10th February 2014: Arkham Origins Done (Sort Of)

I don't have many games on my PS3, as I bought it primarily to be a Blu-ray player, but without doubt the best games I own for it are Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, both of which I played through twice, fully completing not only the stories but also all the secrets and riddles.

And so I was really looking forward to getting stuck into Arkham Origins. I patiently waited a few months to pick it up, as not only are new console games too expensive, I also wanted some serious patching to be done, after reading how many bugs were in the game at launch.
Unfortunately, even though a patch was available when I installed it, I still came across bugs and errors left and right as I struggled through the mess that Warner Brothers had turned this once fine series into. Here's just some of the bugs I can remember. Check these out:

But bugs for me were not the main problem with this game. There were things that Warner Brothers changed (from Rocksteady's original two games) that I really didn't enjoy. Like I had with the previous games, I originally planned to finish this game to 100% completion and not just finish the campaign, so whenever I could solve a puzzle, collect datafiles, or destroy cameras, I would. I frequently broke away from the main story to complete side missions, do training in the Batcave, or do glide drills, knowing all would probably be required.
However, just 27% through the game, I gave up and decided to just finish the main story. Travelling around the city had become a total ball ache. So many enemies with guns and sniper rifles lined the rooftops that I couldn't go gliding down a single street without being shot at. The snipers could even seemingly see me (and in some cases shoot me) through solid brick.
Gunmen weren't only a problem when moving round the city, either. Just like Arkham City did compared to Arkham Asylum, this game once again greatly increased the amount of stealth missions. Sneaking around trying to take out one gunman at a time is not what I wanna do in a freaking beat 'em up game. I wanna plough fists first into a mob of enemies and wail on them 'til my knuckles bleed.

But there was very little joy in terms of close combat here. Not only were there not enough close combat fights in the game, but WB seem to have changed the AI of the enemies to make the fights very frustrating. The enemies always seemed to attack one after another in a continual sequence, forcing me to counter repeatedly. If I broke away from countering to throw an attack of my own, the enemy who was next scheduled to attack me would be free to clobber me as I attacked my target. I found this forced me into a very defensive mindset, at least until I had unlocked a few upgrades and started to unlock the special takedown moves. It was just not a very fun game to play all round.

And then, even after deciding to just finish the main story and ignore the rest of the game, I was still left disappointed. Because up to that point I'd concentrated just as much on finishing side quests as I had the main campaign, I assumed I was still a considerable distance away from the end of the story. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. All I had left to do from that point was defeat Firefly at the bridge, then take out Bane and the Joker at Blackgate Prison, and the campaign was over. By far the shortest storyline of all three games.

I only hope the rumours about Rocksteady returning to make the next game in the series are true.

1st June 2012: Arkham City Done (Again)

Just finished going through Arkham City for the second time. This time, I concentrated on getting all the trophies and secrets and finishing all the side missions, culminating in giving the Riddler a damn good smack in the face right at the end.
It was still a very enjoyable game during the second play through, and I did try harder to do better in big fights but still sucked a bit. Right at the end though, while searching for the last few trophies in the Steel Mill, I did get my highest combo of 62. It was not very technical or skillful, but made me laugh as nearly all of the hits were on the same armoured thug. I kept using the beat down on him, counter attacking anyone else that tried their luck, before going right back to the beat down. Poor guy's ribs musta hurt like hell.
So all of the main game is done other than a couple of Batman's physical challenges and collecting Catwoman's trophies and loot. Whether I will go back and do those at another time I have no idea. I have no real intention of trying the plus mode or all the Riddler's Revenge content, but who knows what will happen in the future. I would like to play the new Harley DLC, but I hate the whole concept of it: buying these little extra bits of games for extortionate prices. Game makers can stick DLC up their asses. Even free DLC (like the Catwoman content for this game) is a problem in my eyes, as in a few years the content may be removed from their servers, stopping anyone who fancies playing an old game from getting all the stuff. Very similar reason to why I don't use Steam on PC, because if they ever turn their servers off...
I really hope there is another game in this series, but holy crap they need to do it as a co-op one. Of course one player would have to be Batman, and the other could then be Catwoman or Robin or someone else. It would be awesome to play.

Arkham City gameplay vid on Youtube

11th March 2012: Arkham City Done

Spent the last few days going through Arkham City. Like Arkham Asylum it is an awesome game, though like A.A. it also has its irritating points. My main problem was the vast amount of stealth missions in the game. There were a few of these in A.A. where you had to sneak around a room taking out guys with guns, but in this game there seemed to be loads. I hate those crappy stealth missions. Give me a straight up fight where Bats can beat the crap out of a bunch of thugs. Loads more fun all round. The best mission I found in this game just for pure kicking ass was the Mad Hatter side mission - felt like a good few minutes of fist-flying mayhem.
The other main irritating point was how long it seemed to take Batman to turn around. I know this sounds like a strange thing to nitpick, but very often in the middle of a big fight a guy would be behind me about to stab me, and I could not counter it because Batman would not turn around fast enough. This problem was also apparent when making a jump move to evade attacks - if you didn't wait that split second for Batman to turn the way you wanted him to go he would jump in completely the wrong direction. I got well pissed off sometimes with this.
Close combat in this game is where the fun is at, and they've stepped it up even more from the first game. There were lots of different types of enemies, each needing a different tactic in order to take them out. Stick all these different types together in one big fight and it can get confusing for a tiny-brain like me, but loads of fun. I especially liked the new "beat down" move (especially when Catwoman does it - damn she moves fast), and the ability to fire or use most of your gadgets in combat with quick-fire methods. Of the new gadgets my fave was the freeze blast, which was a great help when taking out those bastards with guns, especially the sniper dudes.
The boss fights were all varied and interesting, though quite straight forward. I can't remember getting killed in any boss fight all the way through the game, it was always in those damn stealth missions. Grrr.
On top of the cool combat and going through the main story, there are loads of side missions you can get involved in. I didn't do them all, and some of them seemed a bit pointless, but some were really cool. I liked the one where you end up in a big fight helping Bane of all people, and found it amusing that he "accidentally" keeps hitting you. Funny.
Movement around the city is fast and easy, especially after getting a few upgrades to your gadgets. The only issue here is with the grapnel boost, which you can shoot out while you are gliding in order to grab onto something to pull you along faster. Problem is, it doesn't really take into account the direction you are already travelling, and will often shoot you off in another direction. Just another frustrating thing that should have been sorted.
All in all, a great game, and one that I will definitely be going through again, maybe with a guide in order to get all the secrets and side missions.