Arkham Asylum EP10: Give me a Kiss

By Shamus
on Jul 8, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

70 comments


Link (YouTube)

A few weeks ago Mumbles brought up the Mr. Freeze fight from Arkham City, so let’s talk about that before this series gets bogged down in its own boss fights.

I think that Mr. Freeze is one of the best “big” boss fights I’ve seen in a game like this. Unlike other fights, it’s not about mindlessly repeating one attack pattern without making mistakes. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that. It doesn’t bathe you in mooks that detract from the overall fight. It’s not about surviving until the next round of quicktime events. It’s not based on spotting tells and looking for big glowy weak spots. The boss isn’t just a mechanical reproduction of a regular mook, except with a massive health bar.

The fight is actually a deluxe version of the predator encounters we’ve seen here in Arkham Asylum: You need to ambush Freeze several times, and you can never use the same trick twice. Ambush from above. From behind. From a floor grate. Through a window. Explode a wall into him. Electrocute him in a puddle. Grab him with a “magnet”A device that really doesn’t survive any kind of in-world scrutiny. and trap him.

The thing is, I hated my first go at the Freeze fight. It was unbelievably frustrating and I had no idea what the game wanted me to do. (It doesn’t help that the fight is really poorly justified from a character perspective.)

The problem was that I only had a couple of predator tools that I relied on. (And my favorite was hanging from the ceiling, which you can’t do in this fight.) I had no idea what the other tricks were or how they worked. So you have to pause the game, look up this stuff in the list of Bat-moves, and then you have to experiment to get a feel for their proper distance and timing. If you do it wrong, Freeze will nearly kill you before you can escape. It was an excruciating example of Do it Again, Stupid.

If you’ve been learning all the different moves, then the Freeze fight feels like a great excuse to pull out all the stops and use the full extent of your knowledge. If you’ve just been doing inverted takedownsWhere you hang from the ceiling for five minutes, waiting until a mook walks under you, and then grab him to give him the jump-scare of his LIFE. So satisfying. the whole time then it’s a bad case of learning under duress.

My first time through the game I hated the Freeze fight. My second time through the game, I was kind of disappointed at how quickly he went down, and sad I didn’t get to use all my moves.

I’m not even sure how you can solve this. Maybe it would have helped to have a couple of sections in the game where the environments forced you to use some of the more esoteric moves. Maybe there should have been some predator encounters where you couldn’t hang from the ceiling. Then again, that might have seemed arbitrary and frustrating. The problem here is that inverted takedowns are just so much fun that they sort of discourage you from learning the skills you’ll need later.

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Footnotes:

[1] A device that really doesn’t survive any kind of in-world scrutiny.

[2] Where you hang from the ceiling for five minutes, waiting until a mook walks under you, and then grab him to give him the jump-scare of his LIFE. So satisfying.



2020201070 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus, you dog, you.

  2. Henson says:

    Oh wow, Trigun reference. Respect, Chris. Though I’m more of a Legato Bluesummers man, myself.

  3. Duoae says:

    Regarding the Mr Freeze fight: IIRC, you could also zip-line into him to knock him over. I’m sure I remember that one.

    It was a hard fight the first time through but I didn’t think it was SO difficult and I wasn’t using most of the special environmental stuff in the game either at that point… In fact I rarely do in Batman as I’m just struggling to survive by dealing with the multiple enemy types without losing my flow!

    Oddly, I think it’s easier to use the environment and special abilities in Knight than in the previous games… or maybe, after three games, it’s finally clicked for me. :)

  4. This is why optional bosses exist. They’re specifically for peeps that want to do their full arsenal.

  5. Thomas says:

    I was going to argue that Arkham Asylum is the greatest game in the franchise because every part of it is designed to convey it’s theme, from the cloak destruction to how the Asylum is more and more out of control every time you come outside to the time to how it all takes place over one night.

    And the rest of the games in the franchise change the theme, but the keep the exact same mechanics as if they don’t understand why they created them in the first place. in Arkham City there are gang wars on the streets, but instead of interacting with them and maybe trying to gain control over Gotham and start his own territory (like Batman does in No Mans Land) they just recreate the escalating chaos again. I’ve talked before how ridiculous it is that the non-Asylum games take place over one night, and the reason they do that is because thats what they did in Arkham Asylum and they’re just copying pasting things even if doesnt make sense anymore.

    – but Shamus’ comment about the best part being over really rings true. I hate fighting the crazies instead of mooks and the next levels of escalation are even more unfun and annoying.

