Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Re-Review: Batman Arkham City

I got Batman Arkham City for Christmas in 2011 and played it in the following month. With news reports and gameplay video about Batman Arkham Origins coming out I got the urge to break it open again and give it another try.


Last time I got to near the end of the main storyline and couldn't complete it. I got to the big fight with Clayface but couldn't defeat him after several tries. Burnt out a little at playing the game hard for a month I quit and intended to go back but never did until this month. Being away so long I of course just started a new game.

Last time I wrote:
The one downside to AC however has to be the sheer multitude of distractions they have thrown in via the form of side missions. These are optional short missions that Batman can accept or stumble on but don't really need to be accomplished in order to move the main story line forward. The problem is that its hard to buy into the main story line plot's urgency if Batman is running around doing minor superhero work all over the place. Some side missions can be accomplished "along the way" but the ones that require you to go way out of your way to work on are just plain distractions.
I realize the developers put them in there to increase playability and there is some value in gaining more experience for more upgrades by completing them, but they are very distracting and I wish the main story line had organic pauses in it to allow me to feel like I have the latitude to investigate the sniper bullet trajectory. Instead since I'm DYING OF POISON JOKER BLOOD I NEED CURE NOW it feels a little silly to not go as quickly as possible to the next part. You know, I'm dying and all that.
Still, the game is good and the side missions are well constructed, I just need to allow myself to investigate them more and not get so hung up on the pretend urgency.
I decided this time to take my own advice and not rush from storyline point to storyline point. Instead I took the challenge of the side missions to heart and ran down every lead and crime in progress I came across.

This tactic worked well for me. I leveled a lot more and got fully upgraded batsuit (i.e. more hitpoints) and got more practice at fighting the various goon types (the shield ones are especially annoying). Love the quickfire freeze grenades.

The end result was a lot more satisfying AND I easily defeated Clayface in a couple tries (actually had to do it twice as it froze on his death cutscene the first time). So yay me. Overall, I'd say my enjoyment of the game was greater on a second playthrough.

However, there was one thing that bothered me, both the first time I saw it and this time (beyond the rampant and gratuitous over sexualization and titillation of the main female characters). At one point in the main story the Joker has kidnapped Talia who Batman "has feelings for" and he wants to track them down and save her. Meanwhile the prison is being attacked by numerous helicopters firing machine guns and rockets at the helpless prisoners, killing hundreds. Alfred and Oracle have to block the homing device on Talia to force Batman to stop the helicopters.

What. The. Fuck.

Batman would never, NEVER, allow a selfish motive to prevent him from saving innocent lives. This plot point rung out so untrue to the spirit and character of Batman that is still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That was horrible writing and plotting and not even necessary. I know why they did it: in a game where the player controls Batman how do you take away the choice of stopping the helicopters or following the homing beacon? Especially since the whole game so far has been about choosing what mission to work on at any point in time? But a simple explanation of "oh, Hugo Strange's tower is outputting jamming frequencies to prevent the massacre from getting out too soon" is all you really need. Instead they choose to debase Batman into another male-slaved-to-his-own-loins macho man.

Horrible. Not enough to completely ruin the game for me, but enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I hope none of that nonsense makes it into Arkham Origins.

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