Review | Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode Three: New World Order
Well… that was different. The newest episode of Batman: The Telltale Series brings with it a lot of answers, but also a lot of new questions. Episode three, “New World Order”, continues to make Bruce Wayne’s world crumble before his very eyes. Even with some of his victories, he suffers much more brutal defeats, and it’s ultimately up to the player to figure out how he handles all of it. The first two episodes helped set the stage, introduced relationships, and even gave the players a chance to grow comfortable with who their Batman is. This episode however shows some of the bigger ramifications of the decisions made in episodes before. Careful, as there are some spoilers ahead for previous episodes.
A large bulk of this episode focuses on Harvey Dent, and whether the player chose to save him or not in the previous episode, it will determine just how the character will be viewed by the citizens of Gotham City. If the player chose to save the defenseless mayoral candidate from the Penguin, then he will take it as a traumatic experience that prompts him to seek therapy. If the player instead chose to save Catwoman, then Harvey Dent would have started his transformation as the infamous Two-Face, having half his face practically melted off by a stage light. Either way, due to the previous mayor, Hamilton Hill being killed, Harvey becomes mayor by default, and a lot of this episode highlights his rise to power.
Travis Willingham provides an interesting performance as Harvey Dent, but his performance really shines best as Two-Face, giving a sort of split personality to the character. When he doesn’t have a disfigured face, he mostly just seems angry, only sometimes showing a hint of a Two-Face personality. Two-Face oddly seems calmer when the Harvey side of him comes out, but whenever the damaged version gets a say, it does end up being something a bit more disturbing. Whichever version of Harvey the player chose, it’s great to see just how different the character can be, though the episode probably could have done with less focus on Harvey, as some characters lose a bit of the spotlight this time around.
The good news is that the episode also focuses on the leader of the Children of Arkham, the new gang of criminals that is taking Gotham City by storm. Not only does Batman get to go one-on-one with the villain, but he also learns their identity, which ended up being a huge reveal as a character that was right in front of Bruce the whole time. Despite it being a bit of a surprise, it makes sense when looking at past scenes as players can start putting the pieces together. There still seems to be an unclear motive at this time, but that will likely be found during the next episode, or perhaps even the final episode of the season. Either way, the Children of Arkham are currently pulling most of the strings, and due to this, they even have their clutches on Wayne Enterprises, hitting Bruce Wayne and indirectly hitting Batman.
While the revelation of the leader’s identity was a great highlight, and the damage done to the Wayne legacy continues to add drama to Bruce’s life, this episode really gives the player the chance to build up the relationship with Selina Kyle. During one of the only major Batman sequences in the episode, Batman discovers that Catwoman is reluctantly working with the Children of Arkham, though mostly to protect herself from them. She mentions wanting a “clean slate” for her life, something pretty reminiscent of the character in The Dark Knight Rises. A fresh start may be something that Batman can achieve for her, but that seems to be up to the player, and even then, Batman is slowly losing resources to do so.
Due to various circumstances, Selina takes Bruce to her home, and during that moment, the player can pursue a stronger bond between these two iconic characters. How that plays out is mostly up to the player, though likely some of the events cannot be prevented either way. While this scene adds a lot of fun for the episode, it also reveals many of the technical issues of the episode, as there is a lot of model clipping. It’s a minor issue but it is definitely more noticeable here due to the lack of clothing in part of the scene, “hint hint”. There doesn’t seem to be that much of a consequence for not saving Catwoman in the previous episode, though she does at least remember that she wasn’t a priority to the player if that were the case.
This episode may not have as difficult of decisions as the previous one, but it does have some moral choices that can be difficult to consider. Most of these seemed to be in the presence of Oswald, as all of the scenes with him are as Bruce Wayne. It’s not easy to know Cobblepot’s secret without wanting to express a little hatred towards him, or even wanting to just reveal everything about him at any given moment. Oswald plays the victim well, getting the public on his side by showing what Thomas Wayne did to his family, nobody suspecting him of being the notorious Penguin.
The familiar frame rate issues are still common in this episode, as the visuals of the game suffer from dips in the animation. It’s worth mentioning that this episode had significantly less than the previous ones for me, but there were still a few here and there. The stylized visuals continue to look fantastic though, and Telltale is definitely utilizing the new visual options for the game well. The choreography for the main fight sequence was well done and was a sight to behold, though there were a couple odd actions that didn’t seem exactly plausible. Either way, this episode focused more on telling a story, giving very limited actions for the player to control aside from a couple fight scenes and one detective sequence.
While not the strongest episode in the story so far, it does reveal some of the biggest plot points in an unexpected way. The relationships continue to grow stronger as the plot moves forward, and though some characters don’t get enough attention, we get some added depth to some of the more minor characters. Hopefully the next couple episodes bring back the tougher choices and more interactivity, because this episode needed just a bit more to stay strong. Regardless of the faults, the anticipation of what happens next is still lingering on after seeing the preview for the next episode, and it’s obvious that Telltale has a strong direction in mind.
Final Score: 8 out of 10