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Batman: Arkham City

Dtoid News Update! photo
Fulgore Warning: Fulgore
Today, I can finally talk about my impressions of Batman: Arkham Knight, which I saw back and GDC. There’s some new stuff about Watchdogs that’s actually gotten my attention, Sonic has Zelda-themed DLC, Fulgore...

Batman photo
The final installment of the Arkham series
After months of leaks, we finally saw the reveal of Batman: Arkham Knight as the upcoming cover story for this month's Game Informer. As the final installment in the Arkham series, The Dark Knight faces his toughest challenge...

Batman: Arkham Knight photo
Allegedly for PC, Xbox One, and PS4
[Update #2: GameSpot has Batman: Arkham Knight coming out on October 14, 2014.] [Update: Game Informer's new cover story has confirmed the existence of the game, as well as the platforms. Cool!] Before you freak out -- the se...

Hey everybody! Here's the second episode of Farts 'N' Crafts, the show where I draw pictures of stuff related to what's going on in gaming. Today, there's a lot of buzz about a new Batman game from Rocksteady, and Titanfall ...

Preview: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Jan 23 // Alessandro Fillari
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC [previewed])Developer: MonolithPublisher: Warner Bros. GamesRelease Date: TBA 2014 The developers at Monolith weren't shy to talk about the reputation of movie games, and they were clear to share what their influences were, in particular Batman: Arkham Asylum. In terms of production, the Batman series served as motivation during the development of Middle-earth. "We saw Batman: Arkham City as the model," said director of design Michael De Plater, while discussing influences. "We looked at that game as the way to make licensed properties. It's best to make the best game you can first, before trying to make good movie game." Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, players take on the role of Talion. As a ranger for the kingdom of Gondor, Talion was a guard for the black gates on the eastern side of Mordor -- but on a night like any other, a massive army of Orcs siding with Sauron invaded. Killing many of his allies and loved ones, he is left for dead by the orcs. Unexpectedly, Talion is saved from death by the spirit of a Wraith and given new life and along with new powers. From here, our hero makes his way into Mordor to seek revenge, learn why the Wraith saved his life, and discover what the forces of Sauron have planned. Of course, this story may raise some eyebrows among loyal Tolkien fans. It's somewhat of a departure from the lore, and plans to stick more to the film's style, but the developers at Monolith are confident that fans will enjoy the narrative, as it's one of the bigger focuses of Middle-earth. The lead writer of Shadow of Mordor is Christian Cantamessa, who was also the lead writer of Red Dead Redemption, and he's placed a lot attention on fleshing out Talion and making sure it's in keeping with Tolkien's lore.As an open-ended sandbox action game, players will be able explore Mordor as it was before the return of Sauron. In fiction, Mordor was mostly known as a volcanic wasteland, but Middle-earth plans to show off areas that were filled with wildlife and flora untouched by the volcanic ash of Mt. Doom. Players can even interact and use items and animals from the game world for scouting and combat purposes. Large trees and bushes allow for cover during stealth, and utilizing bait can manipulate aggressive animals against the orcs. As a ranger, Talion possesses abilities that suit him for mobility, and melee and ranged combat. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a key influence and the developers took notes from the design of its action and traversal. Combat utilizes a similar free-flow fighting system from the Arkham series; specifically where players can freely move between individual enemies in a group and maintain combos to unlock special moves and power ups. To take things further, Talion has access to a series of new abilities while in his Wraith form. In this phase, he can enter the Wraith realm (in similar fashion to how Bilbo Baggins uses the One Ring) and observe enemies and points of interest in the game world. Moreover, he also moves much quicker and possesses enhanced archery and combat skills while in Wraith form. When engaging enemies, Talion can switch in and out of his Wraith form to expose weaknesses in enemies and pull off quick shots with his bow and arrow.As expected in a sandbox game, exploring and taking on new challenges will lead to great rewards, such as experience points and journal logs detailing more of the story and history of Mordor. Talion can also acquire ability points through leveling up which can be spent on unique skill trees for his Ranger and Wraith abilities. At the beginning, players will find the offerings somewhat bare, but eventually when you gain new moves and skills, such as a teleport attack called Shadow Strike, Talion becomes a force to be reckoned with. In order for our main character to exact his revenge on Sauron's army, players must create chaos in Mordor to undermine the influences of the orcs in the various zones. This is accomplished by strategically battling through the hierarchy of command by taking out enemy strongholds and camps, to draw out Sauron's Lieutenants to cripple their forces. Of course to do this, players must start at the bottom. In each zone of Mordor, there are a number of captains and war chiefs to combat with, and even pit against each other.  During our presentation, we saw Talion stalking an Orc captain by the name of Ratbag the Meathoarder. Starting with the stealthy approach, Talion takes out various orc soldiers utilizing both ranger and wraith abilities before breaking out into a full-on brawl with the entire camp. Realizing he's outmatched, Ratbag makes a run for it, but is captured when Talion uses a Wraith arrow to immobilize him.From here, players can approach the captain and interrogate him to gain Intel about the other officers in the zone. In a surprising twist, Talion can utilize his wraith abilities to take control of weak-willed captains and use them as temporary pawns in his struggle against the armies of Mordor. The player can assign tasks such as spying on other unknown officers, or assassinating other captains and war chiefs. Using his Wraith form, Talion marks Ratbag as a temporary ally and assigns him a mission to assassinate a war chief by the name of Orthog the Troll Slayer. This decision will create a brand new mission within the zone, which players can choose to accomplish at their leisure. Skipping ahead, we start the assassination mission and see that Ratbag is the second in command to Orthog. Moreover, the captain-turned-pawn has his own band of orcs at his side which will allow for Talion to gain the upper hand against Orthog, but also have a group of orcs fighting by his side under Ratbag's leadership. Surprisingly, the central enemies within Sauron's army are all procedurally generated by the game. Known as the Nemesis system, Middle-earth aims to create a greater level personality and uniqueness for each playthrough. The orc characters seen in the presentation will likely be entirely different for players. Since these characters are randomized, their knowledge and fighting abilities will be completely different for each player and for every repeated playthrough of the game. Everything from the names, fighting style, roles in Mordor, and their personality will be different for each player, according to Monolith. "We put a lot of effort into actually letting players make their own personal and unique bosses and villains in a living world, that was a big focus for us," De Plater said of the Nemesis system. These are not just for cosmetic purposes, but by design for strategic gameplay. During key moments in battle, Talion can acquire Intel from captains, such as strengths and weaknesses about other officers in Sauron's army. How deep their knowledge goes largely depends on the procedural element of the game's engine. One captain may have a deep knowledge of others in the zone, while another may be largely ignorant of who's who.The experience of death leaves a lasting impression on the game world and the morale among the forces of Sauron. Even the lowliest of grunts have potential to become a serious threat to Talion. When Talion is killed in battle, the Orc who lands the killing blow will be promoted in rank and added to the list of officers that Talion will need to take out. Even the lowliest of minions can kill Talion, and their promotion will create a new challenge for players. When revived at the various Forge Towers across the zones, they'll see that their death has motivated forces of Sauron, which will make creating chaos a bit more challenging. Moreover, enemies that escape from Talion during combat will live to see another day and alter their tactics for when players encounter them again. This creates another layer of challenge that emphasizes strategy. Some battles may not be worth running blade first into and will only result in player’s death and a new captain or war chief to eliminate. Even in this fairly short showing of the game, it's clear that the content in Shadow of Mordor is massive; and the developers plan to support players who may feel a bit lost. Warner Bros. Games and Wikia plan to release a companion app for tablets called Palantir. In real time, players can have the app on standby and learn details on the lore, locations, central characters, and other details while playing the main game. Though it's not really necessary for the game, it's a neat little app to have, if you're curious about any references or characters in Tolkien's lore. This title is quite the departure for Monolith games, as it's their first sandbox action game. This presentation of the vertical slice for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was pretty impressive, and shows the ambitious nature of the game. I left quite impressed with what Monolith has got in store for Middle-earth. The Nemesis system in particular is an inspired idea that will definitely incentivize players yearning for a deep single-player experience to revisit. While it’s still a ways off, and showed a number of graphical quirks and glitches that need to be cleared up, it's gotten me interested in what's in store.
Middle-earth preview photo
Sandbox chaos in Mordor
Whenever games tied to a major license are announced, there's usually a collective grumble from fans. Titles based on movies, television, or comics usually don't end up well, as most of the time they're developing with the fo...


