Confession: I’m not a huge Batman guy.
I know, I know! He’s one of the most popular superheroes of all time. I just… don’t quite see the appeal. Folks always make the argument that “he’s just a normal guy, anyone could be Batman because he doesn’t have superpowers,” but let’s be realistic here: for all intents and purposes, he absolutely does have superpowers. He’s filthy rich, and he’s a world-class fighter trained by an ancient order of magic assassins, and he’s the world’s greatest detective, and he has access to a bunch of sci-fi gadgets, and he’s apparently smarter than the rest of the Justice League combined and can perfectly predict their actions and weaknesses. There’s nothing ‘realistic’ about the character.
That said, I don’t hate the guy; there are tons of great Batman stories out there, and there are aspects of his character that I really love. One of my favorite things about Batman is the Bat-Family--the group of like-minded heroes he’s mentored over the years. There have been lots of Robins and Batgirls over the years, and most of them I find much more engaging than Bruce Wayne himself. That’s why I’m ecstatic at the recent announcement of Gotham Knights.
Gotham Knights is an upcoming action RPG set in a post-Batman world. Bruce Wayne has died (supposedly), and his proteges must assemble to protect Gotham from the surge of villains looking to capitalize on the absence of Batman. Players will control one of four Bat-Family characters as they battle across Gotham.
The available characters are Nightwing, Red Hood, Red Robin, and Batgirl--all fantastic characters in their own right. Let’s talk a bit about each of them and what they bring to the table.
First off, we’ve got Dick Grayson, AKA Nightwing. Nightwing was the original Robin: the first kid Bruce Wayne took in, and his first partner in crimefighting. Dick is my personal favorite of all the Robins, in large part because he’s so diametrically opposed to Bruce in temperament. While Bruce is dark and brooding, Dick is joyful and funny. He is (intentionally) Batman-by-way-of-Superman--he is the all-loving hero, the heart of the Bat-Family. He shares Batman’s trauma (he also lost his parents at a young age) but did not let it break him. He’s also a talented acrobat and fighter; I expect that his playstyle will be very mobility-focused.
The second Robin, Jason Todd, will also appear as Red Hood. Jason Todd is my least favorite Robin; like Dick, he’s a twist on the basic Batman formula, but while Dick explores “what if Batman was fun,” Jason explores “what if Batman was even darker?” Jason’s trauma comes not from the loss of his parents, but from his own death--he was famously killed by the Joker, only to be resurrected years later by Ra’s al Ghul. He came back rather bitter at the fact that Batman hadn’t avenged him, taking on the identity of Red Hood and deciding that Batman’s ‘no-kill’ rule and aversion to firearms were for losers; he’s basically Batman meets Punisher. In terms of gameplay, I’m expecting him to have the best ranged play, given his penchant for firearms.
The third Robin, Tim Drake, (later called Red Robin, though I think he’s still going by Robin in this game) is an interesting character because he’s relatively normal. He didn’t have a single, crystalizing traumatic moment that pushed him into the Batman life; rather, he deduced Batman’s true identity and offered his services as Robin. This came at a crucial time for Bruce Wayne; Jason Todd had recently died and Bruce was not coping with that death well. It was affecting his performance as Batman, something Tim Drake noticed and wanted to help correct. By Bat-Family standards, Tim is pretty normal--he doesn’t want to be a full-time superhero. He wants to go to college, get a job, etc. and only intended to be Robin for a little while to help Batman get back on his feet. Of course, he’s also a genius whose detective skills and technical aptitude are among the best in the DC Comics universe, which helps make him an effective crimefighter. I’m expecting his playstyle to emphasize stealth and gadgetry.
Finally, we’ve got Barabara Gordon, better known as Batgirl. As much as I like Nightwing, Batgirl is easily the character I’m most excited about on this list. The daughter of Batman mainstay Jim Gordon, Barbara ended up donning a batsuit herself to become one of Gotham’s fiercest defenders. Even a crippling gunshot wound that left her paralyzed couldn’t stop her from protecting her city; she took up the moniker of Oracle and used her computer skills to support the rest of the Bat-Family and take down bad guys herself. Eventually, she was able to regain the use of her legs and went back to her Batgirl persona, which is where this game finds her. Smart, funny, and all-around awesome, Batgirl is one of the best characters in Gotham, and I’m excited to see her in the spotlight. Mechanically, she seems to be the most ‘traditional’ character (in terms of the Arkham game series that Gotham Knights looks to have drawn inspiration from); I’d expect a middle ground between Nightwing’s close-up, acrobatic fighting style and Red Robin’s gadget-based abilities.
While details are still scarce, Gotham Knights is perhaps the most exciting reveal to come out of DC’s recent slew of announcements and trailers. The game will release next year on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC, and will support two-player co-op. I can’t wait to jump into Gotham with a friend!
More articles and reviews by Ethan McIntyre can be found at rollwithit.blog.