Batman has been a podium-dweller on the beat 'em up front for over a decade now, with the signature Arkham series still making one heck of a splash on next-gen hardware today. But, gloss over the Bat and his library of video games prior to the launch of 2009's Asylum, however, and you'll see another side to the success story. A story that, like Superman, had multiple failed chapters with a slew of digital disasters to capsize the vessel. Nevertheless, once Rocksteady stole the reigns to the IP in '09, Gotham became so much more, and Arkham was finally able to become the flagship series we know and cradle today.
Batman: Arkham has been such an inspiration for the beat 'em up world these past twelve years that, honestly, it's no wonder fans are still clutching at straws for reboots and remasters. And, with the VR entry proving to be a global success in 2016, it's clear that the devs still have all the keys at their disposal for a line of future releases. Until that time comes, however, we're left to ponder over the series so far, with our own take on which instalments made the biggest impact on the community. So, without further ado, here are the best Arkham games of all time, based on opinion.
5. Batman: Arkham VR
It was only a matter of time before Rocksteady Studios looked to strap a VR headset to The Dark Knight and make use of its many features. And for the most part, playing Bruce from a first-person perspective was a definite way to entice new players to the PlayStation VR platform. However, even with the original narrative and fresh take on virtual reality, it still wasn't quite enough to one-up the earlier console releases that, unsurprisingly, were still deemed absolute masterpieces for their time.
Batman: Arkham VR had a lot of new features to boot, so to speak. But it also removed a lot, with some ingredients that actually made the earlier Arkham chapters celebrated being canned entirely. Combat took a major backseat for the VR sequence, which was a big deal considering its beat 'em up style was once branded as the best of the best. Instead, we were given more of a detective role, with a heavier narrative that involved a lot more puzzle-solving than full-fledged fighting. So, not a bad thing by all means, but in no way shape or form the full package we expected from an Arkham game — hence the bottom spot.
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady Studios truly did craft something phenomenal when pitching the debut Arkham chapter, with all the ingredients needed to craft a set menu of compelling sequels. And, for a 2009 release, Rocksteady truly was lightyears ahead of their time, with almost every playable element being an absolute work of art in its own way. From combat to sound design, environments to secondary objectives — Arkham Asylum had it all. And then some.
The only downside to developing a masterpiece, of course, was that any form of a sequel was almost destined to succumb to the pressures of filling such mighty shoes. And in some respect, the Arkham series did often struggle to rekindle that same successful flame from the earliest chapter. But then, being Rocksteady, even flint and ash would've turned out gold. But Arkham Asylum, for what it's worth — was an absolute diamond, and perhaps one of the greatest gaming jewels to ever grace the entire system.
3. Batman: Arkham Origins
After following the same path for several years, Rocksteady knew that they had to forge an initiation story of some sort for the series — if only to bridge the few remaining gaps of the journey. The unfortunate thing, sadly, was that Rocksteady didn't actually develop said story. It was Warner Bros. Interactive, funnily enough. And we won't pretend that that was a bad thing. It's just that, well — it wasn't what we had all come to know and cherish.
Arkham Origins, being what it was, was an absolutely incredible way to shed light on The Dark Knight and his earlier years out in Gotham, with all the familiar features needed to keep the Arkham name thriving. However, as good of a game as it was — it still didn't knuckle in on anything particularly innovative. If anything, it simply proved that Warner Bros. was capable of pulling off an Arkham game and nothing more. And while that was all well and good — it still didn't come anywhere near to perfection as Rocksteady's earlier chapters.
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
After discarding waves of rebellious inmates and twisted rivals in the monochrome city without so much as a split-second breather, the Bat's well-deserved hiatus was finally knocking — and it was knocking hard. The only condition for going into early retirement, of course, was through mopping up Gotham's leftover parasites and secondhand gang antics.
Arkham Knight, despite not going too deep in terms of narrative, was still a great way to close the book on the Arkham journey. After packing in boatloads of iconic faces and memorable settings, we had pretty much experienced the complete Gotham package, and we were honestly living for it. But, being a concoction of earlier games with very little additional sprinkles to boost its flavour, it was essentially a mock-up of Arkham City with a few extra curdles and quirks to embellish it. And so, while it wasn't in a league of its own when standing next to its predecessors, it was still a fantastic entry to the timeline, and, a conclusion we'll never likely forget.
1. Batman: Arkham City
Well, there it is. Of all the fantastic entries Rocksteady funnelled into its flagship beat 'em up series, Arkham City was hands down the greatest chapter they ever put out. After Asylum practically dominated the charts and put the wheels in motion for a pipeline of sequels, the team went above and beyond, with sights set on crafting an even more ambitious follow-up tale. And thankfully, that's where Arkham City rolled in.
Since 2011, Rocksteady Studios has tried to recreate the beauty of Gotham and its roster of refreshing rivals. The sad part is, no amount of rehashed material has ever quite managed to capture the charm that embellished Arkham City. Everything the City poured out was nailed to a tee, with polished combat and open-world exploration, memorable encounters and compelling side stories. It was all there, and it was worth every penny and moment we threw at it.
Do you agree with our list? What is your favourite Arkham chapter? Let us know over on our socials here.