The Clayface toy just wants to be your friend

And give you nightmares
Jan 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The latest figure from the Batman: Arkham City lineup is Clayface. The figure comes in at 13-inches tall, making it the largest action figure in the DC Collectibles line. Bigger than Solomon Grundy, Killer Croc, and Titan Jok...

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins: Initiation

Dec 31 // Chris Carter
Batman: Arkham Origins: Initiation (PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [tested])Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal / Splash DamagePublisher: Warner Bros.Released: December 15, 2013MSRP: $6.99 (part of the Season Pass)Right off the bat, Initiation is pretty messy, even in terms of how you access the DLC. After a decent amount of searching, I ended up finding it under story > challenge mode > campaign > second page > Rite of Passage. In total, the DLC includes two skins, five story maps, and two extra challenge maps that are unlocked if you beat Rite of Passage with Bruce. The skins are Initiation Bruce Wayne (basically Bruce in Monk garb) and Vigilante Bruce Wayne (an urban ninja skin), which you can use in this add-on or elsewhere in Challenge Mode. Initiation is basically a loose collection of challenge maps, with a light amount of cutscenes sprinkled throughout. I'd really hesitate to call the DLC a "story," as the narrative is pitiful. The framing device is basically the same origin tale you've read or watched a million times -- Bruce wants to learn how to fight crime pre-Batman, so he goes to some monastery/training grounds to prove his stuff. This time, it's North Korea, under the tutelage of Master Kirigi, and he starts off as a servant. I was actually kind of excited to possibly see something different here, but it was a complete letdown -- mostly because Bruce doesn't utter one word the entire DLC. [embed]268214:52057:0[/embed] Yep, that's right -- the main character doesn't even speak, and before each map, you'll basically get 15 seconds of Master Kirigi talking at you, usually insulting Bruce ("out of pity we let our servant train with us") or explaining the point of the map ("knock out or kill these enemies to proceed"). You do that five times, get a terrible ending, and that's basically it. Lady Shiva returns for a fight which is kind of cool, but it's ultimately as unceremonious as the rest of the DLC. Maps range from your typical arena-based brawl fests to simplistic stealth playgrounds, and outside of the ninja-skinned enemies, are practically indistinguishable from the core game. Enemies are in fact mostly skinned, as their moves simply replicate other foes from the main story (knife types, big ones that need to be stunned, and so on). Specifically, there are three combat-centric maps and two stealth missions, and I really could have gone for more Predator-based levels given the potential for clever designs in the monastery setting. Should you choose to use Bruce for these maps, you'll be able to utilize caltrops, shurikens, kujiki bombs, and your grappling hook basically in the same manner as Batman proper. Kujiki bombs are somewhat cool in that they offer a slightly enhanced effect similar to a ground takedown during fights (and allow you to throw a flurry of shurikens), but most players aren't even going to notice it. The only other difference is that Bruce has a few new animations and instead of using his cape to stun, he'll use a smoke attack. That's...basically it. You'll also have access to Detective Vision during the stealth parts (this makes absolutely no sense), so all in all, it's roughly the same thing as the campaign character. What Initiation should have been is a miniature legit campaign with Challenge Maps as a bonus. With a more unique set of moves for Bruce, and an actual meaningful storyline, it could have been a cool diversion. In it's current state however, it's a pretty poor piece of DLC no matter how you slice it. If you absolutely love challenge maps, it would be a good idea to pick up the Season Pass at a discount, and get Initiation as a cherry on top of the other upcoming story DLC. Otherwise, you're better off ignoring it at full price.
Batman: Arkham Origins photo
A waste of time and money
I was pretty disappointed with Arkham Origins. Maybe not as crushingly disappointed as Jim was, but I still felt like it was the weakest entry in the Arkham saga so far, and Warner Bros. Montreal didn't really do anything to make me confident in the future of the series. Sadly, the newest DLC doesn't do them any favors either.

