All that is wrong with the world…

September 26, 2011

Thoughts on Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:43 am

I finished playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution recently. A lot of reviewers were saying it was one of the best games of the year and equal to or better than the original. While it is certainly a worthy game and an excellent successor I think the fact that it was getting ratings of 9/10 or above are an indication of just how low the bar has fallen for PC games.

One of the more annoying things I noticed was the long loading times on PC. So many games got past this issue years ago; I find it hard to understand why every game has not gotten past it. I thought the transition from talking to a character to a semi-cinematic was fairly seamless and nicely done. Having only 20 saves seemed an unnecessary limit, especially for a game where your actions can have different consequences later on.

When compared to the original I found there was less of an RPG element and far less weapons available. There seemed to be no equivalent to a baton for example and while you could creep up on people and do some flash martial arts to subdue them, it just wasn’t the same…nor was it that stealthy. I also missed the ability to sneak up on people and pickpocket, something entirely lacking from the game. I also didn’t like that you are forced to kill the bosses, which somewhat negates having the differently styles of play available. Although I found the boss fights easy and the Russian girl boss got stuck running in water and I killed the last boss while he was hopping over the wall in about 2 seconds.

Adam Jenson’s character also didn’t seem to interesting to me, although I don’t know why. I feel like he was designed well but never really fleshed out. Ex cop blamed for tragedy now doing private security working with his ex….aaaaand what? Apart from a poor attempt at Christian Bale’s Batman voice there wasn’t much else too him. Although he does like to wear sunglasses at night.

As for gameplay I found it getting repetitive. Sneak past a room full of guards or kill everyone then speak or obtain something, then repeat. Later on when I got enough energy and cloak augmentations I would just run past all the guards who would know I was there, but couldn’t see me to shoot. I would normally make it to the elevator just as they saw me at which point I would disappear to wherever I had to go. It may seem like defeating the purpose of the game, but at the same time it is surely more practical than going desk by desk hoping not to be seen at all. Before if I got seen I pretty much ended up killing everybody because it too far too long for them to go back to not being alarmed. Which, after killing everybody I could then walk around freely anyway. Speaking of which, it was far too easy to kill all the police. I didn’t even have to hide the bodies really. I felt like the Police should have been more challenging and if fired upon relentlessly hunted you down like the UN staff in the original game.

I would have liked a random mugging attempt or something to show how dangerous the city was and just how some people feel about people with augmentations, which would have added more character than simply hearing a woman’s scream being repeated every 10 seconds. There was also an annoying bug, when exiting out of the search screen your input would be processed twice causing the escape menu to come up or a weapon to fire, which could be frustrating depending on circumstances. I also didn’t like the en which seemed to close to a zombie game….and how did Zhao explode from…information? I don’t understand why there are open endings if only one is canon in future DLCs or sequels. I did however like some of the references…Eliza for an AI, room 802.11 for a wireless broadcast station. It was also kind of cool to be in Montreal and see future Montreal in the game. Ultimately it was a fun game that brought back fond memories, but was lacking in the RPG aspect and too repetitive to truly be great. I’d think it would be a 7/10 at the most.

August 7, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episodes 4 and 5

Episode 4 was fun enough, but it was much of the same so I didn’t feel there was reason enough to make it a separate post. All the same criticisms still stand, so I thought I would wrap up the last two episodes in a single post. So…observations. I seem to remember a reference to Marty’s Calvin Kelin underwear, which I thought was a nice nod to fans. I thought it was odd when he was playing the guitar that there seemed to be a wireless guitar amp. I know nothing of music, so perhaps there is these days. I think I took around 2hours to finish episode 4, which was a nice change.

Episode 5 seemed more promising. The very start was annoyinh, simply because I knew exactly what was happening with Doc in the divers suit and such, and it took a long time to go through the motions for an expected result. I guess that can just be the problem with these types of games. I also thought it odd that Doc could be erased by suffocating Emmet. Surely Doc would alert authorities before Emmet could suffocate? Eh…whatever. I also really didn’t like the alternate version of Doc. Yes….he had spent 60 years with Edna and was a different person, but would he really be so nefarious as to try and keep the timeline for selfish purposes?

