But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Superman never looked this good

So Steam was having a sale last week. Just Cause and Batman: Arkham Asylum were 22 bucks for both. Everybody’s been saying how great Arkham Asylum is, and Just Cause looked like fun. So I bought them.

I had “played” the demo of B:AA a few months ago, but couldn’t make it work with my gamepad. I recognized this as a design flaw and decided (at the time) against buying the game. But now I remembered that .ini files are easy to hack and I should be able to make the controls do what I want.


Remember in Conan the Barbarian, when the adult Conan first meets up with Thulsa Doom (played by the illustrious James Earl Jones) and gets into a discussion about “the riddle of steel?” The last thing Doom says to Conan is “contemplate this on the tree of woe.” I just kept hearing that line over and over in my head as I was hacking away at the config files for this game.

I have a gamepad that looks like this:

It’s just like a playstation 2 controller. In fact, that’s why I initially bought it: so I could run a PS2 emulator on my PC. Every once in a while, a game doesn’t like it. Invariably, it’s a game that was first released on the XBox 360 and works perfectly if you just buy an xbox for windows controller, which looks like it’s exactly the same thing (but pointedly is not):

Xbox 360 controller (wireless, white).

So it is with Batman: Arkham Asylum. So, after much googling and searching of forums and sitting through the game’s splash screens to play it for two seconds at a time, I finally came upon the solution.


Batman has never looked this good. I’m a little bit upset (as I always am) that the game utilizes proprietary NVidia technology, so I can’t really crank up the graphics because I have an ATI video card. But I can’t imagine how it could look any better. Here’s what I’m talking about (all screenshots taken by me):

Batman never looked so good

Batman sits in the Batcave

Batman surveys gotham from Arkham Batcave

The Dark Knight surveys the city

Batman chats with Oracle

The Caped Crusader communicates with Oracle

Beautiful. And the game is good. It’s really damn good. The controls (once fixed) are tight, the voice-acting borders on awesome, the story is interesting, the sound effects are good and the combat is fun and simple without feeling repetitive (although it really is). Also, the game manages to be beautiful without eating up all my more than adequate system resources (it’s a family thing. My dad had a lot of system resources too). And of course it wouldn’t be Batman without gadgets. Batarangs, grappling hooks, forensic detection vision mode, spray-adhesive explosive, parachute-cape. What else does a Batman need?

I’ll tell you what else a Batman needs. He needs prey, and Arkham has plenty. The story centers on the Joker’s escape from captivity. While chasing the clown through the asylum, Batman encounters all of his favorite nemises (nemisises?). Bane, Killer Croc and Harley Quinn are the three that I’ve encountered in the first couple hours of the game.

Not only is the game fun and cool in itself, there are also references to Arkham’s origins in the HP Lovecraft mythology. To put it simply, the place is spooky. But then, so is the Batman.

I have only two complaints about the game, and they are minor. First and most aggravating is the fact that I have a gamepad with two analog joysticks. That being said, I need to push a button to make Batman run. If I push the stick a little bit, he walks lazily to the bathroom. If I push the stick to its extreme, he walks briskly down the street. I need to push the stick and push a button to make him run.

Second: when Batman is walking or standing around (so basically when there’s nothing going on), the view looks like the last two images up above. Batman is all the way to the left side of the screen. Cinematically, awesome. Control-ishly, nightmare. You can, however, swing the camera around to whatever angle you like, making this game vastly superior to many console ports to PC.

All in all, a pretty great game. Play it. Two thumbs up. Eight out of ten (only Blizzard gets ten out of ten). If you like Batman, or you like beating up the criminally insane, or you like creeping around sanitariums at night, this game is for you.

PS Zemanta just recommended images from my own Flikr stream. Win.IMG00119-20090930-2006

halloween in the magic kingdom

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