Ranking the Batman Arkham Games

Batman is all over the news. With the release of The Batman (2022) it’s put me in a Batman mood. There’s no better time to talk about one of the best superhero games of the past decade.  The Arkham games are considered the best of comic book videogames but which one is the best? Here’s my ranking of the 4 games.

Arkham Knight

Arkham Knight was the last instalment in the franchise. Batman is facing off against the Scarecrow and a new mysterious villain by the name of the Arkham Knight. He must solve the mystery before Scarecrow causes total devastation to Gotham City.

It comes last in this ranking sadly. There are several pros I’d like to talk about before what keeps the game from being higher on this list.

The combat remains fairly similar in all the games with either mild or wild varations. Here the fighting combat is a smooth freeflow fighting style with multiple predator modes. With a multitude of gadgets, it’s fun taking down enemies in a multitude of ways.

The character designs are great and show the development of the characters, I especially have to talk about Riddler’s design in this game because it is really telling of how far Riddler’s obsession has gone. It’s a minor detail but it helps with telling the overall story.

With the nice bits out of the way lets talk about the cons.

Arkham Knight’s greatest asset also ended up becoming it’s greatest weakness. The Batmobile is a nice edition but overall gets used far too often. Parts like the car chases and a couple of the missions use it well but overall, it ends up becoming tedious. It wasn’t necessary. Was it really necessary that there was ‘Riddler Races’? Unfortunately, the boss battles also use the Batmobile and when you look at the Deathstroke battle in Origins vs the Deathstroke battle in this game the difference in quality is apparent.  

The story is a total mess. This was released during the time when there was an oversaturation of Joker in media and this game didn’t need him to come back. Spoilers, he died in City and he should have stayed that way. Scarecrow was the main antagonist and yet he took a backseat in his own game. The whole ‘Arkham Knight’ plot twist was predictable even before the launch. Jason Todd is a hard character to get right and this game made a lot of wrong choices from his design to his backstory.

While this game is the weakest of the batch it is still a decent game with great graphics, very fun gameplay and character development.

Arkham Origins  

The synopsis of Origins is that it’s Christmas eve and someone has put an $50 million dollar assassin contract out on Batman. Now Batman must fight off the 8 assassins sent to kill him.  

This one is the black sheep of the family. There was a new studio and people didn’t like it. Personally, I think this one gets far more hate than it warrants. It is the strongest? No. Does it have some great partss to it? Absolutely.

It has an entire new batch of enemies. It has very few villains from the previous game but I think that helps keep it fresh and interesting. Each villain is unique, allowing some of the lessen known rogues to step into the foreground. Bane, Deathstroke and Black mask are all examples of villains who are allowed to shine here.

The game is also very, very pretty. It’s set on Christmas eve so you find yourself soaring around a beautiful snow-covered city. The cutscenes are rendered so beautifully I could watch the cutscenes as a full legitimately animated movie.

The game’s major flaw is that it doesn’t really risk trying anything new. It’s very similar to the previous two games that came before it. The combat is more or less the same as the previous games while doing nothing to spice it up, at least with Knight they include the Batmobile. While the story presents itself as being new and original it becomes a reskinned version of a story that’s been told a million times before.

Speaking of similarities the map is very similar to Arkham City’s map. This game takes place years before the events of all the Arkham games so they really could have made it something unique. Instead, it’s a bigger version of Arkham City. It’s disappointing when there was so much potential.

Arkham Asylum  

In this you play as Batman whose trapped on Arkham Island after the Joker launches a hostile takeover. He makes his way through the Asylum to uncover the Joker’s evil plot.

This is the first game that came out and it changed the game for superhero adaptations. There was so much this game did right. The atmosphere in this game is incredible. It feels like a horror game at some points and keeps you on the edge of your toes. The map’s location uses its setting to the fullest. There could be inmates hiding around every corner so you never know what to expect, despite the awkwardness of getting around the map later in the game.

The game mechanics and controls mean you have great diversity in combat. You can play Batman both as someone who can take on enemies in great numbers but you can also play as a Batman who silently knocks out his enemies one by one. The predator style combat would ripple throughout the rest of the series as a staple of the franchise.

Though this game has a small cast of characters they’re all done fairly well. A personal favourite of mine is Scarecrow and his level. If Arkham Knight had kept this version of Scarecrow I believe it’d be a much stronger game.

Rocksteady hit it out of the park on their first try and set the bar for all the future games.

Arkham City

This game takes place two years after the events of Arkham Asylum. A part of the city is now a makeshift prison for the inmates. Batman must investigate the truth behind Arkham City and the Joker’s next diabolical plot.

It might be a cliché to say this is the best game but it’s a cliché for a reason. This game has everything you want from a Batman game. It’s challenging but fun in equal amounts. The locations are stunning. There’s the museum, Wonder Tower and more help create an amazing atmosphere that’s fun to explore and glide around.

The story of Arkham City is one hell of a ride that takes place over a single night. They play up the mystery element of the story and you don’t understand the full story until the very end. It does what every good sequel should and continues the story from the first one so it had actual significance. It balances two plots that end up merging into one with more than enough side missions to give the players lots to do.

Despite there being a multitude of rogues, every character feels they get enough time to shine. Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Two-Face and more are all there. They’re straight from a comic book and their personalities are just as great as their designs.

The combat is kept fresh with new gadgets to use in combat as well as it finally strikes the balance of how to make a good boss battle. Everything single boss fight has something that makes it unique. With Ra’s you enter a hallucination, with Mr Freeze he learns your takedown style so you can’t use the same one twice.

Trying to find any flaws in this game feels like it’s nitpicking. It’s truly a masterpiece of a game. Overall that’s my ranking of the Batman: Arkham games. A great series of games that deserve to go down as some of the best superhero video games of all time.