Tag Archives: Batman

2019 Game Review Haiku, #35 – Batman: Arkham City

Dying Batman needs
Cure, but the Joker prevails
A tiresome (k)night

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

There’s too much trivial chatter in Batman: Arkham City

Twice a month, I go to my local oncology center, sit in a fairly comfy reclining chair, get hooked up to a machine, and have poison, along with other substances, pumped into my body for three to four hours. It’s not exactly what I’d describe as fun, but it is what I have to do to continue living the life I want to live, a life with cancer. I’m never alone there, and sometimes the room is quiet, with everyone reading a book or listening to music or sleeping, as I’m wont to do, and other times it is just bursting with mindless chatter. Thank goodness for headphones. I tell this story because it actually relates greatly to Batman: Arkham City, believe it or not.

Can Batman just get one moment of peace to look out over Arkham City without having to hear some nearby conversation between Goon #1 and Goon #2? Please, it’s all I want. It seems you can’t go anywhere without picking up a stray conversation, and the majority of them are just fluff, nonsensical, pointless chatter to clog up your ear-holes. Someone somewhere is always talking, and it quickly becomes grating. Plus, there are occasional conversations you do need to pay attention to, such as when a political prisoner is being attacked or threatened, as it is a side quest activity, and parsing those out from the clutter can be tough. I don’t remember Batman: Arkham Asylum having this issue, but a lot of the game was spent in-doors, whereas here you are constantly gliding from rooftop to rooftop via a pretty open world brimming with enemies.

That said, I’ll now talk about the game proper. Written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini with Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill, Batman: Arkham City is inspired by the long-running comic book mythos. In the game’s main storyline, Batman is incarcerated in Arkham City, a huge new super-prison enclosing the decaying urban slums of the fictional Gotham City. He must uncover the secret behind the sinister scheme “Protocol 10,” orchestrated by the facility’s warden Hugo Strange, all while also dealing with a number of other big-name baddies, such as Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, and, of course, The Joker. It plays and feels a lot like Batman: Arkham Asylum, but bigger and more explosive, with more things to do.

The same freely flowing combat from Batman: Arkham Asylum returns here and, while it can feel mashy at times, it does also feel purposeful. Batman can dynamically punch, kick, grapple, and Batarang through crowds of tough guys or, if you get the jump on a solo dude, take him down stealthily. Players gifted with superior button-pressing timing and the clarity of mind–in short, not at all me–can also use Batman’s fist and gadget tools to elevate these brawls into something much more. A violent dance, perhaps. Not all of Batman: Arkham City takes place outside; in locked rooms, Batman is a true predator, stalking enemies from the shadows and plucking them off one by one. I’m much better in these scenarios than I am trying to take on eight unarmed enemies and three guys with guns, all while trying to counter here, punch there, dodge this way, leap that way, etc.

At times, Batman: Arkham City has too many distractions, and I even found myself unable to figure out where to go next for the main mission, having veered off to answer payphone calls and attempt to collect some Riddler trophies. I say attempt because, for many of them, they are quite puzzling and seem like they require tools and abilities I’ve not yet unlocked. I do like that you can tag any Riddler trophy you see and it’ll add it to your map so you can return to it later, if that’s something you want to do. I highly doubt I’ll be going after all the collectibles in this one, despite that being a task I love doing in many other games. My goal is to just get through the story and see how things ultimately unfold for Mr. Wayne.

Currently, I’m in a large museum, trying to carefully make my way across a small pond of frozen ice to save some cops from The Penguin. If you are too reckless or take the wrong path, the ice will break, and a shark will eat Batman. Let me repeat that last part–a shark eats Batman. It’s probably the best thing I’ve seen so far in Batman: Arkham City.

Small-scale escapades with Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Once I’m done with a few other games on my plate, namely Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion, I plan to move on and finally play Batman: Arkham City. Well, start it again; I did play a wee bit of it on the ol’ PlayStation 3…uh, some long time ago. Anyways, I got another copy of it in a Black Friday bundle last year with Batman: Arkham Asylum for Xbox One, which I’ve already played and enjoyed, but it was actually cheaper to get both than purchase Batman: Arkham City on its own. Yeah, go figure, right? My cart total came to…$5.33. I’m all about them cheap-o gaming experiences. But that’s not at all what this post is about; I’m here to talk to you about Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, which is a big Batman game on a tiny screen.

