Striving to be more than just a fighting game, “Injustice: Gods Among Us” does a fantastic job of providing the brawling sensation that fans of the genre crave while weaving a wonderful story for those who want to do more than bruise their knuckles.
NetherRealm Studios did more than just take their “Mortal Kombat” template and slap some DC Comics icons on it. They integrated the individual powers of each hero/villain and shaped them into moves that feel organic for each character.
There are no “fatalities” so if you think Batman is going to rip the spine out of Sinestro, think again. However, combos and multi-move attacks found in most traditional fighting games will keep players interested with their new moves, especially the big power moves for massive damage.
Confession: I’m not a fighting genre player. I find trying to remember or master all the different joystick gyrations and button mashing to be boring. It seems like grinding to me and that’s not a style I like.
That said, I couldn’t stop playing the single player story because the action and the narrative were so enthralling. If you’ve been reading the “Injustice” comic book series, you know the details of the backstory. But it isn’t necessary to have read the comic to play the game. You’ll get caught up very quickly.
The joint efforts of the DC Comics and NetherRealms writers produced a dark tale set 5 years into the future in a parallel world. Alternate Superman, racked by guilt over the death of his wife and unborn son, and the destruction of Metropolis, decides mankind needs someone who will protect them at all times and at any cost.
This grand vision goes horribly awry as individual freedoms are stripped in the name of order and Superman. Metahumans either join Superman in his quest or die by his hand. He is a world dictator in the truest sense with the power to quash any dissent.
Except for one. Batman.
The alternate Batman has a plan to end Superman’s rule, but needs the heroes of “our” world to do it. Aquaman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman are pulled to this alternate world through a temporal tunnel. Batman and Joker also get caught up in the tunnel and shuttled over as well.
The game starts here, as “our” heroes do battle against the alternate heroes and villains who have joined Superman’s side. This results in Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Aquaman facing off against their dopplegangers.
The cast is deep and rich. Heroes like Flash and Shazam are working side by side against Solomon Grundy and Bane. Nightwing is here, but not the Nightwing you think, and Deathstroke works with you while still serving his own purposes. Little twists and turns lurk around every corner and that’s what makes the game and story so interesting.
The battles are still there and still fun. They have meaning in the greater context of the story and act as glue for the different chapters in the narrative.
And the dialog is a great mix of snappy wit and foreboding doom. Joker and Green Arrow have some of the best lines in the story, each portraying the proper feel for their character without seeming too over-the-top.
GA, often known for his constant string of one-liners, battles with Killer Frost when she asks him if he ever shuts up. “Every other Tuesday,” he says while firing off an arrow.
Joker maintains his maniacal, yet calculating, way of saying the absolute wrong thing at the right comedic moment. His moments with Harley Quinn and the alternate Harleen Quinn are tender and sadistic in all the right Joker ways.
It’s this blend of stellar story with the combat action that will draw more than just the fighting fan to this game. The God-power moves are unique to each character and fit within their DC lore. They will also make you wince when they are pulled off because they are so devastating.
Environments are given the DC touch as well. From Wayne Manor to the WatchTower to Arkham Asylum, different elements within each can be used during combat to bash, blow up or even warp your opponent into a new arena.
My only complaint about the single player story is that it is short – about 5 to 7 hours. For someone who isn’t a fighting game fan, this may not be enough. But there are other modes to explore that can increase your enjoyment of the game.
Battle mode allows you to take a character and run them through a gauntlet of eight foes. You can customize the fights by taking on all heroes, all villains, a mix between them, no regeneration of health between battles and so on.
STAR Labs mode lets you go on missions with characters while trying to achieve specific battle goals. Players gain stars (why is it always stars?) when completing certain objectives during each battle. Hitting combos, finishing without taking damage, not using certain abilities – these all offer challenges with a small blend of a narrative throughout.
Is this for the competitive fighting crowd? Maybe, but I’ve never ventured into that area. It does have all the hallmarks of a “Mortal Kombat” fighting style with more comic book flair.
