The Joker Dies In The Act One Of Arkham City (Or Does He?)

The Joker Dies In The Act One Of Arkham City (Or Does He?)

Now, OK. Do keep in mind that this is “Comic Book Death” we’re talking about here, which is only slightly above “Anime Death” in terms of “deaths that don’t really count”. But sad to say, it does look as though very early on in Batman: Arkham City, the J-man will bite the big one, and we’ll spend the majority of the game free from his jolly jeers.

Let me back up for a moment. While the premature demise of the murderous mummer was certainly the biggest news of my most recent hands-on with the game, there were a few other things worth sharing as well. I sat down with Dax Ginn, marketing game manager at Rocksteady, to work through a later section of the game. I picked up where I left off at my PAX hands-on — Batman had saved Catwoman from Two-Face and tracked the Joker to the top of a clock tower, only to discover the room to be empty… other than some explosives.

In a nice touch, loading screens now feature a “previously on Arkham City” slideshow similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. it was nice and informative, and got me up to date on the story so far.


I took control of the bat as he looked out over the walled-in confines of Arkham City. By using a radio signal tracker, I could follow the Joker’s radio signal, which I traced across the rooftops towards his hideout at Sionis Steel Mill. The radio tracker also allowed me to overhear the radio conversations of the thugs on the ground, which organically fed me information on what was currently going on in the story.

I find it particularly nice that Arkham City has no mini-map. (You’ll remember that mini-maps are not my favourite thing.) In their place, player-designated waypoints turn up in the game as a bat signal, which is viewable from anywhere. In no time, I had arrived at my destination, ready to kick arse. My mission: find the Joker, and discover what his mysterious “Protocol 10” was all about.

After clearing out the guards patrolling the chimneys poking up from the mill’s depths, I climbed up to the very top of the highest smokestack and dove in. Batman is all balls, I tell you what — dude leapt over the rim of the chimney and dove straight down towards the pool of molten steel at its bottom.

As I made my way through the ducts under the mill, I heard Harley Quinn holding forth in the rooms above. Apparently, she had kidnapped a female gotham EMT and was planning to force her to fix the J-Man. I made my way around a large arena of sorts, where a large group of Joker’s thugs were surrounding the poor EMT. As I circled the room out of sight, Harley introduced “Mr. Hammer”, the huge sledge-wielding goon last seen in that cool Joker trailer that was released about a week ago.


I should talk for a second about detective mode, which I used quite a bit while making my way through the mill. Several people asked about it after my last preview, so I payed special attention to it this time around. Ginn told me that they were taking steps to keep players from using detective mode for the entire game (as some reported doing in Arkham Asylum), but that it was a challenge coming up with ways to do so organically. As he said, “Batman isn’t going to have a 30-second cooldown timer on his visor’s detective mode.” So instead, some situations will be difficult to deal with with it turned on — in particular, combat will be much easier without detective mode, and with it on, opponents’ blows will knock static into Batman’s headset and make things much more difficult. I certainly used it a lot, but only to figure out puzzles. For most of my time playing the game, I had it turned off, and the game worked just fine.

Anyhow, back to the action. Before Mr. Hammer could drop his giant weapon on the EMT, Harley intervened — they couldn’t kill her, since they needed her to help the Joker. She was taken away, and I followed after them. I came upon a large space patrolled by a grip of armed goons, and so it was time to do that whole Arkham Asylum thing and take to the rafters and eliminate them one by one. Gargoyle fans will be sad to hear that Asylum‘s ubiquitous stone monstrosities did not turn up in the steel mill, replaced by girders that served much the same function.

I had a freakin huge assortment of gadgets at my disposal, which Ginn assured me wouldn’t be available at this point in the game. As he put it, this gave me a sense of Arkham City‘s New Game+, which allows players to go through a second time at a higher difficulty with all of their upgrades intact.

After subduing all of the guards, I did a sweet flying kick through a window into the room where they were holding the EMT and freed her. Batman then went over to the smelter and pulled some serious engineering skills, coming away with an all-new gadget: the Remote Electrical Charge gun, or “REC”.


