#2. I'm Too Ridiculous
I mentioned earlier that a large aspect of the Batman mythos, from the comics to the movies to the games, is psychology. He dresses like a bat, behaves like a psychopath and hunts in the shadows for a reason: He wants the criminals to think of him like the devil. He's the boogie man of the underworld. But this is all balanced with practicality. Batman isn't fighting crime for his own amusement. He takes villains down simply and quickly, defuses the situation and saves as many innocent civilians as possible.
Of course, in Arkham City, they're handing Batman over to you, the player. He is your avatar in the world, and he's only an avatar of savage efficiency if his player is as well. If his player has different priorities, like say, making sure things are as hilarious as possible at the expense of literally everything else, then the Bat can't help but lose a bit of that primal mystique.
What little playtime I haven't spent flitting about the rooftops like a goth Peter Pan, has been spent carefully orchestrating little plays starring the game's various henchmen, all of which are entitled How Funny Can You Die? I've burned precious hours just lining up and blowing enemies into each other like a set of meaty dominoes, or spraying explosive gel on every fire hydrant in the room and then detonating them simultaneously, or shooting the giant, hammer-wielding, one-armed clown with the taser gun because he spins when you electrocute him and how great is that?!
"Yes, of course you can make him dance for you." -- Batman: Arkham City Devs, understanding me perfectly.
The main reason I could never be Batman is not because of my physical ineptitude, or my financial woes, or because he's a fictional character and I should probably just get a life, but simply because, if given the means, I would absolutely dress in an elaborate costume and crouch unseen in the shadows, but instead of fighting crime, I would spend my nights hurling annoying little boomerangs into the backs of criminal's heads until they got fed up and started arguing. Then I would giggle, thus revealing my position, and be promptly shot.
#1. Everything Else
There are a million issues that keep me from qualifying for that scholarship to the esteemed Batman University: It could be my poor sense of rhythm, my attention span, or just my near total lack of human morality. But in reality, my campaign for District Batman ends long before any of those things come into play. Bear with me on a tangent, here:
Did you know that Arkham City doesn't come with a booklet? There are half a dozen promotional inserts, adds, download codes and even a merchandise catalog for the game -- you know, that piece of merchandise that you just bought -- but no instruction manual. It says to "find it online," but even that's not available yet. I guess this is probably a leftover quirk from when I was a kid, but my favorite part of a new game has always been cracking the case open, huffing that intoxicating new electronics smell, and then sitting down to read the book, cover to cover. I know they've been getting shorter and shorter lately, but having no manual at all for such a big release game is probably the death knell of the whole practice, and that makes me kind of sad.
Hey, if you upgrade to the collector's edition, maybe you can collect the god damn instructions.
And speaking of those inserts and download codes, did you know you have to download the Catwoman bundle separately? It comes pre-packaged with every new game, but it's a separate download, presumably to deter used sales. Seems like kind of a bullshit move, right? Especially since her chapters are actually sewn throughout the game itself. You're missing chunks of the narrative if you don't have it. They're actually giving you a lesser version of the game for buying it secondhand. I think that's an intensely worrying prospect for gaming in general.
Still here? Good, because that's actually the final lesson I've taken away from playing Arkham City. Batman is Batman because of personal tragedy. It's a story about vengeance and extreme loss utterly deforming and warping a human being.
Bruce Wayne watched his parents slaughtered in front of him and became an avenging monster of the night.
Somebody forgot to write a little book for me about the video game I just bought and I complained to the Internet.
I've learned that I quite simply do not possess the badass that my subconscious keeps telling me about, so there's no point in training for the day it finally kicks in. Thanks, Arkham City; I guess I'll go knit a fucking sweater or something.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Instead of a short witticism here, I would just like to use this space to say: Arkham City's Catwoman is the most embarrassingly terrible female character in the history of gaming. May God have mercy on the soul of whoever wrote her dialogue.
For more from Robert, check out The 5 Most Badass Things Ever Done By Jungle Cats and 5 Kickass Lessons Books Could Learn from the Movies.