Well, the Batmobile controls were horrible – oh, are we talking about Jason’s characterization in this game? Oh yeah, I’ve got some Opinions.
First of all, I’m a long-time Jason Todd fan, and am not only a fan of Jason as the Red Hood but am a huge fan of his post-Crisis pre-death Robin run and will personally fistfight anyone who says he was a bad Robin. This can make my interactions with a lot of modern Jason stuff hit or miss, because the best stuff with Jason as Red Hood is fascinating when viewed through the light of his Robin run, but can also get into the whole “bad Robin” nonsense that makes me roll my eyes.
Second of all, above and beyond Arkham Knight’s biggest misstep storywise was trying to pretend that the Arkham Knight wasn’t Jason Todd. It’s like they felt the only reasonable way to hype up the game was for it to be a mystery, which is silly. It was extremely obvious. This is particularly amusing because the game DID have a legitimate and really well kept secret in the form of Mark Hamill reprising his role as an ongoing hallucinatory Joker companion.
That having been said, I was never into the game for the mystery – and in fact, being spoiled on the, uh, “twist” only took me from “Well, I’ll buy it for the Red Hood DLC, I guess” to “MY BABY! GIMME GIMME GIMME.” So, I was pretty good with it.
My opinions: I’ve got some criticisms, but I always do for the stuff I like. You should see me tear apart Under the Red Hood, my very favorite and most beloved Batman story. It’s only the stuff you go back to again and again that you end up really examining enough to find every flaw.
The story of Jason in Arkham Knight is different from the standard Red Hood story. It’s a different take for a different universe, and while it would need some substantial massaging to integrate into my preferred DC Continuity, I can appreciate it as an Elseworlds type thing
and frankly as a better integration of Jason Todd into a BTAS type setting than The Adventures Continue, you heard me.
One of the things I liked best about it was how it really got into the parallels between Babs and Jason, something the comics have often dropped the ball on, and which has only ever really been done with Babs as Batgirl when Oracle is my favorite. Having an entire game revolving around using two of my very favorite comic characters ever as foils for each other was very, very much my jam.
I also really liked how they pulled off the gameplay mechanics as tied into his story. The whole “Red Hood is fighting Batman and knows ALL his secrets” thing has been done in comics and movies and comes across okay, but it hits so much harder when Jason is here on screen telling the mooks all the moves that you relied so heavily on in the previous games and adapting in real time. It was just a real pleasure to see.
(Also, Troy Baker just nailed that VA work, God.)
As for the backstory changes… as I said, I can mostly appreciate it as an Elseworlds thing. I dislike the origin change in the tie-in comics, but this is only about the game, which did mention the tire thing, thank you. Jason acts differently than he did as Red Hood because his trauma was a bit different… gone is the Pit Madness, and he was specifically brainwashed into hating Batman, etc. Probably my biggest criticism of the changes they made to him was having him get captured by the Joker because he ran off alone to try to kill the Joker, when I remind everyone again and again that in the comics Jason died because he went to save his mother and she betrayed him. But even with that aside, I initially thought that the game was implying that, oh ■■■■, he went to kill the Joker because of what the Joker did to Babs, and I was like “Oh, damn, that’s actually really good, this game revolves entirely around the symmetry between them, I can live with that.” But then they had that one story where it was like “Actually, the Joker killed a bunch of kids,” which, like… okay? Jason has been protective of kids in the comics, so it’s not not in character, but it feels kind of like “thanks, I hate it.”
Altogether, there’s some stuff that Arkham Knight Jason did that the Red Hood would not have done, but I feel like the brainwashing thing in this setting makes it work, and it feels mostly like a realistic adaptation of what my boy would have done if that was what had happened to him vs. Death in the Family.