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Where Will Arkham Take Us Next? January 31, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I just finished my second playthrough of Batman: Arkham City and I have to say that the game is a tremendous achievement that Rocksteady should be quite proud of.  It’s the superhero game that so many have asked for so long.

Now that I’ve come to the end of the game for a second time its gotten me thinking about just where is the series going next?  I know a lot of people will cite the game’s finale as exactly that…final, but there is a tremendous amount of tidbits and easter eggs sprinkled through the game which have been found by various individuals online that speak volumes that Rocksteady is planning a third Batman game.

Before I go any further I would like to make it clear to anyone reading this that this is an editorial, and it is my opinion based upon all the evidence I have gathered from the game.  Please do not take anything I post here as biblical or essential to what the third Batman game is going to be, or that I feel so strongly about my conjectures that if the third game turns out to be something different I will lose all interest in it.  I am doing this for two reasons, one, to inform the reader of anything they may have missed playing through Arkham City, and two, because its fun.  Prepare to be spoiled.

So with all this said, what are my expectations about the third Batman game developed by Rocksteady Studios?  Well, I believe it’s going to be titled, Batman: Gotham City.  This had been kicked around quite a bit since the end of the first game, Arkham Asylum, and all signs pointed before the official announcement of Arkham City that Batman was going to be fighting in a much bigger location than the first game.  After fighting through Arkham Asylum, and then Arkham City, to continue to up the size and scope of the previous game there really isn’t any where bigger for Batman to go than Gotham City itself, well that, and the evidence I’m about to provide ahead.

The game also intentionally left several loose threads for those who may have given the side missions a quick look.  While most of the side missions you partake in have a finality to their endings and usually end in the capture of whoever it was we were seeking out, like Mr. Zaazz or Deadshot, there are two sidequests in particular I want to reference which could be tied directly into what may be in mind for the sequel.

The first is the Watcher in the Wings mission, where Batman finds a masked avenger following him in Arkham City, and you can usually catch him at pre-determined points.  After following the trail left by him you will discover that it is none other than the superhero Azrael.  Azrael was a regular member of Batman’s allies in the early 90s and at one point replaced Bruce Wayne as Batman after his back had been broken by Bane.  He tells Batman that what he did that night would bring about an even bigger event that he could not even possibly imagine.  He explicitly says to Batman that from what happens in Arkham, Gotham will burn, giving credibility to my theory that Gotham City will be the venue of the next game.  The file is marked not as complete, but filed away into the Batcomputer for later review.

The other is the Identity Killer mission, where Batman investigates several murders involving corpses that had their faces removed with surgical precision.  You first get a tease about the mission when you meet one of the doctors in the church for the first time caring for a patient with his face completely bandaged and holding a box they could not pry out of his hands no matter how sedated he was.  When asked about the prisoner the doctor replied that the bandaged man wasn’t a prisoner but one of the doctors who did it to himself!  As you follow the trail, all signs point to Bruce Wayne being the killer (Wayne’s fingerprints were on one of the scalpels left at the scene and witnesses said Wayne did it), in fact Oracle had a theory that Johnathan Crane, The Scarecrow, may have been responsible for brainwashing Batman in some way to committing the murders.  It turns out that the murders were committed by Dr. Tommy Elliott, better known as the supervillian Hush, a former friend of Bruce Wayne and now insane criminal mastermind.  As he peeled off his bandages he revealed his face to Batman, the face of Bruce Wayne, which he was able to create for himself after taking certain facial features from all his victims and stitching them together.  He walks out of his apartment, letting Batman live.  Oddly, Batman reports to Oracle that Hush had left Arkham City and was “gone” even though all Batman saw him do was walk out the apartment’s front door.  The file is also flagged to the Batcomputer for further review and Batman said he’d go looking for him tomorrow.

The final tidbit I want to bring up is probably the thing you want me to talk about the most, and that is the secret easter egg which has been all over the internet for the past few weeks.  One of the ships in Arkham City actually can have its cargo hold opened by your cryptographic sequencer.  The sequencer spot isn’t marked like other spots, so you have to figure out exactly where to stand for the sequencer to work.  When you determine the password (hardest in the game) the hold opens.  If you move inside the shipment, the game shifts to a first person perspective, and you see various shipments of gross bugs inside of it, an obvious fear weapon.  In the far back is a human subject, alive and absolutely terrified.  The shipment is marked that it is to be delivered to Dr. Jonathan Crane, The Scarecrow.  The Scarecrow had been mentioned very rarely otherwise in the game.  One possible ending of Arkham Asylum showed he had survived the events of the first game and may have gotten his hands on the Titan formula (similar endings showed Croc or Bane getting it).  It was also clear he had been in Arkham City at one point (The Riddler marked Crane’s Scarecrow mask buried in some hay as the solution to a riddle of his) but overheard chatting of some thugs said they heard he may have been in Arkham City but they hadn’t seen him anywhere.  It was likely he had been in there but probably snuck out.

What does Dr. Crane have in mind for Gotham?  Will Hush be involved?  And finally, will the new Azrael be joining us?  Crane was part of the Hush storyline in the comics (as was the rest of the of the Batman villains, but I consider Scarecrow’s part to be left as a loose thread in that story) and the lingering plot thread about it involved Batman wondering if he had been exposed to the fear toxin at some point in the story, affecting his judgement, which is exactly the same feeling Batman has in the game during the Hush sidequest.  The original (and most well-known) character who held the title of Azrael was Jean-Paul Valley, who has been dead in the comics for quite some time.  Will this new Azrael, armed with the appearance and weapons of Valley but the name and story of Michael Lane be a friend or foe?  Gotham beckons.

Oh and, Harley’s pregnant.