Friday, October 14, 2022

Flashback Friday: "Batman: Arkham City," Has Arguably the Best Video-Game Opening Ever

Before we discuss the masterpiece that is, "Batman: Arkham City," we need to talk about what came first. When the video game, "Batman: Arkham Asylum," was released, it astounded everyone. A video-game company named Rocksteady--who had made one decent first-person shooter and was basically unknown--released an absolutely incredible Batman game. Before this came out it was basically a joke that super-hero video-games usually stunk. How could Rocksteady possibly follow up such an amazing game set within the infamous Arkham Asylum? Why not make a big junk of Gotham one big open-world prison? It was so crazy it worked and, "Arkahm City," is arguably even better than the first game. I feel one reason it manages to be so amazing is it sinks its claws into you from the earliest moments with one of the best openings ever.

Now, one caveat must be said. Before the game proper starts there is a little segment with Catwoman that is all of 5 minutes or less long. When the game originally came out you had to enter a code to even play this moment and the other Catwoman sections (later editions automatically included this). Therefore, technically there is a little Catwoman segment before the opening proper in many versions of the game, but let's not dwell on, "What about-isms." In my opinion, the real opening of the game is that prologue with you as Bruce Wayne getting a feel for the nightmarish city before you even put on the Batman cowl. Here is a clip of the prologue of sorts and then my thoughts on it all:

The game opens with a white screen along with the voice of Hugo Strange taunting Bruce Wayne about a mysterious protocol and how if Wayne tries to stop him he'll reveal he's Batman. Between this strange screen, we see an intro movie of Wayne protesting Arkham City as a horrible idea and getting arrested. Then the screen reveals we are now in control of Wayne as his eyes adjust to the lights. We're chained up and staring at ourselves in a mirror. When I first played the game I didn't realize I actually had control but then I motioned for Wayne to tip the chair over. 

This brings a guard in that you beat up and steal a piece of tech from. Then you're picked up and thrown into the city. Prisoners mock you, and other villains can be seen getting tasered and forced into the city. You can walk a bit, but don't have to do any fighting for a good bit as the scene just drips with atmosphere. Eventually, you fight a little bit and (after smacking around the Penguin) climb up a building to call your suit down. It's an ingenious mixture of introducing the story, setting, and giving you a bit of gameplay. It is fantastic.

That is just the first 10 minutes in what becomes hours of wild fun. A whole bunch of villains appear, puzzles are solved, ample fights occur, and it all results in, "Batman: Arkham City," being simply incredible. Some games take a while to get going and run the risk of losing a gamer's attention (or at least mine) if it takes too long for anything cool or fun to occur. "Batman: Arkham City," manages to hook you right at the start and that is why when I think back over the best openings in games, this one is possibly the top dog...or should say bat? Yeah, that's an awful joke, I'm sorry.

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