Arkham Asylum EP14: Titan up the Gameplay

By Shamus
on Jul 22, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

This episode does a good job of showing off one thing about the Arkham combat that I’ve never liked, which is that when the fight gets near a wall, the camera becomes your most dangerous enemy. In an ideal situation, the game will have some sort of concept of the “arena” where the fight is taking place, and position the camera on the outside, giving you a complete view of the field. And the game seems to do this right up until the fight gets close to a wall.

It wouldn’t look right for the camera to go into the wall, so instead it swings around to the other side, pointing outward. This means all the player can see is themselves, the wall, and the guy they’re currently punching. Other foes might be hidden just off to the side, within punching distance but out of view. At this point the whole system falls apart. You could say, “It’s strategic! You need to stay away from the walls and don’t let the mooks corner you!” Fair enough. But…

Then we have fights like this one where you need to keep a titan at distance, and standing in the middle of the room means you won’t have time to dodge out of the way when it charges. The room at the end of this episode is pretty much a worst-case scenario for the camera system. It can’t go into the wall. The ceiling is low so it can’t pull back. You need to keep the titan in view. The room is just barely long enough to dodge the charging titan. And the space is packed with swarming foes.

This problem has gotten a little better in each successive gameExcept for Origins, where there didn’t seem to be any change. but it’s still an ongoing issue. I think the best solution would be for the designer to forbid low ceilings, and just have the camera pull way out when Bats ends up in a corner. I know everyone wants to show off those sweet, sweet Bat-moves up close, but I’d rather be able to see what I’m doing. I’d love this fight if the camera could be placed somewhere useful and stop swinging around, but as it stands this fight is more frustrating than fun.

It really is a shame Josh hates this gameplay so much. I’d love to cover Arkham City. The gameplay is stellar, the world is only slightly too large, and the story is broken in really interesting ways. As a subject of conversation, it’s probably the most topic-rich of the bunch.

We keep making fun of Chris for bringing up Arkham Origins, so I guess it’s worth going back and discussing why. I reviewed it back when the game was new-ish, and thought it was a mix of good and bad. After the review I went back to Arkham City and realized that, no, actually Origins kind of suckedYes, the detective mode stuff was stellar, but it wasn’t good enough to carry the game on its own.. The only good thing I can say about it now is that it really made me appreciate what a classic Arkham City is. I hated the tone of Origins, the interior environments, the unsatisfying combat, the oversized city, the tension-free story, the frustrating boss fights, the swaggering brutish rage-monster version of BatmanI don’t care if it’s consistent with some version of the character from one of the many DC universes. I just didn’t like him at all., the Ubisoft-style tower unlocks, the shift towards dreary photorealism, and the obnoxious quicktime events.

Okay, push the yellow button a whole bunch… now the blue one… now the… no no no! Wrong button! That’s not how I decided you will win this fight! Try again!
Okay, push the yellow button a whole bunch… now the blue one… now the… no no no! Wrong button! That’s not how I decided you will win this fight! Try again!

Also the whole “OH EMM GEE IT’S DEATHSTROKE!!!!!” thing was completely irritating to me. I don’t know or care who Deathstroke is, and going by what we see in the game he comes off like some shitty juvenile 90’s-style Rob Liefeld creationHe was actually created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in 1980, but I never really ran into him until Origins, where he gave off a strong Liefeld vibe. Maybe it was all the pouches., a guy with a personality that begins and ends with his costume and his one-note badass swagger. Maybe the Deathstroke of the comics is an interesting guy, but the one I met in Origins was completely tediousAnd Arkham Knight didn’t improve my opinion of him.. To make it worse, his boss fight was quicktime event garbage and the game acted like it was doing me a favor by letting me fight someone so awesome.

Origins is such an outlier that it makes the game obnoxious to talk about:

“Oh man, I love the Arkham combat. Well, except for Origins.”

“Kevin Conroy really sells the cornball lines they give him to create this unflappable Batman. Except in Origins, when someone else did the voice and the character was totally different.”

“The environments are so fantastic. Except in Origins.”

“The boss fights have been improving throughout the series. Except for Origins where they got much worse.”

Which is why Mumbles and I keep pretending / joking that Origins doesn’t exist. Because it’s annoying to have to put a “except for Origins, which was different” asterisk after every single comment on the series as a whole.

The next episode will wrap this series up.

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Footnotes:

[1] Except for Origins, where there didn’t seem to be any change.

[2] Yes, the detective mode stuff was stellar, but it wasn’t good enough to carry the game on its own.

[3] I don’t care if it’s consistent with some version of the character from one of the many DC universes. I just didn’t like him at all.

[4] He was actually created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in 1980, but I never really ran into him until Origins, where he gave off a strong Liefeld vibe. Maybe it was all the pouches.

[5] And Arkham Knight didn’t improve my opinion of him.



A Hundred!19119 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!

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  1. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Funny… I don’t think I ever had that problem with the camera.

    My problem with the titan fights was that it completely worked against what made the combat good. Normally, you’d be fighting a bunch of mooks. They’re each relatively predictable enough that you can plan your moves a few steps ahead, and since you lose your combo if you get hit or miss a punch you need to. Some of your moves take a little time to pull off (like the takedowns), but it’s okay because you won’t be hit while performing them.

    Then the titans come in. Now suddenly you’ve got to try to do the above when the titan could charge in and screw everything up at any time. You can’t pay as much attention to the mooks as you need. Your plans get interrupted. If you commit yourself to a long animation you might get run over.

  2. Lame Duck says:

    Well, since Arkham Knight has been advertised as the final chapter of the Arkham trilogy, you’re certainly not alone in pretending that Origins doesn’t exist.