Is this for the comic book fan looking for a good video game to tie together their entertainment? I’d say yes. They stay true to the DC lore in spite of the alternate world setting (Earth 1A?) and the story flows very nicely from the comic book series.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” isn’t a “Mortal Kombat” game dressed up in superhero costumes. It is a great blend of fighting game action while still providing comic book-style fun, story and entertainment – one which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” is available now in North America and Australia. It will be available in Europe on April 19 and in Japan on June 9. It can be played on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. There is also a companion iOS version that offers different game play. The game is rated T for Teens due to blood, language, suggestive themes, and violence. This review was completed using a provided copy for the PS3.
Batman and Robin return from their adventures in the original title to take on major baddies with a little help from their friends. The story takes place in Gotham City, where the Joker and Lex Luthor decide the best way to rig a presidential election in Luthor’s favor is to drug everyone with Joker gas.
The campaign takes players through several different set pieces, but also allows for free roaming throughout Gotham City in between the missions. Everything is built with LEGOs, which means nearly everything is breakable into blocks and bits, the currency of the LEGO world.
Break more things, get more bits, and get more unlockable vehicles, heroes and villians.
The story is fun and brings in Superman as a playable character. The Man of Steel is really powerful and can fly, which makes some of the puzzles a little easier than they should be. Obviously, there is kryptonite in the game and he gets weakened – so much that he’s almost a hindrance at times.
Batman and Robin can use special suits to grant them unique powers during the missions. Batman can be stealthy, powerful or electrified depending on his suit, while Robin gets aerobatic, cold powers or a hazmat suit with vacuuming powers.
Each scene has special items to be collected – gold bricks, saving a citizen in peril, minikit parts to build and unlock new vehicles. You aren’t going to get everything on the first playthrough though. The set pieces are designed for players to come back with new characters and find places previously unavailable to them.
The dialog, which LEGO says is a first in the video game franchises, is great, even if it is slightly exaggerated in its tone. Batman is extra broody; Robin is extra peppy; Superman is extra nice. In previous games, LEGO characters grunted or emoted instead of speaking words.
Some of the voices may be recognizable to those who have watched the cartoon. Clancy Brown provides the voice of Lex Luthor in the game, just as he’s done for the “Justice League,” “The Batman,” and “Superman” cartoons. Tara Strong, Claudia Black, Nolan North, and many other strong voices offer depth and meaning to the dialog.
The speech is only during the cut scenes and not during the action. That’s fine, because I have a feeling we’d be hearing a lot of the same battle cries during a fight, which would get old in a hurry.
Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred, also makes an appearance as the hint icon, helping players figure out new powers or tipping them off on what to do next. He’s pretty persistence so do what he says or he’ll repeat himself often.
Toward the end of the campaign, members of the Justice League join Batman and Superman (and Robin) to put an end to the reign of terror in Gotham City. Wonder Woman, Flash (my favorite), Green Lantern and Cyborg all become playable characters, each with their own special powers.
At one point in the game, six different characters were on the screen. While players can switch to any character they see during gameplay, it got a bit crowded when a puzzle required as specific ability. For example, if I needed super strength to pull open a robot’s chest, I had to track down Cyborg or Wonder Woman and stand next to them to switch. Not a deal breaker, but a little delay in the action.
But what to do once the campaign is finished? Sure, you could go back through and collect all the items you missed along the way, or you could venture outside into the open spaces of Gotham City to see what you can find there.
There are locations in the open world marked by spotlights that direct players to special items, like connections to the Batcomputer or unlockable heroes and villains. Those heroes and villains can be bought using bits and used in the game. There are 50 DC Comics characters and 10 other characters available to be found and used.
Those special gold bricks, minikits and citizens in peril are available out here as well. If you are a completionist game who has to get 100% for the game, you’ll spend a lot of time running around Gotham City looking for items.
