Where Are the Movie-based Batman Games?
So, here we have The Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain America all getting video games that coincide with the release of a movie. You know how good the games were? They were a “meh” on a scale of “Why was this made?” to “Typical movie-based super hero game.” Every movie gets a video game nowadays. Heck, I'm still waiting for The Blindside game to release for PS3 and 360. That's why it's interesting that no one attempted to make a next-gen Batman game based on Christopher Nolan's movies. In Batman Begins, for the last-gen systems, everything was bland and mediocre. It took things from other games and did them worse.
"Really? The Batman Begins game was the best you could do?"
I only have my own opinions as to why next-gen games for these movies were never made. One has to wonder if Nolan's take on Batman and his universe can even lend itself well to the world of video games. Nolan takes a more realistic approach to Batman's universe in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. He substitutes the fantastical with the gritty, dark world that crime-ridden Gotham is. Gotham feels like a modern 1920s mob-run Chicago. There is a believable explanation for every character's appearance, powers, strengths, weaknesses, and story.
Batman is most obviously a man in Nolan's films. He struggles every day with his persona and responsibilities. Batman isn't allowed to take a day off. This, and obviously the decisions Bruce has to make (Rachel's death and taking the fall for Harvey Dent's death), takes its toll. Also, while he does fight, in the first two films no one is a physical match for him. When outnumbered, Nolan's Batman uses quick strikes and counters his attackers' strikes. How would you portray this type of Batman in a video game. It can't be like the Genesis games, spamming Batarang throws. It would be close to Arkham Asylum's combat, but not quite as combo reliant.
Doesn't look like this version of Batman will be pulling off any brawler-type moves. He looks a little out of breath.
It would be tough to mix together the realism and combat required to make a game work. You can't make it an action brawler, because that's far from what Batman is. It would have to be stealth-action—think Batman mixed with Splinter Cell (yes, they did that in Batman Begins, but it wasn't as good as it should have been). He can obviously glide (as seen with his kidnapping stunt in The Dark Knight and with his flyover in Begins). He obviously has the funds to research and develop new tools for use. So the game would have to mix stealth combat, quick strikes and counters without over the top combos, interrogation, detective work, driving scenarios, puzzles, researching new armor/weapons, and a moral system. Players would need to feel the power that comes with donning the mask, but can't control everything about the world around him. That's a lot that needs to be nailed to make a game like this a success. That's where Batman Begins for the last-gen systems failed. It did everything mediocre, suffering from the same issues that modern movie-based games suffer from.
If you're gonna give us a game based on Nolan's films...make sure it's not like this.
Then there's the Arkham Asylum/City issue. Is there room for two Batman games in the same market? Asylum takes a different approach. While featuring a lot of the stealth and the detective work that would be present in a Nolan-based game, the Arkham games do feature the fantastical. They're based on the graphic novel, so comic book elements are a big part of the story and gameplay. Arkham Asylum nailed everything about what the comic book Batman represents. A character like Killer Croc would never work in a movie-based game. The stories are different, and while Asylum's Batman is far from immortal, he does feel juiced at times. The games would have to be different enough that they both apply to a specific audience. I understand that it's Batman, so there has to be similarities, but a game based in the Nolan world would have to be strong enough to stand up to what Rocksteady has built. It can't feel like a lesser version of a game already out there.
That's why I'm happy that no one has attempted a game based on Nolan's Batman movies since Begins. The movies are so perfect that anything less than perfect for a game would be considered a disappointment. There's too much that could go wrong. Just look at almost every other movie-based super hero video game. That's why Arkham Asylum worked so well—it tackled a graphic novel that used more of the non-realistic elements that are absent in the movies.
I don't even know which studio would be best to pull off Nolan's movies in the video game world. I also don't think we'll see this problem with Nolan's upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel. Superman has super powers. There's more leeway for everything. These movies should never be tapped for video game material. There's too much that can go wrong and there's too much to live up to. Let the Dark Knight rise in theaters only, and let Arkham handle the video games.
You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