Deals photo

Latest Humble Bundle has Batman and F.E.A.R.

Deals are deals
Nov 05
// Jordan Devore
Are people still annoyed that Humble Bundle has expanded its scope to feature AAA games? I found the practice a little weird at first, but hey, if it means steep discounts on substantial games and the charity component is in ...
Rocksteady photo

Is Rocksteady's next game coming in 2014?

Job postings indicate Batman Arkham City dev busy at work
Nov 03
// Wesley Ruscher
Musings to what Rocksteady Studios' next project will be has been stirring in the minds of many after the lackluster reception of Batman: Arkham Origins. The London based developer, made famous for the first two Batman: ...

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

Oct 28 // Jim Sterling
Batman: Arkham Origins (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal / Splash DamagePublisher: Warner Bros.Released: October 25, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Arkham Origins is, as the name implies, a story set before the events of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, featuring a younger and more hotheaded Batman as he defends himself against assassins hired by Black Mask. They have one night to "kill the Bat," though things grow significantly more complicated when Batman has his first ever encounter with The Joker and, conveniently, a load of other supervillains who also have never faced Batman before now.  The problem with prequels rears its ugly head. Just as the Star Wars prequels awkwardly shoehorned chance encounters with previously established characters, we're supposed to believe that Batman met not only the Joker, but Bane, Deathstroke, Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, and a whole bunch of other Gotham City antagonists in a single night. It could only have been a couple of years ago, too, if the environment and visible technology are anything to go by. This is despite everyone looking at least a decade younger.  One of the real thrills of the previous Arkham games was in seeing which members of the Batman rogue's gallery would turn up next, a thrill that simply isn't in Origins. The assassins hired to take out Batman are mostly D-list baddies at best, while more credible opponents have simply been pulled from previous games. Apparently, we needed far more Bane, a character who has been in every Arkham game to date, than any newer, more interesting characters. With the exception of Deathstroke and Firefly, fresh introductions to the villain roster inspire little more than apathy.  The lack of excitement inspired by the villains permeates Origins' entire story. While the plot has one or two interesting moments, events seem rushed through and barely fleshed out. The whole assassin storyline becomes an unresolved mess, while the relationship between Batman and Joker condenses years of animosity into a handful of hours. One of Arkham Asylum's biggest strengths was that it avoided any sort of origin story, allowing us to delve straight into a world we knew without trying to sprint clumsily through a back story. In Origins, a team of lesser writers attempts to do what superior talent wisely avoided, and the results are what any reasonable person could expect. Arkham Origin's narrative simply doesn't feel very fleshed out, a problem made all the more galling by Warner Brothers' presumptive promises of incoming downloadable content to "pick up where the story left off." With that in mind, the entire campaign feels like little more than a delivery system for more paid content, which is fairly despicable.  Reusing much of the map from Arkham City, Warner Bros. gives us another open-world game set in Gotham's streets, but one that makes far less sense. Gotham was full of criminal gangs in City because we were in a gated section of town designed solely to house criminal gangs. Gotham was apparently Arkham City years before the events of Arkham City, at least according to Arkham Origins. Makes you wonder what it was that Dr. Strange actually did to change anything in the previous game.  Alongside of the map, most of the gameplay has been recycled too. Yet again, you'll be gliding from rooftop to rooftop, collecting Riddler trophies (now called "extortion data"), and punching out bad guys. Combat is yet again a case of pounding on opponents and obeying button prompts in order to counter enemy attacks, while utilizing the same arsenal of gadgets found in previous titles. Something about melee combat in Origins feels off, with Batman frequently failing to target foes properly, punching thin air, and failing to perform ground takedowns. I replayed Arkham City a few months before this, and found none of the problems with combat that Origins has given me. One fresh addition to the game is quick travel. After clearing out data scrambling devices in key areas of Gotham, Bruce Wayne can use the Batwing to quickly enter a new section of town. This is a welcome new addition, especially since mission destinations seem to force players to cross the same lengthy, interminably boring bridge. That said, one has to watch the same dreary cutscene every time they use the Batwing, but it's better than the lengthy alternative, even if you do have to navigate some poorly designed environmental hindrances to unlock the travel points.  The only other added feature enhances crime scene investigation. Using Batman's trusty Detective Vision, players can examine evidence in crime scenes to build a virtual reconstruction of events. Taking a blatant page from Capcom's Remember Me, these reconstructions may be rewound and replayed in order to find fresh evidence. The attempt to add more detective work into a Batman game is respectable, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Funnily enough, it turns out that watching a blue virtual reality man fly backwards through the air so that you can hunt for little red triangles is very boring.  