    And as cool as it is seeing the island descend into chaos, it gets really depressing that Batman doesn’t save _anyone_. The themes and plot require Batman to not get a win until the end and for things to get worse and worse but it is hard to actually play through that.

    • Tizzy says:

      I did like the way the island in Asylum got progressively more dangerous, and then… …emptied, after I dealt with all the mooks. Sure, the bat does not save nearly enough people, but the sense of back to normalcy at the end of the game was great.

      I really hated City for robbing me of that. OTOH, you never run out of XP’s…

  6. Syal says:

    You do predator lessons the same way you do fighting lessons; gimmick enemies. Get a herd of baddies that all wear electric antler hats that you can’t use inverted takedowns on anymore. Or really fat guys you can’t lift, who can also be immune to the glide kick. Maybe you have to blow them up with Bat Gel.

    Thirty major characters.
    Eight names between them.
    I’ll be waiting.

    • Shamus says:

      I laughed so hard picturing electrified antler hats.

      And you’re right: Gimmick mooks would be the way to handle this. Guys who can’t be grabbed from above, guys who can’t be ambushed from the floor, and guys who can’t be glide-kicked. Those are the big three easy takedowns and the player can get through the whole game using only those – until they get to Freeze.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      That’d also be a nice way to mix up the predator challenges later in the game, though you’d have to be careful not to railroad the player into doing them in too specific of a procedure.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      There are softer ways to do this, like giving more points for varied takedowns so players are encouraged to farm the stealth sections for points without it being instant death on failure. You could also track which takedowns the player uses and prioritise the least used for highlighting in detective vision or even for Batman to mention. Or giving out cheevos and exp for doing a certain number of each takedown.

      I just don’t like the idea of arbitrarily immune enemies, it’s annoying bullshit just a step below enemies that can only be killed with one thing. Having enemies that are very weak to certain attacks is great, and giving Freeze progressively greater defence against specific takedowns might work. So you can use inverted takedowns all day, but you’ll be shaving pixels off his healthbar in 1080p by the end and Batman, and maybe the Riddler, will be yelling hints constantly.

  7. Thomas says:

    There isn’t a game in existence that Josh can’t bunnyhop in

  8. MaxieJZeus says:

    Really great comments on the AC Mr. Freeze fight, especially on why it’s so frustrating the first time and so lovely after you figure out what’s going on. I think elsewhere you referred to it as like a “final exam” on predator techniques, and that’s a really good way to describe why it’s so scary the first time, and so rewarding on subsequent play throughs.

    I would add that I disliked having to constantly move to avoid Freeze. The first time I played, that extra pressure on the learning curve really ground on my nerves. Even on subsequent play-throughs, I wish I had the gargoyles just as a perch and not necessarily as an ambush spot, just so I could have a breathing space to plan.

    The challenge rooms I suppose are one way that you are supposed to train for something like the Freeze fight, but some of the requirements in the challenges–like using the Line Launcher, as Duoae, mentioned to knock mooks off high places–are just too strange (at least for me) to ever want to use them unless I’m forced to.

    AA and AC introduced mined gargoyles and thermal goggles during play to make inverted takedowns more problematic; it would have nice if they had extended the principle in AC so that the mooks became more aware of Batman’s hiding places and more adept at countering them as the game progressed, so that by the time you reached the last predator rooms you were dealing with a roomful of goons who, collectively, acted as Freeze did by learning how to counter the takedowns after they happened? Maybe this could have been a way of gently forcing the player to play with new techniques, instead of throwing him into the Freeze fight without adequate preparation?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      AC Mr. Freeze

      Nice pun there.

      But the game does reward you for playing with different techniques.I dont think more handholding would be necessary.

  9. Grimwear says:

    I was literally that person in Arkham City. I love doing inverted takedowns but I managed to get through the Mr. Freeze boss fight after 1 or 2 failures (attacking him from behind over and over is NOT the way to win fyi). I brought this up earlier but on ng+ you need to use 9 different tactics. 9 of 12. Now for people who want to run around a map throwing batarangs and exploding dudes and using every single gadget by all means go for it do what you find fun. But for me that fun came from a small selection of things that I enjoyed using. Not only is 9 excessive beyond belief with any problems pretty much getting you murdered but you also need to start having a running tally in your mind as you play. Have I used this attack? Better hope not or say goodbye to your entire healthbar. I’m all for the fight the first time through since so long as you’re playing easy or normal 3-5 uniques isn’t that bad. Anything more than that and suddenly I need to have a list up beside me for things I can cross off.

    • C0Mmander says:

      Well thank god you didn’t play on hard. You need to use all 12 takedown on your first run in that mode.

