Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R4E13- Hero You Say

Origin story, baby! Everybody loves origin stories. And this totally means that the Von Froya games are officially canon! Go NOW to the Swag page and give them a play! In the first part of his adventure, Von Froya was a human abducted by the demons of the times of ye olde, wound up in the employ of the same Baron that owned the Dealer, and bounced from Baron to Baron saved only by his awesome cooking skills. After escaping the Barons with the Dealer, she received her head injury that led to her wearing the mask but she let Von Froya return to the Human Realm. In part two, Von Froya decided to do something about all this demon business and fought back. VF made his way to the sister tower in the Human Realm and shut it down on the humans' side, causing the tower on the demons' side to back up and burst. And at the end of Game 2, we saw the hint of this Visitor discovering the Demon Realm. And now you're all caught up.


I added some Po art in the bonus art Sins section of the forums. View it! Demons command so.


Quick Review: Batman Arkham City- Vengeance. Night. You know the drill. I thought Arkham Asylum was a flawed but ultimately interesting game. Arkham City doesn't just make me hate the franchise, it makes me hate video games and the industry that not only made this but made box art that features 10/10 review scores printed larger than the game's actual title. Batman has some pretty lousy history when it comes to video games. They're typically either movie licensed games that suck or original content that still kind of sucks. Until pretty recently, the best Batman game was the original NES game and that was purely for that fact that the first stage's music was amazing. A trip to Google teaches me that the music is named “Streets of Desolation”. That's how you know the music was good, a NES music track had its own damned song title. The Gamecube games were based on the utterly fantastic Batman the Animated Series franchise, but those games were tedious, if not just bad. Animated Batman is the one true Batman but even that couldn't save those games. If Animated Batman is the real Batman, Arkham Batman is about as fake as it gets with its horrible character designs that make the New 52 characters look respectful. You have a Catwoman that goes beyond her usual oversexedness to one that kisses enemies as she fights them, straddles them in combat, and just generally skanks it up. Tara Strong does a lousy Harley because she uses a very "baby doll" high pitched young voice that's bad in its own right but super gross coming out of the overly sexed-up version of Harley that the game uses. Strong is a fine voice actress and I like her work elsewhere, but she does not fit Harley or she got some terrible, terrible voice direction for this. Penguin is a scumbag without any redeeming qualities. You have a Batman that's willing to straight-up torture Mr. Freeze. A Talia that's practically brain dead. Ivy that does nothing but stand around in her underwear (she seriously couldn't have found a shirt or pants between Asylum and City?). Batman is either such a dick or is so ignorant that he says that Harley was never smart (she's a damned doctor!) and has some truly awful puns in his dialogue and then lines that were probably supposed to be funny but don't stand up to even a hint of scrutiny. Even Gotham City itself can't escape the horrible art direction. We get this ugly, crappy grim-dark version of Gotham City that has neither the gothic pomp of the Burton movies or the art deco flair of the animated series. This is a series that I just can't understand why people like it except for the fact that it's a Batman video game and they like things with Batman in it.
At best, Arkham City feels like an expansion pack to Asylum but worse. The whole game feels like more of the same while simultaneously doing everything terribly. Asylum worked well enough because you were just exploring one compound but here, exploring the city is boring. It's like a really slow, clumsy version of a Spider-Man game. You grapple, glide, and repeat through indistinguishable streets until you reach the destination marker on your HUD. The gameplay has far too much combat and it's such a horrible system. It actively encourages button mashing with its QTE-style moves and that the enemies have so damn much health, but then the counter mechanics are so unresponsive that they punish you for quick button presses. The camera is terrible on top of it so you frequently spend parts of battles staring at walls or the ground as you mash away or enemies will appear from out of view and club you in the back of the head. I'd vastly prefer a more streamlined system where enemies go down faster and you don't have to do combinations of buttons. You're Batman! The guy that can down a goon by doing a single no-look behind the back punch. It shouldn't take thirty punches to knock out one random dude. I wound up forgetting most of what I could do every time I came back to the game after not playing it for a day. There are too many gadgets and they're rarely useful outside of very specific places or situations. Make their use context sensitive so when you're next to a device that the gadget is needed for, that gadget is swapped to the L1 button automatically instead of having to hold down L1 and scrolling through a list of unintuitive icons to find the right item. There's so much of the game that's basically a QTE or automated that it wouldn't be harmful to simplify this. The only thing you'll ever do at a hacking terminal is hack it, so why can't it be a single button prompt to access it? The load times are terrible and every time you die, it goes through a slowed down death animation, then it loads to a scene of a bad guy taunting you that's too long, then it pops up a prompt asking if you'd like to retry, then it goes to a long loading screen. It's a glitchy game too. I had a bug where the camera never returned to Bats after a cutscene so I could only see a sewer grate and had to quit and lose progress. The game froze in the middle an overly long battle (one that took me six attempts to finally complete on top of it). In another section, the moving platform Batman was standing on kept moving but Batman did not, so he fell into the water and was eaten by a shark. Yep. I recorded all of these because I was going to make this one of the video reviews, but I was so angry at the game by the end that I didn't want to sort through all that video footage. Arkham City also suffers from a near-Rare level of collectibles bloat. There are over 400 Riddler trophies, then Joker balloons, and Joker teeth on top of that. Maybe more too, I avoided the side quests. That's at a point where your bonus content is more dragged out than the main game. I didn't bother to load the save after beating the game but I think your completion percentage after finishing the story is only 30% or so of the game.
The overarching themes of the story are fine, entertaining even, but there's so little resolution to most of the characters that you meet and the whole gang warfare was pointless. Ignoring how bad the characters and dialogue are, there are about four main villains in the story and only two of them have closure that works. Two Face, Ivy, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Croc, Catwoman, and Harley had no closure on their stories. Some of them got punched but they're pretty much all still out there since it would take next to nothing for their gangs to pick them up or open the door to where they were left. Seriously, what happened to Nora? That was kind of a big deal and nobody mentions her again after the fight with Freeze despite that you meet up with the character that kidnapped her. They also do this godawful “moral choice” moment with Catwoman but it isn't a choice at all. If you choose one option, the game immediately ends and you get this “bad end” that makes so sense. At all. The Lazarus Pit doesn't make people immortal gods, it just revives them. It even directly conflicts with the game's own logic for another character's death. So, after getting the bad end, the game just does a VCR rewind back to the moral choice and you have to choose again. So there's only one choice you can make to actually progress in the game, but it still gives you the choice to pick the “bad” choice over and over.
This game is bad.