Tag Archive: Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins creative director Eric Holmes has left Warner Bros. Montreal and joined EA DICE, he announced over the weekend on Twitter.

Besides his work on Batman: Arkham Origins, Holmes also servied as a designer on Gears of War 3, Prototype, and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. He also helped Epic develop the tech for Unreal 4.

Holmes later mentioned he can’t say what he’s going to be working on at DICE, but with reboots of Star Wars: Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge currently in the works there, and the always present Battlefield series, it’ll be interesting to see what project he ends up on.

The joke’s on us

Fandom. It’s a weird little concept, but it can add color to so many different elements of our lives. For me, my fandom centers mostly on Batman—and has since I was a little boy watching Adam West in reruns of the campy ’60 TV series. After that, I worshipped Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. And now, I still swear up and down that Batman: The Animated Series is one of the greatest cartoons of all time. To this day, I adorn my apartment with Batman paraphernalia.

All of this makes reviewing a game like Batman: Arkham Origins a potentially enjoyable or maddening endeavor, however, because my lifelong obsession has me feel the highs and lows more than a casual observer might. And, at points, Arkham Origins goes very low.

The story is a simple one. The Caped Crusader has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham City for just about two years now, but just as we learned in the movies with Batman Begins, when you introduce an element like Batman into the world, there’s bound to be escalation—an evil to counterbalance the good that he represents. In Arkham Origins, the world’s eight best assassins have come to Gotham to try to collect a $50 million bounty that mob boss Black Mask has put on the Bat’s head. And when you get that many criminal elements converging on a sprawling urban center, “escalation” might not even begin to describe it.

This script is a brilliant breakdown of how everyone in the Arkhamverse reacts to this growing conflict when it first happens—and how Batman finally begins to transition from urban myth into a hero in the limelight. Though the story may start off a bit slow, once it hits its stride around the midway point, the twists and turns are worthy of any Batman story we’ve seen in print or on a TV/movie screen before. Dooma Wendschuh and Corey May—best known for their work on Ubisoft franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia—have proven themselves adept at handling the Dark Knight as much as any comic-book writer. And Christopher Drake (a veteran of several animated Batman films) delivers a chilling soundtrack, highlighted by some truly creepy Christmas-themed music, that sets the tone for a classic Batman adventure.

But there’s a lot more to a game than just the plot and atmosphere. Even though Warner Bros. Montreal took Arkham Asylum and Arkham City developer Rocksteady’s basic framework for much of Arkham Origins, it’s clear they wanted to put their own stamp on the franchise—but in the process, they’ve sullied several cornerstone elements from the first two Arkham games.

The first huge disappointment comes in the form of the boss battles. The game’s already scraping the bottom of the barrel with its many C-list villains, but Warner Bros. Montreal does most of them no favors from escaping that label. For every great boss encounter, there’s a horrible, pointless one that makes you question the character’s presence in the game in the first place. And even though the game touts eight assassins, not all of them are actually woven into the story. Instead, they’re relegated to side-mission status—but some of these conflicts are actually better than the story-related ones. It makes you wonder why Warner Bros. Montreal didn’t just trim the number of assassins down in order to deliver the consistent quality of encounters that players expect.

The biggest mistakes are found in the gameplay, though. The highly touted Detective mode crime reconstructor turns out to be a dud, since there are fewer than a dozen instances that you actually use it—and most of those are during the story. It’s an interesting idea that I would’ve loved to have seen more fully fleshed out, but at least the new Detective mode works.

The same can’t be said for combat, due to two of the new gadgets in Batman’s arsenal. The first, the Remote Claw, throws a tightrope between two points, allowing Batman to cross large gaps not normally traversable by the Batclaw. This gadget can also throw objects in the environment at thugs—or even slam two baddies together by attaching to both of them.

But when you give the Remote Claw its two upgrades via the new XP system, you can spam your attacks to make the stealth-based predator rooms far easier than they should be. At that point, you can use the Remote Claw to actually string up three thugs to gargoyles from a distance, never leaving the room’s opening perch, and whittling down the numbers from a daunting six to eight gun-touting thugs to a much more manageable three to five.