I also thought it very odd that Judge Brown is German, with oversized ears. The physical characteristic is odd enough…but I really liked that they kept him German, keeping with Doc’s family history from the movies. There was a period where you had to mediate which was just boring. Going back and forth isn’t solving a puzzle its going through the motions. I thought it odd that Doc disappeared…it seemed arbitrary, since he was already around he should have disappeared earlier, not because it was convenient for the plot. Also…what was with Edna fucking up the timeline? Why would Marty and Doc be left behind? Why wouldn’t they disappear? Granted they were from an alternate time line originally, but with what Edna did Doc would have never invented the time machine in the first place, so they shouldn’t have existed at all. Another random observation for the whole series in fact is why if the Delorean they are using is a “temporal duplicate”, why are there not two duplicates of doc?
I guess such things are too much for a simple game like this to explore.

It was nice to see Michael J Fox do some voice acting as Marty’s distant ancestor as well. Overall the games were fun and it was nice to see the universe extended a bit after the movies. We won’t ever get a fourth movie and inevitably they will be remade at some point, so it was nice to see some continuation with the original cast.

April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episode 3

I finished playing Episode 3 of Back to the Future: The Game yesterday, not even realizing it had been released. Like the other episodes it is very short, taking just under 2 hours to finish. All of the problems I have with the games (Marty being nervous, consistency for in game choices etc…) still exist and are unlikely to be ‘fixed’, so there is little point in talking about them further.

I liked how the episode started off with the DeLorean being stuck in the billboard, but thought it was odd that Marty couldn’t just fly out of there since the engine was still working. I also thought it odd that he would just leave the time machine there, since he needs Doc to fix it, not build one from scratch. The bizarre pocket space is still in effect, with Jennifer fitting a tire iron almost half her size in her back pocket and Marty able to carry his guitar in his back pocket.

There were some nice touches in this episode to the original films. I liked that in this reality Lorraine had an alcohol problem as she did in various other realities. I liked the return of Jennifer…but she was so very different from how she appeared in the movies and as we didn’t see the game version of her until now, the impact was kind of lost. Marty wasn’t too bad in this one and didn’t seem so overbearingly nervous even competing in a guitar play-off to win back Jennifer. Although….why he did this since that timeline is hopefully going to disappear seems odd.

Overall an enjoyable episode and I look forward to seeing where the story goes and how it wraps up.

February 17, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episode 2

Today the 2nd episode of BTTF:The Game was released which was a pleasant surprise. I had been interested to see how it would turn out giving my impressions of Episode 1. One of the first things I noticed that I didn’t last time was that the installer extracted files for the QT Toolkit. This seemed strange as I can’t imagine the toolkit is sued much in games, but perhaps it is.

So this episode started off with Marty and Doc having to evade a police officer. This was somewhat annoying as you had to move around a car several times and watch an animation of the officer and Doc marching backwards, which after 4 or 5 times became quite repetitive. It was after this where we went back to our own time that the timeline had been altered, although apparently only to the extent that the Tannen’s never left the McFly’s alone, resulting in the McFly kids moving away and protection money needing to be paid.

So, back to 1931 we did go. This seemed interesting as it was in the spirit of BTTF Part 2, although there really wasn’t enough of doing things while scenes from the first episode were in progress to maintain that feel and it ended up feeling like a longer stretch of Episode 1. I also noticed that while in the first game Marty’s pseudonym has been hardcoded as Michael Corleone yet here it seems to be hardcoded as Sonny Crocket. If you’re going to ignore the players choice and hardcode a name, why not do it consistently?

