Tag: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Game Watch: Batman: Arkham City

by on Mar.14, 2012, under Gamewatch, Gaming, Reviews, Video Games

So over the weekend I finished a video game. It has been awhile, it feels like, since I did that. Video games are something I still have trouble finishing, as I’ll let myself get distracted by new games, or I’ll try to focus on other things that should be more important such as updating this blog, or my writing. However the weekend was rainy, most of my plans had been canceled and I was very close to finishing. So I punched it. Or rather, I punched the joker, a lot.

Batman: Arkham City, is the sequel to the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. In some ways it exceeds its predecessor and in some ways it falls behind. In both games you play as the world’s greatest detective, Batman, facing off against Batman’s numerous villains and their henchmen. The first game was limited to the contents of Arkham Asylum, the prison/psychiatric facility where a majority of Batman’s super villains are sent to once they are captured. In this game, you are limited to an area of Gotham City that has been re-purposed into a giant sprawling prison renamed Arkham City, run by the former warden of Arkham Asylum.

I admit, the idea that any city would let someone build a giant wall around a section of itself, then populate it with criminals and super villains seems insane to me and even at the beginning of the game I was questioning if it wasn’t just some way for the game to “think bigger” like some sequels like to do. However by the end of the game, after unlocking back story that helps explain what happened in between the two games, I feel much better about it. Still it would have been nice if that information was available from the beginning and not an unlockable.

[spoiler show=”Click to read about the Gameplay”]So where in you were Batman before, wandering through corridors and into vents and hanging from ledges and railings in an insane asylum, you are now Batman swooping around an entire cityscape, landing on unsuspecting “inmates” and generally causing mayhem for super villains who have carved out territories among the mostly un-policed Arkham City. You begin as Batman was at the end of the last game, which grants you access to quiet a few gadgets which are mostly unexplained. The game lack an obvious tutorial, although I suspect the beginning sequence attempts to teach you the basics, it certainly is no substitute for having played the prior game.And where Batman: Arkham City shines is in its game play. Between gadgets and simple but infinitely complex combat system, Batman Arkham City manages to make you feel like you are Batman. Except that my Batman was more likely to die than any other Batman I’ve seen. That aside, the combat system works at it’s more core with four actions. A strike, a stun, evade, and counter. Batman will automatically target the nearest enemy in front of him if you strike or stun. However if you point the direction stick in an opposite direction from Batman and hit strike, he will attack in that direction, regardless of his facing. This leads you to doing complicated and fun combinations of elbow jabs, kicks, punches, and the occasional acrobatics. The system gets more complicated as gadgets, a combo system, and enemies which weapons are introduced, but the game gives you plenty of time to practice these added complexity until you can at least overcome the standard challenges of the game.

For those who fall in love with the combat system, there are extra challenge modes which test your fighting game skills.

Combat isn’t really even the central part of being Batman. Batman is also all about the stealth or being a “predator” and there are numerous ways to take down an unaware enemy, from sneaking up behind them silent, to dropping down from a ledge and pummeling the, to using your grapple line to string them up, pull them off ledges, jump through glass/walls to tackle them, jump out of grates and smash them into a wall, the list really never does end.

Which leads me to the gadgets. No only do you get Batman’s trusty batarang and grappling hook, but various other gadgets including an electrical emission “gun”, freeze grenades, a grappling line, small yield explosives, a hacking tools, smoke pellets, and more. None of which aren’t used at least numerous times throughout the game. I made much use of the smoke pellets, thanks to my ability to sneak up right on someone, only to have them turn around and start shooting at me.

Guns, by the way, hurt. Batman is not the kind of hero who can take a bullet. His armor protects somewhat but enemies with guns are something to be worried about and avoided or snuck up on using one of your many predator techniques. This, I feel is, one of the most awesome aspects of the game. I have to worry about guns and getting shot. Compared to so many other games where rushing the person with the gun is a viable strategy, this really helps the game hit it home that you are the Batman.

Speaking of armor, it is worth noting that the game has a token upgrade system. I say token because this time it didn’t feel so much like I was upgrading myself as I was completing all my capabilities. Individually each upgrade only felt like a minor power up, with a few notable exceptions which helped you get around the city much quicker (and were some of the first upgrades I got), and it was only towards the end of the game that I began to understand that I needed every upgrade. This I felt was a small failing of the game. When I gain a level, I should feel stoked to get the next upgrade, not feel like I’m filling in a jigsaw puzzle where the payoff is at the very end.

[/spoiler]

So game play aside, Arkham City manages to tell as interesting of a story as it’s successor did if in a bit more haphazardly way. Since the game is “sandbox” style, the story is told through a main story line that can be abandoned to do numerous types of side quests and collection quests, or just playing around. This means that the main story suffers a little, especially since there are so many collection quests thanks to The Riddler, and more than ten different official side stories to complete, some of which you can’t complete till the end of the game.

Despite the confusion, the game does a good job of providing reminders of the main story line and what you’ve been doing, during loading screens, which really helps keep the narrative together. While I won’t divulge the full story here due to spoilers, trust me in that it is a story well worthy of Batman, and (some of) the twists at the end will leave you wondering if maybe the game was trying to fool you.

All of this culminates in a game that will steal at least forty to sixty hours of your life. More so if you decide to do the optional challenges, the extra characters you can purchase for download (I highly suggest Catwoman, as her story is somewhat integral to the main plot), and trophy gathering. I spent a weekend completing the predator challenges as Batman, the final challenge taking me well over two hours and quiet a bit of frustration, despite being ultimately satisfying.

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Trailer: Batman: Arkham City: The Riddler

by on Oct.11, 2011, under Entertainment, Gaming, Trailers, Video Games, Visual Media

The Riddler has always been my favorite villain in Batman. Well not always but basically since the animated series.

So you may remember the upcoming sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. This game is titled Batman: Arkham City and it is due out this coming October and I really can’t wait. Mostly because it comes out next week!

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Trailer: Batman: Arkham City

by on Mar.25, 2011, under Entertainment, Gaming, Trailers, Video Games, Visual Media

Trailer for the upcoming Batman: Arkham City video game, sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. I wrote a small review of Arkham Asylum in June of last year which you can read here. The game play and story were excellent and my only complaints were a somewhat rushed ending and some confusion over bonus content. I fully expect more of the same with Arkham City and I am eagerly anticipating it.

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