This is also a good time to mention that the AI in these rooms seems to have taken a step back from previous entries. You can easily lure all the henchmen in the room back to a gargoyle with a suspended thug, cut down the strung-up one with a Batarang, swing around the room, and string up a new thug to the same gargoyle. I could do this with an entire room, whereas in previous games, not every foe would go to these same spots over and over—they’d catch on to the trick sooner or later. Instead, now I have a pile of eight bodies in one location, which makes it very easy for the janitor to clean up after Batman leaves all the bad guys huddled together.

The second gadget in question breaks the other key gameplay element: hand-to-hand combat. When you get the Electrocutioner’s Shock Gloves, you can throw out any semblance of strategy. You see, the Shock Gloves are unblockable. So, when you activate them, instead of having to balance your attack against shield foes, armored enemies, and stun-baton thugs and actually strategize how to keep your combos going, you can just whale on them with the Shock Gloves for easy massive combos and no longer worry about performing cape stuns or dodges and attacking from behind. What was previously an intricate fighting system becomes a standard button-masher when using the Shock Gloves.

Of course, these gadgets—like everything in Batman’s arsenal—are wholly optional, so if you want to avoid using them to give yourself a more authentic experience, that’s entirely up to you. But, should you choose to use them, they’re clearly overpowered.

Now, I mentioned the new XP system before, and this is actually an addition that works pretty well. It makes every fight and action Batman takes mean something, since you’re constantly working toward leveling up and unlocking new abilities. It also does a better job breaking down how you get XP than what we’ve seen in previous games.

There’s another addition called The Dark Knight System, however, that’s irritating and locks some useful items behind it. In all, 60 specific tasks fall under being Gotham’s protector, thugs’ worst nightmare, being the best vigilante possible, and working toward becoming the world’s greatest detective. Each branch has 15 items in it, but only by completing each item in order can you unlock the next one, with rewards being given at different levels (like the Sonic Shock Batarang). I just couldn’t help but wonder why I needed to do the tasks in order, considering how hard the later ones are; if you accidentally pulled off task No. 14 while still on task No. 12, you’re out of luck and need to do it again. This is incredibly frustrating, especially because it’s an interesting idea that falls flat in execution.

Speaking of frustrations, glitches abound in Origins. This stuff could be patched at a later date, I suppose, but plenty of technical issues hindered my experience—and even forced me to restart many checkpoints. Thugs would suddenly start to hover 10 feet off the ground, so I’d have to do a dive attack from a higher perch to knock them off whatever invisible box they were standing on.

The controls froze up in several instances, preventing me from hurting any of the bad guys—but, interestingly enough, they couldn’t hurt me, either, which forced a checkpoint restart. Other times, I looked to Batclaw up to a higher point, and I got the RB button prompt to do so—but I instead launched across the room in the opposite direction.

And, of course, Arkham Origins also includes your standard bugs like the camera getting stuck on corners. Finally, there’s my personal favorite, lag and screen tearing in the open world. Not a lot of it, but enough to be a nuisance—and the frequency definitely spikes later in the game as more thugs are on the streets. Sure, it’s not like any of this is foreign to games, but it’s also stuff I didn’t see in the previous games.

Arkham Origins also includes something else we didn’t see in the previous games: versus multiplayer. Heck, I didn’t even know about it until I got the game. This is another example of an interesting idea from Warner Bros. Montreal that’s horribly executed—and completely unnecessary.

Eight players are split into three teams: three players on the Joker’s team, three on Bane’s, and the other two play as Batman and Robin (who doesn’t appear in the story at all). If you play as a Joker or Bane henchman, the game takes on a third-person-shooter viewpoint where you try to kill everyone on the other team. Each team has 25 respawns, and when these are exhausted for one side, the other team wins.

Besides kills, you can also capture three points in the environment. With each capture, the opposing team loses a reinforcement. Batman and Robin’s objective, then, is to perform stealth takedowns—like in the predator rooms—on as many thugs as possible in the hopes of filling up an intimidation meter in order for them to win. If they get shot and die, though, the meter is depleted. Players can also race to become their team’s inspirational boss midway through the match, bringing the Joker or Bane onto the field and giving one team a decided advantage, since most of Bane and the Joker’s powers are one-hit kills. What’s more, you can’t be Batman and Robin two matches in a row, since a randomizer selects who’ll don the cape and cowl after each match.

