Thursday, March 27, 2014

Batman: Arkham Origins [Online Game Code]

Batman: Arkham Origins [Online Game Code]




This game is turning me manic depressive as I get ups and downs regarding it. At it's best, this game is superior to the previous 2, building on their legacy and the legacy of the characters themselves. BUT at its worse, it's an ugly glitch mess which should not be bought until a price drop and several more patches.

The good is simple, everything you liked about Arkham City as far as game play goes, is back in full force and no one should be disappointed. How it all gels together though is to be desired.

Now for the bad:


Now, my favourite aspect of a game's story is the level of urgency (hence why Bioshock 1 is my least favourite of the 3 and why I just never got into the Last of Us (and probably wouldn't care much for 2 souls)). I dont feel the initial rush I felt in either Asylum or City. Man, those games were great at the beginning, so immersive. This one left me a bit in the cold (HA! Cause it's winter...). The story seemed hap hazard, which makes sense for a more open world game. This game, more unlike the other two, wants to be an open world game where you are Batman doing whatever Batman has to do, confronting a bunch of villains a night. I prefer stories where the city is actually at stake, rather than my own life (or rather, Batman's life). This game is more personal and more akin to an open world game like Skyrim than a metroid vania type game with a singular story.

I absolutely LOVED it in City, when Hugo Strange executed his protocol and you had no choice but to follow the story line. And of course you (well, I) would, because there is no way Batman would go around beating some thugs up or trying to capture Hush when there are helicopters shooting bombs on everyone. That rush was insane. And yes, it was crafted that way. The game wanted me stop strange at that moment. In Arkham Origins, there is a scene where people are held hostage and batman tells Alfred he has to handle it first before doing anything else. There was great immediacy. But then I realized I didnt have to help right away. I could scan some tagged buildings or take out one of Enigma's networks. Even while on the actual mission, I can just do whatever I want when I want to.

A copy paste of Arkham City with focus on open world becomes tedious

My complaints are on this game having a different intention than the previous where it is trying to be more of a grand theft auto game. HOWEVER, if it is to have different intentions, then why is it a copy paste of the other games? Especially City. This angers me to no end. Yes, I agree, the riddler trophies in City may have been tedious, but I didnt see it that way then. I needed this game to see it, and you know why? Because it's the same thing. Everything has been copy pasted. Instead of Zsaz making you travel to a location, you have Anarky. Instead of riddler trophies, you have data packs (Which make no sense story wise), instead of riddler signs that only get revealed with detective vision (my personal favourite from Azylum), you have Anarcky tags (why would he use invisible ink to tag big buildings to show that he's an activist, isn't that counter intuitive?), instead of Venom containers, you have Black Mask drug containers (I think), DeadShot is still just a sidequest like before (after all that marketing, really?), instead of TIGER Cameras, you have Riddler network servers/modems/antennas and the list goes on. And it's not only that, but the city itself is a copy paste. Arkham City taught us that a section of gotham was closed off to make the prison, but this game tells us that it was all of the upper half. How does that make any sense? Wasn't it boarded up by a giant wall? Wouldnt the upper half of this game's city extend beyond the Arkham City map? I am realizing just how great the island of Arkham Azylum was. There were no invisible walls; you simply could not get beyond the island. It was its own little open world with urgency that could not be avoided and you never felt like you were missing out on a bigger city or other areas, and you never noticed the limitations of having it on that island because everything was made accessible.

Less attention to the city itself

My other big negative point is how this city feels less alive than Arkham City. It made sense to just have thugs around Arkham City, since the city was all prisoners. But Arkham Origins has the same thing and yet, this isn't a prison. The theme made the constancy of thugs and villains make sense, but here is feels shallow and more like a copy paste of what was found in City. Arkham City had amazing details. Remember that Museum? Now contrast that with Penguin's ship. What was "penguin" about it? What made the casino so unique that it could only exist in Batman's world? I remember complaining a bit that Arkham City didnt have much detail in the city (all buildings, stairways, windows looked the same), but the chaos splatterred all over it (like riddler marks on the Church's gargoyles and Two Face wrecking half of the court house and Joker adding clowns all over the steel mill) makes that game jump leaps and bounds over Arkham Origins. It just doesnt feel lived in, by its villains or its people.

I remember promising Freeze to find his wife and finding her, randomly as I was investigating around. She was held captive by the Joker's thugs. I went to see freeze and he got there by creating an ice bridge over the water which you could now use. And then, when you go back to the location, you can see him reunited with her AND scan them to answer a riddle. Sure, that last part makes no sense, but it was just an extra reward for seeing where the game would go with that extra mission (which at first didnt feel like a mission since it was truly optional). Things like this made the gaming experience feel so much more organic instead of by the numbers, which is what this game feels like. It wants to include everything City had, making sure you have enough things to do, and makes it dull. I already played City, 2.5 times, I dont need to play it again. So there you go, this is my true criticism.

Gameplay changes

As a technical standpoint, I have no objections now that I fixed my settings (the game keeps going back to default physcs which makes my game so slow, and I didnt know). The framerate is good and the fighitng is better than ever. I like how hard it is now. I have to strange my strategy and be more defensive. I actually gain my first special by just blocking. And I HAVE to figure out how to dodge knives. They always mess me up. In City, I could just jump over the guy, but not anymore. The AI is very agressive and it feels great now that my framerate is good. As far as graphics, it just looks like City, but less lived in. Batman looks great though. I have loved all his costumes so far. And I like Deathstroke's costume too, I like all the costumes. I never minded any of the character interpretations in the batman games.

Now onto the good...

While I complain about the writing, I must admit that the last 2 hours are probably the best in any Batman game. It is very batman like and has that villain interaction we always love. I did not expect it and it makes a nice bow on the series. Hopefully that isnt too much of a spoiler. But man, that urgency finally comes full force, way better than any of the previous ones. I guess it took a while for this game to get to me, but it did.

So, after liking this game in the end, what about New Game Plus?

Well, remember I said this game makes me look like a manic depressive... I was so pumped that I wanted more and since I had not found all the riddler stuff and was slowly getting into it (I did not care to investigate his base till late in the game and then found it interesting), I did the same that I did in City and started new game plus. In Arkham City, I would just replay the game ad when I would see something that I couldnt access before, I would then have the gadgets to access these parts. It didnt matter much in Azylum since the map was smaller but back tracking in City just for riddler trophies would have been a bit much.

BUT GUESS WHAT: new game plus DOES NOT give you all your gadgets. You have all your gadget upgrades but not your gadgets. So you unlock the gadgets just as you did in the original capaign and then you have the upgrades already available as soon as you get the gadgets. But you still start the game the very same way. So now new game plus seems much less inticing, especially since there are some sidequests I dont care to redo (the way the Bane sidequest in City was handled was pretty genius, there is no ingenuit here). So yeah, the story and writing is a plus to this series (the great finale) and so are the better boss fights. But everything else is inferior to Arkham City, too bad. Dammit, now I regret preordering it, especially with all the bugs on PC. That will teach me (still preordering Bioshock games though, the Ken Levine places PC first, awesome).

Hopefully this review was somewhat clear and you gained a bit from it.