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Arkham City: First Impressions

Ok, so I FINALLY received Arkham City in the mail on Friday, and was able to play it a little bit over the weekend (although I am still in the middle of a pile of homework, so I wasn’t able to spend hours and hours on it, as I would have liked). Currently I’m in the museum and trying to get my hands on the Penguin. I’ve just destroyed his three radio signal jammers and making my way back into the building (for those of you who are playing the game, you probably know what I’m talking about).

There’s a ton that is awesome about this game, but I feel as though I have to compare it to its predecessor, Arkham Asylum. There isn’t a whole lot different between the two games, but because Arkham City was so amazing, this isn’t really a bad thing. Arkham City allows you more freedom to explore a larger, more diverse space than the asylum in which you were trapped in the first game. For me, this is both great and frustrating at the same time. I am terrible at navigating my way through virtual spaces—I get turned around frequently, have a tough time seeing holes or geographical clues on my old 26″ television, and am a nervous gamer.

The latter point is troubling in Arkham City, a game that requires a lot of stealth. Because I feel as though I must sneak around without being seen (which is only partly true), it takes me FOREVER to get from one side of the map to the other, or through a building with a number of doors and corridors. My nervousness also forces me to play most of the game in detective mode, which takes away from the beautiful, realistic detail that is present in the city. I know that the reliance on detective mode was a point of feedback that Rocksteady received after Arkham Asylum, but I haven’t seen anything so far that suggest they have tried to address this.

My biggest complaint about Arkham City so far is that it lacks a similar kind of progressive narrative arc that made Arkham Asylum so interesting. In Arkham Asylum, you found items like interview tapes and secret etchings that provided bonus narrative further revealed the fascinating characters encountered in the game. There are side missions in Arkham City (so far I’ve encountered two significant missions that involve Bane and Victor Zsaaz), but they don’t really build throughout the game. In fact, I could have completed both challenges right away, but I’ve instead decided to hold off on doing so, and simply complete them as I run into them accidentally. Neither challenge really enhances the characters involved. For the typical gamer, this is probably not a problem at all, but for a big-time Batman fan like myself, this is a drawback. However, I reserve the right to change my mind once I complete these missions once-and-for-all. I may be proven wrong in the end.

What do I like about Arkham City? Pretty much everything else. The opening was really cool, and the main story arc is pretty good. In the end, it’s a great Batman movie. The combat and action is good, and the environment—complete with chatting gangsters, surveillance choppers, and friendly bums—is awesome. The city architecture is realistic enough to pull you into the game, but creepy and gothic enough to make it authentically Batman. I haven’t explored the amusement park section too much yet, but I’ve flown by a few times and I can’t wait to get in there and explore. There is something ultra creepy about amusement parks at night, and it’s the perfect lair for the Joker.

I also really love the playable addition of Catwoman. She moves through the city completely differently than Batman, and her secondary story arc is a great touch. I also have access to the Robin character (having bought my copy of the game from Best Buy), but haven’t encountered him yet. He may even be available only in the challenge maps, though I hope he pops into the campaign portion of the game at some point.

There’s lots left to explore in the game yet (I think I only have 3 or 4% of the game completed), so I have yet to formulate a complete opinion of the game. But has it met my expectations so far? Absolutely. This game is awesome, and a great sequel to Arkham Asylum, which blew my mind the first time I played it. I can’t wait to finish up my homework (which may not happen until December) so I can get back into Gotham.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Gaming Experiences, RPG

 

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Shipping News

[rant]

So October 18 came and went and I am STILL WITHOUT ARKHAM CITY, despite having pre-ordered it from Best Buy almost two months ago.

You may be thinking, “Dylan, if the game was only released on October 18, you have to allow time for the item to be shipped. Obviously, the store cannot ship an item until it has been released.” FALSE. Online stores such as Amazon.ca are able to ship items prior to the release date so they arrive at your door on the day of the item’s release. Think about it. It’s the only way these places are able to stay competitive, and it’s not like the stores receive the items on the day of their release. They get them days (maybe even weeks?) in advance.

But let’s assume that this is the case—that Best Buy is not able to send an item until its release date. Ok, that’s fine. I can deal with that. But I haven’t even received a shipping confirmation. And yes, I got a confirmation that my order was processed (weeks ago) and TWO email reminders notifying me that Best Buy had not forgotten about me, and that my order would be sent when released. But I’ve received nothing since September 30.

