Batman: Return to Arkham Has Issues

Batman: Return to Arkham Has Issues

It is fair to say that the Arkham series of Batman games have had their ups and downs over the years and Batman: Return to Arkham is the next chapter. Some say that the series peaked with Arkham City, the first title in the series to let you explore a more open Gotham; as the caped crusader fought against Hugo Strange and the rampant criminals left to rot in Arkham City. Following the colossal success of Asylum and City came Arkham Origins, a prequel developed by WB Games Montreal rather than the traditional godfather of the series, Rocksteady Games. The game was riddled with bugs at launch and some problems still persist to this day but the actual game itself was rather good. Then came Arkham Knight as Rocksteady took the reins once more and for the most part hit on another success even if the Batmobile/Bat-tank wasn’t to everyone’s tastes.

Batman: Return to Arkham

Since Arkham Knight‘s release last year, Rocksteady announced they were working on an Arkham VR game and thanks to various leaks we knew an Arkham remastered collection of some sorts was on its way this year. Warner Bros. confirmed the news that the collection was indeed real, would be developed by Virtuos Games and would contain remastered versions of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City in Unreal 4. This announcement already raised eyebrows amongst gamers with Arkham Origins noticeably absent. In fact the game has been treated as the unwelcome sibling of the Arkham games for some time, made evident on the run up to the release of Arkham Knight when much of the marketing and talk around the game was about the conclusion of the Arkham trilogy’ or rather ‘Rocksteady’s trilogy’.

Batman: Return to Arkham

 

Arkham Origins was a very enjoyable game and in particular its boss battles were cleverly done but during my experience of the game I encountered many crashes on Xbox 360 which still persist in some cases to this day. It would be nice to see some faith from Warner Bros. in it’s published prequel with the chance at redemption in Batman: Return to Arkham but instead the game has been pushed to one side again. It’s good to see two such well admired games come to this current generation of consoles but it isn’t really a complete collection if one game in the series is left out and Arkham Origins is certainly canon in the Arkham-verse.

We now have a release date for Return to Arkham which will be available on October 18, 2016 but this date has come after the project was delayed for several months with Warner Bros. stating on their forums:

“After reviewing the progress of the project, the team at WB Games has decided to delay the release of Batman: Return to Arkham to give the team at Virtuos Games additional time to deliver a polished Batman Arkham game experience.”

This suggests Warner Bros. was unhappy in some regard with the work Virtuous Games was doing on the remasters. It’s common for publishers to outsource remastered collections to other studios but Warner Bros. in particular will need no reminder of the disastrous launch of Arkham Knight on PC which was developed by Iron Galaxy rather than Rocksteady and led to numerous complaints from those who purchased the game on PC and eventually led to the cancellation of the game on Mac and Linux. The game’s season pass was also pretty hard to stomach with a hefty price tag for a light serving of gameplay.

Along with the new release date for the game this week we were also given a side-by-side comparison of the old games and the remastered versions:

 

The remastered versions certainly look better particularly when it comes to lighting and effects such as fire but it still isn’t the most spectacular transformation thanks largely to the fact that the games still hold up pretty well on PS3.

There have been plenty of unnecessary remasters already this generation and although it will be great to see two fantastic games from last generation available on Xbox One and PS4 for those who might have missed them, it’s a real shame that the collection hasn’t been treated with more care and there is certainly a historical precedent to be wary if you take into consideration Arkham Knight’s rocky launch. Why no Arkham Origins? Why was there no real reason for the delay? Batman: Return to Arkham feels like a missed opportunity for Warner Bros. to deliver a truly special collection of games and feels right now to be more of a cash grab than a full collection.

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