10 Best Versions Of Gotham City In Video Games

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With the thick fog, moody shadows, old-fashioned architecture and flashes of color in neon signs and bright graffiti, the Gotham City presented in the new Warner Bros. action RPG Gotham Knights is already looking like a classic. The newest Gotham Knights gameplay video shows off some of how awesome Gotham will be in the game, but it has some tough competition from previous games.

With the Batman: Arkham series and Lego Batman games providing just some of the unforgettable versions of the city in video game history, Gotham Knights will have a tough time living up. These are the best of what’s out there now.

Movie tie-in games rarely prove to be huge successes, often struggling to find their own identity thanks to their reliance on the success of the movies on which they’re based, but Batman Begins was a surprisingly solid effort. Of course, the game mainly emulates the locations from the Christopher Nolan movie, and technical and graphical limitations meant it couldn’t even do an amazing job at that.

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When it offers its own original locations for levels that take place between scenes of the movie, the game comes into its own. Sections like the one that sees Batman performing acrobatics to traverse the underside of one of the city’s many bridges help flesh out this version of Gotham to a surprising extent.

Batman: Rise Of Sin Tzu is a game that has gone largely forgotten despite having some similarities with the Batman: Arkham series in its beat ’em up gameplay and Gotham Knights with the presence of Batgirl and Nightwing. Its basis in the DC Animated Universe meant the game already had a distinctive portrayal of Gotham City to draw from.

Whilst the game ends up being so combat-focused that there aren’t many chances to stop and admire the backgrounds, the variety of distinctively Gotham locations, including alleyways and chemical factories, that make up the game’s backdrops help build a decent sense of atmosphere.

Whilst movie tie-in video games are incredibly common, direct TV show tie-ins are a lot rarer and Batman: The Brave And The Bold – The Videogame is unsurprisingly one of the better examples. Its side-scrolling nature means it can include beautifully drawn backgrounds that would be impressive even in the show.

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Even in levels that take place in decrepit abandoned buildings, these backgrounds give the sense that this version of Gotham City is a huge and lived-in metropolis. Whilst it perhaps doesn’t do enough differently from the show to justify playing the game instead, it’s still one of the best portrayals of Batman’s home city.

Based on The New Batman Adventures series, Batman: Vengeance is still considered one of the best Batman video games by fans despite being over two decades old now. Its use of 3D graphics in 2001 means that anyone expecting a ton of detail as with modern portrayals of Gotham will be disappointed.

Instead, the game makes amazing use of lighting to create a deeply atmospheric Gotham that still looks good today. In the game, Batman is on the run from the police and so this more shadowy version of the city reflects a hero forced to hide in the shadows. Additionally, whilst the flying sessions might be flawed, they give a rare aerial view of the city’s streets and tunnels all set against a sinister red backdrop.

As the name implies, Arkham City takes place in a very specific part of Gotham that’s basically a city in its own right. The setting for the game is the super-prison that Quincy Sharp has created by sectioning off a whole area of the city’s slums and, along with being crawling with villains, it’s perhaps the closest thing players have had to a post-apocalyptic Gotham City in video games.

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What’s amazing is how the abandoned Gothic buildings that have always been central to the portrayal of the city are repurposed in terrifying ways in Arkham City‘s portrayal. The rundown Sionis steel mill that Joker appropriates for his Fun House is just one example of how everything in the city has been twisted into something that much more chilling.

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Whilst it doesn’t have the same freedom to explore as the later Lego games, Lego Batman: The Video Game still manages to craft one of the most memorable portrayals of Gotham in video games simply by bringing together elements from previous versions of Batman. In particular, its old-fashioned Arkham feels similar to Tim Burton’s movie adaptation.

Levels often involve traversing rooftops and those brief glimpses of the city show it to be full of overdramatic architecture like gargoyles but cracked roads and boarded-up windows make it feel like a city that’s actually been lived in. All in all, it presents a much richer version of the fictional city than a player would ordinarily expect and that’s why it’s still one of the best Lego video games.

It isn’t the most well-liked title in the Batman: Arkham series but Arkham Origins‘ idea of going back in time to many years before the events of Arkham Asylum meant a chance to see Gotham City before it became the visual;y dazzling nightmare of the other games. Of course, rather than showing off the nicer elements, Batman spends most of his time beating up lowlifes in filthy abandoned buildings.

That only adds to its image as perhaps the most grounded version of Gotham from the Arkham series. On top of that, even the sections that take place on the city’s dramatic rooftops have a wild feel at night thanks to the heavy snowfall that’s perfectly appropriate for it taking place in the middle of winter.

The extremely linear style of Telltale games puts it at a disadvantage compared to other Batman games that allow the player to explore the city a lot more freely but Batman: The Telltale Series still did more than enough to make its Gotham City distinct. It did this by focusing on specific locations, such as the overgrown, abandoned Cobblepot Park where Bruce Wayne realizes just how far the city he loves has fallen.

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The animation style of The Telltale Series is also perfect for the clean lines of more modern elements of this version of Gotham, such as the skyscraper penthouse where Batman crashes a criminal party. Perhaps its strongest point, however, is that the Gotham City of The Telltale Series is one of the most strikingly realistic of any portrayal.

For players who loved Arkham City, Arkham Knight just delivers more of the same kind of chaotic, villain-filled Gotham City. Where Arkham City was restricted to just the closed-off center of the Arkham District, Arkham Knight imagines that all of Gotham has been evacuated save for criminals and Batman himself.

As a result, the player gets to see a lot more of the city and experience a much bigger map that includes the beating heart of Gotham, though it now has an abandoned post-apocalypse feel. Even so, the city looks beautiful thanks in part to the game’s amazing graphics, and, whilst the Batmobile’s Battle Mode was not loved by critics, the longer vehicle sections meant a lot more of Gotham was able to be shown off.

Whilst TT Games have made huge open-world titles for both DC and Marvel, there’s one thing that makes Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes stand out over Lego Marvel Super Heroes and that is its incredible portrayal of Gotham. Not only does it present one of the largest and most explorable Gotham Cities ever but the game also manages to do so whilst giving the city a distinctive identity.

Where the Manhattan of the Marvel title is very much rooted in real life, Gotham City is dark, moody, over-dramatic, and full of gothic flair in Lego Batman 2. As the city is explorable through a variety of vehicles as well as walking and climbing, there’s also so much opportunity to see a Gotham that’s full of charming details.

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