The Batman: Arkham series is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the Batman mythos in video game format. These action-adventure games are a little bit less dark and more like the comic books than the recent “Dark Knight” movies, with gameplay that’s a mix of sneaking, detective work, and brawling.
Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll
Violence: If you’re a Batman fan, you know that his refusal to kill anyone is an integral part of his character. Of course, that is also the case in the Arkham series. However, it never stops him from beating the stuffing out of the bad guys. This often includes breaking their arms (complete with crunching sound effects) and inflicting other traumatic but nonlethal injuries. Of course his enemies don’t extend the same courtesy to Batman, and it is possible for the hero to die in some rather gruesome ways. For example, in Arkham City it is possible for Batman to get eaten by a shark. That said, it’s never very graphic.
Sexual Content: There is some flirtatiousness from some of the female villains, but nothing too suggestive.
Strong Language: The villains sometimes use relatively tame swear words. In particular, thugs seem to be fond of the word “bitch” in the second game when you play as Catwoman.
Nudity and Costuming: There is no nudity, but there are some scantily clad women. Harley Quinn, who appears in all the games, wears skin-tight clothes and shows off her cleavage. Poison Ivy appears in Arkham Asylum, and her outfit is similarly revealing. Catwoman’s outfit in Arkham City is skin tight.
Player Interaction: There is no multiplayer in the first two games. In the most recent game, Arkham Origins, there is a multiplayer mode but it appears as though there is no built-in voice chat. You can join a party with other players in order to chat with them, but this is not required. The player could be exposed to inappropriate user names through the multiplayer system, but that’s about it.
Story & Themes
In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Joker is sent to Arkham Asylum and breaks free almost immediately. He proceeds to free all of the inmates. His goal is to develop a stronger version of the steroid that gives the villain Bane his superhuman strength, and it is up to Batman alone to stop him.
In Batman: Arkham City, a large part of Gotham has been fenced off and turned into a giant prison known as Arkham City. The man in charge of Arkham City, Dr. Hugo Strange, knows Batman’s true identity and has Bruce Wayne captured and thrown into the giant prison. Dr. Strange alludes to a mysterious plan known as “Protocol 10.” Batman must discover the secret behind Protocol 10 and put a stop to it.
Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel to the first two games. In it, a $50 million bounty is put on Batman’s head by the criminal Black Mask. Batman must fight off the world’s most deadly assassins, who have come to Gotham to claim the bounty.
Many reviewers highlighted the sexist nature of some of the dialog in the games. There was additional controversy over how much the thugs like to use the word “bitch” when referring to Catwoman.
- How do you feel about Batman’s refusal to kill bad guys?
- Do you think the comic-book origins of Batman justify some of its dark and exaggerated content?
- Do you think the female villains are just as formidable as the male villains, and does that make you think the games are not sexist? How do you feel about the (over)use of the term “bitch” in relation to Catwoman?