I also noticed the save ad load option is now prominently in the menu, although you can only save after key checkpoints which isn’t overly useful. There seemed to be some delays in this episode between initiating an action and watching the resulting animation. It could be something with my PC, but since Episode 1 still plays fine I think it is unlikely.

Due to the story in the game Marty starts to fade out and has to fix something to stop that happening. What I found odd was that he started to fade out wholly at once…I felt it would have been nice if it started with just his hand as in the movies. A minor thing, but it was the continuity of the minor things that helped to make the movies so great in my opinion.

One of the more aggravating things is that Marty still nervous, a great example of which is the fight with Biff’s gang. It isn’t the same Marty I know and love from the movies, and what’s more seems like a missed opportunity. No accusations of being chicken, no actual fighting of any sort. In fact, one of the lines of dialogue is “Can’t you pick on someone else, really?” which seems totally out of character. I suppose this isn’t going to change anytime soon though.

I finished the game in just slightly over two hours, taking a bit longer as it was not obvious that I had to taunt Kid Tannen at the end. This part of the game also had one of the most gratuitous uses of pocket space I have seen in a long time, where an entire barrel of booze manages to fit into Marty’s pocket, complete with the animation. It was an entertaining two hours but given the time Telltale has had to work on the game, I hoped it would be closer in characters and minor touches to the movies. Although I’m still hoping for a scene or puzzle involving a skateboard, be it makeshift or hoverboard.

I thought it would have been interesting to see more of the changed timeline instead of being stuck in 1931, although it appears the next episode will be in an entirely different timeline that we have seen yet. The end of the game was interesting and given what happened I am surprised the DeLorean didn’t disappear. Perhaps it is because it is a copy and somehow exists outside of the normal continuum? Something I wish had been expanded on further. Despite everything I am enjoying the game and look forward to the next episode, where it seems the story will really progress.

January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episode 1

So a few days before Christmas I was browsing IRFree as I sometimes do to see what has been released, when I saw Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1 was available. What was this? Given that it was only some 350mb or so, I thought it must be a rerelease of an older game or something. Nope, it was apparently a brand new game with a new story set over 5 episodes, with input from Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd voicing Doc again.

My beloved trilogy had returned! I was always kind of put off that the trilogy ended with the DeLorean being destroyed and Doc going on to having further adventures with his new family. It was actually a pretty nice ending as far as endings go, but I always felt there were so many more stories that could be told, so that it should not have ended. Unlike most trilogies the BTTF universe is quite rich, and there was still plenty that could be done with it. The first thing that became apparent from playing this game is that it is not Back t the Future IV, but a game set in that universe.

I think the developers do a good job of making a story set in that universe after the films, although some things are not adequately explained. The presence of the DeLorean is somewhat glossed over, as the lightning storm at the end of the second apparently resulted in a duplicate machine. The time train is not mentioned at all. The DeLorean is programmed to go back to Doc’s warehouse if he gets in trouble, allowing Marty to go and save him, and thus start the storyline.

The story is pretty simple being set in Hill Valley in the 1930’s, with the Biff of that era being a mobster and we get to interact with a young Doc Brown, which is nice. The voice acting is top notch, with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role and the voice actor for Marty capturing his voice perfectly. The visual likeness suits the game, but is also limited by it appearing far more cartoony than I would have liked.

I like the start of the story, which has Marty’s father overseeing the auction of Doc’s possessions as they are considered abandoned, and Marty dealing with the absence of his friend. I was not expecting this to be an adventure game when I played it, so was somewhat put off by the puzzles wanting much more of an emphasis on story, however the game cannot be faulted for that. Early on we meet Strickland’s sister which I thought was an interesting character addition. Why not use Strickland himself? I also thought it odd that if you were going to use a Strickland character not to have them say all.

After we go back in time we have to choose a pseudonym, and the choices are all based on gangsta movies from that period. This seemed a weird choice for me, as the BTTF series appeals to children and adults equally and it is unlikely children will have seen The Godfather or Dirty Harry. Although of the top of my head I don’t know what would be better for alternatives. It doesn’t really matter, as the game seems to have a bug that the game assumes you had chosen Michael Corleone as your selection.

