July 14, 2012
The most notable aspect of Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is that it marked a first for the Batman franchise: the first time a major character was debuted in a video game. It has been nine years since the game’s release though, and I’m not aware of the villain Sin Tzu gaining much traction; I mean, I’ve only ever heard of him in the context of this video game, albeit, I’m not especially well versed in the Batman universe. Debuting in a mediocre beat ‘em up probably didn’t help his chances at stardom though.
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is an Ubisoft Montreal developed, Ubisoft published beat ‘em up from 2003. It was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance, and while I only played the GameCube version, I’m sure the PS2 and Xbox versions are identical. My friend and I played through what I believe constitutes the first quarter of the game, and I speak for both us when I say Rise of Sin Tzu was underwhelming.
The game revolves around on the eponymous hero defending Gotham City from the eponymous villain. Sin Tzu has formed an alliance with Scarecrow, Clayface, and Bane and they’re wreaking havoc. With the assistance of Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing, Batman sets out to defend Gotham City from these baddies. Although there are four heroes, the game only supports co-operative play for two, a glaring omission. On the bright side, those two extra players won’t be subjected to the tepid gameplay.
Each hero had slightly different stats and had a wealth of combos to execute, yet I was content to just mash the punch or kick button. The combos were differentiated by timed button presses, although they weren’t starkly different. Special moves could be unlocked using earned points which could also be spent on bonus features like toys or comic book covers. My friend and I played through the first quarter of the game, toppling Scarecrow, and besides the lame combat, the bland level design and poor camera left us unfulfilled.
Stages lasted about ten minutes and tasked us with fighting through groups of Scarecrow’s henchmen. Opposition was light early on but they eventually began using Scarecrow’s gas on us. It affected the camera, making it very wavy, but not problematic like the occasional event of the camera getting hung up on a corner. Still the biggest detriment to our enjoyment was the bland level design. We’d plod down unchanging Gotham City streets, encountering groups of henchmen, but no real excitement. This was compounded by the weak combat and the drab graphics.
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is a mediocre beat ‘em up that will likely only be remembered for debuting a character into the franchise.
April 25, 2012
Imagine that you’re watching the nineties cartoon show The Adventures of Batman & Robin, also known as Batman: The Animated Series. Instead of being treated to the admired artwork, you’re instead greeted by grainy, low-quality video. Now imagine that after every few minutes, you’re forced to drive the Batmobile through endlessly crowded environments such as the city streets of Gotham or a devious race track of the Joker’s. This sounds familiar? Well then, you must’ve played the Sega CD version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin.
I bet that when you began playing, you didn’t expect the game to consist solely of driving, with the exception of the finale where you got to pilot the Batwing. Now I only bring this up because I remember how you complained during the first mission. You got frustrated very quickly when you kept getting killed when fighting the bosses of the mission. You had to dodge a plethora of hard-to-miss attacks all while trying to take out the baddies. It upset you so much because it took you many tries to get to this point at all. The driving portion consisted of congested city streets that required pinpoint timing; otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get to your destination before time ran out.
Sure, it took you a long time to get your groove, but when you did you were able to blow through much of the game on your first try. Then again, the game really only tested your reflexes. I do remember you enjoying the later missions; the ones that took place on a casino-style game board of the Riddler’s, a circus-style race track of the Joker’s, and the high-flying Batwing level through bridges. Well, never mind, you only liked the last one because it was slightly different. Speaking of differences, the animation and story was unique to this game, being referred to as “the lost episode”. It featured the aforementioned villains as well as Robin, Poison Ivy, and Rupert Thorne and you liked that part of the game, besides the low-quality video.
So you said you grew up on the classic cartoon show, what did you think of the Sega CD game? Oh, well, that’s about right. I mean, I’ve pretty much discussed the game in detail and I wasn’t super positive, so that makes sense. I wouldn’t play the game again, or recommend it to others either. It’s a shame Clockwork Tortoise and Sega couldn’t put out a more polished game.
November 1, 2011
Batman: Arkham City is the follow-up to one of 2009s most popular and critically acclaimed games: Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat is nearly identical to Arkham Asylum’s while the environment is many times larger. Throw in a captivating story with a ton of post-game content, and I think 2011 is going to be a repeat of 2009.