The one major criticism I have is how characters move in the open world. Players can use vehicles if they want, but if they choose to walk or fly, the LEGO character will automatically speed up and make it difficult to control. I understand why developers sought the need to make characters run (there is a lot of ground to cover), but I wish they would have made a button to run instead of making it automatic. Collecting bits in the open world requires a bit of touch, which is lost when the character breaks out into a full sprint.
Drop-in/drop-out co-op play makes it easy to share the fun with a friend. Just make sure they don’t turn on you and start using their powers on you (it was a mistake, of course!).
Overall, the vocal quips and additional characters is enough to make “LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” worth playing. The cuteness of the LEGO characters combined with the “seriousness” of the Joker and Lex Luthor is quite the contrast.
Open world exploring offers players the chance to fully utilize all the characters in the game. Superman is a bit overpowered during freeplay (can’t be hurt, just flies everywhere) since there isn’t kryptonite just laying around, but it doesn’t affect the game unless you want it to.
And of course, as with pretty much every super hero movie, there is a special teaser reveal at the end of the campaign mode. Bring on the next LEGO superhero game!
“LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” is available now in North America, Europe and Australia. It is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and PC. The game is rated E 10+ for everyone 10 years of age and older due to cartoon violence. This review was done with a provided copy for the Xbox 360.
Let me start by saying “Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” is rated M for Mature for a very good reason. There is more cursing in the game than at a Yankees/Red Sox playoff game and quite a bit of nearly full frontal nudity.
Developers at CD Projekt RED have been very upfront about this title being for very mature audiences and make sure people can’t be surprised by the content. Even the storyline involving monster hunter extraordinaire Geralt of Rivia is more in line with a plot from “Game of Thrones” with political intrigue, backstabbing and power struggles than your typical “kill the monsters” role playing game (RPG).
“Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” was released last year as a PC-exclusive title, but the game was recently ported to the Xbox 360 to open it up to console audiences. The “Enhanced Edition” for the Xbox 360 also offers new content, about four more hours of gameplay and many updates to the interface.
Using the Xbox 360 controller to narrate the action is quite the agility test. Each button, including the triggers and shoulder buttons, will be used constantly, and sometimes, in a hurry. Preparations for combat, which are almost always necessary, will result in multiple button pushes to cycle through numerous menus for potions, oils and the like.
If hacking-and-slashing your way through a campaign is your style, this is not for you. This is about preparation before battle and making sure to use the right combinations depending upon your opponents. Fortunately, the action slows or stops when trying to access magic (signs), but that also requires a couple of button mashes, some joystick movement, then more mashing to get back to the action.
While the PC version allows for hotkeys to access abilities faster and easier, the console controller doesn’t have that option. It takes some getting used to and becomes second nature as the game progresses.
As with most RPGs, there is a certain amount of gathering that goes on. All different kinds of herbs, trinkets and supplies are lying around, waiting for Geralt to pick them up and convert them into potions, armor or oils. Inventories will fill up fast, but you’ll need every scrap to gain advantages in combat.
Leveling up through experience allows players to augment certain abilities they choose through skill trees. A training skill tree is unlocked at the beginning and enhances basic abilities. The other three trees will help shape how Geralt will play and where his strengths will lie.
A magic skill tree powers up spells and unlocks new mystical abilities. The alchemy skill tree boosts gathering and blending abilities as well as increasing the effects of potions and oils. The swordsmanship tree is all about the combat, boosting defenses and damage through different skills learned.
Players will have to concentrate on one of the three specialty trees to really get the big effects. Each level Geralt gains gives him points to unlock new abilities, and every ability has two levels to unlock for maximum impact.
The environments are fabulously rendered and the lighting is superb. Buildings have their own individualities and subterranean areas don’t feel like recipients of a copy and paste tool job. Different races look and sound unique and the level of immersion is very deep and rich.
The missions and side missions follow along a fairly laid-out path. For all the environmental splendor, there is little reason to go wandering around the countryside unless you just want to see how much work the developers put into the forests (hint: a lot; it is gorgeous).