There are a number of boss fights, though few of them are anywhere near as inventive as the ones in Arkham City -- which weren't all that inventive to begin with. Many of them are just straightforward combat encounters laced with quick-time-events, with the battle against Firefly providing the only truly unique encounter. As for the several Bane fights, they are uniformly repetitive and utterly chaotic. It should be common knowledge that tossing more and more regular enemies into a boss fight doesn't make it more difficult so much as it makes it more of an anarchic bloody mess. It should be common knowledge, but WB didn't know that, apparently. On top of that, Arkham Origins is littered with glitches. I had the game crash on me twice in a row while fast traveling, and I encountered a number of physics bugs that saw enemies become almost untouchable or completely disappear. At one point, I needed to restart a checkpoint because a character I needed to interrogate couldn't be interacted with. These are just the issues I had, with many other users reporting other bugs, such as important ledges that can't be climbed, and horrendous framerate drops. Warner Brothers' proprietary little online account system -- an aping of Origin and uPlay -- also appears to be broken, as using it can further make your game unstable.  Because this product seems to be going out of its way to epitomize the concept of the cynical cash grab, online multiplayer has been crammed in with all the grace of a cat in a bathtub. Essentially a mediocre third-person cover shooter with Batman shoehorned into it, Arkham Origins Online pits three of Bane's thugs against three of Joker's goons, with two other players taking on the roles of the Dark Knight and Robin. It's a three-on-three battle, with the rival gangs capturing territory and shooting each other, while the superheroes use gadgets and predatory stealth to take them out.  As a gang member, you can look forward to awful movement controls, with the character wildly swinging when trying to run, sometimes not running at all, and occasionally refusing to fire his weapon. As Batman or Robin, you get to be frequently stuck on walls, or have diving kick attempts halt in mid-air for no good reason. The demented controls and obnoxious errors were able to be experienced almost instantly, and consequently, I managed to withstand only a few rounds before having to turn it off, utterly appalled.  Add to that a general sense of lag and graphical texture pop-in, and you have one buggy, unwieldy, ugly, deeply unpleasant bit of online guff. It's almost as if the whole thing was cobbled together quickly to satisfy some advertising department goons, so much so that I'm pretty sure that's what happened.  Is there any good in Arkham Origins? Well, when it works properly, there's still a general satisfaction in getting to be the Batman. There is still a basic amusement in stalking criminals, stringing them up by their feet, popping out of vents to tackle enemies, and tossing Batarangs around. It's still neat to grapple up onto buildings, and utilize classic gadgets. WB Montreal can't really take any of the credit for whatever good Origins does, however, considering anything "new" in the game is a malingering disappointment. It must also be said that Troy Baker does an impressive turn as the Joker, whose scenes are sometimes pretty damn fun to watch. There's also one genuinely well done section of the game involving the Clown Prince of Crime, though to detail it would venture into spoiler territory. It's a shame many of the other voice actors, as well as the script, make for difficult listening. Anything involving the Penguin and his "British" assistant is so badly written and terribly acted that I felt almost offended. There are few things more dismaying in the videogame industry than a publisher that's willing to throw its own creative successes under the bus for a chance at easy money. This is what Warner Bros. has done with Arkham Origins. It's contemptuously pissed all over what Rocksteady accomplished with the previous Arkham games and shat out a soulless wreckage of a game. The only good in Origins comes from work already accomplished in previous games, with a whole lot of bad added in. If all you want is to re-experience Arkham City's gameplay, I'd recommend you just replay Arkham City, because at least that packed in a lot more fan service and didn't make such blatant concessions for narrative DLC and utterly contrived multiplayer modes.  If Batman: Arkham Origins does one thing well, it's epitomize the kind of exploitative garbage that has steadily eroded so much faith in the so-called "AAA" gaming scene. When publishers whine and moan about piracy or used sales, this is the kind of game you can point to when you ask if it's any surprise that so few customers are willing to gamble $60 on a brand new game. This is the kind of game that, when publishers panic over flagging sales, you can hold up and say, "You did it to yourselves."  In that regard, Batman: Arkham Origins is not the game this industry needs. It's the game it deserves.
Batman: Arkham Origins photo
Defective Vision
Batman: Arkham Origins had to endure a lot of cynicism from the peanut gallery as it rushed headlong from sudden announcement to pre-Christmas release. It's hardly surprising, too -- after the Arkham series earned high c...

