Monday, December 24, 2012

The Shit Gamer’s Review: 'Batman – Arkham City'

‘Batman: Arkham City’ has to be one of the greatest video games of all time (well, one of the quotes on the front of the ‘Game of the Year Edition’ I have says as much). One can get lost in its bleak cityscape for hours on end, gliding and grappling between the rooftops, or mixing it up with the Arkham City inmates at ground level. The gameplay is a combination of role-playing game and beat-em-up, effectively combining the two main elements of Batman’s crime-fighting methodology: detective work and hand-to-hand combat. (I’m sure it’s not the first Batman game to do this, but anyway it does it very well.) Similarly, the Catwoman sequences manage to throw in most of the things you would want to be Catwoman for: burgling, whipping, bounding up walls, and wrapping your legs around enemies’ necks.

One might argue that RPG’s lose a bit of their lustre nowadays in that you can easily look up the solutions online if you want to. I admit I looked up the solutions from time to time (this one from Game Pressure proving to be the most helpful). Allow me to make the following justifications. First, the game itself provides a lot of hints, and so looking up guides online doesn’t add as much as you might first think. Second, I only used them when I had been wandering around aimlessly for some time. Third, you could argue that it is within the character of Batman to use all the resources available to him, and that Batman feels more like Batman when he knows exactly what he’s going to do next.  Finally, video games are a lonely experience, and seeing others raise the same questions you are raising helps you feel decidedly less solipsistic.

It took me essentially one obsessive week to finish the main storyline, but that is just a small part of what ‘Batman: Arkham City’ has to offer.  There are many side missions, and hidden prizes to collect, and once you finish the game you can go back through it all over again, with harder enemies. But here’s the paradox: as much as I loved ‘Batman: Arkham City’ I just wanted to get through the main story as quickly as I could. As I already said, I used cheats whenever I was wandering aimlessly for a few minutes. Indeed (SPOILERS!) when, two-thirds of the way through, Catwoman is given the chance to leave Gotham City rather than go back and save Batman, I thought ‘beauty!’ and took the exit. When (SPOILERS AGAIN!) I had slogged my way through all the bad guys and had to endure throwing that freaking Remote Batarang 450 times and had actually finished the game, and then found out there was some sort of extra mission at the end, my heart sank a little. I admit it: I have no patience. I don’t explore. I’m just driven by the need to finish. I’m sure there are areas of life where that’s an asset.   

(A final aside: yeah, yeah, she’s just a computer-generated character and it's Wolowitzesque to say it, but Talia al Ghul in ‘Arkham City’ is hot. Like, really hot. And if you do feel silly ogling a bunch of pixels, do an image search for the actress who did her voice instead.)

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