Just typing that made my head hurt. There’s way too much going on in any of these matches, and the term “clusterf***” came to mind frequently during my playtime. The shooting controls feel way too loose, the maps are far too small for Batman and Robin to ever be truly effective, and their stealth techniques are nearly impossible to pull off throughout an entire match because it’s so hard to predict human nature. Plus, they’re completely negated as long as teams stick together, since Batman and Robin can only take one guy down at a time. The two partner players will often immediately turn their guns on Batman and Robin as soon as something happens, since many of the takedowns also take far too long to complete.

But my biggest complaint about this mode is that Batman is the last character who needs a multiplayer component in his game, and I fear something like this could lead to co-op with Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl down the line.

The addition of multiplayer shows where this game went wrong: from the get-go. Instead of trying to appeal to the core Batman audience, it feels like WB and DC rushed this game out the door in order to try to maintain the accepted two-year development cycle that’s become a standard for most franchises in order to maintain the widest audience possible.

And by asking Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker to impersonate former Batman and Joker actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill—instead of having them do their own takes on the characters—I think WB and DC are scared of upsetting an already precarious status quo that sees Marvel thumping them in almost every single media endeavor. Even though Smith and Baker do a stellar job for 90 percent of the game, that other 10 percent—where they sound like they’re struggling to get in the spirit of Conroy and Hamill—shatters the immersion. It’s so jarring, it’s like if I were watching Christopher Walken in Batman Returns, and then suddenly, Jay Mohr is there in his place instead. But the only reason why you’d have them do impersonations in the first place is because you’re scared the casual fanbase won’t be able handle change of any sort. You make a game for the lowest common denominator—the kind of player who needs multiplayer.

But most Batman fans are better than that. It goes back to that fandom thing: The diehards are amazingly in tune with their favorite characters and everything going on with them. To my knowledge, there wasn’t a huge clamoring for multiplayer. And there wasn’t a change in voice actors because WB felt they needed “younger-sounding versions” of these characters—especially because they got everyone else from the previous games to reprise their roles.

This all leads to my main problem with Batman: Arkham Origins: It’s nothing more than a stopgap game to keep Batman fresh in the minds of the casual consumer. With Rocksteady hard at work on whatever they’re doing for next-gen, whether it’s the Batman game we want that picks up right after Arkham City (and hopefully follows Hush) or some other DC-related property (there’s always rumors of them taking a crack at Superman), Warner Bros. felt they had to put something out there. In order to not rock the boat even further, they even figured out a way to work the Joker back in with the idea of a prequel.

At its core, despite the flaws, there’s a decent Batman game here, since it still has the basic mechanics of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. But the game could’ve been so much more if WB Montreal had really tried to carry the series forward instead of trying to do their own impersonation. And at least then—if this effort had been in the name of wrapping up the series on this console generation with a truly magnificent bang—they could be forgiven a little for all the things they broke when it comes to gameplay. Instead, it feels like they cut corners, slapped a Christmastime coat of paint on Rocksteady’s previous framework, built a second island that looks strikingly similar to the first, and hoped that making a couple of references to the previous games would keep the fanbase satisfied. Because of all this, the game falls short of the lofty expectations established by the first two Arkham games—and my expectations as a lifelong Batman fan.

Developer: Warner Bros. Montreal • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.25.13
Batman: Arkham Origins is a massive step back from Rocksteady’s Arkham efforts due to countless technical problems, poor gadget balancing, and a needless addition of versus multiplayer.
The Good The story, atmosphere, and music are all worthy of the Arkham series.
The Bad Many of the new elements Warner Bros. Montreal introduces are wholly unnecessary—or ruin Rocksteady’s cornerstone elements.
The Ugly The lack of faith WB and DC has in its fanbase.
Batman: Arkham Origins is available on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

More convenient than Bat-Shark Repellent

Much of the current Batman buzz may surround the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins console game, but at New York Comic Con 2013, Warner Bros. wanted to make it clear that they haven’t forgotten about the iOS and Android platforms, either. The mobile incarnation was unveiled at the show—it’s scheduled to be available sometime around its console brethren’s October 25th release date—and I was able to get some solid hands-on time with this free-to-play Bat-brawler.