Batman board game photo
Batman board game

Batman Arkham City Escape the Board Game is a thing

The Dark Knight is not limited to L-shaped movement
Jun 17
// Darren Nakamura
Walking through my friendly local board game shop the other day, something caught my eye. On a display stand was a shiny box labeled Batman Arkham City Escape: the Board Game. We hadn't previously heard about it, but it has b...

10 games bundled with all their DLC discounted on PSN

Assassin's Creed III, Persona 4: Arena, Metal Gear Rising and more
May 20
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The PlayStation Store is rolling out a new sales promotion that's packing ten different games with ALL of their downloadable content offerings. The Ultimate Edition bundles are all being offered at 65% off, with PlayStation P...
Dtoid Show photo
Dtoid Show

Arkham Origins, Blood Dragon Unleashed & Xbox Revelations

The Destructoid Show
Apr 09
// Max Scoville
Good evening, gentle Dtoiders, here's today's Tuesday-newsday Destructoid Show. Batman Arkham Origins has been announced in the places where all games are announced, the cover of Game Informer magazine. EA has been voted the...

You should feel bad, but games don't want you to

Mar 06 // Steven Hansen
While I’ve yet to play Tomb Raider in its entirety, it does seem we have yet another case of ludonarrative dissonance, in which the design aims (game based around doing gruesome murders) don’t jive with the narrative (“good,” and in this case wet behind the ears, lead character) and the developers have to work extra hard to try and bridge this gap. You can wax poetic about what it means or takes to commit murder all you want, but it's old hat after the seventieth bloke kisses his trachea goodbye courtesy of your pick axe. It’s the same reason why the enemies in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune spout incendiary cussing outs, egging you on, just begging you to kill them and to wipe that audible smirk off their goddamn faces. Games more open about their wanton violence, like most sandbox games, are gleeful in their use if civilians as set dressing. It's pleasant to run down civilians in Twisted Metal 2 and see their vague, pixel bodies fly into your screen with a screech that sounds like an interrupted dial up connection. Pleasant, albeit dark. But what about when you're playing a good guy in a narratively driven game? A super human one, no less? It goes beyond saying that other humans pose little threat to you. That's why the enemy stakes have to be upped. Take the thugs in Rocksteady's Arkham franchise. Are we to believe that every criminal in Gotham lifts weights with Chris Redfield and Marcus Fenix? Every single one of them looks imposing enough that Ving Rhames wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark alleyway. It's not an attempt to even the playing fields for the Batman, who can take out 40 of those steroid-seeping freaks in one combo despite their Herculean physiques. It's a sly character design choice to make you feel better about yourself, you monster. Batman is brutal in the Arkham games. Even with foes that look intimidating, I'll cringe as Bats effortlessly breaks a thigh-thick arm in three places and leaves them unconscious. The worst is always the vicious kicks to the knee that you know will ensure the victim never walks right again. Oh, did I say victim? I meant criminal scum. Throw some more inane cursing and provocation at me before my human tendency towards empathy kicks in and I regret collapsing some punk's solar plexus and leaving him to probably choke on his own fluids, alone and in an alley -- but I didn’t kill him. Not directly. Not as far as I am blissfully unaware. With Arkham, Rocksteady wants you to have your cake and eat it, too. You’re playing at Batman the same way a child might. You get all the perks (unstoppable force of the night) without the draw backs (physical harm, dead parents, Peter Pan complex, fear of the theatre). Insofar as I can tell, Rocksteady isn’t concerned with unsettling the Batman mythos and questioning the sanity of the character in the manner seminal works like The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth have, and that’s fine. But despite my cringing at Bats’ brutality in the Arkham games, I got over it. While Arkham might not hit hard on these elements, its Batman doesn’t parade around as a handsome John Q. Everyhero. And at least as Batman I wasn't committing mass murder, ala Nathan Drake. Just leaving a disaffected group of individuals with a much lower quality of life and a serious drain on public healthcare. Though Gotham is probably heavily anti "socialist," so no public healthcare, but because the penal system is undoubtedly mandated to aid in the recuperation of criminals, I’m sure it’ll cost some tax dollars. Anyway. The failure to put you at proper odds with your foes can trouble single-player games striving for a particularly heroic or redemptive narrative. Playing John Marston with an insatiable bloodlust in Red Dead Redemption flies in the face of the narrative. Giving the player the option to be repellant when the character is meant to be repentant can be problematic. Worse still is when the design demands they be repellant. I love the Uncharted franchise, but its third installment does not sit well with me. The heavy, wave based onslaught of enemies requires you to massacre endlessly while Drake smirks, cracks wise, and is generally handsome. It's a tough sell. I was able to stomach it in the first two, to mind the disconnect, but Drake's Deception felt so oppressive to me. I could see the seams in the enemy waves and strung together set pieces serving no purpose but to give me another butchering ground. Occasionally I felt a little bad busting skulls in Arkham City. I felt like a monster in Uncharted. I turned to melee “kills” more than half of the time because they looked non-lethal and I felt a little better about myself. Hopefully Drake wasn’t ending lives with equal ruthlessness with those swift kicks to the nuts. Definitely a good chance he preemptively ended the lives of the thugs' unborn children, I suppose. Dark Sector was one of the early “next-gen” games I was hyped for, but never picked up until I saw it sitting lonesome on a shelf with a $6 price tag affixed; I wouldn’t play it for months still. What a filthy game. It’s nasty, grim, dirty feel permeates every inch of it. You rip limbs from their owners and they just sit there and scream in agony. Not just a gurgling exaltation and then they’re dead. It’s a nonstop, lengthy cacophony of pitiful, dying men yelling. I couldn’t handle that ad nauseum and stopped playing. You're not supposed to feel bad for your obstacles. It's one if the biggest reasons there are so many games in which you gleefully murder robots or aliens or even humans with masked faces -- some semblance of distancing from the spine-tingling truth. It's why zombies have been so long in vogue. Gone is the almost half century old social commentary. They're fodder, allowing for the primal release of killing ostensible humans en masse without the moral quandaries and look of disdain from the ESRB. Mainstream games are too steeped in rudimentary notions of conflict in which somehow besting another person or thing is the only means of progression. This forever conflicts with trying to present straightforward, serious narratives with likeable leads. Less killing, more, well, anything else, really. Exploring. Journey-ing. Dancing. How about a proper detective game? Fevered dreamscapes in which existential and interpersonal issues manifest as ovis-infested, hellish block climbing puzzles? Or at least stop thinly veiling escapist power fantasies and humanizing monstrous murderkillers. I nearly gagged when Drake reached into the quicksand in Uncharted 3. At least Kratos knew his shtick. At least Far Cry 3 reveled in its depravity. At least Spec Ops asked why the hell you were playing in the first place.
Violence & vindication photo
Violence and vindication: The seedy psychology behind a sociopathic medium
You monster. Outside of the casual and educational spheres, violence abounds in games. Even Mario is violent, albeit not gratuitous. Combative, at least. Much of the game is purely avoiding obstacles, but eventually some form...

Xbox live games sale  photo
Xbox live games sale

Dishonored and Borderlands 2 50% off on XBL today

Also: Arkham City and Red Dead Redemption for $15
Mar 02
// Allistair Pinsof
The week's Xbox Live Arcade sale continues on, with 50% off Dishonored, Borderlands 2, and many more games. You may be able to find these titles cheaper at retail, but if you must play these games now -- and you really shou...
Office Chat photo
Office Chat

Hope for Fallout, doubt for Batman and sadness for Aliens

Another casual discussion from the Dtoid news room
Feb 14
// Conrad Zimmerman
In another casual conversation from Destructoid's news room, Jordan Devore, Daniel Starkey and and I discuss the possible futures of Batman and Fallout. Plus, we marvel at how spectacularly wrong Aliens: Colonial Marines went.

