Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Listen Up: I'm Talkin' About Batman!

Batman. A name that strikes fear into the hearts of the evil, or that conjures homophobic images of bulges in tights, depending on exactly which Batman you're talking about. Batman can be the cheesy, Adam West live action cartoon from the 60's, the inspiration for Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo. It can be the small-chinned Michael Keaton version from the 80's, a series which gradually got campier and campier until the costumes themselves featured nipples. It can be the cutting edge films of the past few years, which the death of an actor helped to propel to undeservedly glory heights.

Batman can also be the massive-chinned polygonal brute that puts nose-snapping hurt on thugs and super-villains alike in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the recently released game by Rocksteady Studios. Simply put, this last is the best of all the Batmans, mainly because it puts you in the costume--which thankfully lacks nipples of any sort.

Enough has already been said about Arkham Asylum without me adding to the fray. The combat system is, indeed, genius; the stealth mechanics are fantastic; the gadgets are Batworthy. What I want you to notice is the sound.

When you play through Arkham Asylum again, and you know you will, listen closely. From the voice acting to the crunches of the Dark Knight pounding some poor goon into the floor, the audio department got everything right. That's a rarity, to be sure; throw in the atmospheric, could-have-been-a-movie-score music and you've got a bona fide hat trick.

Batarangs have that metallic whoosh you'd always imagined. The roar of the Batmobile's engine, during its brief appearance, is dead on. Batman's Boy Scout voice belies his ridiculously pure morality long before the conclusion of the game demonstrates it. And those punches--well, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of one of those blows. Whether it's Batman getting beaned on the noggin with a pipe or the Caped Crusader caving in Mr. Zsasz's face, you can feel the your own fillings coming loose when you hear those painful thuds.

Few games get every aspect of the audio as perfect as the shotgun sounded when you got your first sound card and listened to the effects in Doom. Batman: Arkham Asylum is just one of those titles. Play it again, and revel in not only what you see, but what you hear.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When Good Games Go Bad

Alright, short post. I just gotta get something off my chest.

Terabytes worth of text has been written about publishers releasing buggy games just to make a buck, and then patching them to prevent all the negativity that releasing broken product generates. I myself have written a few articles and editorials on the problem.

I recently installed a game I acquired from a bargain bin a few months ago. It's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent, and, as a writer and budding novelist, I can say I'd have more pride than Clancy: I wouldn't have put my name on this buggy piece of crap.

Don't get me wrong. The game itself is awesome. It's intriguing, it's engrossing, and the first few levels are incredibly fun to play. That's why I became infuriated when, a few levels in, the game started freezing when it tries to load the next level. It's stuck. It won't go any further. There's no fix in sight.

Goddamn it.

I want to play more. I want to know what happens next. I want whoever at Ubisoft decided to release the game in its "final" state drawn and quartered. Back when Ubisoft supported the game, it released a few patches--and the bug ridden bastard of a title still doesn't work. To this day it generates message board posts (remember, it's 3-year-old game, which makes it ancient in computer time), and they're full of vitriol.

I know there's nothing to be done. I'm only venting. But for heaven's sake, somebody, anybody, make publishers stop doing this! I, and I'm sure most gamers worldwide, are sick of it!

Soon to come on DoG: Current games I'm playing (and most of them work): My thoughts on Batman, Blazkowicz, and more!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Movin' On Over

Google is...tired.

WordPress is the new black!

Still in pre-beta, but check out a preview of what's to come. More later.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Game Character Deathmatch: Wolverine Versus Batman

Okay, since I'm waiting for Windows 7 to do some boring stuff to my wife's computer, here's another game character brawl.

This time we're looking at the Batman: Arkham Asylum version of the Dark Knight versus the X-Men Origins: Wolverine version of Logan. Break it down:

Batman has no superhuman abilities, but he's probably the most physically fit normal-human superhero since Arnold Schwarzenegger discovered horse steroids. Bruce Wayne has an infinite amount of money, seemingly, to gussy himself up with armor and gizmos designed for fighting crime without killing all involved--which makes one wonder whether Bill Gates or the odd Arabian oil baron doesn't swing from rooftops and throw metal boomerangs at muggers. I guess if I had Bruce Wayne money, I'd get even fatter and hurl fistfulls of hundred dollar bills at everyone around me until I owned the world and much of the Milky Way galaxy, but that's just me.

Moving on, Logan is a brutal berserker who doesn't have all that much money, but he does have a few mutant powers. He can heal wounds in minutes, he has the senses of a canine, and, as we all learned in one of the crappiest superhero movies to be released in years, his bones and his mighty, retractable claws are laced with indestructible adamantium, which doesn't drink or smoke (but Wolverine does both). It should be noted that Wolverine doesn't have superhuman strength or anything like that, but he's probably almost as physically fit as Batman.

I think the big factor in the deathmatch between Bruce and Logan is that Bruce is the cliché gay name. Or not. The biggest factor is that Batman tends not to kill, but instead locks bad guys up in places from which they can easily escape and terrorize Gotham City again within a few hours after capture. Wolverine, meanwhile, would much rather shred villains into bite sized chunks than capture them. Facing Batman, Wolverine would gladly chop off the Dark Knight's stupid pointy ears--along with the rest of his head--and be on his way.

Batman can fight. He'd likely throw all kinds of contraptions from his Utility Belt (capitalized on purpose) at Wolverine, which Wolverine would eat. Come on, a "batarang?" Even if it scored a hit, Logan would heal up by the time he closed the distance and plowed his claws through Batman's precious armor and reduced the Caped Crusader to a fine, red mist. Then, just to be thorough, Wolverine would blow up Wayne Mansion, cave in the Batcave, and joy ride the Batmobile around town until he picked up a few chicks.

I'm giving this match to Wolvie. Sorry, Batfans, but unless Brucie found a way to fly away and go into hiding, instead of just gliding around like a kite on a calm day, he wouldn't stand a chance against an angry Logan.