In combat, the REC works a bit like a taser, emitting a blast of electricity that stuns enemies in place or sometimes causes them to spasm and attack the people around them. Out of combat however, its applications are far more varied and interesting. Batman can use the REC to operate all sorts of machinery in the gameworld. Aim it at an automated door, for example, and you’re given the opportunity to remotely open or close it. A bit later on, I was able to control a giant crane-hook by firing the REC into the control panel at its base.

The REC will work in every location in the game, not just Joker’s steel mill, and I got the sense that it is going to be the basis for a lot of good environmental puzzles.

I made my way back out to the large, thug-filled room from earlier, this time going out into the vents just beneath its floor. Arkham City features a contextual camera that pulls up when players let go of the Right Trigger, allowing a good view of the space above batman. I popped up in the middle of the room just behind a couple of goons and used a double takedown to knock them both out.

After that, the fight was on — it was that familiar blend of punching and countering that made combat in Arkham Asylum so much fun. I remained struck by how combat in the sequel moved even more smoothly than the first game, and the gadgets gave me many more options to attack. A quick snap of the right trigger in combat looses one, two or three batarangs, which stun enemies and knock them back. Combining the left trigger with the X, Y, and B buttons fired off either the REC, the grappling hook, or Batman’s combat gel, and a double-pull of the right trigger let off a freeze grenade that stuck enemies in place.

Holy plethora of options, Batman.

After a minute or so of fighting, Mr. Hammer joined the fray — I wasn’t able to take him down using conventional punches and kicks, so I hit him with a few electrical rounds from the REC instead. When hit, he spazzed out, swinging his hammer all willy-nilly and taking out a few of the lesser thugs in the process. Once he was the last man standing, I rushed him and performed a triple-stun using Batman’s cape, then closed in for a button-mashing punch-fest. That knocked him right out, and the room was clear.

The Joker was near, and the answers about Protocol 10 seemed within reach. But from above, I heard Harley crying. “What you’re about to see,” Ginn said, “you can report on, but you can’t ask me any questions about it.”

Entering the room, I could hear the sound of a flatlining EKG mixed in with Harley’s cries. “You,” she said, feral with anger.

“Get out of my way, Quinn,” said Batman.

“Leave us alone, B-man,” she said through tears, “Just leave me with him.”

“I said move!” Batman roared, pushing her out of the way.

“This is all your fault!” she cried, “Hounding him for years, and you beat him to a pulp! And for what? Why are you so… mean?”

And then, the camera cut in close on Joker’s limp body, lolling back in a life-support chair as the screen beside him showed a flat line and one word: “Deceased”. And then the demo ended.

So. He certainly appeared to be dead, but when it comes to comic book villains (and particularly the Joker), death is pretty far from permanent. I do think this is a sign that the Joker will play a far less central role in Arkham City than we had even though, but I’ll never count the tricky bastard out. After all, I never did find out what Protocol 10 was… and something tells me it’ll be fairly important in the game.

Arkham City is looking like one massive game, full of things to do and dudes to punch. I got a quick, accidental look at the list of characters in the pause menu and saw what looked to be an absolutely huge number of characters, though I wasn’t able to really catch any new ones before we headed back to the game screen (I did see a character model for Viki Vale, however). Between the New Game+ and the expanded, occasionally tiered challenge rooms, Batman fans are going to get one hell of a lot of game in a couple of weeks.

But alas, it looks like most of that game will be sans Joker.

Rest well, killer clown

wind down your chattering teeth

you laughed last, and best


  • This is the second major spoiler by Kotaku today. I don’t care that its in the first act. You got early access to the game, and then used it to commit a massive faux pas. Other sites used a spoiler warning and I’ve been avoiding this news all day. You put it in the heading.

    And don’t get me started on the user Gears spoiler today. I came to the site hours after it was reported, and it was still up. What the hell?

    I’ve been visiting for about a year, I like the crew, but I don’t trust you guys not to ruin it on me. I can’t come to the site anymore. I hope you sort it out before too many people come the same conclusion I’ve had to.