  3. Jokerman says:

    I remember this diecast http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=26053 where a question was sent in about camera controls, at the time i felt i didn’t know any modern games with camera issues…

    but maybe i just blank them because since i have thought of Dark Souls and the Arkham series. Two well made, well received series (“except for Origins, which was different”) yet suffered from the truly irritating camera’s at times. So i guess this is still a problem nobody has truly solved, and probably never will if we want interesting and varied environments.

    • IFS says:

      I suppose the problem is that you don’t notice a perfect camera system because its meant to not get in your way, whereas whenever a camera has a problem you notice it. I’d say that Splatoon has a pretty perfect camera imo, though the only reason I can think of it is that I played it recently, any games from a while back I can’t be sure about. Fixed camera angles can also solve the problem, but they don’t work for all games.

      • I think the issue is basically technology changed the discussion.

        When 3d games and systems were first coming out – i.e. N64/PSX/Saturn, it was a kind of ‘how big of a check can your system cash’ issue when it came to polygons. Not just in how many could be on screen, but how quickly could they be drawn and removed in real-time. It feels like those early consoles weren’t powerful enough to compute a camera’s 3d space when it came intervening objects nor remove those objects, while also being too weak to process a more open environment where this would be less of an issue, leading to the most common camera gripe of the day being a camera that dutifully stared a big blocky low-res wall that your character was on the other side of.

        For those old enough to remember those days, cameras were a completely different beast designed around such limitations and genres had different camera styles to deal with the intent of the game. That’s not how it is anymore. It’s harder to tell when a camera’s bad because it’s become so homogenous. Regardless of genre, they are now almost all a different variation of RE4 style close-over-the-shoulder shot with FPS style controls. The limitations are gone, so there’s not reason not to.

  4. silver Harloe says:

    k, maybe I’m a dumb, but why don’t we just have a “it’s during a fight, so allow the camera into the wall, but make the wall 95% transparent” mode?

    • Henson says:

      Because then you’d also presumably be able to see the floor that doesn’t exist. You know, the one on the other side of the wall. Perhaps this would be an okay tradeoff for being able to see what you’re doing, but it seems designers don’t want these kind of immersion-breakers and would rather take the gameplay problem.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Really,we should have camera go inside the wall.Its not like we want to admire the texture of the wall or the floor during a combat sequence.

    • Spammy says:

      Smite also has ap roblem with this, with the extra bonus that it has this problem in a multiplayer game. When you’re right up against a wall the camera doesn’t know what to do and it ends up becoming very difficult to distinguish what you’re looking at and aim your skills.

    • Taellosse says:

      Seems to me the easiest thing would be to combine this with Shamus’ suggestion of going high – just have the camera rise through the ceiling and make it transparent. It’s far less immersion-breaking, I think, to see a room as though its top has been shorn off and you’re peering down from overhead – it’s how isometric games always handle interiors anyway.

  5. Ledel says:

    I personally didn’t think City was too big, more that it was badly laid out. The problem I had was that it was all in a giant “U” shape and that most of the more interesting plot points took place either at one end of the U or the other. So you would spend so much time gliding from building to building just to move the story along. You could stop to beat up some mooks on the ground, but that was almost always out of your way and at a certain point it felt tedious.

    I understand that this was done for loading purposes. I doubt my little laptop could run City if it had to load up the entire city at once. I just feel it could’ve been fixed by giving you a good path to complete the circle. I wouldn’t have even minded if they had to do it by putting in an Arkham style connecting hallway to make it work.

  6. Theminimanx says:

    I agree with Josh about the combat system. Sure, when it works it feels really good, but that’s not the same as actually playing well. Far too much of it is in the game’s control, rather than my own. The auto-targeting is my primary complaint, and the titan fight did a good job of showing that off (at 25:40 especially). I just want to punch the titan so I can use his piggyback ride to smash some mooks. I don’t want to waste time punching some mooks just because you decide it’s a good idea game.
    There’s also the fact that how much reach batman’s punch has depends on how high your combo is. So when your combo gets broken and you want to punch a specific guy, you’re still used to having a long range. But because your range gets shortened, you end up punching the air, like what happened at 1:45.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Batman’s mobility increasing with his combo is a consistent factor that you can learn and count on. It also doesn’t matter much if you miss a punch after your combo is blown; you’ve already lost the combo. The trickiest thing about Arkham’s combat is unlearning the kind of button mashing that most action games encourage. Here it will get you in trouble. You need to be precise about when you punch.

      The auto-targeting is only an issue when you’re trying to hit a prompt in the middle of a melee. Otherwise, if you’ve got so many mooks around you that you can’t pick the right one, then you’ve failed to position properly and you’re about to be hit anyway. Batman has a lot more mobility than his enemies and using that to put yourself in the best position to beat on a mook without getting hit in the back is a core part of the combat.

      • Theminimanx says:

        Missing a punch does matter when there’s someone shooting you and you’re wasting time punching the air.
        And the auto-targeting is sometimes just broken. Again, see 25:40. And positioning is far more difficult than it should be, because Batman flies all over the place.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You can override autotargeting with the movement controls however(except in the case of a block),so it does depend a lot on your control.Its a tough system to master,but once you do master it,you can see just how much control it actually gives you and how the automatic stuff is just there to help you when you while you are learning it.This is especially true in the city.