The mobile version’s being developed by NetherRealm Studios—the folks behind Injustice: Gods Among Us—and fans will quickly see parallels between that game’s mobile tie-in and this experience. Much of the core gameplay still revolves around tapping on your enemies to chain together punches and kicks to take them down in succession, and after dispatching a variety of thugs, you’ll earn a chance to beat down one of the eight assassins after the huge bounty on Batman’s head. The Caped Crusader has a stamina meter, however, and he can only pick so many fights in a row before he needs a break to recharge his batteries.

The concept may sound simple enough, but there’s a far deeper experience here than you might expect if you were to give the game a cursory glance. Sure, you won’t get the dialogue or story that you’d get from a Batman console game, but there’s more than enough action to give Bat-fans their fix on the bus or a plane before getting home to their consoles to continue their proper pursuit of Black Mask.

The overall layout breaks up Gotham City into four sections, and Batman must methodically work his way through them all to clean up the streets. While the game will launch with only four of the eight assassins, Warner Bros. promises that— much like the Injustice mobile tie-in—there’ll be plenty of continued support down the line.

The game also includes an RPG-like element; Batman can level up by earning experience after every battle or by using the in-game currency he earns (which can also be purchased for a fee in the game’s store) to unlock a variety of special moves and new costumes that provide natural buffs. Batsuits like the one worn on Earth-Two will provide more health, while the Batman Beyond suit can provide a nice all-around boost.

The combat’s also deeper in that Batman can pull off six or seven moves in a row—unlike the three or four that players were limited to in Injustice. Plus, the variety of special moves is far larger. You can only bring four moves at a time into battle, though, so you’ll have to switch some in and out on the customization screen as you unlock more.

You can also bring medkits to heal yourself—or maybe the Shock Gauntlets, which then switches the game to a first-person perspective as you try to pound your foe’s face into paste. Or there’s always my personal favorite: throwing dual Batarangs for huge damage and then calling in a swarm of bats to slow the enemy down.

But Batman’s combat isn’t the only element to see an overhaul in this mobile version. His would-be assassins also have special maneuvers that require players to master mini-games in order to block or counter opponents’ signature moves. When I fought Deadshot, for example, I had to quickly tap all the bullets he was firing at me in order to dodge them, Matrix-style.

The user interface is also much clearer now, with all your special moves easily clickable down on the bottom of the screen—and if you wish to use your second hand, a block button is available for faster reactions. Of course, if you find the HUD bothersome or think it clutters up the screen, there’s an option now to turn it off altogether.

Clearly, this isn’t the same experience that you’d get on a console. But if you’re on the go and feel like letting out some pent-up aggression on Bane or Copperhead, this looks to be shaping up as a quality mobile tie-in that’ll be great for killing a little time during your commute.

During their Saturday night panel at NYCC 2013, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed the Electrocutioner, the sixth in the group of eight assassins hunting Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Electrocutioner joins the likes of Deadshot, Deathstroke, Bane, Copperhead, and Firefly. It’s unlikely the other two assassins will be revealed before the game’s launch.

For those of you who don’t know, the Electrocutioner first appeared in Batman #331 in January of 1981, but three different men have worn this mantle. Batman: Arkham Origins’ Electrocutioner looks to model itself after the third and most recent one, Lester Buchinsky, who was brother to the original Electrocutioner and first appeared in Dectective Comics #644 in May of 1992.

The Electrouctioner’s only real ability is that his suit can generate enough electricity to kill a man, but he can dial it down to simply stun his target if he so chooses. It’s safe to assume this is the boss battle where Batman will get the previously revealed Shock Gauntlets, and this fight will more than likely take place early on in the story.

No one who has been the Electrocutioner has even risen above C-list status in Batman’s Rogues Gallery. The villain has pestered Batman, Robin, and Nightwing on various occasions with no success due to his numerous shortcomings. In this new rendition, it looks like Buchinsky is just as stupid as ever, evident by his badly burned face (which probably comes from playing with electricity a tad too much).

Buchinsky’s addition has this Bat-fan worried in regards to how much Origins has scraped the bottom of the barrel to flesh out their cast of assassins, and then seemingly added Black Mask, Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Joker on top of it all just to try to balance the villainous catalog with some A-listers. While I wouldn’t be surprised if another strong assassin like Lady Shiva were one of the remaining two—it would help balance the male to female ratio and could introduce Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins (might be good to have a whole league in there if the game revolves around assassins)—I still don’t know if it’s enough to warrant the addition of weaklings like Electrocutioner. I suppose one positive note about his inclusion is that Steve Blum will voice him.