The story is all about king killing, kingdom making and political intrigue. Some of the dialog would probably play out very well in the halls of Congress (minus all the swearing, I think). Even though Geralt is a renowned monster hunter, there are very few true monsters to be slain. Yet, it is all done within the context of the story and accomplished very well.
A few buggy moments slow down the game. Following other characters during missions can be hit and miss as the leader is stopped or slowed down by every rock, twig and bump in the road. However, it only bogs down the pace and never crashes the game.
Overall, “Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” does a great job of extending its legacy with a deep storyline, intricate combat and a level of immersion that keeps players interested and involved. The mature plot is handled very well while not getting bogged down in the minutiae of drama for drama’s sake.
Cursing and nudity aside, the mature themes are really aimed at an audience who is interested in living the lifestyle for the era rather than just killing everything in sight.
“Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” is available now for the Xbox 360. It was previously released for the Windows PC in May 2011. It is rated M for Mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, and use of drugs. This review was done with the Enhanced Edition for the Xbox 360.
It was the year of hacking, the year of breaking records and the year of flinging birds at pigs. The year of gaming in 2011 had plenty of ups and down and that doesn’t even include all the video game titles that were released. While the explosion of social and mobile gaming continues to affect all games, it was a hacking incident that focused attention on the dark side of online gaming.
Gaming Network Hacked
In April, Sony confirmed that its PlayStation Network, the online service that has more than 77 million users and allows online play for it PS3 consoles, was hacked and taken offline.
It was more than just a denial of service ploy. Sony said that personal data, including credit cards information, was accessed and compromised. While they stopped short of saying “stolen,” the company recommended that its customers keep an eye on their credit card accounts and watch out for identity theft.
An outside security agency was hired to find out what happened and the network service stayed offline for several days while changes were made to prevent more intrusions. Sony also offered special incentives to bring back gamers after they fixed the issues.
But in October, the PlayStation Network was hacked again – this time affecting “only” 93,000 accounts. This intrusion affected thousands of user IDs and passwords.
Sony said the lessons they learned from the April hack prevented more information from being illegally accessed. A teenager inLondonwas quickly arrested in connection with the crime.
And before you think this was just a PlayStation problem, Microsoft announced that its Xbox Live customers were the targets of a malicious phishing attempts to scam personal user information. Microsoft was quick to point out that their online gaming service was not hacked and there was no breach of security.
Earlier in the year, the hacker group LulzSec released a data file with names, email addresses and passwords they said could be used to get into Xbox Live accounts as well as other accounts.
Breaking Entertainment Records
You know gaming is big when the release of a game smashes entertainment records for sales.
For the third consecutive year, the “Call of Duty” franchise raised the bar with the release of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” by earning more than $400 million and selling more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom in the first 24 hours.
If that wasn’t enough, the game had more than $775 million in sales during the first five days. “Modern Warfare 3” also broke the record for peak concurrent players on Microsoft’s Xbox Live online gaming service.
According to Activision Blizzard, the all-time sales for the “Call of Duty” franchise exceeds worldwide box office sales for “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings.” There were more than 13,000 midnight openings at retail stores worldwide for the release of the new title.
Last year, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” sold $360 million on its first day while “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” sold $310 million on its first day in 2009.
Mobile/Social Gaming Explosion
Gaming has transformed from being played on computers to home consoles to mobile phones. With it, game developers recognized they have a new audience to appeal to with games designed to be played quickly and with others electronically.
Zynga, a social network game developer responsible for “CityVille,” “FarmVille” and “Words With Friends,” recently filed an initial public offering with the SEC and began trading on NASDAQ. While the stock failed to rocket as previous dotcom stock did in the heyday of the tech bubble, the market for social and mobile is still very much a battleground.
Companies are developing games for smart phones and tablets and incorporating chat or other social features to allow players around the world enjoy games together. Atari recently announced they were changing their mission to work exclusively on social and mobile gaming while publishers like Electronic Arts continue to push big names (“Madden”) to the small screen. EA also bought Popcap Games for a whopping $750 million.
