Arkham City DOA (Oh yeah, Nightwing now)

Major games are often compared to Hollywood movies now, and savvy game-watchers took one look at the pre-release hype for Arkham City, the pressure to pre-order and the saturation bombing of ads on ESPN and Spike that opening weekend and said “This is a turkey.” It was the behavior of a studio that knows negative word of mouth will kill the thing as soon as real people not swayed by fanboy hype see what all the fuss is about.

Arkahm City should be thanking those complaining about the Catwoman Bait and Switch, they're the only ones talking.Rocksteady should be thanking the people complaining about the sexism and the Catwoman bait-and-switch, because they’re practically the only ones talking.  There are a few reviews on various blogs.  Shockingly few.   On par with reviews of an Indy comic book.

“That’s what the hardcore fans do when they’ve bought into  hype and been disappointed,” said one insider at metacritic.  “They don’t admit it. They don’t write bad reviews. They just go quiet.”

Serious gamers have called the movie-making elements dated: the camera work, lighting and action are at least a generation behind other top-tier offerings like Uncharted 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

“They seem to be relying entirely on it being Batman to make up the difference,” said a GameStop clerk.

And Batman fans were, on the whole, disgusted with everything from character re-designs to characterization on everyone from Alfred to Oswald Cobblepot.  Paul Dini’s story is rooted in a ludicrously dark “Gotham is Hell” environ that played in comics in his glory days back in the 1990s, but has long since worn out its welcome.  Dini himself became a red flag to comic readers in recent years when his stewardship of the Batman titles drove away even hardcore fans.  Many point to his mishandling of Batman and related characters at the very time when The Dark Knight and its rival boosted popularity to unprecedented heights as pivotal in the corporate restructuring which recently manifested in the DC Reboot and “The New 52.”

What politicos call “The Base” is always there to provide numbers and positive quotes, but the swift disappearance of the Arkham City TV ad says it all.  Unlike Dini’s old masters at DC Comics, corporations will not throw good money after bad to let this guy save face.

Rocksteady doesn’t have that luxury of cutting bait.  Having built their name on Arkham Asylum, they’re still begging us to keep our eye on the ball on their left hand.  They’ve released a new Nightwing DLC, which spurred a lot of “Arkham fanboys like dick” jokes on the forums, but did nothing to spur new interest in the game.  Even positive reviews from that base who are so determined to be pleased have called it “a ripoff.”

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