Game Review: Batman: Arkham City – Batman versus a city full of psychotic, super powered villains; feel bad for the city.

 

Ok people I’ll admit something right now, I wasn’t that excited to play Batman: Arkham City. Not that I didn’t like the first game, I did, but a comic book fan with at least some knowledge of DC Comic lore know all about Batman, his motivations, his friends and enemies, and the like. I don’t mind playing as an already established video game character like Master Chief or Mario (as opposed to creating my own character within the gaming reality) but with Batman there no real surprise or unknown area: he’s Batman for goodness sake! Well not only was I wrong in this preconception, wrong about ‘no surprises’, and wrong about not caring, but this game could possibly be the best game of the year.

 

 

Game Info

 

After the events of the first game you would think the people of Gotham would develop a little common sense, but noooooo they elected the warden of an insane asylum (the same warden who let a bunch of crazies take control of said asylum under his watch) to mayor, then that guy said:  ‘Here’s a good idea; let’s take half of our city, put criminals, villains, and the basic scum of the earth into one half, wall it up and close our eyes and hope they go away’.  Well it happened and the only person who seems to have a problem with this is Bruce Wayne aka Batman. Course it didn’t take him long to get kidnapped and have a little one on one time with the new warden of ‘Arkham City’, and the bad guy of the game, Hugo Strange. See Strange knows of Bruce’s alter ego and plans of using that knowledge in his grand master plain. But before Bruce could figure out more he’s was thrown to the wolves. Naturally he escapes and suits up but now needs to figure what to do about Strange and master plan before he can leave. In order to do that he needs to go toe to toe with every single nutbag he had pleasure of putting in there in the first – and if you’re not think they wouldn’t want revenge, then you be wrong.

 

Now the good news is you’re Batman, so that sure make you feel better right of the bat (heh I made a funny). Much of your skills, weapons, and techniques return in this sequel (most at the beginning). Being Batman also means you keep up with the latest bad guy catching technologies so your get some new stuff as well; I don’t want to spoil too much of anything but I’ll this: Bat Taser anyone? Batman also gets new ways to put people in traction, which is always a plus because thugs can’t outfight Batman (they know this) but they will gang up on him if you let them. Finally detective mode (vision?) returns better than ever, use it to recon enemies through walls and grates, plan your attacks with pin point precision and listen to their conversations – you’ll never know what secrets they’ll let spit out if you beat them up first and ask questions later. Now the bad news, Arkham City hates you. The thugs hate with their fists, lead pipes and crates they throw at you. The mercs with their assault rifles, shotguns, backpack jammers (jammers screw with your  detective mode), and night vision hates you. Arkham City security (named TYGER guards) hates you with their turret mounted cameras and turret mounted helicopters. And of course the cavalcade of super villains such as the Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and more; with their own abilities and tricks that can certainly make you wish you were Superman – they really HATE you.

 

The first game was hard to classify and so is the second, so I’ll put it like this: Batman: Arkham City is like a cross between GTA and Metal Gear solid with a little Streets of Rage thrown in. Using Batman’s signature grappling lines and gliding cape you can cruise around the city looking for clues to Strange’s master plan; but at the same time protecting ‘political prisoners’ and innocent civilians from the inmates of the city. There are two ways of going about this: directly by beating the crap up of every enemy you see or stealthily by using tricks and silent takedowns one punk at a time. Both ways have their strengths and weaknesses but bring enough justice to the masses and you’ll be able to level up your skills to be more effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goods

 


Looks: This should go without saying but the game looks great; it’s no Rage but it ain’t lacking either. Gotham is a grimly cesspool of scum and villainy, but Arkham City will keep the stages varied in looks, colors, and secrets.

 

Games within the Game: In the first game players only had to defeat the Joker (and assorted others) and only care about the Riddler trophies if they were on the way and were easy to get to. This time around they crammed in so many side missions and mini-games (with consequences and rewards) that it’s almost impossible not to get wrapped in them. You remember Victor Zsasz, the crazed series killer who you beat down easily in the first game. Well in this game he’s not going to make in easy for players, you to play phone tag in order to stop him from murdering a random person while trying to trace his calls. Yeah, and that’s only one on going side mission you’ll need to tackle – there are plenty to keep you busy.