Facebook made it even easier for game play on their social network while Apple’s inclusion of the Game Center on their iPhones reflect the growing interest by the public toward gaming with others while on the move.
More Than a Gaming Device
Kinect for the Xbox was introduced with the idea of making motion gaming easy and fun for users. But creative people began “hacking” the device and make use of its cameras and sensors for more than just play.
Some people have used the Kinect to create very life-like movies using CG rendered figures. Other use it to manipulate video playback so that multiple screens can be created or erased as the user needs.
Kinect is also a watchdog for your home. A program turns on the Kinect when it senses motion and takes pictures of the “intruder’s” face, which can be stored or even sent online.
While hacking the Kinect wasn’t new this year, the ingenuity at which people were including the motion sensing device rose to new and exciting levels.
“Angry Birds” vs. The World
“Angry Birds” moved out of the gaming arena and into the pop culture spotlight with their inclusion in commercials, being released as stuffed toys and the very real possibility of a full length movie in the near future.
It is also notable for the people who play – U.S. Senator Chris Coons, basketball star Kevin Durant and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who plays the iPad version of the game.
There is also a yoga philosophy that uses the characters and gameplay mechanics to explain its teachings. Rovio, the company that created the game, opened its first official retail story in Helsinki and plans another somewhere in China.
3D Game Console Released
With much fanfare and hype, Nintendo released a new handheld console – the 3DS – that would let players experience 3D visuals without the use of special glasses. It was supposed to revolutionize what the gaming experience was going to be.
The console was released inJapanin February and inNorth Americain March. But by August, Nintendo dropped the price on the device by $80 after demand for it was softer than expected.
As of March, Nintendo had only sold 3.61 million units – far short of the 4 million the company was expecting to sell. To appease early adapters who bought the 3DS at the early price, Nintendo offered 20 free downloadable games – ten free NES Virtual Console games and ten Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games.
The device also suffered from a perception problem as the company stated publically that the 3D mode should not be used by players 6 years old and younger. While there has been no scientific data to show any harm to the development of eye sight in children, some players did report experiencing headaches after continuous playing.
New Gaming Hardware
This year, two major gaming hardware companies announced they were going to come out with new gaming consoles.
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo inLos Angeles, Sony showed off its new handheld game console, the PlayStation Vita, while Nintendo introduced its newest home console, theWiiU.
The Wii U announcement has been described as the next generation of gaming consoles and is expected to be fully backwards compatible with the Wii. The controller will have an embedded single-touch screen and the console will be able to produce high-definition graphics.
There were worries that the console will be too expensive to compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360. Nintendo has said the Wii U will be released after March 2012.
In contrast, the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s new handheld console and the successor to the PSP, was released inJapanin December and is expected to hit North American andUnited Kingdomshores in February. It boasts touch screens on the front and back as well as dual analog joysticks.
Vita will also be available in two versions: one with 3G support and one without. The 3G service will be provided by AT&T in theUSand Vodafone inEurope.
Moving from subscription to free-to-play
“World of Warcraft” wasn’t the first, but it has been the most successful subscription based game for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) with 10.3 million subscribers as of November.
So it stands to reason that others would try to take a slice of that very large pie. “DC Universe Online” wanted to capitalize on the power of DC Comics and online gaming in a big way.
The game allowed players the opportunity to act out their comic hero/villain fantasies in the DC Universe and interact with iconic characters like Superman, Joker or Wonder Woman. Initially, players paid a monthly fee (around $15 in the U.S.), but by September, there were reports that the game was not doing as well as Sony, Warner Bros., and DC Comics would have liked.
In November, it was announced that the game would be free to play for anyone who wanted to play, but offered optional in-game microtransactions in place of the subscription fee. Two other paying levels were offered with different levels of in-game abilities being released as the price increased.
