A S3rious place in a S3rious world

Arkham Asylum

Batman. Arguably the biggest comic book character, undeniably the most popular superhero, and a franchise with a varied and mixed mythology, with interpretations as many as there are different psychologies.
There is something that makes serious comic book authors indulge in their most psychologically out there fantasies when they write the bat. After all, aren’t they all answering the eternal question: what makes batman, Batman?
To me, Batman is defined by his acute neuroses, and the mad-attract-the-mad world he lives in. His inner demons make him relentlessly put the cape on and impersonate a bat – his outer ones won’t let him quit that cycle.
If being Batman means relentlessly pursued by the insanity of The Joker that makes you feel that everything is a trap, if it means knowing that the Scarecrow won’t rest until he has pervaded your mind, if it means you are sure of your physical prowess, and have fought the fight in your head even before it starts, if it means using the dark as your friend – not a stealth maneuver but a weapon of choice – until you have methodically taken out whatever thugs pose as obstacle between you and your ultimate prey, if it means being a panther like predator, and always being prepared, if being Batman means all those things, the new Arkham Asylum game from rocksteady has nailed it.

I am Batman.

Batman Arkham Asylum game

The masterful voice acting by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill starts you off in writer Paul Dini’s what they puport to be Batman’s Worst Night. The setting means you fight Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Bane, Poison Ivy, Clayface and the Clown Prince of Crime one after the other, interspersed with some detective work. Being a detective, by the way is not only the only way to progress (following Gordon’s Cigar smell is your only pathfinder), it is also actively encouraged by The Riddler who keeps pissing in you ear about these riddles, the solution of which is usually a quick thorough scan of the environment away.

Then there’s the combat. There are no insane combos to remember or hajaar buttons to press. It’s all timing and direction, which gives enough depth, but also takes away the frustration. That it looks fantastic and the music is channeling Zimmer and Howard’s masterful score from the Nolan films is something you notice only when the game lets you stop for a breather, which is never often.

rocksteady has made the definitive Batman game, as well as the best comic book superhero game. Equal parts Metroid and Bioshock in its gameplay inspiration, this on stands out as one of the best gaming experiences I have had this year. Anyone who is a fan of anything should be playing this game.

Battlefield Heroes beta impressions

Meet Aldo Raine

Meet Aldo Raine. In a fan boy-ish turn of events, this is what I have ended up calling my Battlefield Heroes character. I’ve been playing a lot of DICE’s Battlefield Heroes beta lately – and it’s great.

The game is fun, the shooting and the movements are top notch – as is to be expected from the guys who did the original Battlefield.

What is also great is that the pairing is not Axis versus Allies, but a fictional setting – pitting the Royal Army against the National Army, which lets you choose the ‘evil’ side without being genocidal racists. This has its own advantages – you end up on servers with people of varying skill and propensities beating the crap out of each other.

Screenshot

The cartoony look also lends itself to a lot of character customisation – which genuinely makes the game more enjoyable as you gun it out against a horde of ragged mercenaries and pirates and sailors in a colourful world. Not to spoil it further, but there is a huge array of weapons and abilities that can be activated by mapping each to numbers 0 through 9 on your keyboard. Each class – the rugged soldier, the heavy-like gunner and the stealth based commando – gets its own set of abilities that are a huge throwback to Saturday morning cartoons.

People have asked if this is similar to Team Fortress 2 – and I happy to report that it isn’t. TF2 remains a hardcore, gory shooter with a distinct art style. The art style here is superficially similar, but has a more wholesome G rated George Sidney feel to it. If that means anything to ya.

I expect to spend a lot more time in this game.

Come home to Wake Island

Battlefield 1943

So Electronic Arts and DICE announced a bunch of new Battlefield games. It’s all cool, but remember kiddies, what is most important in life is what is usually obfuscated by needless faff:

Using the same engine [as Bad Company 2], Battlefield 1943 takes players back to WWII. The game offers endless hours of 24 player multiplayer action over three classic and tropic locations; Wake Island, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Delivering the award-winning through-the-gun and vehicle warfare online experience DICE is best recognized for, Battlefield 1943 will have players battling in ruthless aerial dog fights and intense trench combat

Basically it’s not a full game but a small downloadable with graphics and gameplay upgrades on the old maps. You see that name there though, Wake Island?

The Wake Island demo on BF1942, was a milestone in gaming. I knew it like the back of my hand. The map was a triumph of level design and was the perfect selling point for BF1942 – the open sandbox it created for soldiers of varying classes and people with different affinities to vehicles was mind blowing to say the least. No one had seen that before, and it instantly made Battlefield a name to be reckoned with. It also made sure that shooters and how we played them got changed forever. This was the next Counter Strike.

So here it is – an updated version of Wake Island with new physics and upgraded vehicle handling. This is it – how much for it? Right now, tell me what you want? 15 dollars? 30? 60? Whatever, just take it and go. takeitandgo.

Prince of Persia Prodigy screenies have arrived, jee

Prince of Persia Prodigy
So, the fan mechanism churns and we have screenshots of the new cel shaded Prince of Persia, dubbed Prodigy by the rumor mill mice. I have to admit, it looks gorgeous. Despite the fact that Two Thrones was (as much of an apology letter to people who hated Warrior Within that it was) only just decent with the brilliance shining every now and then only, I still have love for the last PoP trilogy, mostly for what they did with the Prince’s parkour movements, puzzle solving, and the overall glow they added to the gameplay.

It was a definitive game of that generation, one that is in many ways responsible for the way many developers looked at their platform adventures and gave us increasingly cool platformers.

new cel shaded Prince of Persia

This one looks like it is going to be the new benchmark, at least as far as the looks are concerned. I mean looky. Let’s hope they nail the gameplay balance.