    • Ivan says:

      Idk, I rarely had a problem with hitting the wrong dude. It certainly happened but only really when there was a dude physically standing between me and the one I wanted to punch, in most cases I would avoid this by simply jumping over the dude in my way without even breaking my combo. I’m not 100% sure how the targeting system works (I think it would pick a target I was “moving” towards while I hit the attack button), it’s been a while since I last played and it’s something that’s always been intuitive and I’ve never thought about. It is controllable and predictable enough to pick the specials out of a crowd when you want to use a takedown though.

  7. 4th Dimension says:

    When Josh told the crew that “this was the last fight he hated” I thought “Wierd, what about the next fight?” And it did not dissapoint.

    I HATE this fight. In my opinion this is probably the worst fight, the fight that caused me most problems when I played. Fighting a titan in a confined space would have been tough enough, but all those mooks make it giant pain. Than god some di*** developer didn’t think it would be “fun” to add some knife or nightstick mooks.

    • IFS says:

      Meanwhile I thought: Wait, have they done the Ivy fight already? Because god damn I hate that boss.

      And no, they haven’t, so I guess next episode we have the worst boss fight in the game to look forward to!

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Yeah I was thinking “Wait, did I miss an episode or . . .”.

        • MrGuy says:

          I hate the Ivy fight from a thematic perspective, and from the awkward way it fits into the rest of the game, and how it doesn’t make sense from Ivy’s perspective (where she’s totally invulnerable and only loses because she’s dumb enough to come out and taunt you).

          But from a gameplay perspective, it’s pretty much a fight all of us have done before, in dozens of genre’s. Dodge the attacks for awhile, wait for the boss’ weakness to appear, hit it with appropriate weapon to chip away at health, repeat until boss dies. We’ve been doing it since the original Legend of Zelda.

          It doesn’t belong in this game, but it’s not “hard” in the sense that it’s unfamiliar or appreciably harder than similar fights from other games.

      • Ivan says:

        I didn’t beat that on my first try but I don’t remember it taking me much more than three, even then I still hated that fight when I was done with it. I don’t remember how to win but I think that was part of the problem, I had no godly idea what I was doing cause the damn thing was so different from every other part of the game. I’m surprised that of all things in this game Josh is ok with the worst part. Then again I now understand why he’s ok with assassin’s creed but not arkham. So I guess it makes sense that he’s ok with the least arkham part of the game.

    • Grudgeal says:

      This fight and the Ivy fight killed my last Hard runthrough. I got through this one by the skin of my teeth and feeling incredibly lucky, and then Ivy just bored me out of this.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I remember dying a lot to that fight against the Titan.

      Really, the Titan enemies are, in my opinion, the antithesis of what makes the batman combat so good. Arkham combat works best when you’re fighting a lot of average sized enemies. They may have their quirks like knives and tasers that you need to take care of, but it’s this ballet of chaos where timing isn’t as important as movement and positioning.

      The Titan fights take this and throws it out the window in favor of this silly segment where you have to dance AROUND enemies and wait for the Titaned-up foe to attack you, because there will be hell to pay if he decided to strike while you’re punching someone else.

      It throws off the rhythm of the fight, and makes it less fun to play.

  8. James Porter says:

    So I thought I heard that StarWarsKid was sad, and that he was having trouble bing taken seriously, could be wrong though.
    Also time to sound like a total dork, but as someone who was too scared of the Batman animated show when I was a kid, and ending up watching a lot of Teen Titans, I thought Deathstroke may have been an appeal to that.
    Although from the sounds of Origins, the Deathstroke in the game seems to line up with the character I ended up reading in wikipedia.
    Not to dismiss anyone who likes that character, I kinda just dug the whole “Darth Vader” thing, with Ron Pearlman giving a really creepy tone to the character.

  9. SpiritBearr says:

    The reason Deathstroke reminds you of Rob Liefeld is because he created Deadpool. Deadpool was a direct ripoff of Deathstroke(Wade/Slade Wilson) but with jokes.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      Rob Liefeld created the looks and name of Deadpool. That’s it. Everything that made the character popular was created by other people, like Fabian Nicieza. Of course, Liefeld takes all the credit, like Bob Kane did for Batman.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      That said, he is generally a little more interesting in the comics and in the Teen Titans series than he ever ends up being in the Arkham games. Part of the reason being he’s not really a Batman villain. He’s a Teen Titans villain and he has a complicated sort of Magneto style relationship with that team (this is not to say that he is as compelling as Magneto, not even close, I’m just talking about the dynamic).

      They put him in the game because he’s someone Batman has fought and who can challenge Batman physically and mentally (so its a waste that this series only really had him do the former). Really, Deathstroke is smarter, stronger, faster, more experienced and has his regeneration ability. Batman shouldn’t be able to beat him in the kinds of straight fights they have in these games. The only way Batman has an advantage is with money and just sheer Batman-ness.

  10. Ledel says:

    In my first playthrough of Asylum I remember having one guy knocked out in the elevator shaft, and it gave me a sinking feeling when I saw the elevator crash into the ground on top of him. It was just his arm/leg that was sticking into the shaft so I guess he could’ve survived it, but it was just so off-putting that I stood there for a couple of seconds while it all sunk in.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      Yeah I brought up earlier in the series that this exact thing happened to me. I didn’t really feel sad so much as thinking that the designers really messed up.

      Edit: Although for me he was entirely in the shaft not just a limb.

    • Jeff says:

      Don’t worry, if Arkham Knight is anything to go by, he’s just unconscious.

  11. MrGuy says:

    I don’t understand “Arkham is a great franchise except for Origins”. The same way I don’t understand “Silent Hill was a great franchise except for (insert latest Silent Hill Gane Here, which is quite possibly also named Origins)”.

