Reviews by conortheminx

79

Still Exceptional: abnegation at the cost of fine structure

conortheminx | July 20, 2013 | Review of Batman: Arkham City

The first game, Arkham Asylum, followed something of a Zelda-like progression with the acquiring of gadgets, along with flowing rhythm-based combat just as suited to PC controls as consoles, and some of the best stealth gameplay in gaming. Arkham City, above, is the sequel that went sandbox on us, introducing far more of the less publicly (well, non-graphic novel reading population) known Batman mythos and brushing up on the already solid base mechanics of the first game. Combat is more advanced with more options, but oddly applying the 'more options' method to stealth actually makes the sections easier as more options in stealth generally makes for a looser grip on tactics and tension. In fairness to the game, these sections do add more variety with enemies that block your HUD and mines that essentially require you to vary your targets and add an extra step to your planning of the room's takedown. As said, the combat has expanded with a more advanced challenge mode in which gaining combo multiplies over a hundred should be more than possible for most players.

In the context that the story provides, there's a certain ticking clock added early in the game that can keep the tension high. To put it simply, a crazy scientist has walled off a section of Gotham and turned it into a super-prison that the incredibly high criminal insanity rate of Gotham apparently makes necessary, and Batman infiltrates it to investigate what he's really up to. You're tossed around to meet most well-known Batman villains who weren't in the last game in the search of the cure for a disease, in a plot that's mostly there to keep the player busy until the big climax hits. The villains of the day do seem like they often have bigger things to worry about than Batman now that his entire Rogue's Gallery is in a great big turf war, and there's nothing so eerie of indulgent as the last games famed Scarecrow sections, which I feel was a loss. My biggest complaint with the story, in my most unprofessional of gripes, is that you'll spend about the first third of the game dealing with Penguin, who is not a particularly dignified opponent.

As for the world at large, as always the henchman dialogue brings a smile to my face, and by god are there collectibles and side quests to do now. That and the improved movement are pretty much required for the sandbox focus of this sequel. One gets the impression the flight challenges were designed with console controls in mind, and emphasizing that element of Arkham Asylum is a bit odd, but I'd be lying if I didn't waste more time I should have spent studying in playing Arkham City than Asylum. Though my interest in collecting riddler trophies swiftly drained after I essentially completed his challenge, though I probably sank about 20 hours into sidequests by that point, embarrassingly.

Note that I like to grade my games with a 50 as an average. The game loses points for straining the Arkham Asylum formulae into a sandbox when it didn't really need that, but with the very solid Arkham core behind it, all brushed up and capable of draining your free time, this is still a fairly impressive game. It's story and progression feels less structured and enthralling as a game, but it's not without it's memorable moments and its charm.

79/100 - one of the best PC games I own

75

Great Game: a greater abnegation appeal at the cost of structure

conortheminx | July 19, 2013 | Review of Batman Arkham City: Game of the Year

The first game, Arkham Asylum, followed something of a Zelda-like progression with the acquiring of gadgets, along with flowing rhythm-based combat just as suited to PC controls as consoles, and some of the best stealth gameplay in gaming. Arkham City, above, is the sequel that went sandbox on us, introducing far more of the less publicly (well, non-graphic novel reading population) known Batman mythos and brushing up on the already solid base mechanics of the first game. Combat is more advanced with more options, but oddly applying the 'more options' method to stealth actually makes the sections easier as more options in stealth generally makes for a looser grip on tactics and tension. In fairness to the game, these sections do add more variety with enemies that block your HUD and mines that essentially require you to vary your targets and add an extra step to your planning of the room's takedown. As said, the combat has expanded with a more advanced challenge mode in which gaining combo multiplies over a hundred should be more than possible for most players.

In the context that the story provides, there's a certain ticking clock added early in the game that can keep the tension high. To put it simply, a crazy scientist has walled off a section of Gotham and turned it into a super-prison that the incredibly high criminal insanity rate of Gotham apparently makes necessary, and Batman infiltrates it to investigate what he's really up to. You're tossed around to meet most well-known Batman villains who weren't in the last game in the search of the cure for a disease, in a plot that's mostly there to keep the player busy until the big climax hits. The villains of the day do seem like they often have bigger things to worry about than Batman now that his entire Rogue's Gallery is in a great big turf war, and there's nothing so eerie of indulgent as the last games famed Scarecrow sections, which I feel was a loss. My biggest complaint with the story, in my most unprofessional of gripes, is that you'll spend about the first third of the game dealing with Penguin, who is not a particularly dignified opponent.

As for the world at large, as always the henchman dialogue brings a smile to my face, and by god are there collectibles and side quests to do now. That and the improved movement are pretty much required for the sandbox focus of this sequel. One gets the impression the flight challenges were designed with console controls in mind, and emphasizing that element of Arkham Asylum is a bit odd, but I'd be lying if I didn't waste more time I should have spent studying in playing Arkham City than Asylum. Though my interest in collecting riddler trophies swiftly drained after I essentially completed his challenge, though I probably sank about 20 hours into sidequests by that point, embarrassingly.

Note that I like to grade my games with a 50 as an average. The game loses points for straining the Arkham Asylum formulae into a sandbox when it didn't really need that, but with the very solid Arkham core behind it, all brushed up and capable of draining your free time, this is still a fairly impressive game. It's story and progression feels less structured and enthralling as a game, but it's not without it's memorable moments and its charm.

75/100 - one of the best PC games I own