Backlogged- Batman: Arkham Asylum

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Something truly unusual happened with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I beat the entire story only a few weeks after I bought it. It’s one of the few single player that I’ve been compelled to beat.

I ended up spending 11 hours on the main story with a little light collecting. I gave up on solving all the Riddler challenges pretty quickly because some of them had me stumped for a while before I’d just move on and some of them are not very fun. The ones I could figure out relatively quickly I did though. In all I got 70% of the game complete.

Like I said in my last post on this game, I’ve had a love hate relationship with Batman. This was one of those love moments. The entire story was like playing a comic book. It wasn’t some complicated story with twists and turns but an action packed summer blockbuster type story. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the classic tale of the Joker trying to best Batman and Batman trying to stop the Joker. As the title would suggest, the whole game takes place in Arkham Asylum where all the great Batman villains go for a time out when Batman catches them. The story also takes place over one night. The story moves quickly and there is some great pacing. Once I hit the last couple hours of the game I couldn’t stop until the credits rolled.

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Essentially the Joker and his Henchman have taken over Arkham, have trapped Batman there, and are planning nefarious schemes to unleash on the city of Gotham. You, as Batman, have to discover what’s going on, save a few people, and escape the island.

A lot of the draw of superhero games for me is that you start off awesome and you just get more awesome as the game goes on. Playing RPG’s I’m used to starting out as nothing and watching my character grow over time. With superhero game’s it’s like your character is already grown and they just keep getting more and more overpowered.

This game had a lot of stealth in it. I’m not usually one for stealth games but this was really easy stealth. If the enemies see you they’ll yell and scream and shoot at you until you grapple up to the rafters. Then they forget you even existed. You can hit them with batarangs over and over again and they’ll never look up. It’s great fun.

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And it’s a good thing to because the combat is a little lack luster. It’s like Shadow of Mordor where you hit one button to attack and one to counter with a few combo moves in between. There are some fun moments like when your fighting 8+ enemies but most of the time you’re only taking down 2 or 3. I didn’t try the extra challenge levels because they all sounded like mostly combat. If the combat was just a bit more engaging I might be rushing to play them but right now I’ll pass.

The boss fights aren’t all that different from each other. They use the same big enemies that you have to hit with a batarang while they charge at you a lot. It was fun the first time when fighting bane, by the end of the game it was pretty uneventful. Ok, riding the big enemies and having them beat each other up never got old

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I really, really, liked the Scarecrow levels. They added so much to the game between the weird cutscene’s as Batman succumbs to the fear mixture. The levels themselves also help break up the games core game play and take the game from 3D action to 2D stealth.

My favorite parts were collecting the character bios and interview tapes. They were really interesting to read, especially becuase they tell you the first time a character appeared in the comics. The interview tapes add a little more to the main villains. They’re all recordings of therapists interviewing the villains as patience. It just adds a nice little touch to the whole Asylum feel.

I’m glad I got to play this game after so many years. I’ve been told over and over that it’s fantastic. Now I’ve come to my own conclusion that while it has it’s flaws, it’s a very well done game and still holds up even 8 years later.

 

July Goals: Level All the Things!

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June In Review

This month I came back to the blog after a few months hiatus. It’s good to be back! I didn’t have any goals for myself in June. I was testing a few games out seeing what I wanted to stick with for a while. I’ve mostly been playing around with a mix of Guild Wars 2, Trove, and a few single player games. I also started a character on the new Everquest 2 TLE server Fallen Gate.