    The franchise isn’t actually great. One game (in both cases the second) is great. The great game is a follow up to an ambitious and sonewhat revolutionary first game that had some rough spots but was overall interesting and enjoyable. The Great Game smoothed most of these rough spots out.

    After that, the franchise ran out of ideas and started treading water. Sure there’s some of the former magic, and some moments work, but they’ve lost the formula and everything they try to add is a step back.

    Like Silent Hill, Arkham isn’t a great franchise with one exception. It’s a single great game and a collection of nostalgia for it.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      I absolutely disagree. The first Arkham game is still great. Sure, it has problems, like all games have, but just because those problems were ironed out in the sequel it doesn’t make Asylum bad.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Agreed.Asylum is still an awesome game,and city is even better.

        Just how terminator is an awesome movie,and terminator 2 is an even awesomer one.So I can safely say that terminator is a great franchise,and thank god that they only made two movies instead of milking it dry.

        • Shamus says:

          Terminator is a bit of a strange case though. Both movies form a wonderful arc, ending in an “unknown future” as narrated by Sarah at the end. If they actually tried to make a third movie it wouldn’t make any sense. What would they do? Have someone ELSE invent Skynet by accident? Is Skynet an inevitable eventuality? That would be ridiculous.

          • Alex says:

            As I see the Terminator canon, there are three important timelines:
            – The one that Kyle Reece and the first terminator come from.
            – The one that starts with their arrival at the start of the first movie, is changed by Sarah Connor having a different son and training him to be the leader of the resistance on one side and by the arm and chip bootstrapping the development of Skynet and the terminators on the other, and ends with the T-800 and T-1000 being sent back.
            – The one that starts with their arrival at the start of the second movie, and continues on indefinitely after the events of that movie prevent Judgement Day.

            Both the first and the second timelines have their own wars against the machines – one unmodified by time travel, the other with a forewarned John Connor and a Skynet whose development was sped up by the discovery of the arm and chip – and either of those could make an entertaining movie, despite it being a prequel and everyone already knowing the final result.

            • Soylent Dave says:

              Or (assuming that we live in a timeline in which only Terminator 1 & 2 exist), the whole thing is a stable time loop and that was always how Skynet got built in the first place.

              Which means that the real reason Skynet is sending Terminators back in time isn’t “kill John Connor” but “get itself invented”.

              (Sarah & co. just think they’ve averted everything at the end of T2, but they’re reliant on the memory banks of a Terminator that Skynet knew was going to be reprogrammed and sent back in time (Skynet having ‘extensive files’ after all))

              • Alex says:

                “Or (assuming that we live in a timeline in which only Terminator 1 & 2 exist), the whole thing is a stable time loop and that was always how Skynet got built in the first place.”

                This is not just a terrible idea, it is the most terrible idea in time travel fiction.

                First, it makes no logical sense. A stable time loop only makes any sense at all if there is a path to enter that loop that does not require that you are already in that loop. Even in a time travel story, you need a first cause.

                Second, it makes no dramatic sense. It means literally nothing matters or can matter, because you put predestination and authorial fiat before the logical consequences of people’s actions.

                It is the worst sort of stupid idea: one that has just enough of a veneer of credibility that some people think it is smart. Because some people think it is smart, they actually use it in their fiction, and it sucks every time.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  First, it makes no logical sense. A stable time loop only makes any sense at all if there is a path to enter that loop that does not require that you are already in that loop. Even in a time travel story, you need a first cause.

                  Only in the case of time travel creating alternate universes.But time isnt space,and you dont have to have an entry point for a time loop to exist.

                • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                  Terminator is clearly a stable time loop system, with no support for alternate universes (because Kyle Reese has a photo in the pre-time-travel timeline that is taken in the post-travel timeline, and clearly recognizes that John has been setting him up to fall in love with Sarah before sending him back).

                  Alternate histories only crop up in Judgement Day, and originally it was far less ambiguous (the image at the beginning of John standing in a park during the war would have been mirrored by an image of him standing in a park in peace, the war never having happened).

                  As for logical and dramatic sense, “uncaused causes” or effects preceding causes are themes that appear in drama and philosophy going all the way back to the ancients. If Oedipus wasn’t destined to grow up and murder his father and marry his mother, he never would have been exposed on the hillside. Yet, if he hadn’t been exposed on the hillside, he wouldn’t have grown up to murder his father and marry his mother. The whole point of the tragedy is that it was unavoidable, even though it looks like it should have been avoidable.

                  And while I’m being contrary, I like T3. T2 had already made a complete hash of the metaphysics of the universe (if Judgment Day was prevented, how was John conceived?), so it can’t be faulted for that. The themes in the movie are consistent with the previous movies from a new angle (movie 1: no fate but what we make it, but undercut by the stable time loop, movie 2: you can change your fate and yourself, but undercut by the “I cannot self-terminate” scene and the necessity of the moment, and movie 3: even if fate can’t be changed, how you deal with it is at least as important as what actually happens, but undercut by the sense that everything that went before didn’t matter). On top of that, it adds an interesting thought to how John would have grown up after Judgment Day didn’t happen.

                  And, at the end of the day, Claire Danes is a good enough actress to justify the movie by herself.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    To be serious for a moment,I liked the ending of 3.My main problem with terminator sequels after 2 is that they rely too much on 1 and 2 to carry them.T2,while pretty much completely influenced by 1,is still a great stand alone movie.The action is solid,and it has the best cgi to date(because they used a butload of practical effects,and cgi only for mpossible things).And my biggest disappointment with genisys is that it had a potential to be like this as well.But it quickly dipped after its initial burst.

