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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Batman: Arkham City

Genre: Action, Adventure

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

System: Windows, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3 and just about everything else

I can't think of a time when I didn't like Batman. I mean, he's an everyday guy (admittedly a millionaire) that puts on a suit and uses gadgets to beat the snot out of criminals. What's not to like? By comparison, you can't relate to Superman, because you weren't born on another planet and you don't have super powers. Tony Stark? Well, the suit does most of the work. Still cool, though.

If you've played Batman: Arkham Asylum then you're looking to get a lot of the same from Arkham City. And, frankly, that's OK. Arkham Asylum is a lot of fun. There's fighting, sneaking, interesting boss fights, and a decent story line. So far, Arkham City has opened with all hell breaking loose. Batman's been kidnapped as his mild-mannered alter ego, Catwoman's stealing an SD Card filled with what I suspect are incriminating photos, and the city (Gotham that is) is in a tizzy about Arkham City, which, to alleviate confusion, is a giant city-like prison in the middle of Gotham, where the criminals seem to be more or less entirely in control. Guess we solved that whole prison overcrowding issue once and for all.

Batman, as Bruce Wayne, has been brought to the prison for speaking out against the prison by some elite commando team or the police or something. That hasn't really been explained, but he's being held there by future-scientist Abraham Lincoln. So Bruce Wayne escapes and blah blah blah beats up the Penguin who's just shown up. Naturally, all the prisoners hate Bruce because he put them behind bars and so far the story is your typical Batman scene.

Let's talk about game play. I bought Arkham City through Steam, which means I have to play it with mouse and keyboard (I cannot get my 360 controllers to work, don't ask). I'm not saying the mouse/keyboard combo is a bad thing, but I feel like it takes away from this game. It feels like the game was meant to be played with a controller so if you have the means, do so.

The combat is simple, but fun and reminds me a lot of Assassin's Creed. You just gotta keep countering and eventually you'll beat everyone up. And, if you're Bruce Wayne, you can to it all in style while wearing handcuffs! At this point, you have to wonder why the baddies just haven't given up.

Justice never sleeps. Goodnight!

 Happy Thoughts: Arkham City does epic well. The music adds about 40% on it's own, but I get a really sense of urgency right off the bat. Also, there's none of this slow climbing crap like in Assassin's Creed. When Batman shimmies along the ledge of a massive building, he shimmies like there's a bee in his tights.

Sad Thoughts: Oh, I hope they have more Scarecrow sequences like in Arkham Asylum. Those were my favorite.

The Bottom Line: I know it's the whole point of this review to unfairly judge a game based on its earliest moments, but I just don't know what to say about Batman: Arkham City. I guess it feels like I just never stopped playing Arkham Asylum and that's gotta count for something.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Space Engineers

Genre: Action, Indie, Simulation, Strategy

Developer: Keen Software House

Publisher: Keen Software House

System: Windows

Space Engineers is a spaceship construction and flight simulator. You can build a ship, piece by piece and then fly it. The controls are pretty straight forward, you can move forward, backward, strafe- just about anything you are able to do in a typical third-person game. The graphics are decent, but the animation can be a little wobbly when you're just playing the astronaut so if you're like me and you get motion sickness easily, you may want to take it slow.

But I only had ten minutes so I ran around as fast as possible and started trying to figure things out as quickly as I could. The game offered me a tutorial and, at first, I thought that might be good, but then it linked me to a thirteen-minute youtube video at which point I promptly said "screw it" and went back to the game.

I started off in building mode, which is to say I was playing the astronaut and he had the standard block building option selected, so I randomly placed a few objects. That got boring real quick. I'm excited to build stuff and all, but, again, time limits, I wanted to get into the action. So I hopped in the giant red starship docked before me and made my way to the control room. With a little help from the onscreen tips I was ready to go. "Punch it!" I shouted to my empty apartment.

The ship, every so slowly, like slower than molasses, began to inch forward. I held down the forward key as hard as I could. Maybe I could squeeze a little extra juice out of those engines if I believed in myself. That's when I remembered that the game was going for a more realistic approach to space. I had been wondering why there were no sound effects. Though the music is pretty intense!

With a bit of time the ship finally started going somewhere. It takes a little getting used to, but the game is designed so that if you start turning in one direction and want to stop you have to start turning in the other direction, so...space. Eventually, I managed to find the blue starship and with my engines to full I slammed into that thing full force! Then I kept going for a bit and, with time, was able to split the ship in two. Success! I had accomplished exactly what I had set out to do and I still had some time to spare.

I decide to attempt building my own ship so I made my way to the door of the red ship and started trying to build off the side, but in my haste I stepped off into the void and began to fall, which is strange, because, again...space. But the moral of the story is when you are a space engineer you bring a jet pack for these occasions.

Happy Thoughts: I am really excited to see where Space Engineers goes. Right now it's in early access phase so it may be some time before things begin to get super interesting. I am definitely going to attempt to build my own ship in the mean time. Maybe I'll build the Slave 1- oh, wait. Someone beat me to it.

Sad Thoughts: I know you can't have sound in space, but, like with Star Trek, sounds make things more exciting. I'm not complaining and I don't think they should change it, but it gets lonely out there in...space.

The Bottom Line: Space Engineers is a lot like Minecraft, but in...space. What I'm really hoping for in the long run is that, in that same vein, they make weapons for your ships, sure, but that they also allow the players to build weapons in game using basic building materials. One of the best parts of Minecraft is building elaborate traps for your friends to fall into. I want to be able to overload a reactor and hurl it at an enemy ship, like ejecting the warp core in all those Star Trek episodes and movies. God dammit, internet! Why are you always taking my ideas before I can get to them!

I tried to take pictures from this game, but the print screen option wasn't working so, once again, thank you to the internet for providing photos. I owe you guys!