Tag Archives: Batman

Batman: Arkham Origins (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC)

Developer(s) – Warner Bros. Games Montreal

Publisher(s) – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Director(s) – Eric Holmes & Benoit Richer

Producer – Ben Mattes

PEGI – 16

With the developmental duties changing hands between Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Montreal, Arkham Origins went on to receive fairly positive acclaim from most publications, with the exception of Destructoid, who gave the game a mere 3.5/10. Whilst I personally didn’t think it was anywhere near as bad to warrant that kind of a score, it’s still much below par compared to both Arkham City and Arkham Knight; but in my opinion, not Arkham Asylum.

Graphics – 8/10

The visuals, from a technological standpoint, offer among the best that were ever made possible on seventh generation consoles. The textural details of the characters, especially The Joker, are nothing short of flawless. However, from a conceptual point of view, a case can be made for the developers simply recycling many elements from Arkham City, and adding them to this game. Aside from the additional islands there are in the game, the rest is essentially a carbon copy of the previous game; only the atmosphere is much different.

Gameplay – 9.5/10

Playing out more or less identically to Arkham City, players have the option of completing a story mode with the addition of a great many side quests thrown in for good measure. The Riddler side quest makes a return, and there was also DLC made available for the game containing a side quests revolving around the villain Mr. Freeze. Completing the main story holds around as much depth in gameplay as Arkham City; though the boss fights are a little underwhelming in comparison to the likes of Ra’s Al Ghul, Clayface and Solomon Grundy.

Controls – 10/10

Arkham Origins runs on the same engine, and has the same control scheme as the previous two Batman Arkham games, and so not only are there any problems with the game’s controls, but they also underwent some minor tweaks to make the entire thing play out a lot more smoothly. It’s one of a few things that I was glad to see the different developers get right, and not make any unnecessary complications with, which could have been quite disastrous.

Lifespan – 7/10

Coming in at about 40-45 hours, Arkham Origins lasts about as long as Arkham City, which whilst is more than satisfactory, seemed a little bit underwhelming to me, as the in-game world was slightly expanded upon its predecessor. I was adamant that there was room for more side quests, or maybe even more assassins than the 8 in the game who are after Batman.

Storyline – 7.5/10

The story revolves around a largely unrefined Batman, who is being pursued and hunted by eight of Gotham City’s fiercest criminals. It’s Batman’s job to put an end to the ensuing havoc before these villains can cause any harm to him, but above else, Gotham. The story is much more straightforward than any of the other games in the Arkham series, but the best element of it, in my opinion, was watching how The Joker comes to take such an interest in Batman, and how he would eventually become fixated on him throughout the rest of their sinister cat and mouse relationship. The other villains also have some depth in personality, but underwhelming compared to what had already been seen within this sub-series so far, or even what was to come.

Originality – 5/10

The worse thing about this game was how much of a template to the overall Batman Arkham formula the developers took advantage of. The map, minus the smaller locations added, is largely recycled and the story was considerably less inspiring than in the other instalments. I was personally somewhat underwhelmed by this game, since I though that it may have been what I’d always imagined a game in the series had the potential to be. But since the map was only fractionally bigger, it didn’t seem like the Gotham I always saw beyond the in-game worlds in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

Happii

Happii

Overall, however, despite its limitations and lack of innovation within the series, Batman: Arkham Origins is still an enjoyable game, and does a good job of giving fans of the games more of what they like. It was more an adequate appetiser for gamers before the release of Arkham Knight, and certainly one of the better games of 2013; in my opinion, even better than Arkham Asylum based on its gameplay alone.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)  

Batman: Arkham Knight (PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC)

Developer(s) – Rocksteady Studios

Publisher(s) – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Director – Sefton Hill

Writer(s) – Sefton Hill, Martin Lancaster & Paul Crocker

PEGI – 18

Batman: Arkham Knight sees the return of the developmental handling of the series back with Rocksteady Studios after Batman: Arkham Origins, and expands on the concept of both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City with an even bigger open world, more gameplay options, and yet another engrossing story about the dark knight’s struggles to protect the city of Gotham. I was expecting a fantastic game from the moment it was announced, and when I first caught a glimpse of the trailer; and I was far from disappointed.

Graphics – 9.5/10

Set in an much bigger, darker and grittier take on Gotham City, the graphics look stunning on both a technological and conceptual standpoint. The attention to detail undertaken with this game is phenomenal; even when looking at characters close-up. But more important than this, the artistic direction the developers decided to employ this time around tops everything else seen in the Arkham series so far, as landscapes and settings sometimes change based on circumstances happening within the game, such as Batman having hallucinations, or how villains are effecting the city with what means to do so they have.

Gameplay – 10/10

Expanding largely upon what Rocksteady had thus far accomplished with the first two games in the series, the gameplay formula contains a plethora of new features, such as new gadgets, new combat options, new side quests, an enhanced detective mode, switching combat between two characters seamlessly, and most notably, the option of using the Batmobile to traverse the streets of Gotham. It can be called at will, and can be used to travel long distances, as well as a combat option from both inside and outside of it. The Batmobile combat sequences are especially satisfying to undertake, since there is a skill to it incomparable to any other game I’ve ever played. There is also a great deal more side quests than Arkham City or Arkham Origins, giving it much more depth in gameplay than the two aforementioned titles, with the return of familiar villains and the introduction of new ones thrown in for good measure.