Batman: Arkham Origins launches October 25 worldwide on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC.

The DC Comics booth was abuzz as always at this year’s San Diego ComicCon, as demos of Batman: Arkham Origins and other DC-inspired videogames were available for the first time to the public. While everyone else was playing, I had a chance to catch a quick tutorial from Jim Lee on how to draw Aquaman, and found out how much he hates drawing scaled armor. But then I headed back to the movie costume displays and met briefly with Warner Bros. Montreal senior producer Ben Mattes to talk about some of the work going on with Batman: Arkham Origins.

EGM: What made you want to include a small-time villain like Copperhead in Batman: Arkham Origins, and what inspired the character’s drastic redesign?

Ben Mattes: I tell this story differently than Eric [Holmes, Arkham Origins’ Creative Director], but I remember the meeting where we decided to go for it. We had a big bulletin board up with a lot of different assassins on it. First and foremost, we had the assassin angle. So we were looking at KGBeast, we were looking at Firefly, we were looking at Lady Shiva, we were looking at Copperhead. All these different characters. Anyone who might’ve, sort of had the word assassin in their history. And then we were looking for elements that would match different components of gameplay. So we were saying “this one would make a good challenge for freeflow combat” and “this one would be a good option because it could challenge your navigation” or whatever the case may be.

So as we were looking at the board, we realized we didn’t have a ton of women on our roster and that was frustrating and disappointing for a variety of reasons. And Ames Kirshen, who is the vice president of production for all DC properties at Warner Bros. Interactive, kind of likes the idea of the Copperhead character, and likes the idea of this acrobatic, contortionist character. And there was this merging, this alignment of the stars, where we said we have an idea of what the gameplay could be with this character. We’ve got an interesting angle in terms of this being an assassin, but we’re looking for more females, let’s pitch the idea of a refresh, a rebranding, of the Copperhead character and make it a visually appealing female character.

At first Ames and DC were a little hesitant. They weren’t against it, but they needed some convincing. And so working with our character concept team, we put together a few compelling character pieces that showed how visually appealing this character could be with her claws and her tattoos and her costume. And while doing this, we’re describing the image we have of her being a dangerously seductive contortionist, and that was a cool image that everyone could see in their heads. Imagine her wrapping herself around Batman and using her claws to attack and poison him. It was a pleasing image we all thought would be cool.

Once that happened, we got [DC Comics’ chief creative officer] Geoff Johns on board, and then the rest was just implementation. And as we revealed at the San Diego ComicCon panel, the motion capture of her was probably the point where everyone looked back and said, “See, I knew it would work!” We all thought it would be cool, but then we got these three really talented actresses and we hodgepodged together their MoCap, glued it all together to create the Copperhead experience in the cinematics we’ve shown, and that’s really when it clicked.

And then to have Geoff Johns talk about it at the panel and give credibility to the character by saying she’s going to become canon, she’s going to become a character you’re going to see in the New 52, is really validating, and shows the working relationship between us and DC—which has been great—but it also shows the importance of videogames as a medium in the overall DC space. The Arkham games sell. They get millions of eyes on them. And so they’re becoming increasingly powerful and important just as a platform to influence the canon of this character, which is very rewarding and exciting for us.

EGM: You mentioned the New 52 and how the Arkham games are now influencing that. The New 52 is very young, and the Arkhamverse is in its infancy as well. Because of its freshness, are you guys tempted to reach for Batman’s newer history, as it might have a more viable audience, or do you like staying rooted in Batman’s lengthy pre-New 52 history? 

BM: Generally speaking, everything is on the table. We are more influenced by the older comics for sure in regards to references and inspiration and try to steer clear mostly just of the movies, TV Shows, and other media. What’s more important than if our inspiration is from old or new comic material, is if it makes sense to the Arkhamverse, because it is young and it is its own unique branch of the DC timeline.