Maybe I had my order sent to the store, rather than my apartment. Could be, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I went online to double-check. That is when I found out that Best Buy’s online service is less than ideal. I am given information on how much I paid, what I used to pay for my item, when I ordered my item and what my item is. That’s all good, but what about shipping? I’m given the following:

  • Scheduled forGround Delivery
  • Estimated Arrival: 08/28-09/06/2011

Nothing on where it’s being sent, whether it has been sent, or who will be delivering it (UPS, Canada Post, etc.). Additionally, the estimated date of arrival is completely inaccurate for a pre-ordered item. I’m not sure what percentage of Best Buy’s business is pre-ordered items, but I would think that it’s large enough for them to customize this piece of information. Especially since games like Arkham City come out with “special editions” that are only available in select stores (which is why I purchased my copy through Best Buy in the first place). Am I to extrapolate the estimated arrival date and assume I can expect my game within a week or two?

This is an example where missing one or two really basic elements in customer service is enough to scare away a customer (like me) in the future. I’d much rather go with a seller I can trust (like Amazon) who has left me with a positive experience. Best Buy’s shortcomings may be a problem with web development, customer service, communications—but to me, it doesn’t really matter. Customers want to know where the items they’ve purchased are, and when they’ll be receiving them. Simple.

[/rant]

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Miscellaneous Thoughts

 

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Only 4 More Days…

… until I get my hands on Arkham City! EEEeeeeee I’M SO EXCITED!

The latest trailer (posted today on the Arkham City Facebook page) is below. The game looks just as good as Arkham Asylum and my expectations for it are dangerously high.

I need to clear out some homework so I can do nothing but play this game for a week or two…

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Miscellaneous Thoughts, RPG

 

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Arkham City Update: The Penguin

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Penguin, as his awkward deformations and obsession with birds has always seemed a bit corny to me. (Danny DeVito’s Penguin would be the epitome of that corniness.) But I like the direction Rocksteady is taking the Penguin—further exaggerating his pompous, greedy ways and making him more of a brainy, bourgeois-shackling kingpin. After all, the Penguin has always been a power player through Batman lore and very few Gotham City criminals have a simple, tangible motive (such as wealth) to push them over the edge.

Plus the first looks of the Penguin look pretty cool—he actually looks quite frightening, as opposed to the umbrella-wielding fatty we’ve grown used to seeing. He’s still got an umbrella. But other cool things, too… like a grenade-launcher.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Miscellaneous Thoughts

 

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New Arkham City Trailer – Catwoman Announced as Playable Character

Any news about the upcoming Arkham City video game warrants its own blog entry, in my opinion.

Earlier today, GameSpot informed us that the upcoming Arkham City video game (Rocksteady) will include the ability to play as Catwoman. A new trailer for the video game was also released. Not surprisingly, the new video features Catwoman and hints at what gamers can expect from the new perspective.

Not sure what in particular it is about the video that has me more excited than ever to play Arkham City. It might be the amazing graphics, the evidence of the impressive fighting engine, the clues into the original (at least to my knowledge) storyline, the ability to play as Catwoman, the way Catwoman looks in that tight leather suit, the trailer’s provocative soundtrack or the subtle insertion of Joker looking ever-so diabolical.

… Who am I kidding? It’s Catwoman’s leather suit that has me all excited.

What should be most exciting from a gamer’s perspective is the ability to play Arkham CIty (at least parts of it) as Catwoman, a character completely different from Batman in terms of her speed, agility, tools and skill set. Most notably, Catwoman doesn’t wear a cape, which will make gliding from tall buildings (as Batman has been known to do) a bit tricky.

In the first installment of Rocksteady’s Arkham series (Arkham Asylum, 2009), gamers fortunate enough to have a Playstation 3 were able to play through the game as The Joker, Batman’s arch-nemesis. This feature offered a nice change-of-pace from Batman’s serious, calculated and powerful persona. Instead of hiding in the shadows and efficiently taking out enemies with a single blow as one would do with Batman’s character, gamers playing as the Joker strutted around the asylum, hopped on the backs of enemies and banged away on their heads with comical inefficiency.

The other, more important, difference between the experiences of playing as Batman and the Joker was that as Batman, gamers fought “bad guys” in the name of sanity and justice. As the Joker, gamers were able to unleash insanity upon the innocent (though maybe not) guards of the asylum.

Unlike Batman, the Joker feels rather at ease capping people in the head.

For those of us who chose to play Arkham Asylum on our Xbox 360s, “Joker Mode” was unavailable. Here’s hoping that “Catwoman Mode” (or whatever it’ll be called) is available across all consoles/platforms.

The new trailer, as borrowed from GameSpot:

Updated June 12, 2011—new video, courtesy of G4TV:

http://www.g4tv.com/lv3/53553

 
 

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