 

 

Combat Mechanic: This game crowning jewel is always been the Combat Mechanic. Enemies without ballistic weapons surround and try to attack you, the dark knight can attack, counter, stun or use gadgets to keep them at bay. With these methods players can make epic fight choreography better than fall blockbuster this year. Enemies with ballistic weapons are difficult to attack directly but with a well-placed explosives gel, hanging ledge or unprotected crate these enemies can be taken out. The Arkham series doesn’t sacrifice intelligence for action, they have both.

 

 

Characters: From the lowest of prisoner to Mr. J himself, the characters here are alive with own personalities, motivations, and quirks that make this game a true experience to play through.

 

 

Challenge and New Game + modes: If you’re Batman enough to get through the story mode and said: “That wasn’t tough.” I’ve got some news for you – the game ain’t done yet. The Riddler Challenges (unlocked through trophy collecting in campaign) will put players through their paces with various combat and takedown challenges. You not only have to survive with your skin intact, but you’ll have to do it with at least one challenge modifier (no counters, one bar of HP, etc.) in place & try to get the high score conditions (take down two thugs at the same time, don’t be seen, etc.). If you want to play the campaign again but with all your skills and weapons from the first play through, harder enemies, and smarter bosses then New Game + is the mode for you.

 

 

 

The Bad

 

Control Scheme: When trying to fit in dynamic combat, stealth action, 3rd person shooting elements, open world traveling, puzzle solving, quick fire commands, and upgrading them all periodically throughout the game cause more than a little confused button presses from players. Fortunately it only takes getting used to, but thanks to tough enemies and very few hints the learn curve is steep.

 

Too Quick: Everything about this game is so addicting that once the end comes it all seems too quick.

 

 

 

Ranking

 

 

It’s obvious that this game is good, every reviewer, anywhere, will say so; but the quality of game mechanics, the flawless writing for the characters, the perfect adaptation of comic book to game, and the sheer fun of it all in this one title something beyond rare. It brings a tear to my eye on how video games have progressed in 20+ years. If you know someone who says video game can’t compare to any form of media or art please let them play this game – they’ll realize then what we’ve known since time immortal…

 

 

 

This just in (Or not) – Mass Effect 3 will have multiplayer. The freak you say?!

 

No, no, no. It’s not what you think; it won’t be an armada of ‘Commander Shepherds’ all over the place killing one another for no reason. It will be a co-op horde mode of sorts that, believe it or not, will tie in to the main story. Like what Resistance 2 tried to do but only successful (hopefully). You create character (don’t make it like your current Commander, it be weird), pick his or her class then you and three other players take on various enemies to complete objectives that will aid Shepherd in the overall story. You can upgrade your character to level 20, deck him out with the greatest weapons, tech, and biotics for your class and might even make it into the single player. Now this ‘Galaxy at War’ feature is completely optional and you can get the best possible ending on single player by itself, but why would you want to do that? Half the fun of Mass Effect is trying out new ways to complete goals, not using the co-op would be a sin.

 

 

 

 

Gameroween – Video Game Characters that make good costumes (Day 13)

Unlucky number 13 is today’s day in Gameroween; people we knew it was coming – the costume choice that even non-gamers chose to wear during this time. Famous for being the cutest looking and sound video game character on the market that appeals to all peoples, genders, and ages: Pikachu. Ok Armadaires, here’s your mission if you choose to go as the electric mouse type : inform the people. Don’t let fokes assume what you are, let them know; tell them you’re a Pokemon, the name of said Pokemon, its genealogical number (#25 – before Arbok but after Raichu / #22, # 156 &#104 in different regions), where it lives, how to catch one, and how they’re used in children’s bloodsports. The more they know, the less they see Pikachu as an adorable yellow thing and more as a dangerous wild animal that’s also a walking taser – bro.

 

 

 

 

Submitted by Gi, and posted on Game Vain's daily pic: Ladies and gentleman - Pikachu Cat. Now go catch him.