*****SPOILER ALERT: This post focuses primarily on the ending of Batman: Arkham City. If you have not seen it yet, or don’t want it ruined, I highly suggest you do so before reading. Having said that, hope you enjoy and comment n’ such.
Upon finishing Arkham City, I utilized the several minutes of credits to process the final hour of game play as it rocketed toward the ending. Amidst a few plot twists (some apparent, others more subtle), everything comes to a screeching halt as the Joker cackles his very last breaths. We knew his illness was not in question, but the closer and closer I came to the ending I was actually beginning to wonder if Batman would remain a symbol of justice and cure him or not. His last few sentences were both heavy and morose, yet one could taste the pity toward his greatest nemesis as he lay dying at his feet.
And then, without some colossal explosion or final trick up his sleeve, the Joker was dead. It was undoubtedly a moment of victory for Batman, yet the final scenes played out as brilliantly as I had hoped. Much like I think many gamers felt as the truth sank in, Batman seemed as shaken and emotionally touched as he left Joker’s body with Commissioner Gordon and walked away in silence–No quips, no talk of incorruptible justice or moral fortitude, just the haze of death.
What struck me the most, however, was how much improved this aspect of Arkham City was over its predecessor, Arkham Asylum. While both games are incredibly well done and a thrill to play, there was no denying the ending of Asylum was a bitter disappointment. Instead of a potentially epic clash with a super-charged Clown Prince of Crime, it was just a repetitive sequence of beating up henchman interrupted with quick injuries to Joker himself. When compared to the rest of the game, the entire experience felt rushed and without the polish gleaming through every other corner of Asylum.
Arkham City corrected this error, though not in the way I anticipated. Much like before, there was no real fight with Joker, and Clayface served as a mediocre interim boss. The weight and consequences of the fight, however, gave more impact and meaning to the boss fight itself. While it was not a fight against Joker, it was dooming him to death, which was something even I did not want. In a way, I actually felt sad to see him die, despite how heinous he had become. And that, in my opinion, is a beautiful death.
See you in the next level,