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June 27th, 2013, 04:06
Batman: Arkham Asylum & Arkham City
After checking my previous post in this thread I realise these 2 took me way longer than they should've or I expected. I actually finished Arkham Asylum's campaign a couple of days after writing that Bioshock Infinite wrap-up but didn't bother posting because I didn't have much to say and planned to write a combined piece. Around that period my days became increasingly busy which slowed down my playthough speed to a snails pace.

There's really not much I could say about Arkham Asylum. It is a superbly executed 3rd person action game with a nice blend of stealth, fighting and puzzle elements. All of them tended to be on the easy/casual side (at least for me) so there was one word stuck in my mind when playing it. Functional.

The audiovisual side of the game was superb and most importantly served the Batman theme more than adequately. This must be the first game which benefits from the stereotypical Unreal Engine 3 features on shaders and models. The story was solid and probably as "non-superheroish" as possible. While not one of the greatest games ever the only thing noticeably wrong with the game was its lack of ambition, mostly in terms of gameplay.

Cue Arkham City, they kept the good parts, added to the mechanics and placed the various buildings that the main story took place in a fairly big and quite interesting city. While the main story was at most just 20% longer the improvement to the game as a whole both quality and quantity-wise as regards to the content could probably be compared to the huge step up that Assassins Creed 2 was to the original. Free roaming is at its best when you're Batman. The side quests are generally of a high quality and there's enough of them to amount to an extra 40% on top of the main story. There's even a few bits when you get to play as Catwoman and get a chance to experience the city with a different toolset.

And then you have the collectibles. Normally I could care less about them. They are at best a completionist's nightmare and at worst a nuisance that artificially prolongs the length of an open world game for those who just have to get 100%. GTAs have them and I never bothered. The Assassins Creed games have them and only #2 and its first expansion provided real incentive to go out and chase feathers (literally).

The 2 Batmans have (what I consider) an extreme number of collectibles. The number (~250 in AA and 440 in AC) is however warranted. About half of the collectibles in AA are actual riddles which force you to go and explore in return for 1)the game's single major sidequest and 2) unlocking the game's lore (earning those "boring" bits makes them more valuable than simply having them provided). The other half forces you to use the tools Batman has at his disposal in creative ways that the main quest never requires. In a way the presence of collectibles adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay, one which is however optional. I foolishly didn't realise how to scan riddles in AA until after finishing it which forced me to go through almost all the areas visited during the story a 2nd or even a 3rd time, this was less tedious than it sounds and in AA's case extended the length by about 50%.
It could be argued that Arkham City went overboard with collectibles. The number appeared ludicrous at first but there's a good reason for their presence. If collectibles added a mere dimension to AA, Arkham City is probably a different game altogether if they are ignored completely.Not only do they provide and require the most skill and thought but they most importantly bring out just how detailed the city is. Arkham City not only has the most fun exploration I've experienced in this genre (Batman's gadgets > Prototype's outrageous sci-fi) but it also celebrates the verticality of a city.(Vertical) exploration is incredibly rewarding and you keep encountering new hidden spots even after clocking over 20h in what appears to be a small area/city. The developers evidently put thought behind almost all of those trophies/riddles and I'm glad there was an actual quest behind them rather than a worthless achievement.

I usually don't explicitly state scores but since this was put together more quickly than the usual: AA 7.5, AC 8.5 Well worth the time of anyone enjoying the genre or being into Batman's universe.

Onto what I hope to be a quick playthrough the first couple of Halos before I hit the point of having to decide between the NWNs, the Divinities or the Mass Effects (not sure how to handle the plural in this case )..

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
Last edited by Kostas; June 27th, 2013 at 04:28.
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