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heiyu avatar 5:57 AM on 12.20.2011  (server time)
Nygma, Please: The Arkham-American I Love To Hate

*denotes jokes stolen from friends funnier than me

Apologies for not having touched this thing since my original post, but I’ve been ‘glidin’ places & punchin’ faces’* in my personal Skyrim – Batman: Arkham City. Not counting time spent writing two college essays on these games (ProTip: Simply turning in a sheet of paper with ‘I’m Batman’ on it doesn't earn full marks*), I’ve racked up 100 hours since Arkham City’s PC release.

...and it's all this fucker's fault.

In the original game, the Riddler's presence was limited to hidden collectibles around Arkham Island that the player could find maps for. Arkham City has escalated this into a massive sidequest of rescuing hostages from Riddler death-traps (challenge rooms notwithstanding).

The traps are unlocked by obtaining the collectibles, which are so numerous that finding them requires interrogating ‘Riddler Informants’. That’s right: this game has living maps that you scare the secrets out of. My favorite scripted exchange when shaking down these thugs is Batman’s “Talk! I know you work for Riddler!” to which the henchman replies:

"You make a convincing argument from atop my compatriot's unconcious body, sir!"

The same tone is struck when escaping a certain Riddler death-trap later on. In one move, the player must zip-line high across a room, grab a captive dangling from the ceiling, then burst through a window amid a shower of glass. Upon landing, the hostage immediately turns to his rescuer and demands to know: “HOW DID YOU DO THAT?”

Batman doesn’t even acknowledge this outburst, but assures the man he’s ‘safe now’. This brings me to a recurring point I’ve seen in reviews of the game that scoff at the implausibility of Arkham City’s main premise as if the story was happening in our world. My retort is “What has ever been realistic about Gotham City?”

At last, a game willing to tackle the real-life consequences of unprotected clown sex.

Any snark about Arkham City’s existence is silently answered in the space of those two brief in-game conversations listed above. One can almost hear the wheels turning as it occurs to these ‘regular’ characters that in a city where a 40-year-old hipster obsessed with 4th grade brain-teasers is a wanted criminal, Batman is the answer to ‘how’.

Personally, whether controlling a man in a bat-suit, a witch in a hair-suit, or a worm in a super-suit, I prefer to keep my realism and my escapism separate. After all, even the Nolan movies are still about a millionaire orphan who gets ninja training in order to spend every night for the rest of his life wearing special pervert cosplay in order to hunt other perverts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back where I belong. Between the electrified zombie and the shark, I know I missed some Riddler secrets in the museum...

Arkham Asylum Robin by Chris Moreno

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