Hypothetically, let’s stick The Court of Owls into the Arkhamverse. We go back then and ask if that makes sense, especially since Origins is Year Two and very clearly Court of Owls isn’t Year Two, so there are some things where the chronology of our story dictates who we can and can’t have in it. But in regards to what books or authors or anything—it’s all available. We just have to make sure it stays consistent. And that’s not necessarily a DC mandate. I mean, they appreciate that we hold ourselves to that even before we put options in front of them, but we want to make sure that we are building a cohesive, coherent universe first and foremost. Because first of all, we’re huge fans and that’s the world we want to play in, and we don’t want to create an experience where the fourth wall is broken for those extra hardcore fans who find inconsistencies and lose that sense of immersion because there’s something about our narrative that breaks and fractures their sense of understanding in the universe.

EGM: How hard is it to keep that consistency with a prequel, though? You have a lot of new villains and gadgets that weren’t around in the first two games.

BM: You know, it’s really not that hard if you put gameplay first. We’re not ashamed of it. We’re proud of it. We didn’t sit there thinking that we needed to create an awesome gadget, but it needs to be technologically inferior to Arkham Asylum and so we need to limit him. That’s not how you make an exciting game. We wanted to make a game that felt like an upgrade over the previous two games in as far as Batman’s capabilities, even though this is chronologically taking place before Arkham Asylum. As a player, do you accept that the chronology means Batman should miss some punches, the Batclaw cable should snap once in a while, and the Batarangs shouldn’t fly as far? It would be frustrating instead of an empowering experience.

Luckily, though, there is a very well-established component of the canon that makes it all moot. Batman never leaves the Batcave with everything. It’s part of the character. He has different outfits, different gear, different vehicles, different versions of weapons, different versions of gadgets, different suits, and it’s always been accepted that based on the different challenges he may face, Batman will use some subset of his arsenal to use in that encounter, and so we’re just staying consistent, really, with that part of the canon. In Arkham Origins, Batman finds a need for the remote claw, and so narratively we can still be consistent. It’s just part of who he is.

EGM: Well, as long as he never brings out the Bat-Shark Repellant again, I think we’ll all be okay with that. So, you have a new Joker voiced by Troy Baker and a new Batman voiced Roger Craig Smith. Besides the fact these are younger versions of the characters, what made you want to change the actors and what went into choosing the new actors?

BM: Really, younger is it. That was the main reason behind the decision to change voice actors.  It’s not that we don’t love Mark [Hamill]. It was simply the fact that we needed a voice actor who could sound like he was the Joker, but seven years younger from where Mark typically played him.

And everyone acknowledged that need. We are an early career story. We needed our voice actors to be younger men who have younger sounding voices, but who can still very much play the characters the way that Mark and Kevin would’ve played them. We didn’t want Troy to re-invent the wheel and come up with an all-new Joker. We wanted him to the deliver us the Joker who becomes the character played by Mark Hamill in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

So what went into the casting was listening and auditioning tons and tons of some of the best male voice actors in videogames for that angle. And trying to make sure we found partners who understood and embraced that, and saw that as a huge opportunity rather than a restriction or a confinement or some sort of limiting factor. And both Troy and Roger immediately keyed into that in their auditions. You could actively hear them trying to do their versions of the vocal mannerisms of Mark. And it became quite evident to us early on in the process that these were our actors—not just because they could deliver the voices, but because they embraced the challenge so wholeheartedly and are so respectful of the giants whose shoulders they were asked to stand upon, which is exactly what we were looking for.

Hey there, kids! Dr. Ray Carsillo, Associate Professor of Superherolgy here for EGM. Today, we’re going to speculate as to what villains the Dark Knight may face in his upcoming game, Batman: Arkham Origins.

Along with a slew of screenshots, plot information leaked yesterday that Black Mask has called eight of the world’s greatest assassins to Gotham and put a massive bounty on Batman’s head. We know for sure that Deathstroke is, unsurprisingly, one of these assassins from those screens. But who are the other seven? Here are my best candidates for the job:


First Appearance: Batman #59 (June/July 1950)

Real Name: Floyd Lawton

Bio: Originally appearing in Gotham under the guise of helping Batman, Floyd Lawton actually had a grand plan to replace the Caped Crusader and then use the vacuum of costumed do-gooders to establish his own stranglehold on the Gotham underworld. This failed, of course, and when Lawton finally broke out of prison, he decided to become an assassin-for-hire instead. Consistently proving that he never misses, Deadshot quickly becomes one of the best assassins in the world, but frequent marks in Gotham has seen him cross paths many times with Batman over the years. His constant trouble with the law has led to several stints with groups like the Suicide Squad to put his skills to more noble uses while also trying to get shorter jail sentences.

