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Ranking the games in the Batman Arkham series

(Image via the culture nerd)
(Image via the culture nerd)
Rahul Bhushan
ANALYST
Modified 22 Feb 2021
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The Batman Arkham franchise's birth came at perhaps the most opportune time and came swinging out the gate with Batman Arkham Asylum. That game would go on to redefine what a superhero game should be. Releasing in the middle of the Caped Crusader's renaissance with the Nolan franchise, Arkham Asylum set up one of the most well-received franchises in gaming history.

Before achieving massive fame with the Batman Arkham franchise, Rocksteady were a relatively small studio, and many were skeptical whether they would be able to handle a franchise as revered and beloved as Batman.

However, the studio not only rose to the challenge but set the benchmark against which every other game of its ilk would be measured. This article ranks the individual games in the franchise in terms of quality.

Ranking the games in the Batman Arkham series

4) Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins was the first game in the series to not be developed by Rocksteady. Instead, the responsibility was handed over to WB Montreal, who pretty much knocked it out of the park in many ways.

Arkham Origins was a prequel that fleshed out the early years of Bruce Wayne as Batman rather than picking up the story after Arkham City. The game did a brilliant job at refining the important relationship between Batman and Joker.

Fans were slightly concerned when they learned that Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy wouldn't reprise their roles. Instead, the mantle was passed to Roger Craig-Smith as Batman and the iconic Troy Baker as Joker. Their performances were stellar and perfectly illustrated the younger versions of our favorite characters.

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Perhaps gameplay was the only area in which Batman: Arkham Origins lacked. It was, in fact, the weakest of the series in that area. Everything from the story, score, performances, and themes were top-notch. But the gameplay seemed to be a little off-kilter. Combat remained largely identical, yet, traversal felt truly tedious, especially the path through Gotham Bridge.

The lack of innovative and original ideas was definitely an issue with the game, and despite a solid base, Arkham Origins suffered in terms of gameplay. However, the game remains every bit as enjoyable as it was back then, and it is still one of the best Batman stories ever told.

3) Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight was the swan-song of the franchise, with things coming to a head massively with Wayne having to dig deep to find a way. The game does a great job illustrating the stakes of the situation and just how terrible the night is going to get.

The entire game carries with itself as sense of sombre and finality that gives it the extra oomph. Batman Arkham Knight has perhaps the most polished version of the iconic and revolutionary combat system introduced in Arkham Asylum and has the best traversal tool of all-time: The Batmobile.

However, while the game from a technical standpoint is nigh untouchable, there are a few issues regarding pacing and odd creative decisions. The Batmobile, as cool as it is, was crammed into virtually every pivotal situation in the game. As a result, its charm wore off.

Batman Arkham Knight definitely has a lot of high-points in terms of story, but unsure pacing and predictable turns makes it just a little bit underwhelming. However, most of it can be chalked up to just how high previous games had set the bar in the series.

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Batman Arkham Knight is a great end to a fantastic franchise and one of the most fun superhero games. Even with all its faults.

2) Batman: Arkham Asylum

The first game in the series, Batman: Arkham Asylum was as good a first game in the franchise has ever been. The game wasted no time with its setup and brought players into the crazy thrill-ride that awaits them within the Asylum.

The almost Lovecraftian architecture and imagery are second to none and make the entire place feel every bit unhinged and keep players on their toes. The writing might be a bit predictable, but given just how many things the game does right, it is still forgivable.

Certain sections from this game, such as the Scarecrow bits, have forever been etched into the player's minds and reached iconic status. The game feels like a great companion piece for The Batman Animated Series. A lot of it is down to Conroy and Hamill reprising their roles.

Batman Arkham Asylum, by far, has the strongest and tightest level design in the entire series and is the most atmospheric one as well. The game rightly deserves its place in the history books as one of the most important games of all-time.

1) Batman: Arkham City

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An age-old adage in combat sports that winning the championship is only half the journey, as defending it is what really counts. Such a sentiment exists in the videogame industry as well. Rocksteady needed to prove beyond all doubt that Arkham Asylum wasn't going to be the one-hit-wonder many thought it was.

The studio went to work and overhauled almost every idea introduced in the original. The game went from being a semi-linear Metroidvania style game to a massive open-world title with Batman: Arkham City.

Once the game was released, the industry and the gaming community instantly knew that Rocksteady had just delivered a masterpiece. No aspect of Batman: Arkham City feels like it could do with more polish. From the story to the gameplay, ever part of Arkham City just works.

While still not perfect, Arkham City comes about as close to perfect as one can get. The impact the game had on the industry is felt even today regarding combat and level design.

While everyone is bound to have a different favorite game in the franchise, perhaps the community can collectively agree that there are no mediocre games in the series.

Published 22 Feb 2021, 18:16 IST
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