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5 Iconic Moments that Define the Batman: Arkham Franchise


5 Iconic Moments that Define the Batman: Arkham Franchise

So Batman, it hurts.

Fighting Mr. Freeze (Batman: Arkham City)

Batman: arkham mr freeze

Sooner or later, anything Batman is going to have to tackle Mr. Freeze. He’s one of Batman’s greatest villains, and definitely takes the top spot for the most tragic. Victor Fries was a genius in cryonics who survived an industrial accident while finding a way to cure his terminally ill wife, Nora. The details following the accident vary with each continuity; in some universes, he uses a freeze gun and a special suit to keep him alive, while in others, he still has the suit, but can shoot the ice from his hands instead of the gun.

In the New 52, Nora isn’t even his wife, but instead a woman from the 1940s with a terminal disease cryogenically frozen that Victor grew obsessed with while trying to find a cure. Whatever continuity, he’s a good guy who just happens to do bad things for the woman he loves. Which also sometime involve bad puns.

Freeze makes his official debut to the Arkhamverse in Batman: Arkham City. The good doctor is held in Penguin’s museum on display, the fat crime lord in possession of his freeze gun. This is already bad, but even worse, since Batman needs Freeze’s help to find a cure for the illness the dying Joker transferred to him. Getting the freeze gun is easier said than done; not only does Batman need a special disruptor that’ll stop the gun from freezing him to death, he goes toe to toe with everyone’s favorite undead monster, Solomon Grundy. He grabs the gun and hands it over to Freeze, but Freeze isn’t so keen on taking orders from Batman anymore. As is the case with most Batman situations, the only way to get Vic to comply is to punch the sense into him.

Previous boss fights in the Arkham games were against big, ‘roided up juggernauts that you defeated by playing Matador with them. Not so with Freeze. He patrols the area like a sentry, never giving you a chance to stay in one place for long. You’re thankfully given plenty of ways to get the jump on him, from using your trusty Line Launcher to vent and aerial takedowns.

But don’t think you can just repeat one tactic until his health bar is drained, because he’ll ensure you can’t do it again. Do a glass breakthrough, and he’ll freeze all the glass shut; use your remote charge to attach him to a battery, and he’ll ice those inoperable. It’s a boss battle that requires you to pay attention to your environment and get creative, and goes a long way towards making Freeze feel like this darkness you can’t escape from.

Scarecrow Sequences (Batman: Arkham Asylum)

 Knight Scarecrow Batman: arkham

At the heart of Batman’s reputation lies fear. Bruce Wayne is a man who turned the childhood trauma of falling down a well and being frightened by a flock of bats into his greatest ally. His costume is meant to give the appearance that he’s a terrifying bloodsucker of the night, and his reliance on shadows makes crooks pee their pants when they see those white eyes in the darkness. The name “Batman” is a reflection of this as well; as Christian Bale puts it in Batman Begins, “Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies shared my dread.”

Johnathan Crane also uses fear to his advantage. Whereas Batman uses it to toy with his victims on an emotional and physical level, the Scarecrow uses it psychologically. His Fear Toxin can turn even the strongest man into a crying mess in mere moments, and if multiple people are around when the Toxin goes off, they’ll see their own fears and tear each other to bits. Even worse is when someone high on the Toxin looks at Crane in the eyes as he’s donned his Scarecrow visage. Don’t do that, because it’ll just screw with your head even more, mate.

In Batman: Arkham Asylum, players get an idea of what it’s like to be high on Crane’s Toxin not one, but three times, each one more of a mindbender than the last. The first one is the least horrifying, since it only shows Commissioner Gordon dying and the corpses of his dead parents talking. Second time around, the memories of the dead parents come much more into the forefront, as the player walks around as young Bruce Wayne, listening to the night his parents died (and the first time he met Gordon).

The final hallucination is the most infamous and damaging of them all, starting with a glitch that made everyone think the game had suddenly crapped out on them. Afterwards, players have to go through the opening of the game again, but in the Joker’s boots as Batman is carted to his cell. It’s definitely the most cerebral of the three sequences, and the Caped Crusader’s anguished declaration of “Cut me free!” drives home the feeling of helplessness even further. Scarecrow is returning in Arkham Knight, and with Batman being the reason his face is half ripped to hell, it’s a safe bet that some hellish hallucinations await our hero.

