Posts tagged batman
It feels cheap as hell, deathwise, and you’re constantly falling off ledges due to depth perception issues or your partner running to the edge of the screen, coop characters don’t do what they’re meant to unless you coax them just right, there are some infuriating boss battles (Mr Freeze can go fuck himself) and the vehicle handling is appalling. It’s way too hard, yet incredibly easy and it just feels like a deeply weird piece of game design.
And yet it’s brilliant, brilliant fun, in both single-player and when playing it with my wife.
Just like all the other Lego games, then, basically.
Normal blogging will be resumed shortly, but to mark the new year, here are the best ten games of 2009… that I played. (So no Modern Warfare 2 or Uncharted 2, for example.) It was hard to whittle it down to a top ten, but I think I got there. Unfortunately, it means that 33rd Division, Scribblenauts, Angry Birds, Ridge Racer Accelerated, Doom Classic, Borderlands and even the mighty Demon’s Souls, Minigore and Orbital got left out.
Assassin’s Creed 2 (360)
I loved the first Assassin’s Creed game, but the sequel is on a completely different level. It’s tuned to perfection, with the developers having learnt the lessons of the first game and it’s absolutely packed with things to do. You can’t move more than three feet in town without encountering a side mission, treasure chest, shop, random chase, glyph or feather. Everything’s interesting, everything’s fun, there’s a decent script that’s not afraid to be funny now and again (“It’s me, Mario!”) and it’s absolutely beautiful. Best of all, I’m nowhere near done with it, so it’ll last me well into 2010.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)
If I had to choose one single Game of the Year, there’s no doubt that it would be Batman: Arkham Asylum. Influenced by the best comics and cartoons, it’s the first game that really, truly lets you be Batman. Batman’s not going to get hurt in a fight with a thug, but make him fight six at a time and he needs to be careful. And if those thugs have got guns, well, he’ll have to take them out without being seen. All the gameplay elements mesh together perfectly – with the exception of a few of the boss fights – and I’ll remember the setting and Mark Hamill’s Joker for a long, long time to come, even if I’ve already forgotten some of the details of the actual story. Brilliant.
If I were doing hardware awards, the iPhone would be running away with them. My scepticism of the device as a games machine disappeared within days of getting one. I even like virtual sticks and buttons now. But the first iPhone game to make this alphabetical list doesn’t need any of those. Instead, you just tap on the screen everytime you want to jump. It’s simple, yes, but only dimwits would see that as a bad thing. You run, you jump and you inevitably die. And then you come back for another go. The randomly-generated levels keep things tense and it looks and sounds incredible.
Breathtaking. Flower sees you become a god or spirit and takes you on a incredible journey. It’s something of a miracle that the big brick of technology that is the Playstation 3 can make you feel such a part of nature. To describe the story would be an injustice – and I expect everyone has their own interpretation. The gentle glides, the swoops, the windmills and pylons and cities and grass and flowers… it’ll all stay with me a long, long time.
The game I’ve always wanted in my head now exists in real life. It’s a huge, sprawling mess of America, where driving for hours with no goal in mind is a simple joy. It’s a game you remember. Riding bikes down impossibly huge cliffs, picking your way round the shallows of a lake at night, watching the sun break over a burned forest… like most of the games in this list, this is an exceptional game not just for the pure rush of the gaming moment, but in the way the sights, sounds and feelings remain long after you’ve stopped playing. And, you know, it didn’t hurt that many of the races were brilliantly-designed, requiring knowledge of the environment and vehicles to succeed. A towering single-player achievement, it’s just a shame that the online didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Gran Turismo (PSP)
I only got this a few days before the end of the year, but after many hours of playing on the sofa and in bed, I knew it had to make this list. The driving model is exciting (though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise before playing with the settings) and there are a huge number of cars and tracks. What really makes it for me, though, is the structure. Instead of a career mode you’re just given some basic modes and can choose any of the tracks to race on. By racing you earn more money to buy new cars. There’s nothing forced on you, you can just buy the cars you think look interesting and take them round your favourite tracks. What to see how a 1954 2CV handles Laguna Seca? Well, off you go – and you’ll even get some money for it. Absolutely exceptional.