The strategy worked as “DC Universe Online” experienced a 2,500% increase in total playtime per day and a 1,000% increase in their user base.
More Affordable PS3
Perhaps feeling the heat from their hacking incidents or maybe just an attempt to chip away at Microsoft’s lead in the console market, Sony announced a price drop for their flagship console, the PlayStation 3.
The price drop put the cost on par with the Xbox 360, but didn’t include any bundling with the Move controller (that came later in the year). Some analysts wondered if Microsoft would respond with a price drop of their own – something that did not occur.
The Xbox 360 has traditionally been the top selling gaming console in the U.S.
The Season of 3
Finally, you can’t talk about the year in gaming without talking about games. This year, many of the popular franchises produced sequels with many of the shooter titles sporting the number three in their titles.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” “Battlefield 3” and “Gears of War 3” all brought back familiar gameplay and characters while putting them in new situations and scenarios.
“Uncharted 3,” featuring the treasure-seeking ways of Nathan Drake, closed out that franchise. “Resistance 3” also brought an end to the alien invasion of Earth. And “F.E.A.R 3” finally stopped making us dread little girls in darkened hallways.
X-Play host Morgan Webb said all these sequels and finale installments are happening for a reason – new consoles on the near future.
“We’re nearly the end of a console cycle so series that have begun at the beginning of the console cycle, they’re starting to finish up the series,” she said. “People have made the investment in the franchise and they’ve got the art together and they don’t want to create something completely new when new consoles are starting to be on the horizon.”
The roster of villains continues to grow for “Batman: Arkham City.”
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released a new video revealing Mr. Freeze as the latest foe to face off against Batman in the upcoming video game.
From the trailer, Mr. Freeze is still trying to revive his wife, Nora, and demanding that the Dark Knight help him. Batman shows costume damage from a previous battle with an unknown opponent and clearly is not in the mood.
Mr. Freeze joins the Joker, Penguin, Two-Face and other classic Batman villains in the new video game, which promises to be five times larger than the game world in “Batman: Arkham Asylum.”
“Batman: Arkham City” will be available October 18 in North America for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.
The lineup for “Batman: Arkham City” keeps growing with two more characters revealed.
The Penguin is continuing his shady business dealing within Arkham City, bringing chaos and corruption to the dark alleys and foreboding corridors of the sprawling cityscape. A new trailer from Warner Bros. Entertainment and DC Entertainment highlights the bird-based villain’s plans and introduces yet another huge DC bad guy working for the Penguin.
It was also announced that Talia al Ghul will be included in the game. Stana Katic, star of “Castle,” will be doing the voice work for the daughter of Batman’s greatest intellectual foe.
“Talia is such a complex character and it was great to voice her,” said Katic regarding her role in the game. “I was amazed at all the detail put into the project and it’s great to see how excited the fans are about the game.”
“Batman: Arkham City” will be available beginning Oct. 18 in North America for Xbox 360, PC and the PlayStation3.
In case you can’t get enough of the Batman environment, a new multiplayer game will let you take to the streets as your own Batman-type of hero.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released an all-new trailer for the upcoming download-only multiplayer first-person shooter, “Gotham City Impostors.”
The game gives players the opportunity to rebel against conformity as they customize their own characters. Posing as amateur vigilantes or villains, gamers will create their very own Bats and Jokerz characters using unprecedented customization options including insane costumes, homebrewed gadgets and a wide range of traditional and imagined weapons.
If the trailer is any indication, it looks more like a world gone Joker. And it is a FPS, so Batman-like characters will be doing something that Batman himself would never do – carry and use firearms.
The game will feature maps and modes inspired by DC Comics’ Batman license.
“Gotham City Impostors” is scheduled for release Winter 2012 and will be available on Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network. The game will also be available for download for PC.
“Bastion” (Warner Bros. Interactive, Supergiant Games) offers a unique environment, responsive combat, and a one of a kind reactive narrative that will have players saying “wow” during gameplay.
