This console generation will probably be well remembered for the rise of downloadable content. In an era where publishers whine about used game sales, they certainly found one of the most effective ways to further their profits. Whether it’s armor for your horse, patches that turn burlesque breasts tassel-less, or multiple hours worth of new content, DLC is here to stay.
I generally have little problem with it, most of the time I pass, especially when I pick up games used for cheap and I have to spend more on the DLC than the actual game itself. But I’ve also bought some quality downloads that are worth the money. I begin to have issues with it when a game is advertised in such a way that you expect that content to be there in the first place.
Take Batman: Arkham City, an excellent game starring the caped crusader. When Game Informer featured the title on its cover, we got an artsy and sexy preview for it with Catwoman right alongside Batman. That pairing, however, is not guaranteed for all owners of the game. Here’s my review of the Catwoman DLC in Batman: Arkham City.
I beat Batman: Arkham City well over a week ago, but due to a weekend vacation, work, and the flu hitting my entire family, I’m only now getting to its review. This has given me time to think heavily about the game, and in some ways find as many flaws as ways to praise it, not sure if this is a healthy game reviewing technique or not.
As the sequel to Arkham Asylum, one of the most successful and highly regarded licensed games ever, expectations were through the roof. Arkham City was released in October of last year to brisk sales and excellent reviews, skyrocketing creatorRocksteady Studios among the upper echelon of developers.
Nate covered the game’s first hour when it was released, and later named it his Game of the Year. I just named Arkham Asylum my Game of the (Other) Year as I beat it early 2011. As I’m still ailing from the effects of the flu and its corresponding medicine, I’m going to try and keep this shorter than usual.
These aren't your normal awards, we cover everything from older game of the year to worst first hour. We also don't sum up votes on categories or anything either, we simply present each writer's thoughts on their pick, so if you don't like something, you know exactly who to blame! Of course, we do all this just for fun (spare time!) and buy all of our own games (real money!), so most of us don't even touch some of the big releases of the year. Woe to the unpaid game critic!
Everybody wants to be Batman. He was born with more money than most third world countries. His car sips gasoline and pisses fire. He could win the World's Strongest Man competition and the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions simultaneously. He knocks boots with Catwoman at night and brags to Superman in the morning. Whatever you aspire to be, Batman is it.
So it's surprising that no developer ever attempted the complete Batman experience until 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum. Okay, maybe Batman isn't quite "complete" without Batmobile or Bruce Wayne, but the game offered a taste of the hunter/fighter/thinker dynamic that makes Batman so Batmanly. Two years later, Rocksteady Games is back on the prowl with Batman: Arkham City, because when was the last time a hit video game didn't get a sequel? The new game promises an increase in scope parallel with its subtitle: the play area has expanded from the asylum to a full borough within greater Gotham City where evildoers and thugs (and maybe also the mentally ill that legitimately need help?) have been corralled and quarantined.
But enough prep, it's time to bust faces. Watch some snippets of footage from early in the story and pretend you're Batman. It's okay, we all still do it from time to time.
I rented a lot of games when I was younger. Video stores, rental shacks, and even supermarkets offered the chance to play games I had never read about in Nintendo Power or GamePro, and some of my all-time favorite games were discovered among their shelves. But I also rented a lot of bad games. In the time before the internet, and particularly before online video game criticism was readily available (N64.com aka IGN), the only sources gamers had to find out what was good were either magazines and friends. Money and time was wasted, as Sturgeon's Law was in effect even then.
And while I rented a lot of crap, none of it was as bad as Batman Forever, undoubtedly the most misspent $3 ever given to Video Spotlight. This was a game so unplayable it took me hours to get past its first stage. This was a Super Nintendo cartridge game that had a loading screen. Batman Forever was a crappily-made licensed game based on a crappy movie. Ugh.
Fifteen years later and Batman fans really have great things to cheer about. Arkham Asylum was a triumphant superhero game and this week's Arkham City may very well surpass it. We should have at least a first hour review of Arkham City from Nate this week, so look forward to that, but first, let's take a quick rewind to Batman's lowpoint.
A year ago I played the first hour of Batman: Arkham Asylum. The conclusion was that I would keep playing “for a while,” and much of that decision rested on what percentage of the game would the stealth gameplay take up. I had to give the game back to who I was borrowing it from, however, and Arkham Asylum started burning a hole in my brain. I began to really want to play it again, but the opportunity never came up the rest of the year. When Christmas rolled around I said I wanted one game, and one game only: Batman.
I received the game but forced myself to beat Fable II before I moved on to something bigger and better (if I play more than one game at a time I’m bound to never play one of them again). The moment after I saved Albion again I switched over to Arkham Asylum and went to town.
Released in mid-2009, Arkham Asylum seemed to spring out of nowhere from absolute nobody Rocksteady Studios. Why and how these guys received the criminally under performing Batman license and then went out and made one of the best games of the year is a bit mind boggling, but a story for another day.
Here’s my full review of Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Announcing the 2010 Game of the Year Awards from the First Hour! We published over 60 full reviews this year, tripling our output from last year. Of course, our writing staff has grown quite a bit also. I personally beat 30 games, undoubtedly making 2010 my most productive video gaming year ever. We also played over 55 first hours, keeping up a steady pace of one a week. We have not been lacking for great games or content this year.
This isn't your normal Game of the Year awards, we cover everything from older game of the year to worst first hour, so keep scrolling all the way to the bottom! If anything, our game of the year picks are the least interesting decisions. The writers here also don't vote on the categories, instead, everyone is welcome to submit their picks as their own definitive decision.
Before tonight, the only Batman video game I had ever played was Batman Forever, a seriously awful "game" that left me tossing my Super Nintendo controller across the room in disgust. You begin the game in a room where the only way out is up, and after pressing every imaginable button on the controller, you simply can not escape.(well, you can, press the Select button and then Up on the D-pad. Yeah Batman Forever, I hate you too).
So fast forward 15 years and memories of that travesty are all but forgotten and Batman: Arkham Asylum is in my Xbox 360. Everyone's been gushing on this game since its release in August 2009 so I've finally decided to give it a whirl. While I've enjoyed the recent films and filled my afternoons with Batman: The Animated Series, I know nothing about the comic world that the game is based off of. Arkham Asylum, from a non-reader's perspective, appears to be the ultimate love letter to all those Batman comic fans who have been waiting patiently for something... awesome.
But things are also a bit off for me: the Joker is different, the Commissioner is different, and even Batman is different. But Arkham Asylum is a stealth-action beat 'em up, a genre mash-up I felt worked brilliantly for a game like Beyond Good and Evil. So will the first hour of the game inspire me to keep playing, or will the stealth-based gameplay or unfamiliar world cause me to put it down for good? Let's find out on the Xbox 360.