Y'know, I've been a fan of comic books since I could read. As a kid, I was more a Marvel fan than DC. I mean Marvel had the X-Men and Avengers and Spider-Man and just so much good stuff. DC seemed... I don't know. Less cool to me at the time. Except for Batman. Batman was huge. And that first Tim Burton movie hit at such a formative age for me. I was eight years old. I can't even tell you how many times I read the Batman issue of Nintendo Power.
I tell you this because it's almost weird to me how little I've kept up with comic book video games. I mean, I try. But there's just so many games to play. I remember when Arkham Asylum was released back in the day and my wife and I both thought it looked amazing. But we only owned a Wii at the time so we had no way to play it. Bummer.
Some years later I'd finally get around to playing Arkham Asylum, but I think I ended up distracted about halfway through. Like I said, there's just too many good games out there battling for my attention. But given the critical praise for these Arkham games, it IS really weird that I've not gotten around to them more.
Which brings us to the fact that I've been a total sucker for exploring the Wii U library this year. It was such a cool and forward thinking (and misunderstood) (and poorly marketed) system. Though the library is small - roughly 160 physical games in the US - the ratio of good games seems really high within that small library. There's a lot of ports of solid "big games" on the Wii U; the sort of stuff that Wii owners had missed out on in the generation prior.
I was looking for a good game to play on winter vacation, post-Thanksgiving. And guess what I stumbled upon? It turns out that Arkham Origins takes place on Christmas Eve! Perfect!
My wife fell asleep early last night, so I started this one up. As a note, it DOES have Off-TV play but oddly, you can't enable this on the gamepad. You have to start the game on TV, or figure out the combination of button presses to navigate the menu blindly. Which I did. Ugh.
But guess what? Arkham Origins is AWESOME! Oh my goodness, what a great game. It's the usual sort of action-beat-em-up stuff but it's also got some investigation stuff and an open world Gotham (on Christmas Eve!). It's great. I'm having a blast just exploring Gotham, swinging from building to building and breaking up crimes and advancing the story and leveling up and... ugh, it's so good. I played two and a half hours last night and I didn't want to stop (but I was getting tired, y'all. My daughter is six months old right now. I'm always tired haha).
I also feel like there's a Metal Gear Solid vibe here a bit. Like, the game knows it's a game. And there's some weird moments that highlight this. There was a part where I was breaking up an underground fight club organized by the Penguin and I have to face off against Electrocutioner and it looked like this MASSIVE boss battle was about to start up and I just gave him one kick to the head and knocked him out. It should have been anticlimactic but instead it felt funny and awesome that the game sort of tricked my expectations.
This game rules. The setting is great, the voice acting is solid, the cast of characters is fun, and the exploration is satisfying. I'm looking forward to getting back to it. It's a perfect game for winter vacation.
I played some more Arkham Origins last night, and I WAS loving everything about it. I got onto Penguin's ship and the inclusion of Christmas music was such a nice seasonal touch. And then I got to the boss fight against Deathstroke and I'm sad to say that much of the fun of the game was sucked out for me. This boss fight is brutal. It's long as hell and it's all about countering his attacks, sometimes with long stretches between. And if you don't counter perfectly - and if you don't find his openings perfectly - he will destroy you. He hits so hard.
I ended up replaying this battle over and over again. I attempted it easily six or more times. Now, if each of those attempts were five to ten minutes, that time adds up. And when I don't have the kind of gaming time I used to, then that time feels wasted to me. Granted, I'm on vacation this week. But still, I don't want to use up all of my gaming time on ONE boss fight. It's frustrating.
I took to the Googles and found that I wasn't alone. There were countless threads and blog posts and guides saying that this is the most difficult and annoying part of the entire game. I saw many folks saying that they ended up bailing on the game at this point. Which is a bummer given that this battle happens relatively early in the game. I'm about four hours in myself - playing at a leisurely vacation pace. But man. I'm bummed. Part of me wants to just rage-quit right now, even though the other part of me was loving everything else about this game.