The game starts off, oddly enough, as your character – Kid – is laying in bed, which happens to be sitting on a floating chunk of land. Apparently, the world has broken into pieces due to something called a Calamity, and it is your task to find a way to rebuild it
The environment is a series of broken pieces of land that are only revealed as Kid begins to traverse them. His base of operations is called Bastion, and this is where he sets forth as he gathers Cores – gemstones that help him construct buildings.
Skyways fling you from one floating bit of land to another in search of Cores and new weapons. The scenery is colorful, bright, and looks nearly hand painted. It is also very destructible, but go wild at your own peril because you can fall off the land into the great void.
Each piece of land has its own enemies and friends. Kid can use two different weapons from a choice of several throughout the game. Some are melee weapons like the machete and others are ranged weapons like the mortar launcher.
These weapons can be modified or switched out at the Bastion to increase their firepower or other skills. There is also a secret skill attached with each weapon enabling it to cause serious damage over a wide area. Players can develop their own fighting style depending on which weapons they want to carry into combat.
Idols to fallen gods can also be found throughout the land. These idols raise the level of difficulty for players and offer greater rewards when activated. This is another way to allow players to customize the game to suit their tastes.
Combat is intense. Health potions keep you going and a shield offers some protection from attacks. But mixing it up against opponents is enjoyable and productive.
What really makes this game unique is that an old man known as the Stranger narrates the entire game. He isn’t just reciting lines of dialog – he is really telling the story of what happened during the Calamity and what Kid is doing to fix it.
During one part when I was just having Kid destroying everything, the Stranger said, “Kid just starts raging.” It took me aback a bit because I originally figured the dialog was tied to specific major events in the game.
It was pleasing to have a personalized touch to my game and made the experience even more immersive. Important clues about future events were revealed during the narrative while I was wailing away at opponents. Definitely kept me on my toes visually and aurally.
The entire adventure is single player only – no co-op or online multiplayer. It will take about 8 to 10 hours to get through to the end.
There are some graphical glitches that leave fallen enemies hanging in mid-air. The musical score tends to get a bit repetitive or lost during the narration.
I was confused by how the game chose to achieve its ending. There are no moral choices to be made during the game (ala “Mass Effect”), but there are two places near the end where the game comes to an abrupt stop and forces you to make a choice.
It seemed awkward to introduce this game mechanic so late in the game. The first choice seems unnecessary and the second choice merely allows you two different endings to the game.
Even with that confusion, “Bastion” was still loads of fun to play. Finding the right weapons, locating friends (enjoy the baby anklegator), and making the story feel like it was being created just for me is a winning combination.
Supergiant Games put together a good formula for an immersive game without needing to overdo.
“Bastion” will be available July 20 on the Xbox Live Arcade, and later in the year for PCs. It is rated E10+ for animated blood, fantasy violence and use of alcohol and tobacco. This review was done playing the downloaded version of the game on the Xbox 360.
The package will be available for $99 beginning Oct. 18 in North America for Xbox 360, PlayStation3, and PC.
The Collector’s Edition will include the following extensive bonus content:
- Custom Batman statue produced by Kotobukiya
- Collectible art book
- Early access to the Iceberg Lounge Challenge Map and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns skin
- Album from WaterTower Music including original songs by hit artists
- Bonus animated original movie, Batman: Gotham Knight
- Four collectible cards
This special offering is on top of the news that Robin is going to be part of a pre-order package from Best Buy. So the question becomes: how are you going to get your hands on the game?
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released an all-new trailer for “Batman: Arkham City” featuring The Riddler – Gotham City’s most notorious villain with an obsessive-compulsive need for attention. He joins the growing list of characters in the game including the Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face and Hugo Strange.
The Riddler is raising the stakes and posing a physical threat not only to Batman, but to innocent civilians. In “Arkham Asylum,” the Riddler was merely used as a vehicle to discover prizes and trophies. This time, the interaction will be more personal.
“Batman: Arkham City” will be available beginning Oct. 18 in North America for Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation3.