Young Doc Brown is done well and is perfect for a continuation of the story. One thing I thought was odd was that 30’s doc refers to Marty as Einstein as a synonym for Genius, although I don’t think Einstein was so established at that time. I like the idea of Marty’s grandfather having Crispin Glovers likeness, although I wonder if this contradicts with the male McFly’s earliest ancestors in Hill Valley having Marty’s likeness. One thing I noticed about Marty in the game so far is that whenever he is talking he always seems nervous, while I always felt Marty from the films was confident. Indeed, that was a major point in the first film, so for them to characterize him as nervous seems strange.

There are a few bugs in the interface and gameplay mechanics however. In addition to Michael Corleone being hardwired as a pseudonym above, it can be awkward to move around as the movement keys do not adapt to changing camera angles. Sometimes I might have to walk left to go up, which is easy enough but still awkward. I thought the animation was somewhat odd at first however I got used to it. For some reason it was not obvious and did not occur to me that I could change the resolution and quality, and after making the game match my widescreen it was a lot nicer to look at.

I did not see any way to save the game obviously, and am unsure if the game automatically saves or has a checkpoint system. Save games are mentioned, so it must be possible somehow, although it would be nice if it was more intuitive. I also found the cursor quite annoying, being in the shape of a flux capacitor is a nice gimmick although makes it more difficult to be accurate than it should be.

After playing DCUO for a while the loading screens for BTTF Episode 1 seemed quite bland, and it would have been quite nice if there was some nice art of the DeLorean and characters akin to the various movie posters. I didn’t play the game all at once, alt+tabbing to it at various stages however I think the game length is probably between 2 or 3 hours. The game is still a lot of fun, and for $25 I think it is worth the price and to support the developer. One thing I do hope is that in some of the other episodes we get to go to a different era in the future, as I’ve had enough of the past. Of course, this is just the beginning and there are still four episodes to go, and things are definitely off to a good start.

January 11, 2011

Thoughts on the DC Universe Online Beta

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:41 pm

After arriving in Toronto on the 11th of December after a 4 day train journey, I was happy to find out that I had been selected as a beta tester for DCU. I had been interested in this game since seeing the amazing opening cinematic, but upon seeing the price set at $60 for the game and $15 per month, I realized it was sadly out of my nomadic budget. So it was a very nice surprised that I was able to play it for almost a month for free. This game has been in development for almost two years and now as of the 11th of January has finally been released.

DCUO is the first MMORPG I have played, so some of my criticisms of the game are quite possibly things that apply to MMORPG’s in general and so should not be detract from the game itself. I should also note that some of my criticisms are based on the game being different from what I imagined it would be, so these too should not be taken as negative points against the game. I managed to play one character up to level 20 over the course of a month, so I think I got a pretty good feel for the game.

The opening cinematic is truly amazing and I would gladly watch an entire film of that quality, as would many people going by comments on the Youtube video. The video sets up the premise of the game, in which Lex Luthor travels back in time to release Exobytes, something akin to nanites which grant the ordinary populace superpowers to help prevent Brainiac’s invasion of the earth. The premise is simple enough and serves as a good justification for why there can be any number of super-powered humans running around.

The world of DCUO seems to be mostly based on the various animated series, which I think is somewhat of a shame. I like watching those series and they have a special place in my heart, but I have always preferred the more realistic takes on the characters and this is the direction the movies have taken of late. I would hope to see a few some gritty missions and hope it isn’t all in the spirit of the cartoons. On the other hand it would make sense if it were as there will probably be a lot of kids playing the game.

One of the more cartoonish things is Brainiac’s motivation for invading the earth is an attempt to digitize everyone and everything, essentially a similar idea to what the laser does to Flynn in Tron. Why not just have Braniac destroy stuff after understanding it, as that would make more sense. The digitizing concept has never really made sense. Although I do wonder why the buildings are just encased in Brainiac’s force fields and are never seen slowly disappearing or something similar.