Killzone 2 (PS3)
You like shooting people in the face? Of course you do! Killzone 2 understands this. It gives you great guns and great enemies and makes amazing set pieces out of them. It takes a while to get into, but once you’ve wormed your way inside, you won’t want to get out. Perfectly paced and just as long as it needs to be, Killzone 2 is an absolute triumph of the simple joy of putting bullets into bad guys.
Noby Noby Boy (PS3)
Initially, it seems like it’ll probably be fun for ten minutes, but no more. There aren’t any real goals (beyond hunting for trophies, if you feel like it) there’s just a random level and the stretching, twisting, ever-hungry Boy. You move around, eat things, knock things over and just play for the simple joy of play. And it doesn’t seem to get old. You always expect it to, but every time you go back, it still grabs you and a quick five minutes turns into an hour and a half without you noticing – or caring. Criminally overlooked and incredibly cheap, Noby Noby Boy deserved much, much better.
Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? (PSP)
Hard as nails – you might well lose all your 1,000 lives before completing the game – but never malicious, Prinny is an odd game. It’s an old school platformer spin-off from a series of strategy games and shouldn’t really work. If you believe the reviewers who skated the surface without finding their way inside, it was a failure. But those reviewers are wrong. It’s a huge game, packed with humour and secrets and, crucially, death is always your own fault. Quite frankly, if you like running, jumping and pounding things with your bottom, there wasn’t a better game released this year.
Words With Friends (iPhone)
The online multiplayer hit of the year, I’ve played this every day for months now. Heavily based on Scrabble, Words With Friends doesn’t bother with any fluff, but just lets you play the game against other people with a minimum of fuss. Portable game of the year, without a shadow of a doubt.
Well, this is strange.
I actually think I’ve started enjoying the combat challenges more than the stealth challenges. There’s just something so satisfying about getting a big combo going – and almost always knowing exactly what you’ve done wrong when you lose it. I’m really getting a lot better, too. I managed my first perfect flow combo last night and have got two “bats” on the first of the combat challenges. Some way to go, but I love a game where I can feel myself getting better and better.
Had a quick play around with the first stealth challenge last night, as both Batman and The Joker. Batman felt a lot easier – he can use the gargoyles, after all – but using Mr. J forced me to play better and I got a much better time as the Clown Prince of Crime than I did as the Dark Knight. (Though I did at least get all three bats as Batman for disabling people in the specified ways.) It’s a shame 360-based players won’t get to play as The Joker, as it is very rewarding.
Also tried the first combat challenge as Batman again. I got a new personal best score, but it was still under 10,000 points. I lose my combo far too easily, though I did manage to get up to a 31x combo at one point, which is good for me. I’m definitely getting better.
What a game, though, eh? Story finished, secrets finished and there’s loads more to do. It’s a hugely impressive package and a really good example of what a developer can do when the publisher gives them the time and budget to get a game right before release.
That said, there does seem to be a glitch with the leaderboards on the stealth levels, unless I’m missing something. Surely it’s not possible to take out all the guards in thirteen seconds?
Finished off the secrets last night, without having to resort to the Internet. I feel special.
Also got a few more trophies, some for getting secrets, one for gliding a long way and then the “World’s Greatest Detective” one. Excellent.
Had a quick go at the first challenge room and scraped a medal, but I’m bottom of my friends list by a long way – and I don’t even have many friends on the PS3. (Unlike the 360, where my friends list is completely full.)
Excellent, excellent game.
Only played for an hour or so last night. Just wandered around the near-empty asylum clearing out the secrets I missed when I played through the story. Mainly concentrated on finishing off the Medical Centre, but I found quite a few in Arkham West, too.
There are a few in the tunnels linking bits of Arkham that have me completely stumped at the moment. Some I can see, but can’t get to, some are just question marks on the map. I wish the map was 3D, that would help an awful lot.
I finally got the full game on Saturday morning. I couldn’t play until both the wife and I were ready – she wanted to watch me play so she could see the story – so ended up playing Saturday afternoon, then Saturday evening, for a total of four or five hours. Then on Sunday I waited until after the Eastenders omnibus, then played for a single seven-hour sitting and finished the story.
