Happy New Year! If you’ve been meaning to watch the Batman streams that Chris and I have been doing, then tonight is your last chance. We’re going to finish the game tonight on his Twitch channel. That show begins at 8pm Eastern.
Here is the VOD from last week:
Chris has been in the driver’s seat the whole time, and here are his thoughts on the combat:
I’ve discussed the Arkham animations and combo system several times during the streams, but I thought it would prove useful to more clearly express my thoughts on the matter in writing. What I’ve found to be a struggle in all of the games, not just Origins, is the inconsistency in Batman’s own attack animations and how that impacts the state of “flow”. When Batman is flying from one goon to the other with well-timed critical strikes, it is the easiest way to maintain your attack combo since Batman’s speed and movement is determined by that rhythmic timing. In other words, no matter how far or close an enemy is, Batman will always strike in time with the pre-established rhythm. This is when combat feels the most “in the zone” and empowering, but it would also be too easy if all it took was to punch thugs at a steady, consistent tempo. It would be like a rhythm game that relies only on the same quarter-note being played at a single 4/4 tempo beat. This is why different types of enemies are thrown in that are impervious to basic punches, and further why Batman has instant knockouts at his disposal. You want to build up that combo meter in order to take out the tricky thugs with a greater defense more swiftly, simultaneously doing your best to avoid losing that combo meter by either getting hit or too carelessly throwing a punch at the wrong guy.
However, both counter-attacks and instant knockouts differ from the consistency of critical strikes in that they possess a variety of unique, situational animations. It’s actually incredible the amount of animations covering nearly any combat scenario, allowing Batman to seamlessly turn or shift against an opponent’s attack, and for that opponent to respond. However, the length of these animations is inconsistent, and unless you’re somehow able to observe and discern each unique animation, it is unlikely you’ll be able to tell when one is about to end. This is especially true for the nature of the combat system, where the player’s eyes are most likely looking at the rest of the thugs looking out for attack alerts or plotting their next move. It is often in this stage that I will lose a combo simply because I was expecting an animation to take longer, only to find I happened to execute one of the shorter knockouts or counters.
Arkham Origins complicates this further with unpredictable mook etiquette and the 50/50 chance that Batman will outpace a thug’s basic attack. If you watch the streams, you’ll notice there are moments enemies are surrounding Batman within melee range yet fail to strike. I am expecting an attack, but none come. Other times, foes will be a great distance away and still lunge forward. You’ll also see Batman will sock a mook in the jaw or deliver a boot to the face despite the counter icon being above their heads, while other times Batman will get struck back first.
Those animation inconsistencies across all Arkham games are a minor issue, but the unpredictable nature of Origins and its mooks leaves me feeling as if the game really isn’t under my control. It coincidentally helps Batman feel less experienced, but that sort of thematic connection between player and protagonist should not be due to the mechanics failing to present a consistent set of rules for the player to understand.
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