It’s an interesting story but I wonder how long it can be stretched out for. Will the invasion be going on for years? Will any excuse be given for why it is impossible to defeat Brainiac, or will it just be overlooked? Or will Brainiac be defeated and other storylines emerge based on a superpowered population? I do wonder where expansion packs will take the game. Green Lantern is expected to be in the first expansion, which raises the possibility of other cities and perhaps planets? The animated sequences after completing missions deserve a mention, because they are stunning. Beautiful artwork with excellent voice acting. They are somewhat like a motion comic, but a whole lot slicker.

So, about the game. I had thought the game would be more complex than it is and more similar to other RPG games where you have a karma system. In the game the character you make can only be a Hero or a Villain and it is this choice which solely determines the missions you receive. A karma system would make the game a lot more interesting, introducing shades of gray and reputation. I don’t think it would be that much extra work to incorporate such a system and would help to justify the price and ensure longevity.

The character creation is interesting. There is quite a lot to choose from in skills and personality wise (although I have heard it is actually subpar for these types of games) ensuring you should be able to create a sufficiently unique character. The costume aspect was quite annoying, as I did not end up choosing a costume when creating my initial character and was unable to change it later in game, aside from buying various items of clothing. To change my face or size or skin color or anything like that was impossible however.

I also somewhat wished there was a first person mode. For some of the modes of movement or attack methods it would not be too practical, but for players who want to use guns or something it would be a nice option. Besides flying in a first person perspective while raining fire from your eyes would just be cool.

The interface is not perfect and often feels like priority was given to the console versions, with the PC version being a secondary consideration. An example of this is targeting enemies can be cumbersome. You switch enemies with the tab key, but enemies are nor switched in a logical order and it can take longer than it should to target who you want, long enough that you can die when you shouldn’t have. While the targeting system would be perfect for console, for PC they should have used something closer to the Max Payne system.

The HUD is mostly clear enough, although some things were not obvious to me. I originally thought there was no way to see what your level progress until I noticed it was a thin bar at the very bottom of the screen. This is probably the stuff that will be in a tutorial or manual that comes with the game however. I would have preferred if we had the ability to scroll through the powers or abilities though, as at the moment they are bound to number keys, so it isn’t exactly fluid to use and switch between them.

As it stands the movement system works quite well for getting around the map and attacking, although there are some strange design decisions that are apparent. The most noticeable is that flight, superspeed and acrobatics are all basically equal for getting around the map. This doesn’t make sense to me really, as someone who has superspeed as their method of movement should have an advantage over someone who relies on acrobatics or flight, but this is not the case. Instead super speed is basically reduced to being a visual effect, when it should be something closer to bullettime. My characters movement style was Acrobatic, and she could keep up with super speed and flying characters without too much trouble.

The other really annoying thing is that you cannot use your movement method while attacking, or even to escape being shot at. As soon as you are attacked you automatically switch to combat mode, which is annoying. What is the use of flight or superspeed if you can’t fly away or use these powers to your advantage? Bullets should not be able to hit someone running at super speed as easily and those who can fly should be able to if away or attack from a distance, but this is not the case. A single bullet can drop someone in flight mode high above to the ground, which is just annoying. I noticed quite early on that it doesn’t matter if you choose flight or not, as I was able to acquire a rocket powered glide power quite early on, which is close enough for many purposes.

The mentor system is quite interesting, which is basically choosing an established DC character to give you missions, which in part defines the villains you face and the city you are based in. It’s done quite well and is quite immersive. The only thing I found strange about it is that the Joker is a mentor for villain characters. The Joker is so insane that it seems out of character for him to be in a mentor role, but it’s a simple thing to overlook. It’s probably a simple thing, but I like that it is possible to have multiple characters. For some reason I thought you would be limited to just one. Having multiple characters allows you to explore all the different aspects of the game.