    • Thomas says:

      I vaguely remember there being some kind of indicator bar of what you’d used? Did I make that up/Is it removed in NG+?

      • MrGuy says:

        This would be a GREAT simple UI solution to “I don’t get how this works” for this fight, if it did in fact exist. A running fight where a red “no!” sticker goes over each gadget as you use it is a great subtle but effective way to convey “Don’t use that one again!” that doesn’t get in the way of the player, and also helps you keep track without making things game-breakingly easy.

        The big weakness would be that a “gadget” eliminator wouldn’t have an obvious analogue for non-gadget predator moves (inverted takedowns, floor takedowns, etc.)

  10. Bropocalypse says:

    I died a couple times to mister freeze the first time I fought him, but I didn’t find him frustrating, per se. Then again, maybe I have a natural tendency to mix up my playstyle. I definitely liked the fact that I couldn’t hit him the same way twice.

  11. Spammy says:

    When I played Arkham City and did the Freeze fight I wanted nothing more to be done with the Mister Freeze fight as fast as I possibly could… Because my framerate tanked inside that building. The boss fight itself was kind of fun.

  12. Wide And Nerdy says:

    You guys are spot on. Superman and Batman really are better suited to take down each other’s enemies. (Well, except Doomsday. There’s no gadget in the utility belt for Doomsday. But you all are going to take this as a challenge aren’t you . . . )

    They did do a comic where Superman Earth 2 stepped in and lived Superman Earth One’s life* and one of the first things he did was recruit Batman to investigate Lexcorp and shut down Lex Luthor for good averting the entire early Post Crisis plot arc of Luthor’s proxy war with Superman.

    But I like Chris’ majority share idea better. Actually, Grant Morrison’s JLA: Rock of Ages had Luthor via the new Injustice Gang using corporate takeover tactics on the Justice League (headhunting, defamation, poaching talent). But he didn’t realize he was dealing with another CEO and Batman beat him by playing the same game (turned the poached talent into moles, bought one of Luthor’s teammates out from under him).

    *How? By punching each other. I’m surprised you even asked.

    • IFS says:

      What, Doomsday totally has an allergy to the anti-shark spray, which is one of Batman’s most useful gadgets. That fight would be over in no time.

    • There’s an online comic called Wonderella whose premise is arguably that the main character is Super(wo)man in Batman’s city. Not 100%, but generally speaking she is grossly overpowered compared to any threat she faces, and in the event that is not true, she’s fully aware of her effectively-100% chance of being resurrected somehow.

    • Slothfulcobra says:

      Of course, if the villains swapped cities instead of the heroes, most of them would be dead after a year, since Metropolis has capital punishment.

    • Taellosse says:

      I thought that idea, of Batman buying out Lexcorp, was really clever, but I don’t know if it would actually work. At least pre-New52, I think Bruce Wayne was officially the second-richest man in the world, with Lex Luthor being the first. That doesn’t make the tactic impossible, but I’m not sure Wayne Enterprises would have the liquid capital to buy out LexCorp easily.

      On the other hand, Wayne outfoxing Luthor in the financial markets is essentially how No Mans Land ended, so maybe it could work, if Batman was clever about it and operated through proxies and shell companies over a bit of time.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The new ever important question:
    Who do they eat?

  14. Alex says:

    Heh. I see I’m not the only one who thought of that.

    Re: Superman vs. Joker
    There was a comic recently where Joker had set bombs all over Metropolis and Joker was just about to press the detonator in front of Superman, so he was all “What, these bombs?”

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So all this time Shamoose has been watching Josh bungle around everything twice?

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem here is that inverted takedowns are just so much fun that they sort of discourage you from learning the skills you’ll need later.

    I disagree.Not that inverted takedowns are fun,but that they discourage learning everything else.Especially because city rewards mixing your stuff,both in combat and in predator sections.Hence why I always tried to keep myself from doing the same thing verbatim every encounter.

  17. Micamo says:

    “I wonder what a post-apocalyptic Batman would look like”

    No Man’s Land (though the excuse it uses for why Gotham would be a demolished wasteland with the rest of the world unaffected is pretty stupid)

  18. Regarding the phrase, “I’m the goddamn Batman.”

    I did some writing for Wildstorm a while back (“North 40,” great horror comic, needs a sequel, pester your DC editor today) and the editor I worked with was going over some of their ground rules with me.

    He said, “You can say ‘god,’ you can say ‘damn,’ but you can’t say ‘goddamn.'”

    I thought about it and brought up the famous line along with the fact that DC was missing out on a lot of t-shirt sales by not taking advantage of the meme it had become. “I know, I know,” he lamented, but rules is rules…

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Yahtzee brings up a good question:
    If batman names all his stuff bat-this and bat-that,what does he call his batteries?

