Batman: Arkham Insurgency – Let’s Return to Gotham
According to leaks, we could be seeing Batman: Arkham Insurgency before too long. Let's take a look at what to expect.
Sometimes I feel like I’m one of about seven people who actually enjoyed playing Arkham Origins. Sure, it lacked the polish of Asylum or City, especially when it came to the fluidity of combat, and just didn’t have the depth of story of its predecessors. This was somewhat to be expected, being developed by Warner Bros Montreal as opposed to Rocksteady, and whilst the criticism is not unfounded, to me it’s a little uncalled for.
However, an apparently disgruntled ex-WB Montreal employee leaked information onto Reddit surrounding an alleged new instalment in the series, supposedly titled Insurgency – albeit not necessarily an actual Arkham game – to be announced at this year’s E3. The post has been removed, although the comment thread still exists here.
I, for one, am conflicted. I consider the Arkham series to be one of my favourites but after the disappointing conclusion of Arkham Knight, I’m not sure I’d want another one – in my opinion, the series reached its peak with City in terms of gameplay, but the best story still remains to be found in the first instalment. Any information gleaned from the leak must be taken with boulder-sized grains of salt obviously, but I’m going to ramble for a bit under the assumption this leak is genuine.
Allegedly, Insurgency is to be set three years after Origins, which places it five years before the hellish night Batman spent upon Arkham Island in Asylum. Batman will once again be facing a mass-breakout from both the asylum and Blackgate Prison led by the Clown Prince himself (once again voiced by Troy Baker) whilst remaining trapped in an evacuated coastal section of Gotham City. This likely means that once again the streets will be devoid of civilians but presumably teeming with thugs (and the same three or four voice lines we’ll have to hear over and over and over and over). You play as our eponymous hero (portrayed once again by Roger Craig Smith) and, in what could be a similar vein to the Nightwing missions in Arkham Knight, will team up with Dick Grayson’s Robin. Whilst there’s no Syndicate-esque character switching in the open world, it will be interesting to see the two characters in their flourishing partnership during collaborative missions.
By now I’m pretty certain most people are a bit oversaturated with the Joker and his constant presence in the Arkham series so far, and whilst I expect him to feature as the main antagonist, there is a roster of other villains to keep Batman busy. With the promised return of actual, proper, boss battles – Mr Freeze, anyone? – hopefully this means that not only will there be a decent amount of meat for Batman to chew on, the Joker himself will get the chance for a proper showdown (I don’t think I can forgive Rocksteady for the paltry punch-out that was the climax of Asylum).
I think my personal favourite nugget of info provided by the leak is the scrapping of the Batmobile’s tank missions. Hallelujah. I hated those missions with the burning fury of a thousand fiery suns and they’ve been responsible for a rage-quit or two. Once I switched the ‘toggle battle mode’ feature on, meaning I could finally use the left trigger to brake/reverse again, they became more bearable, but that doesn’t change the fact that they sucked. The Batmobile will be back, with missions focused more on the Batmobile’s speed and manoeuvrability, although the EMPs and non-lethal missiles have been kept, much to the annoyance of Bat-fans not tuned to the idea of Batman using any sort of weaponry.
Whilst Riddler’s raceways are apparently set to make a return (boo), so are Riddler’s challenges (hurrah!). For a completionist like myself, the rare breed who actively enjoys collect-a-thons, I’m definitely pleased, although the info given in the leak suggests a lean towards puzzle rooms and death-traps rather than 500 trophies scattered around Gotham’s rooftops. Either way, I’m pleased as Riddler is possibly my favourite Batman villain and I definitely hope all this will culminate in a face-off between the two foes.
With a new game comes a revamped combat system; I’m on the fence about this, personally. Whilst I understand the criticisms some have about the freeflow combat system in the previous games (especially in Origins), there was nothing like pulling off an awesome combo without taking a single hit and watching Batman pull a thug towards him with the Batclaw, take him out with one punch and then streak over to another trying to dislodge a pipe from the wall and sink him with a foot to the gut. Let’s ignore the sound effects of the crunching bones, shall we?
According to the leak, the new combat system will be ‘more complex’ than previous games. Seeing as Origins’ combat controls had a nasty habit of being somewhat unresponsive – and by that I mean Batman swinging in the total opposite direction, allowing some dude to kick him in the ass – I’m convinced that perhaps a combat system designed by WB Montreal may not be a bad thing, especially if it has the potential to introduce a bit of variety into the ‘counter-strike-gadget-floor takedown’ fights of the previous games. As long as beatdowns make a reappearance though, I’m happy.
The one thing that really bothers me is the apparent inclusion of a long list of unlockable skins and Batsuits. Just how many of these are going to be blocked behind the walls of micro-transactions or pre-order bonuses? I can already see the achievement/trophy description: ‘Collect Every Batsuit’ it says, whilst a third are locked behind £4.99 price tags. I suppose we can only hope that this isn’t the case but given the seeming industry staple that such ‘bonuses’ have become, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are.
To be completely honest, I’m only about 70% sure I’d want a new game. After all the hype surrounding Arkham: Knight and the relative disappointment it turned out to be, I’m not sure I could commit myself to getting back on the hype train. Despite my definite reservations, I have to admit I’d be willing to throw my money at it regardless. Honestly, I’d take any opportunity to climb back into the boots of the world’s greatest superhero, even if I have to exclusively pre-order it from that one retailer simply to get the cape with go-faster stripes.