Taking place shortly after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins, Blackgate attempts to bridge the story gap between Batman: Arkham Asylum and its recent prequel. In this one, Batman learns of a robbery that leads to his meeting the feline burglar Catwoman. As events quickly unfold, the temptress leads the Caped Crusader to Blackgate Prison, home of Gotham’s criminals who haven’t been deemed criminally insane and consequentially sent to the much more infamous Arkham Asylum. The villains already behind bars, the most nefarious being Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker, have managed to escape from their cells and take control of the joint. With the rest of the inmates at their employ, Batman must stop the complete takeover of the prison. It’s a decent setup, but it does feel a bit samey when you think of how events went down in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

What is Blackgate, other than a mouthful of a game title? Well, it’s a Metroid-style Dark Knight adventure designed by a few of the top people behind the three Metroid Prime games on GameCube and Wii. Their new studio is called Armature, and this is their big debut. In this, you are the titular Batman, exploring Blackgate Prison, automatically filling out a map as you search for clues about how to get from one part of the game world to the next. As you go, you’ll discover obstacles that are in your way and then, somewhere down the road, find new abilities and gadgetry that let you pass those obstacles. Shocking, I know. Also, there are enemies to fight, and the combat is handled similarly to the main entry series, wherein rhythm and timing is your best bet to remain standing at the end. Blackgate is two-parts detective work and one-third combat.

As I’m wont to do, I played a small amount when I first got Blackgate…and then put it down and completely forgot about it after a few days. Shame on me, but also…that’s just totally me. Well, I loaded it back up recently. My save slot says I’ve played a total of one hour and twenty-four minutes, which puts me at a 21% completion rate. All right then. Thankfully, it immediately told me where to go to next to move the story along–the lighthouse. However, getting there still proved troublesome as I completely forgot all the controls or how anything works, such as using detective mode to find clues in the environments you are navigating. Don’t worry, it eventually all came back to me, just took a few attempts.

While the story itself is not very engaging, the way it is told is super stylish, using somewhat animated comic book-like panels for its cutscenes, with strong voiceover work from the eclectic cast. That said, everything else visually is a bit bland and samey, and many of the environments are simply gray and drab, which makes it hard to know where you are because every place looks identical. There’s a map, but I didn’t find it too helpful when I really needed it; that said, the menus for the cases you are investigating and the gear/armor you have found are nicely done and full of vital information.

I truly intend to keep going with Blackgate and not immediately drop it like a bag of bat guano in a few days, but truth be told all it is doing is getting me excited for the larger-than-life series on the Xbox One, of which I’ve already installed Batman: Arkham City. I suspect I’ll be better at the combat when I can actually see what is going on instead of squinting at a tiny screen and hoping for the best.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Batman: The Telltale Series, Episode 1 “Realm of Shadows”

2017-gd-games-completed-batman-telltale-episode-1

Batman and Bruce Wayne
One man, two lives–each in strife
Expose his parents

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

Batman vs. The Joker and an army of ventilation gates

batman arkham asylum mash x to open vents copy

As you probably already know from the previous post, I beat Batman: Arkham Asylum over the weekend. It was really enjoyable and constantly full of stuff to do, even if there’s a few aspects of it that I found bothersome–more on that in a bit–and if someone had simply told me it was more or less Super Metroid plus Deus Ex: Human Revolution sooner, I would not be as late as I am to this crazy shindig. But whatevs, I did it. Not like I’m opposed to catching up on older games. But truthfully, I think I’m now good with Batman for a bit, not feeling the need to bat-glide right over to Arkham City or Arkham Origins. Though maybe that 3DS game has potential…

At the time of kicking The Joker’s clownish ass back behind bars and completing the game proper, my final stats were as follows:

  • Challenges – 2%
  • Riddles – 142/240
  • Upgrades – 18/20
  • Character Bios – 31/42
  • Completed – 73%

Not bad, not bad. But could be better overall. I’ve since gone back and upped all of those stats, now sitting at an 85% completion rate, with everything in the main campaign found, unlocked, and listened to. Whoop whoop, go moi. However, that means, in order to earn the remaining 15%, I have to not only finish all the challenges, which come in two forms, but also do them perfectly for all their medals. Which seems extremely difficult. In the Combat challenges, you fight against four rounds of enemies and earn points by combo-chaining attacks together, never getting hit, and using a ton of variety. In Silent Predator, you are tasked with taking out a group of enemies in a room from the main game itself, with three specific tasks to accomplish along the way. There’s a handful of each of these, and the difficulty between one and another appears to ramp up dramatically. I’ve tried a few and done simply mediocre on ’em, so I can officially wave goodbye to a 100% completion rate.

