at the end of last year, I was really excited about being able to sink my teeth into a whole new Batman universe. Sadly, it looks like this isn’t going to be a reality.
The Bat-Tank is dead
I think this is the one thing on the list people may be happy to hear, though I have to say I didn’t really ever have a problem with the tricked out Batmobile. Yes, it’s ridiculous to have a tank that can only shoot EMP bolts, yes, it serves no practical purpose. But it was a different gameplay mechanic, and the developers were trying something new. Sure, it was overused – and was by far the element of the game that performed the worst on the godawful PC port, but I didn’t hate it.
According to the leaks, the Batmobile will be in Insurgency, but the tank features will be scaled back (if not removed entirely) and will be used mainly in chase sequences.
Mark Hamill will not voice The Joker
Mark Hamill’s portrayal of the Joker is probably my favourite version. He’s every bit as terrifying as he is hilarious – it’s the perfect voice.
The endlessly talented Troy Baker did a fabulous job when he voiced the Clown Prince of Crime for Arkham Origins, so his return is welcome – it’s just shame we can’t both (at the same time).
Its set in a coastal region of Gotham
This is a strange one. Arkham Insurgency is rumoured to run on Arkham Knight’s game engine, with a map just a large. How a ‘coastal region’ of an island city manages to be at least as big of the city itself is a mystery.
I don’t know what this means in terms of the feel of the environment, but Batman and sandy beaches do not exactly feel like a winning combination. Still, at least it’ll be an opportunity for the Dark Knight to test out the bucket-and-spade gadget on his utility belt…
The dark, gritty landscapes of inner-city Gotham and it’s equally shady establishments are Batman’s domain – anything else just feels wrong.
It’s not all bad…
We must also mention some of the better parts of the alleged leaks though – let it not be said that Jads is a hater.
Apparently, Robin (Tim Drake) will be a playable character in this game. The version of Robin they debuted in Arkham City is by far my favourite of all time – he was so badass, and in one awesome image on the box art (on the special edition), years of campy ridicule were undone.
We’ve had a taste of playing as various characters since then, but rarely do we get a chance to really explore Gotham while experiencing a proper story. Catwoman came close in Arkham City, and the dual fights in Arkham Knight were a real delight. Adding more content for characters other than Batman himself would be smart move, and I would be very excited to spend some more time as the new and improved Boy Wonder.
Additionally, the combat mechanics are reported to have been improved and refined. Brutal hand-to-hand combat helped make the Arkham games such a success, and even if they did do a complete revamp of the series, it would now be hard to imagine a Batman game without it.
Linked to this, boss battles are to become a big feature of the new game – if the leaks are to be believed. We did have a taste of this in Arkham Origins, and a more formulaic approach to taking down Gotham’s biggest villains was approached with the various side quests in Arkham Knight.
Ohhh dites, c'est quoi à votre avis ? pic.twitter.com/UKlufOMSe1
— IGN France (@IGNFRA) January 31, 2017
So it’s not all bad news and, just to stress the point, all of this is to be taken lightly at this point. Would it be nice to start a new Batman series? Sure. Another prequel feels a touch lazy – but I’m willing to hold off judgment until a proper announcement is made, believed to be on March 8th.