July Goals

  • Get my Guild Wars 2  Elementalist to 50.  I’m looking forward to spending more time in Tyria doing the personal story and exploring the world. As far as I remember the leveling didn’t slow down that much and I’m having a blast completing the zone maps.
  • Level my Coercer to 20 on the Everquest 2 Fallen Gate server. I’m subbed up until the end of July and I’m still curious about EQ2. So far I’m really enjoying the world, the quests, and the class. It’s been a slow start, I’m only level 10, but it’s been quite a different experience than what I’m used too.  I’m looking forward to getting out of the New Halas starting zone and seeing something other than an icy tundra and water.
  • Get my last gear piece to Stellar, the highest gear tier, in Trove and possibly get to level 26. This is the first time I’ve had any sort of goal for Trove but now that it’s my go to podcast listening game I’ve been spending more time in it. I’ve never payed much attention to gear progression in Trove. Like everything else it’s a grind requiring a mix of crafting materials, money, and items locked behind weekly Shadow Towers. I’m really close to getting the last Shadow Tower item I need before I can start to try and catch up to my friends. Right now my Pirate Captain is sitting at level 25. After 20 the XP slows waaaayyyy down so who knows how far I’ll get level wise when I only play 30 minutes a day.
  • Finish Batman: Arkham Asylum. Currently I’m about 7 hours in and I don’t think I have all that longer to go. The game’s story appears to be rapping up and at the moment I’m not all that interested in finding all the collectibles. There are a few challenge levels I might try though.

Arkham Asylum: I’m Batman!

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Lately, I’ve been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum when I’m in the mood for a single player game. I’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers and the game in general for a long time. I found it on sale earlier this month and for whatever reason I was in the mood to do bat things. And there are a lot of bat things to do like throwing batarangs, sulking in the shadows, and being reminded for the hundredth time that Bruce Wayne’s parents are still dead.

I’ve had a love hate relationship with Batman. On the one hand, I grew up on the animated series cleverly called Batman: The Animated Series. I didn’t know going in that Batman and The Joker were voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil from the animated series and that already makes this game amazing.

On the other hand, the Christopher Nolan movies defined Batman as a character for a long time. As much as I wanted to be as hyped as the people around me about these movies, they  just didn’t do anything for me.

So I swore off all things Batman for a while. That is until I discovered the excellent comic series written by Scott Snyder in 2013. My faith in Batman was restored. He was a cool, mystery solving, gadget wielding, action hero Batman again and not some grainy, over dramatic, lets yell at everyone in a gravely voice Batman.

I didn’t even see Batman Vs Superman, I just didn’t need that in my life.

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But Back to Arkham Asylum. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this other than I would be Batman and the Joker probably had some horrible plan up his sleeve. The whole opening scene I was sitting there just waiting for Joker to escape. It took a lot longer than I thought it would. But the gist of it is that Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum for his own nefarious ends and Batman has to stop him. Pretty standard stuff.

I’m about 20% in and I can’t stop playing it. I love the little character Bios you can collect, I love the voice recordings you can find of therapists meeting with super villians like Scarecrow and Killer Croc, and I wasn’t expecting to love the Riddler Challenges so much. Every new area usually has some riddle and you have to use Batman’s withcer senses detective mode to find a certain object and scan it. Then the Riddler says some demeaning comment about your intelligence and you get on with your game. They’re really quite addicting…except the annoying ones but I’m not a completionist so I skip those.

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Those Scarecrow levels though, those are weirdly fun. They take the game from a 3d stealthyish game to a 2d side-scrolling stealthyish game. It adds a little variety to the somewhat repetitive game play.

Not that repetition is bad, it’s actually a pretty satisfying game play loop of find some clues, hide in the shadows and swoop down on your unsuspecting foes, and then beat them up until they’re unconscious, find out a little more about the Jokers plan, then rinse and lather. The combat is so simple and yet its fun. It’s Assassin’s Creed style beat up your enemy until another one attacks, parry them, and then go back to beating up your enemy. Plus you get the super slow mo finisher scenes when you defeat the last bad guy. I thought they’d get old…they haven’t yet.

It’s been a long time since I played a super hero game but I always find them fun. They just make you feel like your in a comic book or movie. Instead of reading and watching your favorite hero fight bad guys, you get to fight bad guys as  your favorite bad guy.