Deathstroke vs. Batman (Batman: Arkham Origins)

In addition to being a master detective and manipulator of fear, Batman is one hell of a martial artist. It’s to be expected, given that he trained under Ra’s al Ghul, but the Arkham games have gone a long way to making his martial arts prowess come through. It’s equal parts gracefully balletic and brutal when watching him punch a thug’s head in, then spin kick over to someone on the other side of the room before delivering punch after punch to another thug’s ribs and finishing him off with a headbutt. A lot of the enemies he goes up against can’t hold a candle to him unless they ape him in size, and those that do match his martial skills eventually fall. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you fight Deathstroke.

deathstroke Batman: arkham

If the name Deathstroke sounds familiar, it’s because you may know him better as Slade from the Teen Titans cartoon, or from the second season of Arrow. You know the drill, he was a soldier that underwent military experiments that basically turned him into one of the deadliest killers on the planet (and gave him a rocking beard and eyepatch combo). Since being a killing machine doesn’t offer many job prospects outside of maybe customer service or being a cop, Slade Wilson decided to become a gun for hire instead.

When Batman: Arkham Origins was first revealed, it was done so with a trailer that primarily showed off Batman and Deathstroke going toe to toe with each other. There’s no real winner, since Deadshot interferes long enough for Batman to escape, but it definitely gives players an idea of what to expect when they pick up the game.

Sure enough, Deathstroke is the first real assassin you go up against in the game (Killer Croc doesn’t even fall within the definition of the word, and Electrocutioner is just kind of embarrassing). “The game is already over before it even begins,” Deathstroke says coolly. “I’m not playing games, Slade,” Batman replies. The Bat and the Assassin face off, and while it isn’t as fast and furious as the trailer, it’s still pretty effective. Deathstroke certainly shows why he’s one of the best assassins in the world, especially on higher difficulties. Defeating him doesn’t just gain you the Remote Claw, it helps you feel like you can take anything on that Gotham throws at you. You’re Batman, dammit.

Guiding the Joker to His Cell (Batman: Arkham Asylum)

Batman: arkham

First impressions are important, especially in games. If a video game doesn’t grab you in those opening moments, it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not the rest of the time will be enough to make up for it. When you consider that many players don’t even finish a game, a lackluster opener could be just enough to turn them towards something else much more captivating.

Luckily, this isn’t a problem that Batman: Arkham Asylum had. Its opening was simplistic, but no less effective. The simple act of guiding the Dark Knight behind Arkham guards as they cart off a tied up Joker proved to be the best way of introducing players to the place they’re going to spend the next ten hours inside.

Arkham Asylum is a place fans have seen before in comics and some TV episodes, but it’s a lot more twisted here. It feels like you’re taking a horrific fantastic voyage through someone’s body, a body that’s going through hell the longer you travel. The further down the halls you go, it soon becomes clear (well, clearer) that Joker’s got something up his sleeve, and he’s just waiting for the right moment to spring it.

And if Joker’s plan doesn’t do you in, Killer Croc will certainly try. This is something that the comics and cartoons don’t always make clear, but man… he is a big fucking dude. His boss fight may not do him justice, but he certainly looks terrifying when you both meet for the first time.

Shark Punching (Batman: Arkham City)

Batman is the most popular character in DC’s library. It’s rare if you ask someone to name ten heroes and he isn’t in the top five. He’s got a lot of memes surrounding his awesome. It’s possible that the number of memes for the Dark Knight is higher than that of Chuck Norris. Maybe.

Having said that, being able to punch a shark in Batman: Arkham City is the most memeworthy thing that’s ever happened in the series. It’s stupid, it’s hilarious, and yet at the same time, completely in character with what’s been established with 75 years of Batman canon. Who needs Bat-shark repellent when you can just punch the bastard in the nose and send it crying home to its mommy?

Can you think of any other moments that define the Arkham games? Why don’t you tell us in the comments below?

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