Batman: Arkham 3 is due for release in 2013 [Update]

Arkhaaaaaaaaw MAH GAWD!
Feb 12
// Jim Sterling
[Update: According to the rumor mill, Rocksteady won't be involved in this one. According to my Twitter feed of random people saying random things, the less-spectacular Spark Unlimited may take the helm. Hmmmm.] Warner Bros. ...

The DTOID Show: DmC, Sir Hammerlock, & Gay Star Wars

Plus: Chubby Kings
Jan 15
// Max Scoville
Here's today's Destructoid Show, in all it's fabulous, timely glory.  For starters, there was that thing about how they added a gay planet in Star Wars: The Old Republic, which of course went over like a fart in Church. ...

How moderated is Miiverse? It's a police state! (Update)

The (possibly) first person to be modded on Miiverse speaks out!
Nov 17
// Jim Sterling
[Update: It seems Nintendo has given the deleted post in question further review and decided that it was okay.  "We have checked the reported content and determined that it is not in violation of the Miiverse Code of Con...

Review: Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition

Nov 17 // Jim Sterling
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition (Wii U)Developer: Warner Bros. Studios, Rocksteady GamesPublisher: Warner Bros.Release: November 18, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition mostly sticks true to the original incarnation released last year. Mostly. Taking place in an open world populated by Gotham's criminal element, Batman once again finds himself interred in Arkham City under the watchful gaze of Professor Hugo Strange, working as he does to uncover the secret of Protocol Ten, scupper the Joker's latest evil scheme, and punch a lot of things in the face.  From its gripping story to the flowing combat and excellent predatory stealth segments, Arkham City is still good as it ever was when we bore down to its core. The Armored Edition gets its name from new combat suits worn by both Batman and Catwoman, suits that build kinetic energy as either playable protagonist successfully lands attacks on the mooks of Gotham. When the energy icon is full, tapping it on the touchscreen grants the player faster reflexes and extra attack power to finish fights more quickly.  [embed]238794:45814[/embed] It's strange that this feature was not only added, but had the game named after it, since it really isn't a unique or interesting addition. It's not a bad addition, but I can't say I'm grateful for it either. It's just there, and tapping the icon to get a bit of a boost is no different from pretty much any action game with any sort of special power meter. I'm confused as to why this is seen as such a big deal, but at the very least, I can say that it's inoffensive.  The other new changes, however, are a bit less subtle and much less welcome as far as this reviewer's concerned. Outside of general gameplay and combat, Armored Edition makes heavy use of the GamePad's touchscreen to the point of saturation. All in-game menu items, from map usage to leveling up to selecting gadgets, are done on the GamePad itself, and much of it feels like an unnecessary hassle. Leveling up Batman's gear is particularly irritating, as you now have to swipe your way through unresponsive rows of tiny icons and unintuitive screens. Unlike with my previous playthroughs of the game, I've found myself not immediately going into the WayneTech menu to upgrade, because I simply can't be bothered to fiddle with the menus.  Gadgets themselves also insist on using the touchscreen, with the biggest offender being the hacking device. Whereas before, you'd rotated the analog sticks (or press keyboard keys) to solve puzzles, you now have to open up a whole new hacking minigame where you trace your finger on the touchscreen to find the right hotspot while avoiding a red line that intermittently sweeps past. I used to like how quick and efficient hacking was in Arkham City, bypassing the flow-breakage of dreary door-opening minigames found in other titles, but Armored Edition has spoiled that. Another issue is the gyroscope being used to aim Batarangs and the Batclaw. You can use the right stick to aim, but the gyroscope still registers and can throw the reticule off slightly. The remote Batarangs are also controlled via the GamePad screen, and again can be steered using motion or stick input, with similar conflicts. These issues are tiny, never really getting too much in the way, but they help hammer home just how much was changed simply for the sake of change, regardless of whether or not it improved the game. Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition simply tries too hard to be more than the port it honestly should've been. If you can implement new features and controls in ways that make the experience superior, then I'm all for it, but here we have a game that's fallen into the familiar trap of attempting to alter everything without regard for whether or not it actually improves anything. Dragging my finger slowly across a small screen to open a door is not gameplay -- it simply isn't. Fiddling with dragging gadgets to hotkey them, when opening a menu and hitting a button to select them would be quicker, is not an improvement -- it's a detriment. It's making things less efficient than they used to be an effort to impress us.  Arkham City's overall quality is hard to tarnish, and the original product still manages to shine despite the unbroken things that Warner Bros. Studios attempted to fix. While it would have been better had it remained unmolested, Rocksteady's work is solid as stone, and I still found it hard not to have a great time replaying one of the best licensed games around.  In addition to the main game, Armored Edition sports all the content from the Game of the Year re-release, including Harley Quinn's Revenge and the Robin Pack. You do not, however, get the Batman: Year One animation that came with Game of the Year. Even so, you receive a fairly decent barrel of content for your buck, especially if you're a newcomer to the game.  Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition fails to ruin what still is an admirable game, but there's no skipping around the issue of elements being forced in and serving only to render it inferior, making previously simple functions more complicated than they should be and dragging down the game's pace. While still a very good game at its core, this is not as good as the original, purer release. There's no shame in a Wii U title that doesn't shoehorn Wii U features into itself, and if the game would be better off without them, I'd really rather that be the route taken.  Armored Edition didn't take that route. It took things that already worked perfectly and shook them until they cracked. Not shattered completely, but undoubtedly broken, just a little bit. If you only own Nintendo systems and love Batman, this remains a very worthy purchase, one that will give your hours of crimefighting enjoyment. If you've already played Arkham City, however, you'll be better off leaving it, because you already experienced the definitive version. 
Arkham City Wii U photo
Barkham up the wrong tree
For most of this generation, Nintendo existed as its own entity in the market. The Wii couldn't match the technical prowess of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while third-party publishers famously struggled when attempting to...


