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Oedipal Crises and Hysterical Neuroses in Arkham City: Batman: Arkham City Review

Batman, for me, is a crazy person who did not get enough attention as a child, and, truly, it is hard to get attention when your parents are dead. I understand why he is the way he is. Right at the climax of his desire for his mother, the thing he desires the most and the function which is supposed to introduce him into the world of sanity are killed; and so his adjustment toward culture is a little impaired—and by impaired I mean he walks around wearing a cape and wastes his money on gadgets, only to, of course, let killers and robbers escape from prison after their capture, so they may kill and rob again. This is the paradox, the symptom of Batman: He does not finish the job because he enjoys the job, even if he scowls about it all the time, with his signature brood. This is, after all, what Joker has been telling him in all media all of a sudden: Batman needs him, for Batman is trapped in this sort of sexual, libidinal enjoyment involving being all angry, and fighting criminals, and pretending to not like what he does, that it is so difficult. He pretends it’s work, but it is actually sex, done to satisfy mommy, because what else would mommy love more than her little superhero saving the day in the dark…

In Arkham City, Bruce Wayne is captured as a political prisoner for speaking against the new super-prison, which is an enclosure within Gotham that houses all the former inmates of Arkham Asylum. The Joker is sick, and he injects Batman with his blood so that Batman will find a cure. Mayhem ensues. Arkham City, while rendered beautifully with characteristic darkness, in terms of lighting and atmosphere, is really quite dead and desolate, save for the occasional political prisoner predictably being abused, which you must predictably save, though the venues in which Batman goes to do his adventures are just as fulfilling to traverse as in the previous installment.

Most of the fun comes from using your gadgets to scare enemies into chaos and knocking them unconscious one by one while a supervillain complains about their incompetence over the PA system. It is especially entertaining when only a few are left and they have gone completely paranoid and crazy. Batman, of course, does not kill any of them. Instead, he knocks them all unconscious, with the fighting system which is fluid and complex, utilizing a variety of moves, techniques, and gadgets. It is enjoyable beating people up as it is picking them off from the rafters.

A lot of Batman rogues gallery favorites also make an appearance (Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, and you even get to play as Catwoman in a parallel storyline, if you pay to redeem some code or whatever; there are also about a dozen I have never even heard of), with my personal favorite, The Penguin, which, thankfully, is not rendered as some deformed Danny DeVito. Most of them appear through side-quests, which are so well formed that they are more like alternate main storylines, rather than mere extra distractions from the entire point.

The game is well crafted, which, in large part, means it is not overdone. There is a certain unity to it all, a certain attachment for the necessary parts which work well together, rather than for the frivolous entertainments of less refined video games. The gameplay is also much longer than the first installment, with substantial content to which one may return after finishing the main story.

My only complaint, really, is that the storyline could have been much more than this simple entanglement of schemes and twists. The previous installment inquired upon Batman’s psyche, but now it is just people stealing from each other and doing bad things. For me, the ultimate point of interest is not really how Batman beats people up, but why, exactly, he is so crazy, why he is so paradoxical and inefficient in the ways that matter, but efficient in the theatrics. For me what is interesting is not so much the story as it is, secretly, the story of how poor Bruce still loves Mommy.

A nine out of ten.


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