There's no question Batman will have his hands full when the long-awaited sequel to his 2009 masterpiece, "Batman: Arkham Asylum" hits stores next month. "Batman: Arkham City" expands the territory the Dark Knight has to cover, a city that's been turned into a prison (following the fall of Arkham) and kept under close observation by a sinister figure who makes his way to Gotham City.
At first, Batman simply watches the city from afar, but is forced to act when Catwoman, an adversary he's had close brushes with in the past, is put into a perilous situation. Once he gets behind the prison walls, he finds his hands full, not only with the facility's warden, but also a cavalcade of villains who aren't too thrilled to see him.
So who exactly will Batman face over the course of "Arkham City's" hours of gameplay? Plenty of familiar villainous faces. CBR News presents a a breakdown of the villains just waiting to end the run of the Dark Knight in the new title from Rocksteady Studios and WB Games...
The main adversary from "Batman: Arkham Asylum," the Joker still has a grandeur presence in the sequel, though his condition has worsened. He's still suffering after-effects from the drastic mutation he underwent at the conclusion of the first game, though his diabolically deadly humor is still present and accounted for. In the beginning of the game, he attempts to put Batman's lights out with a sniper bullet. When Batman comes up to investigate, he finds the tower where Joker was hidden booby trapped and barely escapes before it explodes. And this is just the beginning of what the clown prince of crime has in store for Batman.
Though he was never physically seen in the game, the Riddler was intimately involved in "Arkham Asylum" via a series of hidden trophies for players to collect in each level. His role in "Arkham City" is greatly expanded; not only are there new hidden trophies to find, but he's also developed a series of challenge rooms filled with dangerous traps that resemble the ones Jigsaw built for the "Saw" movies. Batman must carefully maneuver through these areas, but still remain speedy enough to save innocent civilians before it's too late. There's no question that Riddler's disturbing sense of humor is just as bad as the Joker's -- and just as fatal.
Poison Ivy posed a huge threat to Batman in the original "Asylum," thanks to her less-than-friendly plants. Her role in "Arkham City," however, hasn't been explained that much. We know she's back thanks to a piece of tantalizing promotional art (at right) and from the fact that Tasia Valenza has returned to voice her once more. She could just be making a cameo, or may have a more devastating trap in mind for the Dark Knight. We'll see what Rocksteady has in mind for her when the game arrives...
Apparently Harley's relationship with the Joker remains intact, despite the on-again/off-again shenanigans that occurred in the original game. She'll also continue to be a thorn in Batman's side in the sequel, using a group of armed thugs to keep the Dark Knight at bay while she taunts him. She then disappears, leaving Bats to take out the thugs stealth style. There's no word if Harley's involvement in the game gets any deeper (or if she helps out the weakened Joker to some extent), but considering how explosive things get when she's around, we definitely wouldn't mind seeing more of her.
Zsasz played a fairly large role in "Batman: Arkham Asylum," initially appearing as part of a hostage situation and then trying to do in an important witness during the Dark Knight's investigation. Apparently, the shot Batman took at Zsasz in "Arkham Asylum" didn't kill him, as the villain returns alongside a nefarious group of thugs for the sequel. Rocksteady was somewhat mum when it came to discussing Zsasz's overall role in the game, but expect him to leave some sort of challenge for Batman to overcome... before he eventually falls at his feet, anyway.
One of Batman's more popular longtime adversaries (judging by his appearances in "Batman the Animated Series" and "The Dark Knight"), Two Face returns as a major villain in "Arkham City." When the game opens he holds a great deal of power in the city, But he's worried about losing popularity due to a sign of weakness. In an attempt to reclaim his power, Two-Face decides (with both halves of his personality in agreement) an execution is in order, and when he captures Catwoman trying to break into his safe, he selects her as his subject. This is what spurs Batman to enter Arkham City, placing him in a nearly impossible rescue scenario.
