May is always a difficult time for press monkeys like myself at conventions. At least, I think so. It’s in that odd time slot were the spring splurge is out, reviewed and most of the time patched. Years past is was “DMC: Devil May Cry” and “Bioshock Infinite” while this year it’s “Mortal Kombat X. Having it playable there is fun but in press terms its kind of null. It’s also too close to the biggest splurge of splurges that is E3 so there is no new news of larger titles to be had. That doesn’t stop the press and hype train so there was yet another “Batman Arkham Knight” screening/panel. By this point I’m becoming more and more apathetic to the game. It is going to be great and it is guaranteed to be on most people’s ‘Game of the Year’ lists but I’ve just become tired of the press stuff for it. Let me explain.
Last year, covering events, they made a big thing about their being ‘exclusive footage’ of the game. It was a cut together section of gameplay (so can be filled under pre-rendered effectively) of a level were the main antagonist Scarecrow takes over a chemical plant to mass produce his fear toxin. They also made a big thing, to the point where the announcer/commenter was yelling “BATMOBILE” down a microphone because you can drive the Batmobile. They were making a big thing about the Batmobile even in the regular news cycles so I came to expect it. It seemed good. It look much like past Arkham games so good by association. In the 8 months since then, exclusively at MCM, we saw un-edited (pre-recorded but think it was recorded at the ‘official European press’ thing that the ‘established press’ get invited to if I understood correctly) of the exact same level. Down to the point were we saw the exact same cutscenes, in the exact same way as before. That was it. So seeing ‘new’ footage was a bust. But, there was a no camera/no recording panel with Rocksteady staff, with 20 or so others in attendance which was nice, including the voice of the Scarecrow John Noble. It was interesting hear Noble’s take on the character and what perspectives he came from to do the voice. The self-hatred and viciousness at the heart of the character tinned with the duality concept that the Batman and the Scarecrow both want to strike fear in their enemies. Was extremely fascinating. I got to hear more about the story, which is good. The plot centres around the power vacuum let behind after the death of the Joker at the end of Arkham City. All the villains team up and take Gotham, with the Scarecrow on top as he’s the only one with a city-wide plan. I just hope that they convey the uneasy relationships and teams as the villains are, in the end, in it for themselves and will back-stab each other to get what they want most. And with the newest villain, the Arkham Knight, out to straight up kill Batman and all those associated with him, primarily (shown in the ‘Allies Trailer‘) Oracle, Nightwing, Robin (I’m assuming it’s an early 20’s Damien considering there’s a Nightwing and that there is Red Hood DLC and they are being fast and loose with the regular DC continuity,) Catwoman and PD Chief Gordon. They tried to convey that it is now all out war with Bats and co. on one side and Scarecrow and co. on the other. Considering the bad guys are actually killing people it would be nice if they broke with convention and had Batman use a gun rather than go out of their way, to an insane degree, saying that Batman doesn’t kill people. Even though he has massive guns on his car and jams henchmen’s head into power terminals as part of the new ‘environmental’ kills system. I wouldn’t mind if Bats ended up killing people. If they really want to convey an all out war feeling then digging deep in the ‘kill of be killed’ mentality would be ok. Or maybe that it going to be big twist at the end. To save his own life, or to end the siege of Gotham, he has to kill the Arkham Knight. Or the Arkham Knight will kill himself to save Batman because villain redemption twists are a significant thing in DC.
On the massive car guns, there was an off-hand comment that might explain why they are spending a huge amount of time on the Batmobile. They spent 6 straight months designing it. I really hope that was from concept to render but considering another comment was ‘we designed it once, didn’t like it, scraped it and started completely over’ makes me think not. Having an eye for detail is one thing but you have to draw the line somewhere. They even talked to un-named car makers about the design of the car. There was a life-size (I’m assuming) rolling model of the car on the show floor. I just think that the Batmobile is going to be fun for a while and then fall into something that could get overused so it fades into the background and becomes boring. Considering the aforementioned screaming of “BATMOBILE!” at screenings, it’s going to be really embarrassing for all involved. If any of this stuff ends up happening, I was people to know that I called it.
To end going back where this all started. I am excited about the game but it has now got to a point were I just want the game to be out. Since Rocksteady missed their first window, I think they (or their PR people or just Warner Bothers) have been killing time, restating the same thing over and over and I’m just tired of it. Yes we all know it is going to be good and yes I wouldn’t mind a PC press copy (I know they won’t give me one) but please just release the damn thing! Even at the over exposure level of pr/advertising stuff that I get as a press monkey I am now just bored. The more you shout “I am going be ‘the shit’!” the more I think you are going to be just shit. At least “Assassin’s Creed Unity” had a demo this close to release at MCM last year and could tell it was going to be the shit one of a great franchise. Right now all I’ve seen it just videos. Overdoing it just creates pessimism.