Take my money, twist of paper… I’m still in shock

So it turns out that Batman: Arkham Asylum was exceedingly excellent.  I’ve finished the story mode (I’m finding it difficult to be interested in the ‘challenge’ mode) and enjoyed absolutely every moment of it.

I don’t play many plot-driven games, truth be told.  The plot is usually an excuse for huge amounts of fun (see: ‘Bowser stole the princess’, ‘Ganondorf stole the princess’, &c.).  The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was about as plot-heavy as I’d ever been (and even that story was only an excuse to go explore insanely awesome dungeons).  It was like playing your way through a movie.  Apart from a few awful moments (including The Riddler asserting that you must be cheating when you solve his puzzles, even though he left a map solving his puzzles right next to the entrance), this was a beautiful plot, with a variety of interesting characters and all the good things that people like.

Which makes it a shame to point out its faults.

I often got stuck because Batman can not jump.  And I don’t mean superhuman jumping ability.  I mean: ‘Why! There is a small amount of rubble on the floor.  I will have to walk around it.’

The other problem is linked to one of its biggest strengths.  Because it’s story-heavy, there are a huge number of cut scenes to progress the tale.  You open a door?  Cut scene.  You fall over?  Cut scene.  You die?  Cut scene.

Oh, and Batman also has a weird habit of getting on the radio to Oracle (thus cutting out all of your abilities save walking) when you’re leaping from on high.  That kind of got annoying.

The very worst thing has to do less with the game and more with the game’s awesomeness.  It’s massively time-draining and it encourages a very specific set of reasoning patterns for problem solving.  After playing hours of the same sorts of problem solving, you unleash yourself on a world filled with problems which do not match those reasoning patterns…  Thus, when I was stuck in a crowd of bogans at the local Westfield, I noticed a ledge to which Batman could have jumped…

You also can’t kick the bogans in the back of the head.

Author: Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based PhD student, writer, and policy wonk who writes about law, conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. Read his blog at OnlyTheSangfroid. He tweets at @ClothedVillainy

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