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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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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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What’s Your Favourite Gaming Platform?

I like my Xbox 360 – the controller fits nicely in my hands, the menu interface is solid, the game selection is good and (so far) there haven’t been any major problems with its hardware or online network (which is more than Playstation has been able to say recently). Plus, I can play it in my (rather small) living room and use it to watch movies and listen to music.

Which platform do you prefer?

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Polls

 

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New Releases for 2011

GiantBomb.com has a decent list of what they consider to be the “most important” games scheduled for release over the next year or so. Today’s poll question asks what games have you been most excited about?

My answers: Arkham City, L.A. Noire and Other (Madden 12 looks pretty slick and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon should be awesome, considering I’ve never played an AC game I didn’t like).

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Polls

 

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Boot Up

Another term, another blog. But this time around, we be gamin’.


Consider this the obligatory initial post where I introduce my new blog and explain how I intend to do great things with it.

Well, maybe not so great.

While there are far nobler blogs out there in cyberspace dedicated to solving world hunger or abolishing meat-eating, and more original topics that I could take advantage of (although erecting a giant AT-AT would, surprisingly, not be an original topic, so I could be wrong about this) I’m out to create yet another blog that discusses the wide world of video games.

Despite the apparent frivolity of this blog, there’s a good chance that you will be more interested in it (or at least another gaming blog that is better written by someone more knowledgeable than myself) than a PETA, Greenpeace or Habitat for Humanity blog. And you should be ashamed of yourself. But it’s only natural. After all, animal rights, environmental preservation and poverty are heavy, serious matters. Gaming allows you to escape all of that, at least for a moment. Gaming—whether it be video gaming, board gaming, card gaming, etc.—is fun, and almost all of us are interested in it, or at least connected to it in some way.

Some of us are more connected to gaming than others.

But are video games only important to us as a form of escapist technology? Do they offer something more socially, academically or artistically? Video games are certainly influential economically, as the industry rakes in billions of dollars annually, so there must be more to them, right?

(Immediately I think of the most successful television series currently running—Two and a Half Men—and already this logic sounds foolish. But nonetheless…)

This blog is a class project for the University of Waterloo‘s English 794 “Video Game Theory” course, and will examine the above questions as the term (which runs from May-August 2011) continues. Some topics, such as the artistic merit of video games and the presence of narrative of video games, have already been talked about in-class, and I hope to reflect upon those discussions here shortly.

What else can you look forward to? Well, game reviews and reading responses to be sure (since this is, after all, a class project), but I will also be collecting useful or interesting articles and videos that I find online in the right-hand navigation column of this page. I will also be updating a Twitter feed, which you can follow right here on my blog, or through Twitter (obviously): @DyldeGamer

Happy gaming,

Dyldebeest

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Miscellaneous Thoughts

 

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