One of the things I found strange is that you have a communicator device in the game, but this is mainly used to join various PvP matches. To read email, you have to go to a police station and actually use a computer. Games have often had the ability to read email while on the go, long before it was a possibility. Now that it is common in real life, DCUO decides to have us limited to physical computers to read email for some reason. Despite having a communicator.

Apparently Brainiac’s attempt to digitize the world and everything in it works both ways, as it is quite common to receive physical attachments such as an item of clothing or money via email. I do wish that the emails were descriptive, as sometimes I would get an alert from Hawkman or something explaining how to activate an item, but if missed there was no way to know what to do. For example, you get an item via email quite early on that lets you play as Batman in Legends:PVP, but I missed this and it was not at all obvious.

The cities are quite beautifully done although limited to just Gotham and Metropolis at the moment. You really get a sense that an entire city is represented that you can fly through and explore. Although one of the strangest things is that Gotham seems to be in perpetual night while Metropolis is in perpetual day. I get that Gotham and Metropolis are meant to be the gritty and optimistic versions of New York respectively; this doesn’t mean they can never experience a day rotation. It’s a minor thing but I notice it when teleporting from Gotham to Metropolis and back which is instantaneous, yet apparently we go from night to day. The Watchtower headquarters is also very nicely done, being a huge structure that I got lost in more than once, with some very nice visuals of Earth and the iconic heroes in the Hall of Justice. One thing I did notice is that you can destroy much in the Watchtower or police stations without repercussion and it will just respawn. It would be nice if causing havoc like that would attract some kind of attention rather than go ignored.

The chat system in the game is interesting. No one really seemed to be talking that much during the game, but that could just be because it was the beta. I know I tried asking for help a few times and it took ages before I could find a kind soul to answer my questions. One thing I found annoying is that if people are actively chatting it makes it hard to scroll up and read previous messages, as every new messages refreshes to the latest message. It would also be nice if you could chat while knocked out so someone could come and revive you, instead of having to start over from far away.

The profanity filter is quite interesting and flawed, it blocks phrases such as “eight items” because it sees the word tit. Even words as mundane as damn are filtered out. They really need to fix this before the launch, because at the moment it gets in the way of decent communication far too often.

The missions are quite interesting with some basic storylines. Some villain has taken control of somewhere or something and so you have to stop them, because your mentor is too busy. The main thing I found with this is that the missions soon became repetitive, as they all rely on either killing minor enemies, saving people or carrying containers across a map. Again I think having some sort of karma system could have prevented this.

There are quite a few bugs sometimes, but it is hard to say if these exist only in the beta stage. For example one minor mission, to capture 5 Gotham villains needs you to return to your nearest police station. This was constantly what I had to do next, despite going to all of the different police stations in Gotham, I could find no way to end the mission. Finally someone told me I had to go to a poster on the outside of the station, which was not at all obvious.

The fight with Bane’s distributor Diego was also incredibly annoying. This was before I knew it was possible to group with other people, and so I kept trying to take him on my own. All too often my health was not recharging, the orientation would not align properly so attacking was hard…although this would be fixed after respawing two or three times. I actually just gave up on trying to fight him, as getting knocked out and being forced to wait 10 second and start again from scratch is incredibly annoying.

However, I found out by hanging out on the roof, I could just let Nightwing fight the battle while I had a smoke, which was a whole lot simpler. Of course then it became hard to actually find Diego so I could arrest him, without any kind of indicator. The AI seemed to randomly glitch sometimes and not respond, although this could be related to the shitty connection I had at the time. Yes, the game definitely has some bugs. I also thought the dogs on Venom looked nothing like dogs, but I suppose they fit in the world based on the cartoons that the game is going for.

