Batman Arkham games are the pioneers of the superhero genre. Before the first game of the series, players received bland movie games or lacklusters. Indeed, there were games that got the fun part or graphics part right. But the Batman Arkham series was special because these games had a decent combination of action, story, and gaming mechanics. Therefore, in this list, I will have another look at the series and come up with my own ranking. Considering we have DC Fandome at our door with lots of new announcements, I believe the timing is right.
4. Arkham Asylum
The first game of the Batman Arkham series was a welcome surprise. Indeed, the game came out just a year after the legendary movie, The Dark Knight. Consequently, Rocksteady hit the nail in the head when the hype was still alive. Moreover, the game was revolutionary compared to other superhero games. It had a great connection with the iconic Arkham Asylum comic but wasn’t as dark. Nevertheless, its claustrophobic atmosphere captivated players. In addition, there were many game mechanics that amplified it. For instance, the predator sequences put everyone in Batman’s shoes. They were great adaptations of the iconic sequence in Nolan’s Batman Begins.
On the other hand, ability to use a variety of gadgets created great action moments. Furthermore, this game’s concepts found their place in the following games with improvements. With its cast of familiar voices, the game also offered a decent cinematic experience. However, Arkham Asylum was just the beginning. Also, it lacked some great features of the future games. Additionally, it was quite short and difficult to revisit after its successors. Therefore, despite paving the pathway for the other blockbusters, Arkham Asylum is down at the bottom of the list.
3. Arkham Origins
Arkham Origins is proof of the evolutionary progress of Batman Arkham series. In fact, I was quite skeptical when WB Games sat on the development seat. In the past, we had seen many series that lost their essence without their original developers. Nonetheless, WB Games managed to come up with a game that satisfied many. First of all, the studio managed to combine many different origin stories of the Bat. For example, there were lots of strong references to The Killing Joke and Year One. Furthermore, they offered an exciting fight against Batman’s rogue gallery with some memorable moments. Indeed, many remember the Deathstroke fight quite fondly.
Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker weren’t the iconic duo of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. However, these two managed great renditions of Batman and the Joker. Consequently, the game didn’t come out as bad as many expected. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a technical marvel and had lots of glitches in it. For example, in PS3 version, I remember, it would occasionally turn the device’s video card off. Also, despite having one of the best DLCs ever (Cold, Cold Heart) it had lots of redundant content. Indeed, this game introduced Multiplayer to the series for the first (and the last) time. The idea was interesting, however technical problems caught up to it and kept it from being fun.
2. Arkham Knight
The controversial finale of the Arkham Series definitely divided the fans. First of all, the game was a technological marvel, even with its polygon count. However, its great graphics failed to create a good reception as it didn’t conform with Nvidia GPUs. Consequently, the problems the PC players had and their rally to criticise and refund the game obscured its greatness. In my opinion, Rocksteady managed to make a great game and didn’t falter after the finale of Arkham City. Indeed, the events transpired made life difficult for the writers to come up with something really interesting. Nonetheless, the studio utilised Scarecrow’s ongoing narrative with the Bat’s rogue gallery.
Also, the open world feature Arkham City introduced received a memorable improvement. As many found it annoying, Batmobile was a great addition to roam Gotham City. Furthermore, the new game mechanics such as Fear Takedown were the pinnacle of Rocksteady’s innovative choices. Nonetheless, some criticised these features for making the game “too easy” at some points. The combat was fluid as always with further polish on it. In detail, the combos received a pleasant optimisation and the controls were more responsive. In addition, the ability to collaborate with Batman’s “friends” enhanced the action sequences greatly.
The atmosphere was also great with Batman constantly second-guessing himself. Furthermore, the mystery of the Arkham Knight was interesting to follow (even if some forums cracked it beforehand). In terms of DLCs, I believe Arkham Knight offered the best. For example, A Matter of Family was a great addition and is likely to set the foundations for WB Games’ upcoming “soft reboot”.
1. Arkham City
Batman Arkham series reached a great height with Arkham City. In terms of story, atmosphere, and open-world features Rocksteady set the bar to an interstellar level. Therefore, both Arkham Origins and Knight suffered from the hype and expectations City created. Indeed, introducing open-world exploration to a superhero game so successfully was hard to do. The standard they set inspired so many developers and yielded games like Marvel’s Spiderman. On the other hand, the game improved almost everything that Arkham Asylum brought to the table. It had a more responsive fight, more gadgets, enrichened boss fights and lots of mysteries to unfold.
First of all, I believe expanding the Asylum concept to prison quarters in Gotham is really genuine. Therefore, this idea gave Rocksteady to create a playground that had many features in it. For instance, if you’re tired of the main plot, you could chase Victor Zsasz and try to stop him from murdering people. Or if you wanted to level Batman up, you could invest some time in the Riddler’s challenges. Indeed, the game gave players both a sense of danger and freedom at the same time. Consequently, it was thrilling to keep playing the game, whether the focus is on the main missions or side stories.
Arkham City also had one of the best plots ever. In particular, the conflict overarching from Arkham Asylum and the new threat Hugo Strange made things really interesting. Furthermore, the game utilised great cinematic direction to make players experience these moments vividly. The studio not only used the great voice cast and camera angles but also incorporated novel technologies such as Physx. As a consequence, to repeat what I said at the beginning, Rocksteady managed to develop a game that is a milestone and very very hard to replicate.