What I’m really here to talk about is how much you are required to mash the X button in Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s ridiculous. For all his brawn and muscles and high technology, Batman still has to mash on the X button to pull open/kick out ventilation shafts, rip down glass walls, and topple The Joker off a ledge multiple times during the final fight. That latter reason, I get–truly. But everything else feels unnecessary and is quite tiring, especially when you use the upgraded Batclaw to rip open glass walls from afar, which seem to take more button presses than anything else. Throw in the notion that you’re also, sort of, mashing X a lot during combat to dodge out of the way, and well…that button is getting some seriously loving. I’m not generally opposed to these kind of mini-mash QTE festivals, but Batman uses vents a lot, certainly more than doors, and I don’t understand why it couldn’t have been a simple single button press to open the vent. Is it more interactive? Sure, but it’s badly designed and does not make me feel like a badass superhero.

If you’d like to really stave off any sliver of interest to see how Arkham City and Arkham Origins play out, just let me know if this mechanic is still there. If so, I’ll pass on the mash.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #36 – Batman: Arkham Asylum

2013 games completed 36 batman arkham asylum copy

Bats is late for the
Joker’s party, let’s just blame
Those Riddler trophies

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Pretty late to the Joker’s party in Batman: Arkham Asylum

batman-arkham-asylum-3 impressions

Batman: Arkham Asylum came out in 2009 to nearly unanimous praise, and four years later, during a PSN summer sale, after consecutively not experiencing Rocksteady Studios’ take on the Dark Knight year after year after year after year, I bought it for a silky smooth $5.00. And then a couple months later, simply because everyone was getting back to praising the place where it all began after seeing how lackluster Batman: Arkham Origins turned out to be, I installed the game, booted it up, and saw the errors of my ways over these past few years. It’s more or less Deus Ex: The Bats Revolution.

First things first, the story setup: in Arkham Asylum, the Joker instigates an elaborate plot to seize control of Arkham Asylum and trap Batman inside with many of his incarcerated foes. Subsequently, the Joker also holds the power to detonate hidden bombs he placed around Gotham City before getting himself captured. Batman must now fight his way through the asylum’s loose inmates, save some named people, and put an end to the Joker’s plans. He’ll do this by playing detective, being sneaky, hanging from gargoyles, and punching rhythmically when the scenario says so.

Before I get into my impressions, here’s a bunch of silly comics about Bats from my recently completed 365 BAD COMICS project:

batman bad comic 001

batman bad comic 002

batman bad comic 003

Right. Couldn’t resist the chance to shamelessly plug my art.

Anyways, I’m having a lot of fun in Arkham Asylum, and I’m only at a 14% completion rate. This is even more surprising when you realize that, as a superhero comic book character, I don’t find Batman very interesting. Definitely more so than Superman, but that’s it. Everybody else comes ahead. I’m more of an X-Men follower, but Bruce Wayne is kind of just a rich man in a costume beating up poor criminals with fancy gadgets and a throaty voice. I’m sure I just made a lot of people angry with that statement. However, all his toys do make for fantastic gameplay, which is what this game delivers on tenfold.

Batman is trapped in Arkham Asylum, which is actually called the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane and found isolated just outside Gotham City. Has hints of Alcatraz prison. You’ll come across good guys and bad guys as you move from building to building, all while the Joker teases you from afar, promising a party you’ll never forget. It’s a mix of open-world-like areas and more linear hallways and rooms, and I think it works great. You can explore a bit and find interview audio logs and Riddler trophies or you can stick to the pretty obvious path to see the story unfold at a healthy clip. I’ve done a little bit of both, but I think I’ll just keep pushing the story forward from now on, even though those Riddler trophies sure are dang tempting and do at least reward Batman with a pinch of XP. And you need XP to unlock gadgets, combat moves, and armor upgrades.

Combat requires rhythm and reminds me of what the Assassin’s Creed series has been doing as of late, with countering attacks simply keeping the flow going so you can chain together attack after attack for bonus XP. Personally, I’ve tried getting through most scenarios as a silent pounder, loving the inverted takedowns from gargoyles. But unfortunately, you can’t play the game the whole way in that fashion, especially when boss fights pop up. Detective Mode really helps, which makes enemies appear as visible skeletal frames on the map, so you know exactly where everyone is. Reminds me warmly of the good times in Deus Ex: Human Revolution–see: not the boss fights–of sneaking through vents and using the augmentation that lets you look through walls for enemies.

So call me surprised. Call me stupid. I wish I had started playing Arkham Asylum a long time ago, but I’m pretty okay with seeing it now and enjoying a slower pace through the halls of this creepy psychiatric hospital. I might be late as frak to the party, but I’m still celebrating.