    • Seconded.
      Seriously, what the fuck?
      Did you consider maybe I didn’t want to see spoilers such as this while scrolling down the Kotaku main page?
      You put it in the banner. IN MASSIVE ALL CAPS PURPLE LETTERS. What is wrong with you? I get that it’s in the first act. But I would have fucking liked to have discovered it for myself. I apologise for swearing, but you have fucking pissed me off. Have you heard of spoiler tags? Holy shit, you’re a terrible journalist.


        There are smarter, subtler and wittier ways to write without over the top “DUMBLEDORE DIES!” ways of whoring for hits.

        Unlike Anfronio, I DON’T apologise for swearing, because this article spoiled the one game I’m truly looking forward to.

        May Karma bite you in the arse Hamilton.

        • I have deliberately not watched or read anything about Arkham City for months and now this???
          #$%##$ rubbish Kirk – go #%$ yourself.

          I don’t want to know – I want to play one game this generation blissfully unaware of what is about to transpire – can you shut your @*($&@# mouth and let me do that?

  • Oh cmon KotakuAU! You pushed this article through WITH A MAJOR FRICKING SPOILER IN IT!?!?!

    What is happening to this place?

  • I’m with everyone else here. At what point did you think “Man, no one wants to sit down and play Batman and enjoy the story and it’s plot, right? Let’s just spoil that nasty little thing for them no matter how much they may not like it.”

  • Why the hell would you post a spoiler in big ass font with no warning for? I can see why the American Kotaku gets so much flak…

  • And then you all click on the spoiler that you cant stand to see and read every little word – get over it! Its not as if its a shocking twist or anything, to me the spoiler was that the Joker is actually in the 2nd game in the first place!

  • Calm down, it’s the joker. For all you know it could be a surprise he pulls on batman. Read the 2nd last paragraph. He appears to be dead, doesn’t mean he is infact in my opinion they should have wrote ‘he appears to be joker who appears to be dead’ of all villain the most likely one to pull this sort of prank is joker. I think this is good marketing, if you’re a batman fan you must feel eager and curious to find out what really has become if the joker, because now I’m more excited about playing. It’s joker, do you honestly think he dies like that?

    • Missing the point entirely.

      Kirk could have his article and whatnot but there was no reasons whatsoever to include the spoiler in the title or in the graphic that accompanies it.

      Give it a vague title throw in a spoiler warning. No problem.

  • I agree with Chazz. Whether he is actually dead or not is not the point. What is the point is that that particular moment in the game is now not going to be as shocking or exciting as it would’ve been if we didn’t see it coming.

    • Imagine it as a trailer.. Do you complain when rocksteady posted the 10min gameplay at e3?? Did you go OMG two face capture catwoman?? Now it just won’t be shocking as you know that you have to save catwoman? Exactly. When you look at game trailer you see what is coming. Get over it.

      • It’s a given that CHOOSING to watch a trailer means there is the chance that story related aspects will be a part of it. Key word is “choosing” as in the person CHOSE to take that risk.

        So again, you’re still missing the point.

        • So why did you choose to take the risk and read the article, yes you saw the headline why did you continue reading? Have you seen any of the batman trailer?

          • I didn’t read the article, I opened it to make a comment that it was ridiculous that this was posted with the title it has.

            Either way, people are not annoyed about the content. They are ticked off that the spoiler is in the title of the article which can’t be avoided when browsing this site.

          • It’s in very big font, hard to miss and the eyes are naturally drawn to the title whether we like it or not because of the big font in the picture. You don’t seem to understand that some people don’t like spoilers, no matter how small (and the majority of the comments here show that). At least with trailers on TV and the like, you can quickly look away given that any minor spoilers aren’t given away right at the start. This article basically hints at what is going on right then and there, it’s hard to avoid. The article itself might not give too much information away, but the damage has been done.

        • In fact by watching tv you have taken the risk to come across a trailer for any movies/games. By surfing games forum/the Internet you have already chose the risk. So why dont you hide under a rock until the game comes out then finish it ASAP before a review comes out which will also gives some stuff away? Exactly get over it and stop trolling.