Batman: Arkham Asylum Steam Keys fail due to DRM

Jul 30
// Jim Sterling
I hate DRM with a passion, but I feel I owe its creators a fruit basket. After all, it gives me more free target practice than the rest of this industry's bullshit. Take what's been happening with Arkham Asylum -- new purchas...

Batman villains we want in Rocksteady's Arkham sequel

Jul 24 // Jim Sterling
The Black Mask First Appearance: Batman #386Real Name: Roman SionisSpecialty: Organized crime, making people do stuff  (Edit: Black Mask can actually be fought in the Robin DLC, it turns out. Still ... put him in again!) Though a relatively recent addition to Gotham's criminal underworld, the Black Mask is nevertheless a popular and formidable foe, be it crime boss Roman Sionis or crazed asylum director Jeremiah Arkham behind the leering skeletal visage. His ability to control thoughts would make him a potential candidate for Arkham's near-obligatory "mind screw" section, taking over from Scarecrow in Asylum and Hatter in City. Not to mention, as one of Gotham's most powerful and influential crime bosses, he's in a perfect position to provide thug-fodder for the Dark Knight.  FireflyFirst Appearance: Detective Comics #184Real Name: Garfield LynnsSpecialty: Fire in the disco, fire in the disco, fire in the gates of Hell Firefly has one thing over and above the rest of Batman's villains -- he doesn't really care about the Caped Crusader. Unfortunately, he replaces that token obsession with a criminally insane addiction to fire, and a need to burn Gotham to the ground. I really dig Firefly, not just because he's got a pretty badass costume, but also for the fact that he's very creepy when he starts waxing poetic about fire.  If there's one thing Rocksteady's gotten good at, it's ramping up the creep-factor of Arkham's residents, and the studio could have a whale of a time with ol' Garfield Lynns. Not to mention, Asylum and City are two of the most gorgeous-looking games of the generation, and I'd love to see that visual splendor applied to a boss that drenches everything in flame.  The VentriloquistFirst Appearance: Detective Comics #583Real Name: Arnold WeskerSpecialty: Getting gangsters to take him seriously when he's an old dude with a puppet  The Ventriloquist's puppet, Scarface, has appeared in both Arkham games already -- once as Joker's new toy, and once again as a dancing puppet in the Penguin's museum. It's about time his owner (or his property, as the case may be) finally turns up and restores a little dignity.   Arnold Wesker is the mild-mannered, bespectacled man behind the wooden puppet/ruthless mob boss. While considered a bit of a joke villain, there's still something undeniably disturbed about a meek old man who is able to become a sociopathic criminal so long as he's hiding behind a puppet alter-ego. Rocksteady could also use the second Ventriloquist, Peyton Riley -- not only is she a better puppeteer, but she's pretty damn brutal in her own right.  The Great White SharkFirst Appearance: Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #1Real Name: Warren WhiteSpecialty: Fencing goods, turning mental trauma into a business opportunity  I love The Great White Shark as a concept. Originally a crooked financier, Warren White faked insanity to get out of jail time, but was sent to Arkham by way of a vengeful judge. His stay was covered in the Living Hell miniseries, which incidentally served as one of the inspirations for Arkham Asylum. While there, he was subjected to emotional and physical torture at the hands of the crazed inmates -- Killer Croc cut a set of gills into his neck, while Jane Doe locked him in Mr. Freeze's vacant cell, causing him to lose some fingers, his nose, lips, and ears. He eventually resembled his nickname, becoming The Great White Shark, and taking charge as the man in Arkham who could get anything for anybody, provided they served him in turn.  Briefly referenced in the first Arkham game, Warren White could act a perfect collaborator in a future game. Not necessarily a main villain, but certainly someone to be tracked down in order to unravel some inevitably extravagant scheme. He's a really interesting antagonist, and since Arkham's pretty much his playground, it stands to reason he should make an appearance.  Jane DoeFirst Appearance: Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #1Real Name: UnknownSpecialty: Becoming other people with horrifying consequences  Jane Doe made her debut at the same time as Warren White, and was the most responsible for his rebirth as the Shark. Doe herself is devoid of personality, save for a frightening desire to live other peoples' lives. To that end, she compulsively murders her targets after getting to closely know them, using a range of tools in order to physically resemble anybody she chooses. However, she never stays happy in one skin for long, and has to constantly steal lives in a vain search for one that'll keep her satisfied.  A sidequest in which Batman must follow a trail and track down Doe while she murders her way through Gotham could be a damn dark and paranoia-inducing mission for the Crusader. It would be a true detective quest that would push the game's previously under-utilized investigative gameplay to its limits. Plus, she really is scary.  Professor PygFirst Appearance: Batman #666Real Name: Lazlo Valentin Specialty: Horrible masks, horrible experiments, horrible horribleness  So, remember when I said that Rocksteady works well with upping the creep-factor of Batman enemies? I can't even begin to imagine the field day the team would have with this freak. Men wearing pig masks are unnerving enough as it is, but when the guy behind the mask is a total nutjob who brainwashes people, mutilates their genitals, and fuses doll masks to their faces, well ... yeah.  I have a feeling that whatever Rocksteady did with this guy would risk pushing the game into M-rated territory, but it'd be worth the risk just to see what it could come up with. Professor Pyg could easily provide one of the most horrific boss fights in videogame memory. Shudder.  The Killer MothFirst Appearance: Batman #63Real Name: Cameron Van Cleer aka Drury Walker I love Killer Moth, and not just because his costume is completely pimp. I have a thing for slightly pathetic villains, and Killer Moth is perhaps the archetype for such characters. It's not that he's unskilled -- as a self-styled anti-Batman, he's proven himself quite capable of utilizing advanced gadgets and can hold his own in a combat situation. Nevertheless, his choice of identity, color scheme, and inability to be taken seriously by anybody makes him rather pitiful, and lends him a uniquely bitter personality among Gotham's bad guys. Even if he's just included to be taken out effortlessly (like Zsaz in Arkham Asylum), I'd love for the Moth to make an appearance. He's got enough of an underground following, I think, to raise more than a few smiles should he pop up in a future game.  The Red HoodFirst Appearance: Batman #635Real Name: Jason Todd We're going with the Todd version of the Red Hood because, well, obviously we would. Originally Joker's alter-ego, a resurrected Todd took the mantle of the Hood to fight crime on his own aggressive, violent terms. More than happy to murder criminals as soon as see them brought to traditional justice, Red Hood's violent ways have seen him come to blows with Batman on a few occasions, his chaotic approach providing a morally ambiguous contrast to Batman's stoic, principled attitude.  Red Hood's gotten plenty of exposure over the years and would make a fine opponent of Batman's during the course of a videogame. Whether manipulated by a villain, or settling his own scores in a way that conflicts the Bat's goals, there are plenty of ways Rocksteady could use him to put a roadblock in front of the player. Let's have it.  The RatcatcherFirst Appearance: Detective Comics #585Real Name: Otis Flannegan Formerly an actual rat catcher, Otis Flannegan fell into a life of crime because he lives in Gotham City, and that's pretty much what happens to anybody if they're given long enough. As the Ratcatcher, Otis has the ability to communicate with and command vast armies of rats. It definitely sounds lame on paper, but when you actually stop and think about a man who can flood a city with millions of loyal vermin, one can't help but think this guy's got a better shot of taking over Gotham than just about anybody else. Except, of course, for the fact that he's a C-list villain at best. That said, someone at Rocksteady clearly loves the guy, as evidenced by the fact that he's referenced in both Arkham games. In the first game, his gas mask and gloves can be found as part of Riddler's sidequest, and in City, posters and hoodlum gossip make direct references to him. Plus, he's really got one of the sweetest getups of Batman's opponents, with a crazy gasmask/overcoat combo that makes him look pretty formidable. With the right writers, Ratcatcher could be a real somebody.  The Court of OwlsFirst Appearance: Batman: The Court of Owls part two: Trust FallReal Name: Could be anybody  Part of the first major crossover event in DC Comics' "New 52" relaunch of 2011, Gotham's sinister Court of Owls has made quite the impression on fans, as well as Batman's entire world. A secret criminal society that's been quietly pulling strings throughout history, the shadowy Court of Owls manages to shake Batman's belief system to its very core, as well as physically torment him thanks to its army of unstoppable assassins, the Talons.  The New 52 launch resembles Rocksteady's games in a few ways, to the point where I'd be surprised that the Owls wouldn't show up in some form, should the studio create a new game set post-Arkham City. If not the Owls in their entirety, then the possibly-deluded-possibly-justified "Owl" that is Lincoln March may make for a fascinating boss battle. Having Lincoln fly Batman around the city while he clings into a grappling hook could be a damn memorable encounter.