            • Really the whole thing just makes no sense. If the past can’t be changed, which you’d think someone/something that could build a time machine would know, then there’s no point trying to change the past. But if sending someone back to the past creates a new timeline, then there’s no point in sending someone back, because the only thing you’ll witness as the sender is that the thing you sent just disappeared into thin air, to no effect.

              The only way for this to make sense is with Back-to-the-Future-style mutable history, and the “original” SkyNet deciding that it doesn’t so much want to “win the war” as abstractly “produce a stable history in which something artificial is in charge (but not me personally since I just destroyed my timeline) and mankind is dead”, but this does have the effect of making the original SkyNet programmers even stupider than they already were, because why on Earth would you write that in to your AI?

              And the “mutable timeline” model still has no way of rationalizing how subsequent people could come from the timeline, because either the “original” ought to stop where the first thing is sent “back”, or it ought to keep going because it created a “new timeline”, but it shouldn’t be both “destroyed before it happened” and also “sending people back”.

              In conclusion, time travel remains impossible.

              So, sit back and enjoy an action movie classic.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                which you’d think someone/something that could build a time machine would know

                Why?You dont have to know every minute detail of something before you can make turn it into an operational machine.For example,bicycles.

          • ehlijen says:

            Several options:

            -The terminator goes back in time to learn DnD and miniature painting
            -explore what moral values could reclassify a machine as human, so we can then harvest it for organs
            -doctor who makes timey wimey stuff happen

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Does he also explain why the action was so lame and why the cgi was so crappy?

              • MichaelGC says:

                :D Actually, if I recall correctly (zero guarantees there…), they actually quite liked the action & CGI! Just nothing else.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Man,if I enjoyed the action and cgi in that movie I wouldnt mind everything else.Well maybe the lack of chemistry would still bother me.Which is one thing that puzzles me about it,because its Emilia Clarke.She managed to show chemistry while playing a woman sold into slavery to a guy who didnt speak her language and all he wanted was to rape her.

        • Jokerman says:

          Not sure if there is any sequels that changes genre and still come out better/as good as the original.

          Apart from… maybe… not sure i want to say this… Mass Effect?

            • Bryan says:

              The Hobbit (…book…) transition to LoTR? That may not be a change of genre, exactly, but it’s certainly a big change in tone. I guess the question is whether LoTR is better, but I think it’s at least as good.

              Possibly also LoTR -> Silmarillion — although that one is less a sequel; only the publication dates makes it look that way. Much of the Silmarillion stuff was written before LoTR, it just didn’t get published (or, indeed, finished, for large chunks…).

              (And the movie transition didn’t change genre at all, I don’t think. Part of this is the idea that they had to try to make the universes more similar, I think. Which is something Tolkien was playing around with as well late in his life, but he never got very far, I believe partly because people who read drafts of the rewrite said “this is decent, but it’s not The Hobbit…”.)

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I’ll third this one. Asylum was my favorite out of Arkham games.

          I’m also one of those guys who really doesn’t need a large open world. Asylum was just large enough, and the option stuff was much more manageable.

          And most importantly, I despise open-world collectibles. The Riddler stuff was never as good as it was in Asylum. I know Mumbles liked the Riddler stuff in city, but I hated it. While it’s manageable in Knight, the developers have really lost any idea of what the definition of “Riddle” is.

      • MrGuy says:

        I didn’t say the first game was bad – in fact, I said it was ambitious, somewhat revolutionary, interesting and enjoyable. It was a very good game with a fresh and interesting take on the genre.

        It just wasn’t (IMO) an all-time great like Arkham City, which improved on all the weaknesses of Arkham Asylum and kept up its strengths.

        Similarly, I enjoyed the original Silent Hill very much, but Silent Hill 2 is (to me) a transcendent game that built on the original’s strong foundations.

    • karln says:

      Silent Hill was a great franchise except for the ones that weren’t Silent Hill 2 ;)

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, God, Deathstroke. The promos for the game promoted him as a major character and they made it look like we’d have at least one (if not several) amazing boss fight against him. But then the game gets released and he’s only there for the boss fight, which is a joke.

    The worst part is that there’s actually people who claim Origins is the superior game and that the fight with Deathstroke is one of the best. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. I mean, I’d understand they liking all that if they don’t play videogames often, but after playing other games? Specially the previous ones in the Arkham series?

    I… I just don’t get it. Do they prefer to watch rather than play? Do they like these things ironically? I understand people like different things, but this is the equivalent of preferring to eat vomit than food.

    Anyway, Deathstroke is a very popular character in the comics, but I hate the version on the games. I hesitate to recommend any comics to you, but you could check the old Teen Titans cartoon or the Arrow TV show in order to see much better interpretations of the character.

    • Ivan says:

      After thinking about it I guess that fight had a certain intensity that I did like even if it was completely subverted by my frustration at being a DIAS QTE battle. I mean even when you’re brawling 20 dudes the fight only gets so difficult and then it’s about sustaining the momentum you’ve built up long enough to finish clearing the room. In the death stroke fight though there were bouts of intense combat that are about setting up some (nebulous) advantage and then capitalizing on your opening after which there’s a brief breather.

      These concepts were there and I did enjoy the glimmer of them that I saw, but the execution was really shaky at best. For it to really work you would need a game built around this single combat setup of learning your opponent, creating openings, and capitalizing on your advantage. I say that you would need an entire game dedicated to this because the most important thing is that you have consistent mechanics, not QTEs. Mechanics like a kick to break a guard and a dash to dodge and/or close distances, heavy attacks that force your opponent to make large moves to get out of the way and light attacks to slowly back them into a corner. All of this while blocking, reposing, and dodging your opponents attacks and trying to learn their defensive abilities and the right combination of attacks needed to break through them.

