Thursday, April 4, 2019

Let's Play Batman: Return to Arkham City: Episode 10

I've said many times that Episode 9 was the equivalent of this Let's Play's midseason finale, so that means Episode 10 is the second half premiere - and it should be treated with all the excitement and fanfare that accompanies a premiere. Even though it wasn't published until nearly three years after the release of the Return to Arkham series. And even though this blog recap was delayed for more than a month because of the excitement surrounding the start of the baseball season. But just watch the episode yourself and tell me it wasn't worth the wait...

As is fitting with any premiere, this episode starts with a lengthy cutscene, which establishes our new primary objective: retrieve a blood sample from Ra's al Ghul, so that Mr. Freeze can use it to complete his cure. Also in this cutscene, we see one of Ra's's ninjas (or rather one of his daughter Talia's ninjas) escape from one of Penguin's glass display cases and scamper out of the museum, conveniently leaving a trail of blood for me to follow. After we regain control, the in-game music drops out so that we can concentrate while scanning the evidence and updating Oracle on our progress. However, since you, the viewers, don't need to concentrate on anything except being entertained, I cut in the Arkham City Main Theme here, since the second half premiere is as good an excuse as any to bring back the game's most recognizable piece of music. Then as the conversation turns to the family al-Ghul, I use the opening theme from their first dedicated Batman: The Animated Series episode, the two-parter "The Demon's Quest."

Speaking of the Animated Series, after finding said ninja and stealthily equipping her with a tracking device, we get a new gadget delivered by none other than our fourth-favorite sidekick, Robin (the Tim Drake version). This particular music choice is one of my favorite in this whole Let's Play because of how perfectly the track syncs up with the in-game action. There's no music during the cutscene where Robin hands over the Line Launcher and agrees to take a sample of your infected blood to help Gotham area hospitals prepare for the impending epidemic, so I put in a track from Robin's (i.e. Dick Grayson's) two-part origin story "Robin's Reckoning" (partial audio link). I basically picked the first track from that episode with a length that fit in the space between when the ninja chasing theme faded out and the gadget upgrade theme faded in, and it just happened to follow the dramatic action of the scene, right down to the climactic swell when Batman reassuringly tells Robin that he'll find a way to solve this mess. For more examples of how BTAS music fits well with Arkham cutscenes, check out my Let's Play of Arkham Knight, although you might want to wait a few weeks until I start re-uploading the episodes in glorious full HD.

Before following the tracker, I take a break to pick up a Riddler trophy and fight some random henchmen, which also gives me the opportunity to experiment with more multi-layer music tracks, this time from the Arkham City soundtrack. You might recall that the ambient explore theme "I Know What You Guys Are Thinking" is among my favorite tracks in the game, but this piece of music also has an additional unreleased layer with percussion accompaniment for combat sequences. I'd say to watch that sequence and listen closely to see if you can spot where the new layer comes in, but it's not really a mystery since I explain it in the commentary. Shortly after this, the ninja's tracker leads us into the sewer system, where I use a track from the Arkham Asylum soundtrack that plays while you explore the cave system connected to the auxiliary Batcave.

While underground, we get a surprise cameo by Batman's most famous sewer-dwelling enemy Killer Croc. (Shout out to anyone who thought I was going to say the Sewer King.) For this brief scene, where Croc's uncanny sense of smell picks up the subtle aroma of Batman's infected blood, I use the music that plays when Croc chases you out of his lair underneath Arkham Asylum in the first game in the series. Then after progressing further into the sewers, we get another reference to the reptile-man formerly known as Waylon Jones, as I stumble upon a room he used as his hideout. While scanning the shock collar with which he was fitted back in Asylum (thereby completing another Riddler challenge), I play the opening theme from Croc's first Animated Series episode "Vendetta" to give the situation some appropriate atmosphere.

In between these two Croc sightings, there's a combat sequence with some Joker thugs that normally plays without music. For this fight, and the henchmen banter leading-in to it, I use another dual-layer track from Arkham Asylum. On the official soundtrack, this piece is rather generically titled "Crackin' Heads," but in order for the music to properly follow the action, I had to mix in its component parts: from the ch3 Admin series in the game rip audio files. Thus ends one of the most musically intensive episodes of the whole Let's Play!

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