The Green Lanterns mission was interesting, although I wonder what part Green Lanterns now play. On the mission it is revealed that there are a great many Green Lantern recruits, which is strange and not explained. Why would an invasion of earth inspire the guardians of the universe to have hundred of GL recruits? Earth has been invaded before and they have never taken such a drastic measure. Will it be explained, or just have to be accepted as part of the world?

The fact that you can group for missions is amazing. Probably a standard feature of any MMORPG, but after being so frustrated at being unable to finish certain missions, and not wanting to waste hours level grinding up, it was a very nice surprise that I could do this. I did notice that after level 12 or so, it became very easy to level up, with each mission basically resulting in one more level; Although, I had been grouping a lot since this time as well.

The PvP part of the game seems interesting. I was quite frustrated while trying to play it, as the game stated that I had to be level 9 before I could access the PvP arenas. Of course, after I got to level 9 it was still not accessible. After getting to level 10 however it was, so either they changed it or there is an error in their message. I was unable to play straight up PvP as it never worked for me, but Legends PvP was quite fun, being able to play as one of the iconic characters you can unblock. Of course, quite often everyone chooses Batman, so having 8 Batmen fighting each other is an interesting sight.

The game also has an Alert system, which from what I gathered is when a big event in the story of the game is happening and many players can join to do the same mission. Alerts are interesting because you get access to cities or places that are not accessible in normal gameplay. For example the two alerts I played were at Area 51 and on Gorilla Island. One bug I encountered in the Area 51 alert was that I teleported up to a Brainiac ship and then had no way to get back down at all. Luckily, the warp to rally point feature the game has is a godsend and an easy way to bypass such design flaws.

The game was a bit buggy at times, but nothing to major and the bugs were not recurring often. During the first Scarecrow mission one of the barrels disappeared which made it impossible to neutralize. It was frustrating to have to restart the mission. The enemies still shoot you during the animations, something I noticed as I lost a lot of health while the camera zoomed into introduce Eddie or Scarecrow. It is particularly annoying to have to wait 10 seconds to respawn after being knocked out, especially if you are low on health and get knocked out frequently. I don’t know if this is normal for MMORPG games, but I found it quite frustrating until I started grouping on missions. The little stretching animation after you respawn doesn’t help.

When the game was finishing on the 5th of January, there was an interesting end of the world invent, where the developers took on iconic characters Superman, Batman, Joker and Lex Luthor and were fighting the entire population of the game worlds. This was interesting to see everyone in one palce at once, although given that they were playing at level 60 and sometimes with godmode, it just seemed a fun way for the devs to massacre everyone before the game went live.

One minor thing that deserves mention is the game had no problems when I would regularly alt + tab out of it. This is nice as some games can’t cope with that and seeing as this is the type of game people will be playing for extended periods of time, it is nice that it can.

The game is definitely a lot of fun, and if I could afford it I would definitely pay for it. Unfortunately at this point in time with my traveling hobo budget, I cannot justify it. I am interested to see where the game goes storywise and if they can keep it fresh. After a monthly of playing I already felt it was getting somewhat stale and repetitive, so it will be interesting to see if many people just play it once for a few months, of if it gains many longterm players. I also have to wonder if this is DC’s main answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I already voiced my disappointment at DC’s apparent short sightedness at deliberately keeping their films in separate universes and it seems they may be concentrating on this instead. Given that games make more money than movies these days, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

In any event, the game is an awful lot of fun, and I do recommend trying it out especially if there is any sort of free trial. I would like to thank Sony for letting me beta test it for a month as well. I will be paying attention to this game, as I am very interested to see how it turns out.

Update 1 – Feburary 8th 2011
Added some missing notes on costume creation, the respawn delay and a few bugs as well as two screenshots.

October 21, 2009

Impressions of Batman: Arkham Asylum

Filed under: Entertainment, Tech — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:50 am

I recently completed the long awaited Batman game, Batman: Arkham Asylum. I was not entirely sure what to expect, as while it has achieved stunning reviews all around the board, even making it into the Guinness book of World Records, I was initially put of by some of the press material. Namely, the exaggerated size of Batman, being much bigger than he appeared in comics. I get that a comic book character will be exaggerated, but when they are exaggerated out of proportion, it can break the suspension of disbelief. However, after actually playing the game, this concern was not warranted, with Batman appearing in proportion, and consistent with the way the world and other characters were portrayed.

