Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Freaks of Arkham Asylum: The Scarecrow

It goes without saying that Batman: Arkham Asylum is a great game.  Likewise, it goes without saying that Arkham Asylum (the location itself) is one creepy place, with its claustrophobic hallways and ancient hidden passageways.  Batman fans know that it is here that all of Gotham City's super-villains are kept after they get their asses handed to them by the Bat.  While most of these villains are completely insane freaks that each deserve their own blog post, today I'm going to talk about Scarecrow.  In my opinion he was the creepiest character in the game (yes, worse than the Joker), with plenty of appearances throughout Arkham Asylum, each more intense than the previous.



For those who haven't played this game or read the comics, the Scarecrow is a villain who is obsessed with the concept of fear and has invented various fear-inducing toxic gasses.  The scarecrow sack mask only adds to the effect, along with preventing him from breathing in his own fear toxins.

As with all characters in the Arkham Asylum game, the Scarecrow is released from his cell and begins his rampage of terror throughout the asylum, happily attacking security guards and Batman.  From the first moment we encounter him, he is wearing his Scarecrow getup, complete with syringe-tipped gloves.  I've always wondered, did the asylum personnel let him wear this crazy costume in his cell, or did he break into a storage locker and equip all these things after he was released?  Because he seems to be all geared up after only being out of his cell for a short time.  Oh well, this is Batman.  If we can believe that a giant half-human, half-crocodile guy can exist in this world, we can believe that the Arkham staff are stupid enough to let the Scarecrow wear syringe gloves in his cell.

Moving on, whenever you encounter the Scarecrow in Arkham, you inevitably enter a nightmarish hallucination sequence caused by Batman breathing in the fear-toxins.  In these sequences, the Scarecrow manages to take the freakishness to the next level.  Batman hallucinates that the Scarecrow is a 100ft tall giant, with a cringe-inducing distorted voice.

These sequences are pretty intense to play at night without lights.
In the unfortunate case that Batman dies during a hallucination, you are treated to a cutscene of the Scarecrow creeping towards you in the dark, adding to your nightmares for the evening.

There is one hallucination that is worth mentioning due to how cleverly you transfer from the real world to the nightmare world.  If you haven't played the game yet, don't read on!  During one section of the game you are calmly walking through a deserted area of the asylum when Batman starts lightly coughing every once in a while.  All of a sudden the game freezes and the screen gets distorted.  If you've ever had a graphics card overheat and start displaying artifacts on the screen, you will recognize the distortion and expect the worst (I thought I fried my video card).  Before you go into full panic mode and shut down your PC or console, the game unfreezes and cuts to the opening movie of the game, but this time with the roles of Batman and the Joker reversed.  I have to give credit to the game developers for creating such a refreshing prank!

In conclusion, the Scarecrow is one severely freaky character in Arkham Asylum, whose hallucination sequences must be experienced at least once.  What did you guys think of these sequences?  Did you get fooled by the spoof "crash?"

2 comments:

  1. Embarrassingly, I just went looking for this information, because I was one of those doofuses who shutdown his Xbox and restarted the game. Only while the second time the movie played with me being the Joker did it dawn on me.. I really thought an RRD would appear on the console, scared the hell out of me. Then I remembered the name of that villain :)

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    1. It was definitely a mean trick by the game developers! I don't blame you for shutting down your Xbox and expecting the red ring, I was moments away from hitting the power button on my PC when I encountered the "glitch."

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