      Anyway that’s almost what I feel they were going for with the deathstroke fight but obviously the arkham games are not designed to support 1v1 brawling so instead of making an entirely new game they tried to pull this off with just QTEs.

      Part of me wants to say “well at least it was cinematic” but I really can’t justify that compliment for a cutsceen in a video game ever. No matter how impressive it is this is fundamentally the wrong medium to be pulling that sort of stunt in.

      Most of all though I don’t think the deathstroke fight was fundamentally bad, but that they put it in the wrong game. I think it would have done better in a different context, maybe something more like god of war (though I admit I’ve never actually played any of them).

      • Dreadjaws says:

        God of War boss fights have generally QTEs, but they’re not 100% made by them. They are generally interesting and varied. QTEs are just a means to go from stage to stage in the battle.

        In the Arkham games, I think the best boss fight is Mr. Freeze’s in Arkham City. It’s sort of a test for all of the abilities you’ve been learning up to that point. And since you can’t use the same attack twice, it does away with mindless repetition.

        The Mr. Freeze fight in Origins tries to be this thing while at the same time its own thing, but it’s definitely not nearly as good. Though it’s probably the best boss fight in that game.

  13. James says:

    OMG Mumbles is right John Cena is a titan, and the only person who can beat him is Batman.

    do do do doooo do do do doooooo, DO DO DO DOOOO DO! DO! DO! DOOOOO!!!!!!

    Related: Cena’s match at battlegrounds was so super mega shit

  14. Merkel says:

    So the comment about a comic artist being in Arkham got me thinking: What about an AU where Batman’s villian roster is filled out with famous Batman writers. Frank Miller is constantly trying to get Batman to be “more hardcore” by putting him in situations that could be resolved by beating up another hero or killing someone; Paul Dini and Bruce Timm are kind of harmless compared to the other villains, but have really interesting and funny plans and sympathetic backstories; Jeph Loeb’s plots seem strong at first, but he can never get them to resolve quite right; Grant Morrison is frustrated because he really wants to be fighting Superman; and Alan Moore is basically the Joker with a beard.

  15. Darren says:

    Huh. I personally think Origins is probably the best written of the games, or at least the one with the most consistent tone. I liked seeing the GCPD as actually somewhat competent, if grotesquely corrupt. I liked the boss encounters (though there’s too much Bane). The combat is fine, if indeed a little off compared to the other titles. Batman is a bit more abrasive, but neither more nor less of an asshole as the other games, and this time he’s actually allowed to quip. The world map is too big and same-y, but the interior locations are varied and well-done. Really my chief complaint is the Riddler, whose motivation seems kind of nebulous and out-of-character.

  16. Falterfire says:

    Definitely agree on Deathstroke in Origins being boring. In general they horribly wasted a bunch of good villains there, taking a lot of potentially interesting characters and ensuring that none of them got the time they needed to actually be interesting.

    I’m a fan of Deathstroke, Deadshot, Bane, and Shiva in the comics and none of them got to have a really good showing in the games.

    Bane in particular gets the short end of the stick because the thing he’s famous for (breaking the Bat) is possible because of the build-up that leads to it. He doesn’t succeed at injuring Batman where others have failed because he’s stronger than other Batman villains, he succeeds because he has a plan and works to make sure Batman is weak enough for his plan to work.

    But in Origins, ostensibly his first appearance in this universe, he has none of that. He’s just another crime boss in charge of a legion of miscellaneous thugs who go around doing thuggery.

    • MrGuy says:

      I think the use of Deadshot was kind of reasonable – he’s a sniper, and having him be the antagonist for the “reconstruct the crime scene” mechanic makes a lot of sense. By design, Deadshot takes a lot of setup and planning, and leaves few clues, so it would take The World’s Greatest Detective to find him.

      Deathstroke, who’s much more of an interesting guy as a mercenary and assassin, being used in a single scripted fight as part of the first act and nowhere else is much more of a waste. There just aren’t enough three-dimensional villains in Batman’s world to throw one away like this (really? Firefly gets a better part than Deathstroke?)

  17. Muspel says:

    Deathstroke is a great character… but I’d argue that he really doesn’t work as a Batman villain. He tends to be used more often as an enemy of the Teen Titans, which flows better because then he can manipulate the team against each other.

    That kind of thing doesn’t work as well against the Bat-Family, because Batman doesn’t really have the kind of insecurities that Slade likes to work with, and because the Bat-Family has an undisputed leader.

  18. Andrew says:

    Deathstroke as the villain in season 2 of Arrow is amazing, he’s also pretty fun in Teen Titans.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Now that you have (probably) finished the game,it the perfect time to ask:Josh why are you constantly attempting the cape super stun(three stuns)on the knife guys?One stun should be quite sufficient,or better yet,jumping over them.

    • karln says:

      I have been kind of wondering if Josh is button mashing a lot or has a flaky controller or something, based on the multi-cape stuns and also dodge-rolling (double-tap A) while trying to climb on things (press A once) :/

      Button mashing is not helpful in this game. It needs the One Finger Death Punch announcer shouting ‘DOO NOT BUTTON MASH!’ to help guide the player imo

    • lethal_guitar says:

      And also: Why are you always hanging yourself upside down on the gargoyles to do an inverted takedown? You can just press Y while sitting on top, that works just as well and it’s faster too

  20. bigben1985 says:

    I had problems with the Ivy fight, but I did it on the second try, once I knew what the pitfalls were… but the penultimate fight against the two Titans plus countless mooks broke me, I’m not going to go back to that. I really liked the game otherwise, just get rid of the titans and titan-related bossfights, give me more stealth kill sections (You REALLY feel like the boss in them, and the mooks slowly getting more terrified is awesome)

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh hates rhythm games because he is so white.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “It’s strategic! You need to stay away from the walls and don’t let the mooks corner you!”