Powers: Expert marksmanship

Why He Might Appear: Having already been part of an Arkham game increases the likelihood of Deadshot appearing. He’s one of the best-known assassins in the Batman mythos, and the huge bounty would play to the character’s more basic traits. Also, if the developers wanted to touch upon his origins, with the Penguin and Black Mask also being seen in screens, there’s a good chance for strong mob undertones to the game. If Deadshot wants a slice of the underworld to himself, this Batman Bounty would prove a perfect excuse for him to come to Gotham and try to weasel his way into one of the premier organizations before starting his own.

Lady Shiva

First Appearance: Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #5 (December 1975)

Real Name: Sandra Woosan (or Wu-San, depending on the writer)

Bio: Born and raised in a shantytown protected by Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, Lady Shiva grew up around martial arts. After fleeing the village with her sister at a young age to pursue a better life in America, Shiva continued her training into adulthood before being tracked by David Cain, one Ra’s al Ghul’s best assassins. In order to free her mind from restraints she didn’t know she possessed, Cain killed Shiva’s sister. Realizing that Cain was right—that she needed to let go of everything, including her family, to reach her true potential—she entered into the League of Assassins with Cain and bore his offspring. This child would go on to become Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl (third if you count Betty Kane, but most don’t). After Cassandra was born, Shiva abandoned the girl and continued her quest to reach her full potential, often fighting on both sides of the law to fulfill her personal wishes.

Powers: Martial arts grandmaster, expert in reading body language to predict opponents’ moves

Why She Might Appear: In a game revolving around assassins, the League of Assassins would need some sort of representative. Although I’m sure Ra’s al Ghul will also likely appear somehow, he rarely does his own dirty work and often employs people like Lady Shiva to do it for him. David Cain, Shiva’s lover, is also a possibility but less likely due to his niche status in the Batman mythos.  Therefore, Shiva’s easily the best-known candidate. Her past of both helping and attacking Batman could be an interesting side story—maybe even to set up a trap in the game—since Lady Shiva’s best-known story arc is the one where she helped train Batman back to full strength after Bane broke his back in the Knightfall story arc. On several occasions, though, she’s tried to kill several members of the Bat-Family.


First Appearance: Justice League of America #94 (November 1971)

Real Name: Depending on what media he appears in, Merlyn has a bevy of first names, including Tommy and Malcolm, with Merlyn always serving as his last name.

Bio: Once known as Merlyn the Magician, he was a world-class archer who fell out of the limelight after one great public archery contest against Green Arrow. Leaving the contest simply as archery rivals, Merlyn appeared many years later as a member of the League of Assassins, charged with killing Batman. Green Arrow prevented the attempt, however, and Merlyn was ousted from the League because of his failure. While at the League of Assassins, Merlyn also had a hand in Cassandra Cain’s training.

Powers: Master tactician, archer, marksman, and hand-to-hand combatant

Why He Might Appear: Even though he’s best known as a Green Arrow antithesis, Merlyn’s recent history has been heavily interwoven with Batman, especially now that he was last seen working with Talia al Ghul again. If the League of Assassins does make its presence known in the game aside from Lady Shiva, Merlyn would make an interesting villain to bring along under the League of Assassins banner. Not to mention it could lead to a Green Arrow cameo, whom DC and Warner Bros. have both been pushing heavily recently.


First Appearance: New Year’s Evil: Prometheus #1 (February 1998)

Real Name: Unknown

Bio: The son of two criminals who traveled the country committing numerous acts of theft and robbery, Prometheus watched from the sidelines as his parents provoked the police—until the cops had no choice but to gun them down in an alley. At that moment, he vowed to take revenge against all forces of “justice” that he might come across.

Powers: Variety of gadgets and weapons, peak human physical and mental ability

Why He Might Appear: Meant to be Batman’s perfect mirror image, Prometheus offers up an interesting battle that we see in many games, where the hero must face him or herself to advance (Dark Link, anyone?). Although Prometheus has a large sum of money due to his parents’ various stashes, he often meddles himself in mob affairs to garner more power. Again, with the mob angle clearly coming into play with Black Mask and Penguin’s respective presences, Prometheus might see this as the perfect time to confront his do-gooder equal while inserting himself into the Gotham underworld scene. Seeing as how all these assassins with underworld ties might possibly appear in the game, this could help introduce other mob bosses as well, like the Great White Shark, Carmine Falcone, Rupert Thorne, or Two-Face to go along with Penguin and Black Mask.


