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11th February 2021: And That's That, Bat

Been spending some more time in Gotham, and have managed to apprehend all the villains and collect all of Riddler's trophies in Arkham Knight. I'm still not sure why I really bother with all the trophies and crap in these games, as I didn't really get much out of it in Asylum or City, and didn't really get much out of it in this. But I just had to shut the annoying little shit up again.
Also, why did they make the Riddler kind-of the end boss in these games, as you spend way more time hunting him than dealing with any of the other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery?

With the main game out of the way I went through the six mini-games, called the Arkham Episodes, which I think had all been DLC when the game originally released. In the episodes, you play as other characters instead of Batman. Surprisingly, the one I enjoyed the most was the one where you play as Red Hood, one of my least favourite characters in this game. There was just something about his play style and no-nonsense attitude that made it that bit more gratifying than the others.

The least favourite episode I did was the last one, which happened to be Catwoman's. The entire series of Arkham games up to this point has rewarded a certain approach to fights, by being tactical and precise. But the end fight in this was incredibly frustrating, and in contrast punishes you for trying to fight in the "proper" way. I tried and tried a bunch of times, with absolutely no chance, until I settled for just spamming the attack button, which easily beat the fight on my very next attempt. I didn't feel either happy or skilful after that experience. Just relieved.

So now I'm all done with Arkham Knight, and therefore, the entire Arkham series. It's been a wild, mostly very enjoyable, ride.

This dude's having a bad day

This dude's having a bad day

Batman and Dollotron boogy on down

Batman and Dollotron boogy on down

Ouch

Ouch

No photographs please

No photographs please

Just helping a cop with his bad back

Just helping a cop with his bad back

Finally "mastering" this battle

Finally "mastering" this battle

10th January 2021: Adventures In Arkham

I've taken the chance to revisit one of my favourite game franchises after GOG released the Batman: Arkham series. This was pretty damn awesome as it had been a long time since I had played any of them, and I'd never played Arkham Knight at all.

I scooped up Knight, and also added City, as City was the best of the ones I had already played, and it also came with the stuff I had not played like the Harley DLC. I figured I could always fire up the old PS3 if I ever wanted to play Asylum or Origins again. Not that I would ever want to play Origins again, but whatever.

So it was into Arkham City first, to act as a refresher before tackling Knight.

Drop kick to the nards

Drop kick to the nards

Smell my feet

Smell my feet

Figure whippin' good

Figure whippin' good

I will catch you my friend

I will catch you my friend

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

Still my fave part of the game

Still my fave part of the game

There's no doubt about it. This is still an awesome game, even more than 8 years later. Though I must admit, it took a little longer to get into it than I would have thought. It was also a little harder in some of the fights. I'm chalking that all up to me being older and slower now. Sad but true. Though somewhat interestingly, the stealth missions were pretty much a breeze this time round. I can't explain that, because I've certainly not become more patient in my old age.

I spent my time fairly evenly between pushing through the story and doing all the bonus stuff. When I got to the end of the story, I first decided to fully wipe the map like I did back in 2012, but only worked my way through the western half of the map before deciding to move on. After all, this was only an appetiser before the main course.

I also tackled Harley's Revenge for the first time. In this, you play as Robin for most of it, as Batman has been captured by Harley. For such a small new mission, this thing had some serious sneaking around, and Robin doesn't come with all the tools to take out gun-toting creeps like Batman does. Yet it only took a couple of hours at most to punch my way through it, and unsurprisingly, it's more of the same. Can't whinge at that.

Tiger Knee! Well, she <i>is</i> Catwoman.

Tiger Knee! Well, she is Catwoman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he <i>is</i>... erm... Batman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he is... erm... Batman.

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Robin leaps into battle

Robin leaps into battle

Putting Harley on her ass

Putting Harley on her ass


I never played Arkham Knight when it first released, as I didn't have a PS4, and on PC it was a buggy mess and Steam only. I guess I should have thought of the game when I finally bought a PS4 just over a year ago, but it slipped through my large mental gaps. Never mind. It was meant to be, it seems.

Before playing the game I assumed I would still get some performance and bug problems, considering the state of the game at launch, and the fact that my computer is nearly as old as the game, and was not exactly a powerhouse even back then. The performance wasn't too bad, even with the better graphics in this. The majority of the time I was running around as Batman I was able to keep a stable 60, and only a few times did it drop. Hell, even Arkham City did that at times on my machine. However, driving around in the Batmobile did cause a lot more stuttering, and it's pretty much convinced me I need a new computer some time this year. Urgh, Windows 10 at last. Not looking forward to that.

The game definitely still has its bugs though, that's for sure. I faced some doozies, such as when I went down an elevator, and when it got to the bottom I somehow clipped up and through the ceiling, trapping me in the elevator shaft. In another session, every time I entered combat, the enemies would not attack me, and the camera would constantly rubber-band to look in one particular direction as if fixated on something. But it's far improved from the shoddy state it launched in.

The gameplay, as Batman at least, was more of the same, just more refined and with even more options than before. Overall, I liked the combat a bit more than the other games, but found it harder. I just found there to be a little less time to react, and there were more enemy types to deal with. Though I loved, and greatly appreciated, the new fear takedowns, making it much faster to take out groups of gunmen, and making the stealth missions a little more bearable.

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Investigating a crime scene

Investigating a crime scene

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Making stuff blow up

Making stuff blow up

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Batman's mostly enjoyable gameplay was balanced out by something though, and if you've played the game you know what it is - simply the worst thing about this entire game, and that is the Batmobile. I would gladly take more bugs and stealth missions if it meant I could play this game without this stupid vehicle. Simply put, I hated it. I hated the way it controlled. I hated its combat sections. I hated how you had to use it for Riddler challenges. And most of all I hated how it felt like I was in the Batmobile for nearly as much time as I was running around as Batman.
I am so very glad I did not think of playing this game on console. On PC, at least I could quickly switch to mouse and keyboard for the Batmobile combat sections, so that I could aim straight, and then switch back to controller for the driving and Batman sections. So much more comfortable that way.

As of yet, I have not reached a full 100% completion like I did for Asylum and City. Don't get me wrong, I've put a lot of work into the side content, but it turns out this game is so freaking huge that it's taking forever. Some of the side content is also a bit of a drag, so I'm still not sure if I'll ever be fully motivated to get that full 100. But for now it's going to stay on my computer, and I'll dip in and out now and again in between playing other games. I think I owe it, and myself, a good try at least.

Speaking of the side content, some of the DLC missions were odd, and threw up some contradictions with the base game. For example, I used the hacking tool early on in the Mad Hatter's DLC mission, but it would not let me use it elsewhere until I unlocked it in the main story. In another instance, I'd already tackled Firefly in his DLC mission several times, but later on in the base game mission where Batman has to save a bunch of firemen, it came as a shock to everyone involved that Firefly was even around at all.

Overall though, barring the Batmobile sections, and a few crappy boss fights against the Arkham Knight, the game is pretty good. I wouldn't put it above City, which remains my favourite, but this still has a lot of good things going for it, like better graphics, slightly better combat, and much better Batman traversal. Well worth the play through I reckon.

Tiresome tank combat

Tiresome tank combat

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Double team machine

Double team machine

I hated all this racing crap

I hated all this racing crap

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Kicking Joker in the face

Kicking Joker in the face

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.

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