(I’ve still got 80-odd secrets to find and I’ve not really touched the challenge rooms.)
So, how was it?
Very, very, very good.
Combat works, stealth works, the jumping works, the puzzling works, the difficulty level on Normal is pitched absolutely perfectly for me… it just all fits together beautifully.
Most of all, though, above everything else, it’s Batman. It loves Batman, his world and his rogues gallery and it shows. Everything from the story to the setting, right down to the character biographies, it’s a game that loves this world and wants to finally do it justice.
I’m very much looking forward to finding the final secrets – there’s a question mark under an arch that’s been bugging me since yesterday, I just couldn’t see the dot – and trying out the challenge rooms.
I’m pretty sure this will be one of the relatively rare games that I keep forever and refuse to ever trade.
As a Batman fan – I have a Batman clock by the bed and framed Ty Templeton sketches on my wall – this has made me very, very happy.
I played through this again last night after putting the PS3 on to watch Resident Evil: Degeneration. (It’s not awful, but not great. The action’s good and the plot seems okay, but the actual way the plot is told is woeful.)
I spent a lot of time playing with the final bad guy in the final room by bouncing my batarang off walls and railings behind him, terrifying him and panicking him into spraying bullets into the dark. Great fun.
Played this through a few more times. I unexpectedly discovered the joy of knocking people out by dropping unconscious bodies on their heads. It just gets better and better.
No, really, I am. This game, you see, lets me be The Batman in a way no other game ever has. And not just any Batman, but a Kevin Conroy-voiced Batman going up against a Mark Hamill-voiced Joker and Arleen Sorkin-voiced Harley Quinn. Which is to say, that if you were ever a fan of Batman: The Animated Series, then you’ll be emitting little of squeals of fanboy/fangirl glee as soon as the characters open their mouths. And if you’ve never seen the cartoon these voices come from, then you’re still in for a treat, because these actors know their characters, have lots of experience in voicing them and just sound right.
The graphics look good. Okay, everyone might be a little too Gears of War-bulky, but we can ignore that. In every other way, this looks great – especially detective mode, which lets you see through walls and highlights things of interest, such as baddies and gargoyles.
How does the game play, though?
Well, it starts off as a tutorial. You punch and kick some bad guys. You throw a Batarang. You sneak up behind people and incapacitate them. It’s all good fun, though would be unexceptional if you weren’t, you know, being the goddamn Batman.
The final bit of the demo, though, just gives you a room and four bad guys with guns. (Well, the room has five goons in it, but one starts with his back to you right by the entrance, so he’s a freebie and doesn’t really count.) Guns are bad for your health, so you really need to take the bad guys one by one, unseen. It’s a mutli-level room, with ladders, gantries, gargoyles and ducts. That sort of thing.
Sometimes it all goes wrong and you desperately swing away from machine gun fire, while feeling less like The Batman and more like Del Boy in that hilarious episode at the funeral.
Sometimes, though, it all goes right. And when it does… oh boy. I’m sitting here smiling just thinking about it. Popping out from a grating under the floor and taking someone out from behind. Swooping down, kicking them, disappearing back into the shadows. Throwing a line down and leaving them hanging upside-down while their heart-rate monitor reads “Terrified”. It’s, well, it’s pretty much the perfect Batman game.
I’m now as excited by the the thought of all the challenge rooms as I am by the main game. This is a real Batman game. It’s Batman from the ground-up. It’s Batman done right.
If the full game can live up to the promise of the final room of the demo – which, yes, remains to be seen – Fuel may well have to surrender its “game of the year” title.
Of course, I’m a massive Batman fanboy. For pity’s sake, before I had a super cool gaming blog I ran a nerdy Batman fan fiction site. (No, really, you can find it on the menu on the right of this page.) So if a game’s good I’m going to love it more than it deserves and, conversely, hate it more that it deserves if it’s bad. So “game of the year” might be a bit strong if you’re not thrilled by the idea of finally, really being Batman. But, really, if you’re not thrilled by that, we have nothing to discuss. Move along.