  20. Zanfib says:

    I wish the Mr Freeze fight had been repeatable.

    Like after you beat him in the campaign you can go into the challenge mode and fight him again. That would have been great.

  21. Majere says:

    Oh dear lord Shamus’ accidental dirty joke and everything surrounding it had me in stitches.

  22. Christopher says:

    I’ve made this argument before, but Batman’s bosses stink because the combat system is made for group combat only, but none of the supervillains are naturally a collective of dudes. Mr. Freeze isn’t a better fight because it’s “smarter”, because having a good memory isn’t “intelligence”. It’s because the predator system involves fighting guys one or two at a time. Even then, not every Predator boss is fun. Two-Face is one in the final Catwoman chapter. He’s not great, just a guy with a gatling gun. Mr. Freeze’s ability to… have a good memory,I guess, is what makes that fight fun. Even if it makes people who rely on one method only frustrated or they made some bad decisions about how much damage you have to do to him on NG+.

    On another note, I remember seeing a video on youtube where a guy plays Mordor and just jumps around invincibly through a ton of mooks for as long as he wants to. I didn’t think you could do that in Asylum, but Josh proved me wrong! The enemies in this case are nuts, though.

  23. Tom says:

    My first thought on how to solve this problem would be to have the game track which moves you tend to favour over the course of the game up to that point, and which ones you scarcely use at all, and your success rates when you attempt each move, then tailor the boss fight’s requirements so that it mostly requires the ones you’re best at and use the most. You could adjust how many of your less favoured / less successful moves it also requires according to the game’s difficulty option.

  24. Mathias says:

    ASBAR Batman (the goddamn Batman) isn’t Batman. He’s a hobo who found a spare Batsuit and decided to become Batman.

  25. From when I was playing in a RP NWN server, I saw there were two kinds of RPers, that more or less seem to fit what Chris (or Josh?) says about some roleplaying in headspace or as the character would do in the game.

    Type 1 – The actor. This would be the “in headspace”. The player more or less identifies himself with his character. He sets some rules about the character behavior but otherwise he wears his skin. This may be easier, more immersive, but makes it harder for the player to accept when things go bad or to make it harder for him not to metagame to get the good outcome, could be prone to have little variety to his characters.

    Type 2 – The director. This would be “as the character would go in the game”. He doesn’t identify with his character at all. He tries to create a full personality and sees the character from the outside. He’s watching what it happens to the character, we could call it also the spectator, though he does have control over his character, and is on to see how it goes for his character. This makes it easier for the player to accept when things go bad, easier to not metagame and have the character do something wrong that will hurt him somehow, it’s bound to be able to more variey of characters; it’s harder to immerse in the world or implicate with the character, harder to get a coherence into the character.

    I think there was a third pro actor and con to director, but I forgot what it is. Well, there sure is a lot more to say but I’m not going to try elaborate more.

    One of the signs I found are quite clear: the actors used to emote using first and second person “*I try to punch the ogre in the kidney*” while the director used third person always “*Mordekai attempts to punch the ogre in the kidney*”.

    P.S. – I think in past days, as I checked on past posts, I’ve begun to follow this recently, I may have posted once or twice in years old posts forgetting I wasn’t looking at a recent one, my apologies.

    • James Bennett says:

      Interesting. I think I’m more of an “actor” type role-player when I play pen and paper games. I tend to speak in the first person when I describe my characters actions.

      As for this game, I definitely felt like I was role-playing as “The Batman.” that was actually the big appeal of this game for me. When I picked up the controller I pretty much became batman.

      There’s a great moment near the end of the game that really brings this out. You’re on your way to the final confrontation with the Joker and you come to a hallway filled with Joker’s mooks. They all applaud for you sarcastically as you come in to fight the Joker. You can walk through that hallway without fighting anyone. It felt like a scene out of the comic books. It’s great that the game lets you decide, “Do you want to be a guy who beats up mooks who aren’t attacking you because it’s fun, or do you want to be Batman?”

  26. Bloodsquirrel says:

    My problem with the Freeze fight was that the context-heavy nature of Arkham Batman’s controls made pulling off some of the required takedowns trickier than it needed to be. Getting the glide to work without a high enough vantage point could be finicky. Trying to get Batman to grip on a ledge instead of vaulting over it could be finicky too.

    You also don’t know how many takedowns you need when you start the fight, so you wind up doing the four methods you know work, then dying while trying to figure out a fifth. Then the next time you do all five, and die again trying to find a sixth.

