The Evolution Of The Arkham Trilogy: A look back at the greatest superhero video game series ever made

Please note this article was written in the past for a different website but as that website is no longer active I thought I would upload it to my own. All written content I own and was all written by me.

With ‘Arkham Knight’ being released tomorrow on 23/6/15 here in the UK I thought it was a good chance to reflect and discuss how the trilogy has evolved from ‘Arkham Asylum’. Please note that I do not include ‘Arkham Origins’ as it was made by a different company and I will be avoiding plot details as I want anyone who has not experienced this awesome series to go in as spoiler free as possible.
Before ‘Arkham Asylum’ came out there wasn’t really any games that were very good for Batman fans. A tie in for ‘Batman Begins’ that was average and a few beat em’ ups. So when ‘Arkham Asylum’ was announced there was a lot of hope. We as fans were skeptical when the game was shown at E3 as all was shown was combat and we thought we were just going to get another beat em’ up with a graphics upgrade. I remember it was being released on my birthday and I couldn’t wait. How wrong we were! When ‘Arkham Asylum’ was released our fears were shattered instantly. Intuitive combat, gadgets and stealth gameplay that was truly remarkable and unlike anything we had ever really seen before. So many collectables with the riddler taunting you with each of his riddles, and how satisfying the feeling was when you figured them out. And particularly gruelling challenge rooms focused on combat or stealth. The icing on the cake was the voice actors. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy returned to revisit their iconic roles. The downside was that the boss fights were a bit too repetitive and being enclosed in an Asylum felt a bit limiting. Why the down face Bats? ‘Arkham City’ is being released!

‘Arkham City’ truly addressed everything that needed improvement or alterations from ‘Arkham Asylum’. The combat was improved to near perfection adding in double counters, more special moves than you could handle and the biggest map you could ever want to glide around and really feel like Batman. The plot and gameplay was so absorbing with once again countless riddles and boss battles that were by far improved from its predecessor. Every boss fight was unique and completely fit the character perfectly. My personal favourite involves a very intelligent character that requires you to take him down a different way every time using the environment and gadgets at your disposal. With major plot twists, fan favourite characters and the once again returning voice cast I am really excited to see how they are going to top ‘Arkham City’ with ‘Arkham Knight’.

Before we talk about ‘Arkham Knight’ though let’s discuss the game mechanics and go into more detail.

From day one Rocksteady knew and implemented the ethos of the Batman universe perfectly and that has continued throughout with surprises for Batman fans. It is clear from the first two games that Rocksteady live and breathe the Batman universe and have crafted their games with the upmost care and attention to detail. 

The combat from the games can be as basic or advanced as you like. On an easy difficulty you can probably get through the game button mashing but when you learn the combat system of how to counter and keep your combo going it creates a whole new intense experience as you have to time things perfectly. I will say though that especially in ‘Arkham Asylum’ I have been hit unfairly from not being able to counter as I am in the middle of a movement which can get frustrating during harder parts of the game or challenge rooms.

The gliding in ‘Arkham Asylum’ was very simple. Hold ‘X’ on the Playstation or ‘A’ on the Xbox to make Batman glide with his cape. But once we got to ‘Arkham City’ it was all about gaining momentum and height by an all new gliding mechanic. Dive bombing while gliding to regain the momentum and height you need.

Stealth is at the very heart of what Batman is all about. A huge part of the Batman universe is the fear aspect of stealth. And there are many different ways you can strike fear into the henchmen. Very few games come close to what they achieve here. There are so many different ways to stealthily take enemies down. You can simply sneak behind an enemy and take him out or you can grapple gun to a high structure and and hang behind them for a particularly satisfying and humorous takedown. These are just two of the many different and unique ways you can use stealth and fear to your advantage.

So what new additions are going to be in ‘Arkham Knight’. I would suggest if you want go in completely spoiler free I would ignore this part but these are extremely minor spoilers. I was lucky enough to see a 10 – 20 minute demo of ‘Arkham Knight’. The major new addition to ‘Arkham Knight’ is that you will now be able to drive the Batmobile and the way you can combine this and combat is really interesting. The set pieces are still as awesome as they always have been. And of course due to the ending of ‘Arkham City’ the plot is going to be very different and from what I saw from the demo I am really excited to see how it all plays out. 

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the Arkham Trilogy so far and are looking forward to ‘Arkham Knight’. 

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