The designers at Rocksteady Studios were probably inspired by Danny DeVito's take on the Penguin in "Batman Returns," as the video game version looks a lot like him, complete with scowling face and sinister Cockney laugh. However, in "Arkham City" he shows an even more vicious side, killing a cop upon meeting up with the Dark Knight and threatening to do him in as well. Penguin hangs out with his own group of thugs within the city walls, and has his own devious plan for the Batman. Expect to see Penguin pop up in his own challenge maps -- and a great boss encounter -- over the course of the game. (Oh, and if you're a video game vet, listen closely to his dialogue. It's done by Nolan North, the same man who voices Nathan Drake in the "Uncharted" games).
Forget all about Arnold Schwarzenegger's take on Mr. Freeze from "Batman and Robin" (if you can, anyway). "Arkham City's" cold-hearted villain will definitely send chills up your spine. He's doing research in an attempt to save his wife Nora, and finds himself confronting Batman on a dedicated challenge map, filled with freezing challenges including an ice-making gun, a frost-activated shield and plenty of other devastating traps. Mr. Freeze will definitely add a new degree of challenge to the upcoming sequel -- and thankfully all without saying, "You won't send me to the cooler."
Talia al Ghul
The daughter of supervillain Ra's al Ghul, Talia delivers the same nasty results as her father when it comes to combat. Her role in "Batman: Arkham City" hasn't been fully explained, but Rocksteady did reveal an image of her from the game -- considering she's armed, that's not entirely good news for the Dark Knight. Players can probably expect to run into her around the middle part of the game, since she might have something to do with what's happening in the over-sized prison. Getting her to talk might be a challenge, though...
This zombified head case made a brief appearance at the conclusion of the Penguin-themed trailer for "Batman: Arkham City," posing a huge threat to the Dark Knight on the same level Killer Croc did in the original -- maybe even worse. Though not much in-game footage of Grundy has been shown yet, you can expect Batman to have his hands full trying to bring him down, especially with Grundy's nearly unlimited strength and what appears to be electrically charged powers.
We've saved the best for last. Hugo serves as the main antagonist in "Batman: Arkham City," running the prison city after receiving the assignment from Mayor Quincy Sharp. His methods are maniacal, kidnapping people (such as reporter Jack Ryder) to learn more information about his subjects. In one trailer, he also kills one of his own men after a run-in with Batman. As crazy as Strange is, he's also incredibly smart, adapting quickly to the information he learns. Somehow, he's even able to piece together Batman's real identity -- multi-billionaire Bruce Wayne -- perhaps lining up a plot to use that against him over the course of the game. He'll probably be part of some kind of big boss encounter to conclude the game -- though Rocksteady might surprise us out of left field, as it did with a super-mutated Joker.
The most recently announced addition to the "Arkham City" rogues gallery may have some fans up in arms due to his redesign (it looks like something straight out of the Batman anime serials), but there's no question that this assassin-for-hire is still a deadly adversary. He takes up residence in Arkham City, accepting jobs to kill targets, both innocent and guilty, for those who wish to pay the price. Batman has somehow winded up on this list, and he'll need to use every bit of his detective skills -- and bullet trajectory tracking -- to hunt down Deadshot. But this assassin isn't just deadly from a distance with his sniper rifle -- he's also capable of doing damage up close with his other firearms. There's no question that Deadshot adds a new degree of difficulty to "Batman: Arkham City" -- despite how people may react to his new look.
As comprehensive as this list of characters is, Rocksteady and WB Games could easily add more. There are rumors Calendar Man could appear somewhere over the course of the game, and Black Mask, the Ratcatcher and Maxie Zeus could also stop by to raise some havoc as well. Scarecrow could easily show up again in the sequeal, causing just as many nightmares as he did in "Arkham Asylum."
Bane will also be making a return, but this time around he's actually helping Batman during certain situations, though it's not entirely clear why. Perhaps he ties into the central plot as well.
As mentioned, Catwoman also plays a central role. Despite the fact that putting trust in her isn't the greatest move, she's also working with Batman as an ally, and during some parts of the game (like the heist scene in the beginning), she's a playable character.
As for who else will show up, whether it's in the main game or part of the upcoming downloadable content for it (mainly new challenge maps), it's anyone's guess. Clayface? Ra's al Ghul himself? This could lead to a number of surprises when the game arrives in stores October 18. We can't wait.