Archive for Arkham

Batman Arkham Origins Soothing Gameplay Scenes

Posted in News with tags , , , on June 15, 2013 by Rabidgames

Were you dismayed when you heard that Batman Arkham Origins won’t be done by Rocksteady? Were you afraid the adventure parts might get thrown out of the window? Were you afraid the game may end up just another bland action game, betraying its Arkham roots?

Fret not! Batman Arkham Origins will feature tons of elements of the two predecessors, and there’ll be new adventure stuff for us, too (scanning crime scenes sounds like fun). Anyway, let’s just watch 15 minutes of gameplay footage:

Rabidgames is relieved: Thankfully, Warner Bros. is giving us what we want: Action AND adventure. Thanks guys. Anticipation level at 100%.

Tomb Raider or Less Cleavage, More Gameplay

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , on March 26, 2013 by Rabidgames

Reboots are en vogue these days. If you’re stuck with a story or a protagonist, rewind and restart. In Tomb Raider’s case, it’s been a damn good idea. Lara Croft isn’t just a mere sexualised dual-wielding triple jumping doll with gravity-defying massive knockers anymore, she is a young and naive student on her quest to archaeological glory. At least for 45 minutes. After a rough start, she has survived getting impaled, getting shot, falling and more falling, wolf attacks … and there’s more pain to come.

Sadly, the transition from naive student to cold-blooded huntress happens a bit too fast in the new Tomb Raider. One minute she is close to puking her guts out after shooting some bad guy’s brain into tiny pieces, the next she’s on her way mowing down squads of baddies. Later on, it gets outright ridiculous when she takes down a whole army (literally) within mere minutes! Alright, even though this sounds crazy let’s not forget the new Tomb Raider isn’t as outlandish as the franchise used to be (no, there’s no T Rex), but still, don’t expect more than solid B movie entertainment. It is solid; the story is engaging although not surprising – think of Indiana Jones and you’re pretty close to it. But it works. The story about her team stranded, an insane cult worshipping a long dead queen and hte mysteries of this isolated place is enough to get the plot going. Characters … well, let’s say it’s obvious who dies and who lives, and if you want to know more about them, you have to look for documents scattered all over the island.

Tomb Raider’s island is amazing. Thanks to the pretty and smooth graphics, it is more welcoming and more diverse than Far Cry 3’s jungles, and there’s much hidden in each and every corner – be it in the jungle, in caves, in old ruins or in a rather miserable shanty town, you’ll never get tired of looking at it. Yes; an island full of mysteries, some “others”, relics, it is more than a subtle hint to Lost. Inexplicably, there is no hatch (that award goes to Just Cause 2).

And now for the surprise: Lara is the little sister of Batman, and no, she has virtually nothing to do with Nathan Drake. Forget about comparing Tomb Raider to Uncharted – apart from both games being action adventures and containing gun fights, they don’t have much in common. Arkham Asylum is the godfather of the new Tomb Raider!

DNA tests? Here we go:

  • Lara’s instinct = Batman’s detective mode
  • backtracking (new gadgets open new paths)
  • melee system, especially counter moves
  • Lara’s rope arrows = Batman’s rope gadget
  • destroying barriers feels the same
  • documents = tapes
  • the level up system
  • stealth works similar – if it is an option

Let’s be honest here – Arkham Asylum is an amazing game, and it’s a decent blueprint to use. Mind you, Tomb Raider is more than a mere copy – it is darker, grittier and definitely bloodier. Both games have one thing in common though: The focus on gameplay and fun in diversity. And the mix between action/fighting and adventure/exploring is close to perfection in both games. There are many different items to collect (from interesting or useful to chore) so even after completing the story, you might want to go back and continue collecting some more stuff.

Surprisingly, the gun fights in Tomb Raider are more challenging than in many other shooters: Forget about leisurely eliminating enemies from cover! Molotovs, dynamite, melee fighters and more make it impossible to just sit there waiting for heads to pop out. In Tomb Raider, you have to be proactive and quick if you don’t want to get overwhelmed. The only annoying enemies are those carrying shields (at least before the grenade launcher upgrade): Lara’s stupid dodging before rolling makes fighting them a chore. By the way, why can Lara use grenades with a rifle, but she can’t use them without it?

Of course, Rabidgames has to nitpick once more: QTE. Come on! While the first couple of QTE in Tomb Raider might serve as a way for inexperienced Lara to learn how to fight and survive from an artistic point of view, getting rid of the final boss via QTE is nothing short of fucking lazy! It’s a disgrace. What happened to the art of smart boss fights? Extinct? Superfluous? Not streamlined enough for this generation?

Another disappointment in Tomb Raider is the lack of actual tomb raiding: There are only 7 tombs (plus one preorder DLC one) to be raided – and each one is just one puzzle per room. Erm, why exactly is the game called Tomb Raider now? Shouldn’t it be called “Lara Croft: The Beginning” or “Lara Croft Rises” … Anyway, Tomb Raider is one of those action adventures spelled ACTION adventures – although the fighting/puzzle ratio is still higher than in Uncharted 2.

Oh, the multiplayer. Fuck it. Rabidgames doesn’t give a fuck. Tomb Raider does not need a fucking multiplayer, and supposedly, it ain’t great anyway. Those wasted resources would have helped in enhancing the adventure part. Oh, and Square Enix, one word about your DLC policy: Fuck off! Lots of rather tiny stuff for day one. Weapons, characters etc. And for the singleplayer, we get some extra skins. Remember when skins got unlocked by playing the fucking game? Good old days long gone it seems …

Rabidgames nods: Well, the usual nitpicking aside, Tomb Raider is a pleasant surprise. Even though there is not much originality in there, it still feels refreshing, and that’s something which ain’t easy to achieve. The easy-going gameplay and a sombre atmosphere go well together, and after finishing Lara’s first adventure, we are craving for more. No, not a boob job, you perv!