    If anyone ever says that and mean it seriously,they are an idiot.Bad us is not and will never be “strategic”.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamoose is correct about the titans:They do handle just like roach.Ok,maybe a bit better than roach.

  24. BeamSplashX says:

    campster, i believe the creative commons license you are referring to is “asstribution”

  25. Alexander The 1st says:

    Chris mentioning how he’d rather the goon that kills you being the one who does the gloating about killing the Batman…that’s basically what the Orcs in Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor did to the protagonist who’s dubbed the Gravewalker…

    …And now I’m imagining Arkham Knight or a later game being based on the Nemesis system in that game, where the idea is that when Batman gets away after nearly being killed, that determines who becomes a Batman villain, building their way up to the Rogue’s Gallery.

  26. Blastinburn says:

    On the conflict between everyone else wanting to do Arkham City and Josh not wanting to, why can’t someone else play the game instead. Shamus has explained why he can’t play the game and commentate, but what about Chris, Mumbles, or Rutskarn (if he can ever climb out of the internet-free hell he is currently trapped in)?

    As a suggestion to Chris, if you end up being the player, you should start up Arkham Origins first before exiting and starting Arkham City to mess with everyone.

    • Chris says:

      I’d love to play Arkham City and continue the Batman conversation, but there’s a few reasons switching drivers is a bit of a pain (especially for a whole season).

      First, there’s a host of technical hurdles to overcome. Whoever’s playing needs a rig that can capture (and has the space to store) an an hour’s worth of HD video while also playing the game, streaming to the rest of the crew, and recording their voices. This doesn’t mean a beefy huge supercomputer, but a mid-range laptop (or equivalent) that some of the crew have probably couldn’t handle it.

      The driver also typically needs a license to the virtual audio device Josh and I got so that we can record the game’s sound separate from Vent’s audio while hearing both at once. It’s seemless after we edit it back together (mostly) but we actually record video that’s pure game footage + audio and splice our voices back over it after adjusting audio levels and canceling noise.

      Then once the episode’s all recorded there’s now ~100 gigs of raw gameplay video and a few hundred megs of Vent audio that need to be edited together. With file sizes that big, simply recording on one machine and then handing the result off to Josh to edit isn’t really feasible. So whoever did the playing is going to end up doing the editing, which comes with its own problems: Do they have the time? The software? It’s not an insanely huge effort, but it is several hours of work to build a titlescreen, piece together a credits sequence with funny quotes and music, do the audio balancing and noise cancellation, compile the episode, upload the episode, etc every week. Josh is the unsung hero of the show; he really does put in a fair bit of work!

      Finally there’s the sticky issue of compensation – right now Josh gets pretty much all of the Patreon funds from the Spoiler Warning Patreon because he’s the one who puts in all that effort every week. If someone else started driving (and de-facto started editing) a whole season that lasts several weeks then that whole thing gets kinda weird. Fans would be paying Josh to do nothing, while someone else is doing all the editing and time-intensive stuff, and even if everyone has good intentions and everything’s clearly communicated that gets awkward quick.

      In short, I can relief drive every once in a while since I’m already set up to do other video editing stuff, but running a Let’s Play with all parties being remote is a huge technical pain. Besides, I’ve got my hands full writing/capturing footage/editing Errant Signal most weeks! Josh is the only one with the set up, time, and dedication to pull the show together each week and it really wouldn’t exist as it does without him.

      • Steve C says:

        So what you are saying is that it is all Josh’s fault.

      • Blastinburn says:

        Hi Chris, I really appreciate the very long and detailed answer, it helps explain a lot and gives more interesting insight into the whole production of Spoiler Warning. (You could compress the video before sending it over for editing, but that doesn’t help with the numerous other hurdles, and it still might not make the pure video small enough.)

        While I now understand why Josh needs to be the one playing, I’m still wondering how he was talked into playing Arkham Asylum when he doesn’t like the gameplay?

        And Chris, if you did have the time to be the player, would you do the Origins/City switchero at some point?

        • Chris says:

          Josh was talked into playing Arkham Asylum mostly because Shamus wanted a topical Spoiler Warning for the Arkham Knight release, Mumbles is always up for talkin’ Batman, and it’s one of an increasingly rare breed of games that most of the crew have played. (Seriously, the slow demise of AAA’s stranglehold on games’ monoculture is a net good but it means none of us are playing the same thing anymore, and getting the five of us together to talk about a game we all have played let alone like is super duper hard in 2015)

          And yeah, in a hypothetical world where I had the time to do all the production stuff and the rest of the crew was willing I’d be up for manning a Batman City/Origins season. Unfortunately I don’t think we live in that world. :( I also don’t think we’ll touch it as a week-long short, either, if only because we may still return to those titles for realsies at some point in the future.

        • Josh says:

          If we wanted to maintain any reasonable video quality, we’d still be talking multiple gigabytes of footage every week. This is not impossible to distribute to me, but it’s rather infeasible. Also Campster keeps having trouble with our streaming server for no apparent reason.

          As for why I did Asylum, well… everyone else wanted to. And I got tired of feeling like the stick in the mud who kept vetoing it. Also we hadn’t done a game Mumbles really wanted to talk about in a long while.

          But uh, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m still totally evil! Promise!

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        The solution is easy:Promise Josh that if he does arkham city,he can do two souls games of choice one after the other.Then screw him over on that promise after he finishes city.Of course,dont tell him that you are going to screw him over.
        .
        .
        .
        .
        wait….

