By Video_Game_King 24 Comments
Batman: Arkham Asylum( I think there is something all societies can agree on.) That something is this: Batman is awesome. Seriously, try to find some sort of flaw in him. Oh, you found several? Screw you, they're what make Batman so awesome, everyone knows that. So what happens when you make a game about Batman? Well, mixed results, to be honest, but in the case of Arkham Asylum, sort of the same effect: flawed in a few areas, but still incredibly awesome.
Unfortunately, things don't start as awesome as they could: the game opens with the Dark Knight dragging the Joker to jail, but not the "Heath Ledger anarchist" Joker, the "batshit insane and yes that pun was intended" Joker. (Not saying the latter's bad, just not as good as the first.) Anyway, the Joker's going to Arkham Asylum, a jail he (along with every other villain in Gotham) has managed to escape from many times before, which is something Batman has known for quite some time. Predictably, shit hits the fan and sprays further than any could have imagined, and it's up to Batman to make his fuck-up look like an excuse to be ultra-badass. This is where my criticisms of the plot end, mainly because I find it to be the strongest, tightest part of the experience. In that sense, it's like having sex with a blood pressure tester at your local pharmacy. The first thing I like is the collection of villains. Sure, you have the Joker and his sexy/insane girlfriend, but you also have Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Bane, the Riddler, and several others that all fit into their proper spots in the story; none of them feel forced into the story for the sake of being there.
Oh, another thing I like about the game: things really don't feel contrived. All the plot and gameplay elements fit together perfectly, never really feeling like they sacrificed one to placate the other/God of Volcanoes. I think the best example of this is how you can pick up interview tapes/converse with rocks and continue on your way, listening to their insane ramblings while you scare the piss out of nearby guards. This brings me to one of the main topics: the atmosphere. What, you thought I meant gameplay? OK, this time, I'll admit my mistake and wrap this up quickly. Incredibly detailed, lackeys have a degree of humanity to them, and overall, it can be pretty immersive when you allow it to be. OK? Bam. (Forward reference, if such a thing is possible.)
Now then, what you've been waiting for: the gameplay. Earlier, I mentioned that you can make the local guards simultaneously shake and pee like leaky dildos, but I didn't mention how or what that had to do with the game. I was getting at the stealth system, which, while repetitive, can actually be a lot of fun. You may use the same damn strategy time and time again (wait for somebody to be alone, kill them, run away, repeat), there's a degree of open-endedness to it that creates room for a lot of creativity. Sneak into an air vent, wait for somebody to walk by, and choke them before sneaking back into the vents; hang from a gargoyle, turn a guard into a cocoon, and fly away to watch the chaos; intentionally crash a batarang into the floor, luring a guard away from his post and to his creepy death. Should any of this fail horribly (and it probably will), it's not the end of the world; sure, your bat-butt will absorb a lot of butt-bullets, but (this time, not intended) there's always a way to avoid the enemies and live to fight another day.
Speaking of fighting, it seems that stomping the wine out of the inmates' faces is a big part of the game. Who could have imagined Batman doing such a thing? More importantly, who could have imagined that it'd be pulled off so well? You have a variety of moves at your disposal at any time, and while you're definitely not going to use them all (anything with a batarang comes to mind), their presence doesn't interfere with any other moves; you don't have a limited amount of moves at any given time and neither are you forced into specific moves, you can just ignore them if you want. I did, and had an experience similar to the stealth: repetitive, but extremely rewarding. I would find myself jumping from enemy to enemy, turning their own punches against them and watching the combo meter increase as I taunted them like a schoolyard bully. As my combos grew larger and larger, I gained access to different moves, like throwing people or insta-kills, that added variety and some layer of skill to the fights.
Yet there's something about all this that confuses me, even as I write the blog: if being bum-rushed by about a dozen members of the Insane Clown Posse results in awesomeness, then why are the boss fights kinda disappointing? There are really only two types of bosses, the first being OK villain beat-downs, the rest being the same fight repeated again and again. The only difference I've noticed is that they're skeletons in the I, Robot levels, and that your first fight with them is apparently with Gotham's deadliest luchadore. Hell, they really don't even get more challenging, just more complicated, as the developers added more enemies to the fights rather than new moves. Oh, and don't think this is limited to Arkham's wrestling federation, as I noticed this in the few non-luchadore fights, making it seem like the developers stuffed them in at the last minute. Kinda disappointing, since the villains give this game potential for some truly awesome fights. What could soak up all the time they should have spent on what could have been a defining feature in this game?