Batman: Arkham City’s combat is mostly unchanged from Batman: Arkham Asylum. It revolves around Batman pummeling bad guys with his fists and gadgets and doing it exceptionally well. He leaps from goon to goon, even when they’re incredibly far apart and the blows he delivers are impactful, especially the final hit when dealing with a group of hoodlums. I didn’t make good use of every option available to Batman, but I really, really liked the melee combat. I’ve heard it called the best melee combat in video games and I’d have to agree.
The fights get tougher when different enemy types are introduced. There are a few larger than normal enemies that take a whooping and there are a few that require special tactics such as attacking from behind, but Batman’s biggest threat, aside from a few bosses, are enemies with guns. In a way, Arkham City has two modes of combat. The first is the all-out melee combat where I took on any comers, while the second revolved around stealth.
If I didn’t act stealthily around bad guys with guns and they noticed me, it was basically game over. Batman can take a walloping from run-of-the-mill bad guys, but guns shred him up. When I encountered a group of well equipped thugs, I took them out quietly, and this was as fun as tackling a large group. As I took more enemies out, they would freak out, giving me direct feedback on how I was doing. What I liked most about this sort of combat however was my forced reliance on my environment and gadgets. If I didn’t take these two aspects into consideration, thugs with guns would be much tougher.
After the events of Arkham Asylum, Gotham City is still fed up with the villains that plague them. Through a curious chain of events, the most crime-ridden area of Gotham City is condemned and turned into Arkham City, a massive jail essentially. Dr. Hugo Strange is a key figure and as one might guess, up to something sinister.
Strange captures Bruce Wayne as he’s criticizing Arkham City and announcing his bid to run for mayor of Gotham City. Unfortunate for Strange, Batman is now inside Arkham City, but he’s not alone. Catwoman plays a large role in the game, but it’s strange how she is implemented. The ability to play as Catwoman is really a piece of downloadable content and included with any new copy of Batman: Arkham City. But everyone else will miss out unless they buy the DLC. Not infuriating, but whatever.
Her story is woven into the game at four points, and at natural breaks in Batman’s story. Her plot intertwines with Batman’s and I generally liked the break from Batman. She plays very similar to Batman, but she doesn’t have the same gadgets. She doesn’t have a lot of them either; only three compared to Batman’s dozen. Her fights were predominately just that, fights; I rarely took enemies out stealthily as her.
Batman and Catwoman meet many familiar and not so familiar villains from Batman lore. Batman has run-ins with a few major players like The Penguin and Mister Freeze, but The Joker is his main foe. What happens is very peculiar though. For most of the game, they are seeking the same thing and they operate as frenemies, but the way their relationship eventually plays out is intense.
I was really captivated by Arkham City’s story. Every time I’d finish a story thread, something interesting would happen and make me want to continue. Unlike a lot of games, I rarely wanted to stop playing it, and when I wasn’t busy with the story, I had a fairly large open world environment to explore.
Scattered about Arkham City were hundreds of riddles and trophies The Riddler left behind; literally hundreds, nearly five hundred in total. I almost feel like it’s too many, but then again, I’ve spent as much time with the game after I beat it as I did to beat it. Most of his items are trophies and these require clever uses of Batman’s gadgets. There are also riddles which require me to take a picture of something, but I had a hard time with these considering the large environment. His items would be tagged on the map after beating up certain thugs and this was very welcome.
When not going after Hugo Strange, The Joker, or The Riddler, I had a decent amount of side quests to tackle. These were mostly tasked to Batman by his enemies, which seemed odd. I mean Batman had incentives to undertake them, but if I simply told you Batman was assisting Bane without elaborating, you’d probably be confused. In the same vein, Batman never kills his enemies, which in some circumstances, is frustrating. I understand he doesn’t want to take a life, but locking someone up in a simple cage seems shortsighted.
Besides the standard game mode (in which I could fully explore Arkham City post-game and tidy things up as Batman or Catwoman) I could undertake the Riddler’s Revenge mode. This mode contained a lot of maps where I was tasked with beating up groups of thugs and getting ranked on how well I did, or taking a group of thugs out silently, and in a few specific ways. There is a lot of stuff to do in this game!