One of the best parts of Rocksteady's Arkham series is how expertly the games exploited Batman's greatest asset -- the greatest rogue's gallery in all of comic books. Many of Batman's opponents are as enthralling, if not more...


The Wii is just about to wrap up its tenure at Nintendo's flagship home console, and looking back, it's clear to see that third parties often failed to make the most of the system. They regularly used the Wii as an opportuni...


E3: Wii U gets the Batman: Arkham City 'Armored Edition'

Jun 05
// Daniel Starkey
As I'm sure you're all very well aware, Nintendo's E3 press conference was this morning, and while Batman: Arkham City was one of the very first games announced for the Wii U, today we got a peek at some of the added features...

Batman Arkham City and Asylum on sale on Steam

May 04
// Chris Carter
You might want to grab your shark repellant: this Steam sale is a doozy. Starting today, you can nab Batman: Arkham City for $14.99 and Arkham Asylum for $6.80, or you can grab a bat-sized bundle of basically everything (incl...

The DTOID Show: Rayman Origins 2 & Arkham City GOTY

Apr 23
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! It's us. Again. I'm sorry Tara's not here, but she's still at Coachella apparently. Dear lord today has been stressful and miserable. Anthony's nice enough to be a substitute guest host, but damn. Just not the same...

Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year edition announced

Apr 23
// Jim Sterling
Warner Brothers is rereleasing Batman: Arkham City under the guide of a "Game of the Year" edition. Due for PS3 and Xbox 360 on May 29, it will include a set of alternative skins, the Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin downloada...

This weekend on Twitch TV: Steve Burnside is a chump

Apr 06
// Bill Zoeker
This weekend on Dtoid's Twitch TV channel, we're bringing you some special treats. Rad Show will be doing live gameplay of the closed beta for Diablo III. Hangover has an obscure, Japan-only Popeye game from the Super Famicom...

Batman: Arkham City is Metacritic's top rated 2011 game

Jan 13
// Jim Sterling
Metacritic has released its annual list of top rated games, revealing that Batman: Arkham City on PS3 was the most critically acclaimed title of 2011. It beat out The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by a mouse's cock.  Here's th...

Batman: Arkham City Lockdown pops up in iOS

Dec 08
// Jim Sterling
If you're finished with Batman: Arkham City and sad that you've got no more bat-themed gaming to do, fret not. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown appeared on iTunes last night without herald, and is yours to download for $5.99. Ar...

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