I had started it a few months ago, on sale naturally, and drifted away at the halfyway marker. Batman fatigue perhaps. After playing through Tomb Raider, the itch came back, since the controls are quite similar.
I will say that the game mechanics are better here than in any other game previous. The combat flows better, the gadgets are smoother, enemies are more diverse. FF13s “Press A” this is not. There’s a very strange difficulty curve here in that the mid-point is absolutely more challenging than the tail, solely because of upgrades.
And that gets me to the Disruptor. See, Batman isn’t bullet proof, or stun proof, or knife proof. All those things hurt, a lot. The Disruptor prevents enemies from firing guns, restocking, reviving and a few other things. It essentially turns them into target dummies. So the game ends up having 2 phases, before the ugpraded Disruptor, and after.
Two of the side missions are to take down enemy fortifications. These have sensors that shoot if they detect you, small and giant sentry guns, enemies packing more than Rambo, and usually only 1 way in. They are the dragons of AK, that cannot be defeated until you get the holy sword. I’m pretty sure this is the reason I stopped playing, now that I think of it.
I like challenges, more specifically I like puzzles. It is very satisfying to play a stealth event, picking off enemies around corners, using gadgets to distract and disarm. There’s a logical end. Combat challenges are more like button mashing fighting games. I played a lot of them when I was younger, and you needed tight controls and reflexes to make it work. Batman controls are not agile, they are brunt and blunt. So throw me in a ring with 10 enemies who can all shoot me, odds are I’m going to die.
So I move forward with the story, unlock more gizmos and then come back. The combat challenge suddenly becomes a puzzle. 1-2 tries and it’s done. Odd that.
Tanks But No Tanks
I like the concept of the Batmobile, I do not favor its execution. Moving, transporting, puzzles – that works. Me vs 50 other tanks, that doesn’t. There is one side mission, and one of the main missions that puts you in this combat scenario. Again, upgrades make a massive difference. I much preferred the AI hack to take over the big tanks and get allies. Without a fully upgraded car, some of these would not be possible. Heck, two of the main boss fights are in tank-mode, and I needed to cheese line of sight to finish them off.
And yeah, let’s believe that Batman, shooting a cannon, is “not killing anyone”. OK.
Spoiler I guess? Well, he’s dead in the last game, less dead here. It’s a neat effect to have him part of you, adding color commentary throughout. The final portion makes little sense in terms of gameplay (all of a sudden you’re playing an FPS), but thematically it’s a neat closure.
The game ends as I fully expected it to. As all Batman series do. It is so strange that Batman is the only superhero that cannot continue to be a hero and let the public know his identity. You think that if people figured out Supes was Clark, that all of a sudden he’d leave the planet? Miller did it first, and it made sense in that context. Nolan did it, and it made no sense. It’s done here and makes less sense.
Riddler Can Jump Off a Bridge
Who completes them all? I mean that seriously. Who in their right mind wants to explore every nook and cranny. Who wants to fiddle with the wonky physics engine to make the ball fall just so. I think the core Riddler work is ok. It teaches you how to use Gadgets in a different way, and you get to banter with Catwoman. Cool.
But finding the little trophies, hidden in sewer drains, or taking a picture of a random element at just the right angle. I’m good.
Taken as a whole, there’s way more good here than bad. Combat is excellent, the story is tight, Scarecrow (John Noble) does an excellent job. The world building is superb. Side missions make sense. The high notes are some of the best in all games I’ve played this year. Even the lows are better than the high notes of some other games. Well worth the trek to play Batman one last time.