Not the most eloquent thought, but there it was in all its unshakable glory as it kept racing through my head while I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady’s take on the Caped Crusader not only faithfully emulates and represents its subject matter — it practically bleeds it. Many hero games promise to “immerse” you in a character’s world, but this is one of the few that actually pulls it off.
One of the reasons Batman stands apart from so many other superheroes is because we think he is one of us. He wasn’t blessed with the ability to fly, or with claws coming out of his hands — his defining trait is a tragic memory which he has used as the driving force behind everything he does. He’s trained his body and his mind to their absolute peak, and the result is, really, our very own American ninja.
Devout fans of the comic mythos already know this, but for the masses who know Batman though mostly movies, games and television shows over the years, you can find more than a few mixed signals. That’s led to confusion, and the result is a range of work that paints Batman with various brushes: He was a campy detective (the early ’60s show), a brooding, silent crimefighter fighting a circus of crime (the Tim Burton movies) and in the best examples, the ultimate badass with a brain. He would be noble enough to support wholeheartedly, but also have enough edge to satisfy any darker needs we have for our heroes. In other words, Batman has way of making us feel that a simple beatdown of a serial rapist and killer is enough.
To me, the bodies of work that best emulate the ideal are Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And now, I want to add Batman: Arkham Asylum to the list.