          • Wow, I must be a bit slow this morning. Good troll, sir and if you’re not trolling and actually trying to justify a spoiler in an article title then I pity you.

          • You chose the risk of surfing the net, which will contain some sort of spoiler so why do you complain? You sir, are the troll. You want to avoid spoilers? Go hide under a rock. Yes, you are a bit slow this morning, I pity you.

          • But why would one expect to come to a gaming news website and find spoilers in an article title for an unreleased game? It’s not like I stumbled across some random forum where some wanker decided to spoil a game. This is a news site that is meant to have some sort of journalistic integrity. You don’t see major movie news websites like Daily Blam posting movie spoilers in titles and when an article contains spoiler information they put a warning in the title. Something Kotaku have done in the past and something that should have happened with this article.

            By your logic, people who are in car accidents who lose their loved ones should also be told to “get over it” because they knew the risk of driving/being in a moving vehicle…

          • What are you going to do now? Cry? Do they the game then if it’s spoil, like I said Kirk previewed the game, if you go on other website it also talks about the joker. So really, why not just hide under a rock? Think about it it’s the Internet..and it’s a preview. Everything has a risk, if you’re not prepared to take it. Stay away from it. I suggest you stay away from the Internet from now on. You complain to much.

          • Btw you should read the terms of services then. Have a good day.
            @Brengear, he brought it up himself.

          • Just calm down man. You’re making a molehill into a mountain and making a fool of yourself.

          • @Hellothere – The three people you’re replying to have in no way been rude. We have a valid complaint, if you disagree that’s fine, but comments like “Yes, you are a bit slow this morning, I pity you” is just unnecessary provocation.

      • You have the choice of watching ten minutes of footage. You don’t have the choice of NOT having this particular fact spoiled, unless you choose not to read Kotaku at all.

        Kirk Hamilton should have nested this fact behind the jump and put a spoiler warning on the front page synopsis, the moron.

  • Deadset, I don’t understand why everyone is so pissed about this. Ok, it’s a tiny bit of a spoiler, but considering how early it occurs in the game, it is certainly a marketing ploy to get everyone curious. It’s exactly like a trailer with a hanging point to make people want to buy the game. Quit your selfish fanboy bullshit and realise that A) it is for marketing and B) HE MAY OR MAY NOT BE DEAD. We don’t know. How is it a f**king spoiler if the situation in question is, well, in question?

    • Exactly, just seems like a bunch of users like Chazz going overboard for something so minor and not even thinking things through. Like they thought “OMG must complain to everyone because I can.”

    • Lol yeah I tried explaining to this chazz guy he won’t listen but keeps complaining. Can’t wait till this game, curious to see what is going on with the joker.

    • Again, it comes down to choice. A person should be able to choose whether or not they want this information. How hard is that to comprehend?

    • It doesn’t matter how much of a spoiler it is, just the fact that it is a spoiler without a warning, is completely wrong. I’ve been avoiding this news all day, skipping over every article about batman cause they all had spoiler warnings and then bam, top of my page, massive fucking spoiler, there’s no excuse for it, and I don’t care if it doesn’t matter to you, because it matters to me and lots of other people, and people need to get over themselves and realise other people do care about this stuff.

  • “curious to see what is going on with the joker”
    He’s either dead, or pretending to be dead. The article made that much clear.
    Kirk Hamilton is a douchebag and your ass-sucking attitude, hellothere, isn’t much better.

    • Nevermind, mate.

      The “allure” of a nice pay has slowly started turning KotakuAU into the trash rag that is KotakuUS.

      Whether the US articles are poorly written, unnecessary or down right stupid (like this one), the AU editors now seem more than happy to bring them on to this site. Goes to show that journalistic integrity only lasts so long.

  • I don’t care if the title was chosen for shock value. I don’t even care if it’s true or not.
    And yes that includes obnoxious text in images!
    Fk you.

  • Yeah, thanks a lot Kirk. Way to spoil the game for those looking forward to finding out the story for themselves. I’m not going to read your whole article to find out anymore than the headline. You’ve said enough you fkn tool. Shove it up yr azz.

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