Controls – 9.5/10

The game’s control scheme in simply the same as what was seen for the rest of the Arkham series, so for the most part, no issues arise. It’s actually quite interesting to see what tweaks have been made to the formula; the ability to use the grapple hook much more fluently for example. The Batmobile can be a little bit tricky to get to grips with at first, but after a while, players will find ways of sorting out any issues they may have.

Lifespan – 8/10

Clocking in at around 35 to 40 hours, I found that it can be made to last fractionally longer than Arkham City, which whilst it’s a more than adequate lifespan for an action adventure video game, I felt a little bit disappointed by it. I was expecting this game to last considerably longer than Arkham City, since the map was much bigger, and more side quests could have been added from the start as opposed to making people wait for DLC to come out. Nevertheless, there are enough side quests and enough hours to put into the main story to keep players occupied for a more than decent amount of time, and the time is worth investing in it.

Storyline – 9/10

Carrying on from the events of Arkham City, Gotham is evacuated after Dr Jonathan Crane, AKA The Scarecrow, announces that he has an enhanced strain of his infamous fear toxin, which he plans to release throughout the city. Naturally, Batman is called in to stop The Scarecrow and save Gotham from his diabolical plan, and to also uncover the mystery behind the true identity of the commander of The Scarecrow’s ruthless militia; The Arkham Knight. The game’s story is even more phenomenal, and wonderfully disturbing than both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, as The Scarecrow, as well as every other villain, pose an even greater threat to Batman than they ever have done previously.

The Scarecrow is much more effective Batman villain than some people may give him credit for, since whilst most are quick to point out that The Joker is the best batman villain, the Scarecrow, like Batman, uses fear to subdue his adversaries; it’s just that both have different ways of going about it. Batman is afraid of bats, and thus tries to project his own fears onto others, whereas The Scarecrow tries to project people’s own fears onto them to the point of driving them insane. Both tactics work very effectively, which is why The Scarecrow is a naturally formidable villain to Batman, and it all works flawlessly. Regardless, the presence of The Joker throughout the game was very cleverly handled, and the acting talents of the both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, who play Batman and The Joker respectively, do well to continue to convey the complicated and unsavoury relationship they have with each other.

Originality – 8.5/10

Though the majority of the game focuses on the principles of an already refined gameplay formula, more than enough was added to it to keep it fresh and enjoyable to play the game to. The new features certainly make it stand out from the rest of the series in a largely positive way, as well as the many other action adventure games to have been developed in recent years. My huge hope is that although the developers have categorically stated that this game will be the last in the Arkham series, that they ultimately agree with me that there is still even more scope for which to expand the gameplay formula even further; to the point where it becomes morbidly obese with ideas. Like what Just Cause 3 looks set to convey for example.

Deliirious

Deliirious

Overall, Batman: Arkham Knight is in my opinion the best game of 2015 so far, as well as the best game of the eighth generation. It is recommended from me for gamers who may or may not be fans of the series, and gives testament to just how far licensed games have come; from being considered as shovel ware titles to becoming mainstream game of the year competitors.

Score

54.5/60

9/10 (Excellent)

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Rocksteady Studios

Publisher(s) – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment & Eidos Interactive

Director – Sefton Hill

Producer(s) – Daniel Bailie & Nathan Burlow

PEGI – 16

Released in the summer of 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum was instrumental in establishing an unusually high standard for games based on pre-existing licenses, and has since gone on to inspire the development of games such as Alien: Isolation and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I did find a few faults with this game, and by proxy, I think it is somewhat overrated, but nevertheless, it is a fairly solid gaming experience.

Graphics – 9/10

This game was one of the best-looking of it’s time, containing some of the most advanced graphical rendering of the seventh generation of gaming, showing off stunning textural detail; specifically in things such as the Joker’s hair, Batman’s cape, Killer Croc’s skin and the Scarecrow’s clothing. Aside from all that, however, the game also excels conceptually. Taking place in the infamous Arkham Asylum of the Batman universe, it is home to some extremely dark imagery, and a vast range of different and gritty locations, such as the sewers where Killer Croc resides, and the greenhouse, where Poison Ivy eventually overgrows with deadly flora.

Gameplay – 9/10

The gameplay is equally as immersing. An action adventure title, there is a heavy emphasis on combat, with an extremely intricate system of stringing combos together and in using different techniques to tackle enemies either head-on, or using both stealth and conveniently placed vantage points to pick them off one after the other. In addition, there are a fair few side quests to undertake, such as finding all the interview tapes of each villain, the Riddler trophies and finding each of the history runes scattered throughout the asylum. Though the Batman game on the NES is often regarded as a decent title, Arkham Asylum did more than use the license, but it also celebrated it, making the player feel more as if they are in the shoes of the dark knight.