Batman: Arkham City is an improvement over Batman: Arkham Asylum. The combat system has changed little in two years, but it’s still so great. I really liked the story and was surprised by a few things that happened; I’ll definitely remember the ending. My biggest takeaway from Batman: Arkham City is the amount of content it contains. I’ve spent a lot of time with the game these past two weeks, and it’s one of the only games I’ve ever completed and then jumped right back into… for another dozen or so hours. Having strayed from many of this year’s new releases I can’t say with authority, but I believe Batman: Arkham City is one of the year’s best games. Batman: Arkham City was developed by London based Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and soon the PC. I played the Xbox 360 version.
October 23, 2011
Man is Batman: Arkham City good. I plan on writing a review this week but the contents are pretty much going to be “man is Batman: Arkhamy City good”. Besides my limited work obligations during the week and my limited schoolwork thanks to fall break, I dedicated whatever time I had to Arkham City, and I completed it last week, but I’m going to play through it again thanks to the new game plus feature. Besides that, there are so many Riddler-related items I have left to track down and I plan on completing 100% of the game. Lastly, there is a mode dedicated to challenge rooms (fighting dudes and stealthily taking out dudes) that I haven’t sunk a ton of time into yet.
Along with the demos I wrote about, Batman: Arkham City was pretty much it. I played a little bit more of Front Mission but that just got overshadowed this week.
October 18, 2011
I didn’t necessarily play a ton of new games in 2009, but Batman: Arkham Asylum was my favorite game that year. The beat ‘em combat was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in a video game. As Batman I took on large groups of enemies, and once I learned the ins and outs of the deep combat system, I was able to rack up incredible combos and effortlessly take out thugs. There was so much more to the gameplay than just the combat though; exploration was such a major feature too. Witnessing so many of Batman’s enemies firsthand was interesting and my knowledge of the lore was enhanced because of Rocksteady Studios’ attention to detail. Needless to say I was pumped for the sequel.
Batman: Arkham City just came out, like yesterday, and I wanted to recap my experience with the first few hours. The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is the environment. Last time we saw Batman, he was confined to Arkham Asylum and the island it resided on. This was a large environment, but for the most part, everything was connected via hallways. This time around, Batman has all of Arkham City to explore; it’s many times larger than the previous environment and feels much more open.
I’m beginning to get acquainted with the city and am increasingly able to know where I am via landmarks and important buildings. I’m traversing much of the city in the “canopy” by grappling to rooftops and gliding around. For every new story beat, I’m given an indicator of where I need to go, and the game lets progress the story at my own pace. I’ve encountered many sidequests so far and I don’t think I can walk for more than thirty seconds before finding something to do. I’ve been splitting my time between advancing the story and partaking in sidequests, and I’m just baffled by the amount of stuff to do.
But what’s up with Arkham City what is it and why isn’t that game taking place in Gotham City? Well, when Arkham Asylum closed down, Gotham City still needed a place to put criminals and super villains, and Dr. Hugo Strange obliged. He’s behind the development of Arkham City, where ne’er do wells run rampant. Circumstances see that Batman winds up inside and yada, yada, yada. We all know Batman is going to do what Batman knows best, kick butt and put a stop to whatever madness is going on, and probably only temporarily. The story has introduced me to a handful of well known and lesser known enemies in the four hours I’ve played so far, and kicking butt is still challenging and rewarding.
The combat is identical to the previous game, I’m not sure I’ve even encountered any additional methods of attacking yet, but I’m sure that’ll come with time. That just means the combat is easy to learn and difficult to master like it previously was, and I’ve found I’m a little rusty, but then again I’ve already gotten a 40-hit combo. I still gain levels for kicking butt, completing quests, and finding secrets, and I still have a boatload of options to level up. That’s something I really like about Batman: Arkham City; there is a ton of additional stuff for me to do, and I feel it’s worth my time because the rewards have a direct effect on gameplay.
Honestly, Batman: Arkham City has exceeded my expectations in the four or so hours I’ve played of it. The story is captivating so far, but it’s really the gameplay that’s drawing me in. Fighting enemies and wanting to excel is challenging and fun. There’s so much to do too; I feel a little overwhelmed with the possibilities I have, progress the story, accomplish any number of sidequests, etc. but so far I’m blown away by Batman: Arkham City.