Batman: Arkham Asylum And Arkham City or All Hail The Riddler

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , , on December 25, 2012 by Rabidgames

Admittedly, Rabidgames is rather late to the party. A couple of years back, he started playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, but gave up after 2 hours. Why? Good question! Maybe a slap to the own face is due.

A trip to the Asylum

This time around, Arkham Asylum was loved. And it was a great party for sure! To make it plain and easy, Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the few action adventures where there is action AND adventure to be found. Alright, Rabidgames confesses: The action part is alright, but the adventure is where Arkham Asylum really shines! While it is fun to sneak around, eliminating goons silently (or getting spotted and getting away quickly), the melee system which is admittedly deeper as it looks like might be considered great, but to Rabidgames, it has become boring after the tenth fight: Yes, you can experiment, and yes, the gadgets are cool, but at the end of Arkham Asylum’s long dark night, it’s still doing your favourite actions over and over again, a tad too often.

Thankfully, this repetitive fighting is only a minor part of Arkham Asylum. The adventure part is where the fun’s at. Trying to find your way through rooms with the help of all your gadgets, using detective mode to find clues (it’s rudimentary, true, but a welcome change nonetheless), and then, the pinnacle of the Batman games: The many riddles of the Riddler. It is painful to see a riddler trophy you can’t access until later in the game, because you simply want them all. Finding a way to the trophies is fun, but even better are the proper riddles where you have to either align your sight to make a question mark visible, or you have to decipher a proper riddle and ‘photograph’ said image, sculpture or whatever it is. In those instances, Arkham Asylum makes you feel there is more need for great adventure games, a genre almost extinct these days. Plus, it might just be a small bonus, you have to think! Properly think, not just think “should I waste that Alien/Arab/beast/cop/gangsta/monster/pirate/terrorist with my shotgun or my plasma rifle”? And undoubtedly, the best part of Arkham Asylum is when you have collected all but one piece of the story of Arkham’s dark history, and the last piece to finally solve the puzzle is a search where you have to find the solution yourself.

Well, yeah, there’s a story too, but it’s rather a backdrop for your actions and adventures. As a Batman fan, you might enjoy all the hints, appearances and cameos of several characters. Rabidgames is not really a fan – in fact, Batman was just another ridiculous superhero to Rabidgames until the latest Batman movies. But even if you don’t give a riddle’s solution about the Batman universe, Arkham Asylum is still a blast if you like video games!

Welcome to the concrete jungle

Batman: Arkham City follows the events of Arkham Asylum, and as such, story, characters and gameplay follow closely. Unfortunately, Arkham City has become an ACTION adventure for some stupid reason. You’ll spend way more time fighting baddies over and over again, and while there is a wider variety of goons, melee battles are still boring, even a chore at times. Mind you, fighting enemies with guns is even more fun since they can now scan the area for Batman, and there are even more takedowns, more places to hide and more ways to trick your enemies.

The greatest weakness of Arkham City are the boss battles: Usually, there is the area boss and ten or even twenty goons. You just fight them seemingly forever, and then you beat down the boss, sometimes, you just beat him conventionally. Honestly, it’s motherfucking boring! There are only two amazing and great boss fights to be found in Arkham City; the one is as Catwoman against Two-Face and some of his armed companions, the other is Batman against Mr. Freeze. Both rely on stealth and cunning, not on mashing the same buttons all the time (and by the way, evading is the solution to everything). It’s just a shame Rocksteady has wasted quite some potential there.

Another thing is the buildup to the ending – in the last hour, half of the cast of Arkham City appears and dies, some characters just appear for seconds and for no apparent reason … It just seems the writers had to end the game quickly and therefore just packed a shitload of plot into the last hour. Speaking of the ending – the rather unlikely final boss in Arkham City  means you do the same rather stupid thing two times, and then a third time once more, only that the whole screen is full of enemies. Really? Come on, that’s really lame!

And then there’s that goddamn annoying bug where the screen stays black and Arkham City never loads. This appears roughly 3 out of 10 times, and it is fucking annoying to have to restart your Xbox 360 via a hard reset. Worst of all, this bug has been spotted by gamers as early as January 2012 (look it up over at gamefaqs). Mind you, Rabidgames bought the GOTY edition of Arkham City – and guess what, that fucking rancid fella of a bug is still in there. Seriously, Rocksteady, you need to do your homework!

Rabidgames has just realised you all must have the impression he did not enjoy Batman: Arkham City. That’s wrong. The detective work, the stealth, the gadgets, the ingenious riddles, it’s all still in there. So yes, Rabidgames really did enjoy Arkham City. Furthermore, the GOTY edition comes with tons of extras; you can play as Catowoman (she has her own way of moving and fighting), there is a new game + mode with tougher enemies, and then there’s the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC which still has not been played. It’s just … Arkham Asylum was simply more to Rabidgames’ tastes. It was the perfect mix of action and adventure, while Arkham City has delved to deep into action land. And still, both games are a welcome diversion from all the shooters ands fantasy RPGs, a welcome change from the usual brainless mashing of buttons and triggers. We need more games like these, where the focal point is the gameplay itself.

By the way, both games come packed with challenges where you can match your skills with hose of your friends. Yet somehow, Rabidgames doesn’t give a rat’s ass about such online competition stuff where your only rewards are achievement and the knowledge you are better than 1.901.355 other people who have tried it at least once.

Rabidgames riddles: What will come next? Arkham Valley? Arkham World? Arkham Universe? We’ll see. If Rocksteady returns to the Arkham Asylum formula, it’s a day one purchase. Hell, it’ll be a GOTY purchase in any case anyway! Just do it.