One of the most iconic video game series of all time, the Batman Arkham series, made its debut in 2009. Rocksteady delved into the gritty life of Batman and came out with an original and well-executed story in Barman: Arkham Asylum. Little did they know that the game would turn out to be a game of the year and an absolute classic for all time.
If someone asked me to list my favorite video games, a game from the Arkham Series would be a part. No, I’m not crazy when I say that I’ve ended the trilogy over three times. This adds up to a total of 9 playthroughs of 3 games! It’s no wonder that Batman always has a special place in my heart.
Let’s begin ranking the three Rocksteady original titles that set the bar for all-time superhero games. Do note that WB Games Montréal developed Arkham Origins so that we won’t be adding it to our list.
3: Batman: Arkham Asylum
While I knew who Batman was at the time, I had never read any comics or seen any of the great Christian Bale Batman movies. Arkham Asylum on my Xbox 360 formally introduced me to the Dark Knight’s Universe, his back story, his struggles, the decrepit city of Gotham, and the crooked cast of villains the game featured.
Kevin Conroy voices Batman, but the show’s real star has to be Joker, voice acted by the legend Mark Hamill himself. Just like in the TV shows, Mark does justice to the twisted mind of the Joker; every laugh, every dialogue, and every emotion is perfectly voiced. If you think Heath Ledger’s Joker was the only memorable casting, take this game for a spin, and you’ll fall in love with the sheer brilliance of this character’s casting and design.
The game opens up with Batman escorting a tied-up Joker to Arkham Asylum, a high-security prison for the mentally insane. Surrounded generously by security guards holding guns, there’s no way Joker could get away this time. I think you should find that out for yourself.
In 2016, Batman: Return to Arkham featured remastered versions of the first two Batman games. While this is the best version to experience the opening titles of this trilogy, I still prefer the slightly rough-around-the-edges graphics from way back in 2009. Don’t get me wrong; it was a graphical powerhouse back in the day. However, I still love the charm and personality of the older version.
2. Batman: Arkham City
The sequel to the game-of-the-year Arkham Asylum had to live up to many expectations. And boy, did it deliver on every single one of them.
Batman: Arkham City puts the player in yet another prison. This time, however, the prison is a cut-off part of Gotham City named Arkham City. The world is much more expansive than in the previous game. It has a lot of recognizable locations from the comics and the movies: ACE Chemicals, Sionis Steel Industries, and the GCPD building, to name a few.
At the core, the gameplay is almost the same as the last game; fast-paced, free-flowing, and adrenaline-rush-inducing. If anything, Rocksteady only made it more precise and fluid, with every punch and counter making you feel like the Dark Knight. In addition, it introduced a broader skill tree with new combos and finishers. You can unlock these with skill points that you get after leveling up.
The highlight of the game was Arkham City itself. This, coupled with its plethora of maneuverability options, made it stand out. Nothing puts you in the shoes of Batman like grappling onto a building and using the momentum to shoot off, opening up the cape to glide over the beautifully crafted Arkham City, and then dive-bombing into a mob of escaped prisoners.
1. Batman: Arkham Knight
The final entry into the trilogy, which officially concludes the caped crusader’s story, is my favorite of the three.
Set in the heart of Gotham City itself, it shifts focus from Joker as the main protagonist to Scarecrow. The stakes have never been higher, as the struggles of the Dark Knight hit an all-time high. The game puts our hero against two antagonists instead of one. I’ll refrain from naming the second one — I won’t spoil it for you.
To even the odds, Batman calls on his Batmobile, which also couples as a tank. From a gameplay perspective, many people dislike adding a car to a Batman game. Although, for me, it’s the perfect distraction when you get tired of gliding above Gotham City.
Rocksteady constantly added more stuff to every successive Arkham title, making the world bigger, riskier, and more enjoyable. I adore every single one of these games, but if I had to rank them, I would put Arkham Asylum at the bottom and Arkham Knight at the top.
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