Controls – 10/10

The game can most definitely been seen as an extremely positive departure from the extremely ill-fated Batman and Robin game released for the PlayStation in terms of its controls scheme. It plays out somewhat similarly, but the controls in Arkham Asylum are most definitely more developed on and more intricate than the latter.

Lifespan – 4/10

The game’s length is certainly its most disappointing feature. The story campaign can take merely 6 to 7 to complete, taking in all side quests, and because of that, it also seems like a criminally fleeting experience. Fortunately, Rocksteady would go on to address this issue in later games in Batman: Arkham City, and did so again in Arkham Knight, but the saga started out short, which is the primary reason why I believe it to be the weakest out of the three games released so far.

Storyline – 8/10

The story follows Batman, who is fresh off capturing the Joker, and decides to accompany the staff of Arkham Asylum in the middle of the villain’s re-admission to the institute; suspicious of why he seemed overly easy to recapture. The Joker then escapes his captors, and he then proceeds to take over the facility with the help of his henchmen, as well as Harley Quinn. It’s later revealed that the Joker has a plan to turn Arkham’s inmates into an army of insanely strong soldiers, using an advanced form of venom; the poison, which gives the villain Bane his superhuman strength. The plot is extremely strong and compelling; especially through the interactions between Batman and the Joker throughout, as well as his encounters with the Scarecrow and his fear gas.

Originality – 7/10

This game stands out a great deal for the fact that before it, not many other games released to coincide with films or other forms of media were of the same kind of quality as stable video game franchises; the worst example of which being E.T for the Atari 2600, which is cited as a major contributor to the industry crash 1983. Arkham Asylum celebrates the Batman license, but at the same time, the developers stayed true to the fact that immersing gameplay is the most important aspect of any video game, and they ended up making one of the most well received titles of the era.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Batman: Arkham Asylum, despite the major flaw of a short lifespan, is a pretty enjoyable experience, and was a concept most certainly improving on. The sequel would be a colossal improvement on the first game, but this was an extremely good starting point.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Batman & Robin (PlayStation & Game.com)

Developer(s) – Probe Entertainment & Tiger Electronics

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Entertainment & Tiger Electronics

Designer – Matt Nagy

ELSPA – 11

To coincide with the ill-fated Batman film with the impressive cast of George Clooney, Uma Thurman and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin was released a year after the film, and like it, received a very negative commercial and critical response. Most believe that the film almost killed the entire Batman franchise, and with good reason, but the game hardly amounts to much either. It certainly doesn’t justify George Clooney’s smug expression on the front CD insert.

Graphics – 8/10

Since this was a licensed game with a pretty big budget behind it, the visuals are among some of the most technically astute for its time. Not only that, but the conceptual design was also fairly well handled too. Gotham is portrayed as being a dark and gritty place, similar to how it’s portrayed in the film Batman Returns. The biggest problem with the graphics, however, is the lighting; especially on older televisions. Everything is excessively dark, which although was intended by the developers to deliver a gritty atmosphere, was taken much too far in my opinion.

Gameplay – 2/10

Unfortunately, the graphics were the only aspect in which this given any true attention to detail, as the gameplay is unanimously abysmal, and merely a fraction of what it had the potential to be. With the ability to travel in the Batmobile, as well as to select from three different characters, Batman, Robin and Batgirl, it will have looked and sounded half-decent at first glance, but ends up feeling extremely underwhelming; especially since the game appears to be set in an open world. To me, the biggest limitations were in the developer’s imagination as opposed to the game’s budget.

Controls – 2/10

Though this game does have a remarkably similar look about it to that of the Arkham series, the control scheme is very largely unrefined and riddled with errors and complications. Before the targeting system would be introduced with Ocarina of Time, combat was made extremely hard as well as inaccessible, as not only do single hits take up great portions of player’s health, but trying to land hits are made much more of an annoyance than a challenge.

Lifespan – 2/10

Despite there being a fairly big open world for what the game’s memory would allow, and despite the fact that the story goes through three separate phases, the game can take only about 4 hours to finish, which even for the time, was unacceptable. I wasn’t the best example of how to develop a 3D game for a number of reasons, but this reason is definitely one of the most prominent.

Storyline – 4/10

Telling the same story as the film, it evolves around Batman and his sidekicks protecting Gotham from Bane, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. There are no basic story elements, as the industry was starting to incorporate in-depth story into games, but there is consolation in the fact that unlike the film, it doesn’t feature lacklustre acting and jokes that make Carrot Top look like Richard Pryor.

Originality – 3/10

As I alluded to before, this game had the potential to be much more than it turned out to be; even if the film suffered complications from the very beginning. The game’s memory could easily handle more content and side quests than what was present in the final product, making it even more obvious that this title was simply rush out to retail in a less-than-satisfactory state to coincide with the release of the film. That the film didn’t do anything to live up to the quality of Batman Forever would have complicated matters even further.

Furiious

Furiious

Overall, batman & Robin, like the film, is a failure of gigantic proportions. It didn’t live up to what it could have been if it had been developed with a bit of passion, and is considered a dark stain on the entire franchise.

Score

21/60

3.5/10 (Very Poor)