The portrayal of Bane was my second initial concern, and this concern was warranted. When Bane was introduced in the comics, he was a cunning strategist. The man who broke the bat. He studied Batman from afar, studying him, toying with him, finding out how to, and succeeding in weakening him so as to be able to oppose him. Very much the opposite of the character portrayed in the Batman and Robin film. Unfortunately however, that portrayal, i.e. a submissive artificially over-sized brute with diminished capacity, has become the norm. I don’t understand the appeal of a character like this, as it removes all the interesting and unique aspects, and leaves behind a villain no different to the most bestial portrayal of Killer Croc, or any other over muscled foe.

However, I believe the portrayal of Bane in the game, is consistent with Batman: TAS, and that is what this game is far far closer to. Which was a slight disappointment. I don’t know why exactly, but I much prefer the realistic take on Batman. Having him use technology, and still be limited. Showing what a real Human could do with that much money and determination, and showing their struggle along the way. I guess personally, I find it easier to suspend disbelief, and perhaps identify with the characters. While I get that this is not true for everybody, I find it odd that the game developers chose to use TAS as a base.

The gameplay, and even the world to an extent, seems oddly real, with exaggerated cartoon elements, and cartoonish characters made real. It sounds as though it may no work, but it actually works rather world. Unlike the Nolan films, in which the world is ours exactly, except for the existence of Gotham city, and unlike the world of TAS, where everything is exaggeratedly and surreal, the world the game has created is quite real, with exaggerations in all the right places. It is a world of it’s very own, and it works brilliantly.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if it is a missed opportunity of sorts to have made an amazingly real game, with a universe closer to that of the Nolan universe. Having done so would have allowed for a much more realistic and darker story, with much more exploration and depth. As it stands, the story is quite weak, and something out of a two part episode of TAS. Joker gets captured. Joker was planning it all along. Joker steals a modified venom formula. That’s it. The game revolves around beating henchman, and then some titans(souped up henchman), and then a titan Joker. The focus is on detecting and skulking around, so this is OK, I do feel it is a shame an opportunity was wasted however.

If nothing else, I was hoping that the game may have been based on the comic of the same name. That would have been an amazing game. The comic in question is a one off comic, in which everything has gone to hell within the asylum, and Batman volunteers to go in and restore order. Along the way, observing the inmates and reflecting on why he does what he does, and wondering if he deserves to be in with the other inmates. That would have made for one hell of a game, and would have allowed the same styles of characters to be used.

I believe it also affects the length of the game. After successfully completing the game, seeing the last cutscene and all, I was told I had completed only 62% of the game. After about…7 hours. Maybe 10. This is because the remainder of the game is focused on finding hidden Riddler puzzles in the form of quoting question marks, and beating certain challenge mode..challenges. This was not enough to save the game however. The riddler puzzles are all easy, and not terribly hard to find, and the challenge mode becomes repetitive, and there is no motivation to continue when there is no cutscenes or story progression to follow. This was in my opinion, the single biggest flaw with the game.

The one thing that is undeniable is the graphics. The graphics are a thing of beauty. Everything is wonderfully rendered, and the cutscenes are amazing looking. This is the kind of treatment a Batman game deserves. Again though, I would have loved to have seen a deeper storyline rendered with this loving care, rather than a throwaway storyline with simple bossfights. The game was a lot of fun, and is a worth addition to the batman universe.

Looking at other reviews from various blogs, it seems most people consider the game to have been marvelous, in line with the obscenely high reviewes handed down by magazines and online sites. An average score of 9 seems about right, which is honestly just bizarre. Once again, it seem my opinion is contrary to almost everybody.