    It was a great concept for a boss fight, but I found it frustrating in practice.

  27. Christopher says:

    Not really related to this episode, but to the series in general and some of the discussion around it, there’s been announched a Batgirl prequel story DLC. It looks like based on what little I know about it, it’s an adptation of the Killing Joke and is gonna be a bummer. That’s not the part I wanted to comment on, I wanted to say YEAH Harley looks like Harley!

  28. GoofyFoot says:

    I absolutely love that during the end credits, immediately after the banner stating that Chris is “totally high” fades, the game pops up with “X2” right behind it, as though the game itself were implying that Chris was not only “totally high”, but doubly so.

    I also thought the the “Franklin Chris” moniker was a nice touch.

  29. Slothfulcobra says:

    That’s totally Joker. If you look away and look back he changes position.

  30. Dreadjaws says:

    I’m gonna go and say the same thing I said when you complained about New Game+: challenges are your friend. Go to the game’s challenge mode and you’ll have predator encounters that require you to finish mooks in certain ways in order to acquire medals. That way you’ll learn to use all your moves and not always rely on the same trick.

    Now, I understand that perhaps you only feel the appeal of the single-player campaign and are not interested in the extras. That’s fine, I’m usually like that too, but in these games, challenges are complimentary to the campaign. Do them often, don’t just wait until you finish the campaign to tackle them. Maybe do a couple of them before starting your daily story playtime session or after finishing it.

    After a while, you’ll start noticing you’ll playing better, and you’re actually having more fun as the game becomes less repetitive.

    • Izicata says:

      Yeah, I found the complaints about how none of the mooks look up, and how jumping between gargoyles makes enemies lose track of you, to be very telling. Maybe it’s just Josh being bad at the game, but the passive style of hanging around on the gargoyles waiting for takedowns to present themselves is kind of boring, takes forever, and seems like the playstyle the developers implemented so everyone can complete the game even if they’re terrible at it. Ignoring the gargoyles almost entirely is what you have to do to learn how to play well. It also makes the predator sections significantly faster and significantly more fun.

  31. Ed says:

    Mr. Freeze’s fight is certainly a highlight in Arkham City. Interestingly, Arkham Knight, well, gives up, when it comes to boss fights. There are 3 mandatory tank fights, only one of which I’d call good, one okay mandatory brawler boss fight, and one mandatory predator mode fight (which actually is pretty good, I felt). It’s clear that they really did not know where to go with boss fights in this series, but I don’t think giving up was the solution.

  32. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Assorted random thoughts:

    1.) I’ve always been under the impression that everyone is a nephew or an uncle because sons and fathers would imply people have sex, and we can’t have that in comic books. Now we can have sex in comic books, it just can’t be procreative because that would tie down our lone wolf heroes who gotta be free, man.

    2.) I’ve enjoyed watching this playthrough, but I hated playing this game. The similarities to Assassin’s Creed are superficial. In AC, if you’re doing it right, fights are short things that you end with one counter. Most of the game is free running and faffing about. I hated that combo meter with a passion.

    3.) That said, when I played the game, I kept roleplaying as the Shadow, trying to do everything predator style. Josh is much better at it than I am, though.

  33. Ledel says:

    Late update, but I will still deliver tonight’s body count totals:

    K.O.ed: 187

    Maimed: 29

    Killed: 11

    The maims are the guy who was punched into the electric field at 9:41, and the explosive gel party at 14:53. Pretty sure everyone got flung head first into the wall there. The kill is at 10:25, where Cuftbat throws a man headfirst into the floor…ouch.

  34. Arkady says:

    Mumbles comments at some point something like “what’s that called? I watch wrestling and I don’t know”.

    In British wrestling it’s called a lucha roll. I don’t know if it has a different name in American, Mexican or Japanese wrestling, but it probably does.

  35. Taellosse says:

    I failed a few times on Freeze in AC, but only because I messed up, not because I didn’t know what to do, or wasn’t familiar with the moves needed. The inverted takedown is absolutely great fun, but I didn’t have the patience to use it to exclusion – I’d rarely get more than 2 mooks in a given scene with it because they wouldn’t go under the gargoyles enough. So I ended up moving around the predator encounters and using more methods out of necessity, basically, which meant by the time I got to Freeze I was already quite comfortable with most of the tactics available.

  36. BenD says:

    I feel certain that font (0:20) is Futura Bold Condensed (maybe Extra Bold Condensed). And also, that it is indeed the Vault font (one of several used in Fallout). And I also feel compelled to share, because we all have to be a ridiculous geek about something!

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