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Batman (Detective Mode)

Batman Arkham City
by yo go re

I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of videogamery. I finally got a PS3 last Christmas, and after two months of using it as a Blu-ray player, Netflix streamer, entertainment hub and pretty much every other thing you can use it for besides playing videogames, I finally started into Arkham Asylum. Yes, Asylum, not City. But just like I bought Arkham Asylum toys before I played that game, I have no problem buying Arkham City toys before I play that one.

Batman: Arkham City introduces Arkham City, the new maximum security "home" for all of Gotham City's thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. The heavily fortified, sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City becomes the ultimate battleground between the Dark Knight and his greatest adversaries, as he untangles a web of intrigue that threatens to tear the city apart. Batman's supporting cast is transformed by this new locale into a stronger, more dangerous set of enemies and allies, and they'll push him to his limit - and beyond...

The plot for Arkham City always reminds me of this comic, and also that I can't wait to play Arkham County, which is all about Batman chasing them Duke Boys. Anyway, since I recently had call to realize just how very many Batmen I have, a figure was going to have to be something special if I was going to buy it, and Series 2 of DC Direct's Arkham City line did indeed offer something special.

Arkham Asylum's trademark gimmick (aside from the rythym-game-style beating of wholesale ass) is "detective vision," which allows you to see through walls, follow chemical trails and more. It also turns the entire screen blue and highlights your enemies as radioactive skeletons, thereby ruining all the hard work the game's artists put into creating the world and character designs. But whatever, for their fourth Arkham Batman, DC Direct turned on the detective mode.

The sculpt is credited to "Dave Cortez," which we can only assume is meant to be "Dave Cortes." The character design changed slightly between Asylum and City, but only about as much as Batman's costume changed between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight - which is to say, "not in any significant way." The body is muscular, and the costume looks thin enough to be cloth, but there are thick seams that suggest armor plating. He's wearing Tim Sale-style boxer briefs and has a fancy new utility belt. The boots and gloves are more heavily armored than they were in the first game, and this is the first DCD Arkham Batman whose cape doesn't fall down the outsides of his shoulders.

This figure shares his head with Arkham Asylum Series 1 Batman, and that demonstrates one of the cool things about detective mode. Normally in the game renders, Bruce's eyes are visible through his mask. That always looks weird in anything except live-action, but when detective mode is turned on, Batman's eyes glow white. Brilliant! Rather than going with plain white, the figure goes for a reflective silver to really convey the shininess. The rest of the figure is various shades of blue, grey and purple, which nicely sidesteps the inexplicable blue/black cape color combo.

Articulation is merely average. Batman has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel gloves, T-crotch, hinged knees and swivel boots. So yes, it's enough to be able to say he moves, but it's not enough to do anything useful. The Arkham games are a beautiful ballet of the world's most dynamic violence, but all this figure is suited for is standing still, walking slowly or crouching a little. He doesn't come with a display stand; none of the AC figures do. It's a cost-saving measure, and better they lose that than any of their already-minimal joints.

His only accessory is the REC gun, an in-game weapon that functions like a cross between a shotgun and a taser. He can hold it in his left hand, but his right hand is just a (surprisingly small) fist and is therefore useless.

Batman: Arkham Asylum deserved every nice word that was said about it, and once I finally play Arkham City, I'll probably feel the same way about that, too. I'd say I probably spent about 90% of the game in detective mode, so this blue figure is not only a cool-looking variation, it's pretty freaking iconic. Honestly, it's only surprising that it took this long for a company to come up with it.

-- 05/23/12


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