By TrulyAlive 3 Comments
So I was just checking out No High Scores who had found this new Batman trailer on RPS, who seem to have found it on IGN. Quite frankly, it's pretty awesome.
I'm really digging the way this trailer works for a number of reasons. It's got a great aesthetic to it, showcasing the mix of gameplay and cinematics that made Arkham Asylum work so well. The music is pretty fantastic and as well as being thematically appropriate has a real gritty buzzing tone to it that sort of reminds me of Angel by Massive Attack. Andof course, there's the gameplay which looks pretty identical to Arkham Asylum, aside from maybe some more set-piece oriented bits such as avoiding helicopters whilst gliding (or, you know, gliding straight onto them.)
Let's break this down from the beginning:
The trailer opens to credits in classic Warner Bros. style, incorporating their logo (as well as the DC & Rocksteady logos) into the world in question. Worth noting that the images are utilising that really cool black & white colour palette, with heavy emphasis on the white, as if everything has been blasted with light or it's a super snowy day. It's a cool look that's really worked with the advertising so far and sets a really dark tone.
Hugo Strange appears and muses about the possibility that the reason Gotham City is so screwed up is Batman's fault. It seems that the game is going to be asking questions that you'd expect to see in the Nolan Batman Universe, citing the possibility that all these freaks seek out Batman because, like The Joker from The Dark Knight, they're all the same sort of lunatic, just on opposite ends of the same scale.
From there we get a brief glimpse at what life is like in the new urban prison. We see thugs kicking each other to the ground without mercy, other lunatics patrolling a great sign that simply reads Arkham City and helicopters performing patrols, likely to keep an eye on the 'inmates'. Most of the thugs seem like the same basic fighters you'll remember from Arkham Asylum but every now and then you'll come across one that is wearing heavy make up with green spray-painted hair. You can guess who they work for.
Over a radio or intercom a voice rings out "Confirmation of prisoner 4-0 in the courthouse." Implies that there are places that the inmates are not supposed to go within this city, or even that when the authorities need to extract a prisoner, they might need to actually man some sort of a search party. It's all rather speculative at the moment but goes to show that giving prisoners a portion of a city to just go friggin' nuts in is a pretty bad idea.
Next frame is Two-Face kicking in a door to find Catwoman suspended upside down over a vat of, what looks like, bright green acid. He pulls a gun to her face and growls "Heads or Tails, kitty-cat? He then pulls off his signature coin flip, which is shot from an angle a few feet above him. This whole sequence is really tightly edited and it,along with that aforementioned soundtrack, is what really sets the tone. I'm digging how Two-Face isn't entirely above the odd joke. Although there was nothing wrong with Aaron Eckharts performance in The Dark Knight, I really love how these Batman games are slightly cartoony, just in a remarkably dark fashion. As I said in my review of Arkham Asylum, it's this sensibility that grounds the fiction in the narrative of the old cartoon show, but shows that these games are for the kids who watched that show but have now grown up.
Batman comes gliding around Gotham, swooping down from great heights, then using his grapple to hoist himself back up before swooping back down again. This appears to be a function similar to that of Just Cause 2, except for physically possible and as a means to simulate flight, as opposed to just grappling the ground so you don't die. Naturally, Bats finds a group of thugs and proceeds to knock the living stew out of them. The freeform combat looks mostly the same, you get to do multiple takedowns at the same time now, which is pretty cool. It probably won't spice up general combat that much but it doesn't especially need to when you consider how amazing the combat was in Arkham Asylum. Post thug-bashing, Batman grapples onto a helicopter and silently hangs onto the landing gear, surveying the city below.
Dropping down, he finds a host of thugs along with my favourite character from Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn. Appearing now sporting attire much more akin to that of a playing-card themed stripper than a nurse (you can't fault her for appropriate fashion sense) Harley makes a quip before cracking Batman around the head with a freakin' Baseball bat. I don't care if you're Batman, that shit has gotta hurt and it looks like it does as he crumples and the screen does that flashing white thingy that it's been doing every 30 seconds or so.
(For what it's worth, I feel surprisingly little shame when I admit that Harley is just about the most wierdly alternatively hot super villain I've ever seen in a game. I remember when the first screenshots were coming out of her in Asylum and a bunch of fanboys were crying that she's been slutted up too much but I dig on the contrast between being a super-villain and dressing like a prostitute. It adds another level of subconscious darkness to the whole affair.)
We then get a look at Batman, sneaking around being all stealthlike. The Detective Mode is still absolutely in play with this game but seems to almost be a bit more digital, with grids flashing briefly as the UI expands. Next up is a very brief glimpse of Batman gliding amidst a flurry of gunfire. The fire seems too rapid to just be that of an assault rifle, so my guess of turret gun or helicopters. I'm kinda hoping helicopters, because c'mon, how cool would a dogfight as Batman be?!
Straight after Batman is back on the ground talking to Catwoman, when he pulls her aside quickly and we see that a green laser was pointed directly at her. Just as she's out of danger a bulletshot echoes and the wall splinters. Evidently, someone wants Catwoman dead in Arkham City, more so than Batman considering he was right next to her the entire time. I'm certainly curious about how that plot thread plays out. "That was dangerous," Catwoman purrs, looking tinto Bats eyes, "I like it."
From here on, a few more shots of Batman gliding down and then away from an exploding tower or some sort, possibly that of a church. Finally a lush sweeping aerial shot of Batman sitting atop a gargoyle, overlooking the scum of Arkham City, Gotham.
And then you get a white background with a logo, followed by pre-order and date details along with a message to find them on facebook.
After those 'credits' we hear a voice. "It was all a lie. There's nothing wrong with you."
Enter The Joker, literally walking towards the screen. "Nice of you to say," he grins, "But you of all people should know...there's plenty wrong with me."
It's good to know that The Jokeris going to be retaining his old psychotic sensibilities but what was apparently not wrong with him? After effects of the venom? Perhaps, he's been declared legally sane? Yeah, sure...
I suppose we'll all find out in October.
Also posted on A Hundred Worlds A Day on 16th March, 2011