  27. Tizzy says:

    Thug: – You’re gonna die, Batman!
    Batman: – I know, enough already!

    I’m not making fun, either. I hate those fights more than Ivy’s fight too.

  28. Tizzy says:

    After that sniper debacle, I really thought Josh was going to die of plant just at the end of the episode. That would have made quite a conclusion…

  29. Thomas says:

    One of the easiest solutions to the camera problems is to program the AI so that mooks don’t stand near walls. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they already kind of do that.

    Batman doesn’t really have effective long range weapons and Josh has already plentifully demonstrated that almost all the fights can be trivialised if you don’t want to have fun with them so having the AI not approach the walls won’t make the game too cheesy.

    Another reason why the cliche titan fights are such a terrible idea, as Shamus already said.

  30. BruceR says:

    Have to say it: railing kill!

  31. MaxieJZeus says:

    Oh, now you’re just trolling me. :p

    Seriously, though, I’m really glad to see a substantive—though short—criticism of AO; I was having a hard time squaring the one-word anti-AO sneers in Spoiler Warning with the measured and ambivalent review you gave it when it first came out.

    But you thought AO was grimdark? Heh, I think you need to recalibrate your settings, maybe do “Prototype” as a future Spoiler Warning. In that one, you superpower is eating people.

    • Chris says:

      That game has weeeird tone issues with that

      “SAVE THE TOWN!”
      “okay!”
      “STOP THE SOLDIERS DOIN’ ‘SPERIMENTS”
      “okay!”
      “EAT THIS DUDE TO CONSUME HIS MEMORIES”
      “o- wait, what?”
      “WELL I MEAN YOU NEED TO GET INTO THE BASE, SO…”
      “yeah but… i’m super powered? like, i can just kick the door down. i have magic flesh tentacles.”
      “YEAH WELL I LIKE MY PLAN BETTER”
      “yeah but i thought i was the hero. does this like, weigh on me emotionally at all? do i lose myself in the crowd of new memories, or do i realize how terribly my powers truly are?”
      “NO YOU PRETTY MUCH JUST GET TO DISGUISE YOURSELF FOR A SWEET BOSS FIGHT”

      • MaxieJZeus says:

        “Weird tone issues”? Your superpower is understatement! They become even worse when you add the sequel to it. There’d be lots of stuff to pull apart. If nothing else, it might be fun to hear the contrast between tank driving and body counts in Prototype vs. tank driving and body counts in Arkham Knight. (I think in Prototype the game programs civilians to run in front of them.)

        But I liked it a lot. Besides the loopiness of the premise and the mechanics, it’s a game that lets you solve almost every mission in radically different ways, and so really rewards replay.

      • MrGuy says:

        Mutilate yourself to become a Big Daddy so you can open a door!

      • IFS says:

        Well Mercer isn’t exactly human, and doesn’t really have anything in the way of morality for a lot of the game. Most of his motivation early on is a combination of trying to stay alive and also figure out what happened to make him what he is. as it turns out the Mercer you play is actually the virus that the original Mercer (who was a complete monster) unleashed, having taken on Mercer’s form and some of his memories simply because he was the first exposed to the virus. Virus-Mercer ends up becoming arguably a more moral person than original mercer, who was willing to doom an entire city. The Mercer you play as even starts to develop a conscious of sorts over the course of the game from the people he eats, which is really weird and I kind of like even if it doesn’t work out perfectly in terms of gameplay.

    • Mintskittle says:

      And pretending to be the people you just ate! It is stupidly easy to rack up a huge body count in Prototype. Now I wanna see a Spoiler Warning of it.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah,they should definitely do prototype.With Mumbles commentating on your sweet elbow drops on tanks.

      • MrGuy says:

        I want to see a playthrough of Prototype where Josh plays by Batman rules, and refuses to kill anyone.

        • Taellosse says:

          I don’t think that’s possible. As I recall, there are a ton of missions where you have to consume people to take on their appearance/steal their memories to advance plot missions, and they start requiring that REALLY early on. Unless there are other ways to complete the plot missions I never discovered, because I didn’t mind eating the agents of an evil secret government agency?

        • MaxieJZeus says:

          I actually tried playing it that way a couple of times. Infiltration ops, yeah, I’d have to eat whoever was I tasked with eating, and the game is so chaotic you just have to accept that there will be collateral damage in the big fights. Oh, and tank driving. You cannot turn the ignition on in a tank without killing eleventy-squillion pedestrians. So PURE Batman play is impossible.*

          But otherwise, I made a point of only eating infected and soldiers who were actively attacking me. It is possible to get thru the game this way, though it gets pretty hairy at times, and you have to break off and retreat more often than when you give yourself permission to crunch down on the walking snack-bar that is Manhattan.

          * But then, as we’ve seen in this series, pure Batman play is impossible even in the Arkham games without a certain amount of self-deception.

  32. Christopher says:

    Shame about Rutskarn’s internet. Miss him around titans especially. No one says they’re too big to fail. Or that they’re just teens, and Josh should stop attacking on them. When he’s not around, I imagine worse puns in his place for some reason.

  33. thebob288 says:

    I think you should have gotten a gadet about an hour into the game that does nothing but insta open grates for you. That way it feels like you earned going through grates with no effort and batman gets another neat little utility tool.

  34. Bryan says:

    Deathstroke was actually fairly well done in the Teen Titans tv show, except that show never really got into the fact that he was an assassin. Also, they constantly called him “Slade” in that show because they were worried Deathstroke sounded too violent.

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