What's that? Exploration of Gotham, which actually is a defining feature? Fucking karma....As I was saying, one of the major features of this game is being able to explore the facility and find several little secrets and objects. In theory, it sounds cool, as Batman has always had a wide variety of weapons and gadgets at his disposal, but unfortunately, there's no real way I can end this sentence in a negative tone. Seriously, this is perhaps the tightest thing in the game (Batman's abs not included, obviously), and probably why gamers worldwide have declared this the Best Game Ever Before Modern Warfare 2 Came Out. There's a lot of interesting areas to explore in Gotham, fun-to-use tools to explore those areas, and plenty of motivation to scan these nooks and crannies. The only major flaw I found was when Batman entered detective mode, probably in an effort to be a more badass version of Sherlock Holmes. However, the actual detective modes are nothing more than 3D pixel hunts that make the game drag you on a choke chain to your next objective. Sure, you don't have to follow the trail 100%, but I believe that same thing was said of Roman Bellic in GTA4. Exactly. I'd also say that these portions of the game contribute to its short length (I finished in 3-4 days), but given the amount of unlockables, extra game modes, and general replayability, I'm willing to overlook that. That, and because I'm afraid that if I type anything bad about this game, Batman will snap my neck from behind. *notices past criticisms of this game* Shit! Gotta be quick! I give this game the Why So Serious Award, because why do you have to be so serious, B-*neck is snapped*
- The story and the gameplay walk hand in hand down the Road of Awesomeness. Also known as Bat Boulevard.
- Unfortunately, the boss battles are lying in a puddle of vomit 3 miles back, possibly because this game punched them in the gut.
- Oh, and I forgot to mention: because the road is awesome, there's a lot to do, many areas to explore, and plenty of reason to go down it again and again.
I'm not calling the content of this video bad; I'm calling the quality itself bad. Bam.
Bubsy in: Clawed Encounters of the Furred Kind( Yes, I know what you're thinking as you read this.) You're thinking, "Why would you play a game that you know is crap", mainly because your thoughts only exist as fodder for my blogs. Well, here's the reason: over the past few weeks or so, I kind of fell into a rut populated by games in the 6-7 range. Tired of putting up with this crap, I decided to play two games to remind me of my gaming standards. Imagine it like an IcyHot for reviewers: I play a really good game first (in this case, Batman), and then I move onto a game that will no doubt make it into my yet-to-be-completed list of 10 worst games ever.
It all starts with the plot. Were you expecting a space-themed platformer that parodies Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Well, fuck you, average gamer, because you're not getting anything close to that. We're going to take you through three generic areas (forest, circus, cowboys) before you even see a level resembling something that's sci-fi. There's not even going to be any unifying plot whatsoever, it's just going to be an excuse for our cuddly mascot to flash a smug smile and hijack conversations and buy tight polo shirts that best show off his abs. Oh, and in case you weren't already foaming at the mouth and burning the cartridge, we'll introduce each level with a bad cultural reference and the voice of Plucky Duck spouting a "funny" line with attitude.
OK, even I realize how petty that last complaint was, but the game is that bad. The beginning of the game doesn't give off this awful vibe, as has happened with several awful games, but as soon as I started moving the annoying bobcat, things went into a downhill spiral. First thing that's wrong with the game: poor controls. Bubsy has only two speeds: slow and "run straight into death", and the transition between the two is somehow rougher than sandpaper. For some reason, this exact same logic applies to jumping, meaning you'll fly forward like you were launched from a catapult, but trying to adjust your jump will only move you a few inches. Granted, you can alleviate this problem by using Bubsy's mysterious glide feature, but everything about it confuses me. First, cats don't glide; second, Bubsy moves at exactly the same speed whether or not he's gliding, so it feels more awkward than it should; and third, it sort of means you'll have to mash the d-pad to land on tiny platforms, the type that become more common as the game goes on.
So you're going to die a lot, whether it's from slippery slopes (combined with poor jumping) or incredibly retarded reasons I shall describe later. Your only defense? This messy jump move that's meant to mimic Sonic's bounce-thing, only less...good...because of the aforementioned jumping controls. You also get two forms of invincibility, if that helps: one of them makes you invincible, and the other uses a similar looking word to fool you into dying prematurely. So we come back to the beginning of this paragraph: you'll die a lot, and I feel like the developers of this game sort of knew this. Why? The way things were designed gives me this impression that Accolade knew how shit the game was while they were making it.
Example: in the circus levels, you'll see those amusement park games where you swing a mallet to ring a bell (I don't remember what they're called). They behave like trampolines, so each jump is higher than the last. Problem is that Bubsy will die if he drops from a certain height, and these mallet swings reach that height. Why? Fuck you, that's why! Rarely did I find that they serve a purpose, and when they did, there was usually another way to get where I needed to go. Of course, this is not the only way the levels trick you; you'll run a long stretch before hitting a wall (dead), you can be bounced into a wall (dead), you'll jump into enemies you couldn't see until it was too late (classic dead), and sometimes it's hard to distinguish between background and platforms (REALLY classic dead).
But as was the case with Arkham Asylum, I discovered something incredibly weird about this game: while the platforming sections of the game are stupidly frustrating, the boss fights are piss-easy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there are only two bosses in the entire game, and one of them is the final boss. This means that you're fighting the same boss several times over the course of the game, the only difference being how fast they are/how much of a clusterfuck the screen is. The final boss is different, but he's also very weird: depending on how you approach the fight, this guy can either be super-easy or unbelievably cheap. I know that sounds weird, but it's one of those things that requires playing the game to understand. However, I'd recommend against that, mainly because this game is just as crap as people believe it to be. Therefore, I give it the You Were Right Award. I should've known after they pulled this shit:
- Yes, he really does sound like Plucky Duck, and he does look like crap.
- It's obvious that he's trying to be Sonic, but people like those games because of the tight controls.
- It also helps that the bosses were varied and you were able to defend yourself more efficiently.