First Appearance: Batman #417 (March 1988)

Real Name: Anatoli Knyazev

Bio: Trained by a secret cell of operatives inside the KGB, the Beast was loyal to the Soviet Union and would do whatever it took to eliminate the targets he was assigned. His first encounter with Batman had KGBeast targeting 10 high-ranking officials inside the U.S. government in the hopes of crippling the “Star Wars” program. The Beast was mostly successful but failed to gun down his final target, then-President Ronald Reagan, after being thwarted by Batman. After this failure and the U.S.S.R. dissolving, KGBeast turned to a more traditional life of crime.

Powers: Prosthetic gun in place of left hand, enhanced physique due to cybernetics, explosives expert, extraordinary hand-to-hand combat skills

Why He Might Appear: The leaked info says that these are the best assassins in the world, and by the time he first met Batman, KGBeast had already successfully assassinated over 200 targets. His unique weapons—and considering the game is set in the past—could allow for KGBeast’s first appearance story to be mostly explored, especially as the game looks to have an open-world feel similar to Arkham City but twice as big. At the very least, it could be an interesting side mission to have high-ranking political figures in town—and Batman having to stop them from being killed by KGBeast.


First Appearance: Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (January 1993)

Real Name: Unknown

Bio: Born and raised in a prison his entire life, Bane’s natural skills allowed him to survive and later thrive under the harsh conditions. Building up his body in the prison gym and learning as much as he could, Bane quickly dominated everyone in the courtyard to become the unquestioned “king.” Seeing his potential, prison controllers felt he’d be perfect for an experimental drug called Venom. Using his new-found superstrength, Bane escaped his prison home and made a beeline for Gotham City, feeling it his destiny to break the Bat.

Powers: Master of disguise, photographic memory, expert strategist, Venom usage gives him superhuman strength

Why He Might Appear: Bane’s another character who’s already appeared in the Arkham games. If Warner Bros. Montreal decides to tap into a little bit of the Batman: The Animated Series mythos, it would be easy to make Bane an assassin-for-hire type, as well as a mastermind in his own right. This would explain what would bring him to Gotham in the first place, and since his own origins in the Arkhamverse haven’t really been explored, this could be the time to do it. Plus, he’s another big name from the Rogue’s Gallery and could really help complement Penguin and Black Mask. And let’s not forget that Bane is at an all-time high in terms of popularity due to last summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, and seeing him in a more traditional comic-book setting might be just the thing to keep his villainous momentum going.


First Appearance: Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight (March 2009)

Real Name: Michael Washington Lane

Bio: An ex-cop, Michael Washington Lane is approached by the Order of Purity when the former Azrael went mad and killed an undercover cop. Dressed in holy relics that speak to him—and after undergoing numerous purification rituals by the Order—Lane has lost some of who he once was, but his personal sense of justice is still his primary driving force, which has led him to be both an ally and an adversary to Batman.

Powers: Artificially enhanced physiology, specially armored costume

Why He Might Appear: I chose the more recent incarnation of Azrael—not the original from the early ’90s in Jean-Paul Valley—because Lane is another figure who’s appeared in the Arkham games. It makes sense for this version to be used here, because instead of trying to teach people about two different men as the same character, you create a bit of a new backstory for him in the Arkhamverse. All in all, this would be a lot simpler—and more interesting. Azrael’s always been a character who lives in that gray area and whose methods are too extreme for Batman to use himself; his religious undertones also make him a bit of a lightning-rod character. This could also lead him to believing that Batman is some sort of devil or demon—and that by purging him from the world, he’d be doing his holy duty, instantly providing a bit more depth in terms of character motivation beyond “I want to get rich and famous.” His character’s also susceptible to being easily manipulated—and he has a history with Ra’s al Guhl as well because of this.

What do you folks think of this list? Who do you think should be on here? What non-assassin villains do you think will crop up? Are you excited for Batman: Arkham Origins? Let us know with comments below!