Batman: Arkham Origins for Playstation 3 – Strength of character

Batman: Arkham Origins for Playstation 3 – Strength of character

Batman: Arkham Origins was the first game I played on the Playstation 3; it was my introduction to the next generation of game console. Once I had sorted out the settings, I was blown away by the look and feel of the game. I recently revisited the game to try and earn a few more of the trophies. In the process of doing so I learned that the gameplay is broken and buggy, but it does do characters well.

The setting of the game is appropriate for the time of year as it all takes place on Christmas Eve. Patrolling a festively decorated Gotham City intensifies the importance of the job Batman is doing: protecting the innocent citizens hidden away in their homes. It highlights Bruce Wayne’s loss of his parents and the lonely lifestyle he leads, but also the strength of his relationship with his butler – and surrogate father – Alfred.

An important theme of the game is how Batman comes to realise that he cannot do what he does without allies, despite his early protestations otherwise. By the end of the game we start to see the bonds forming between Captain Gordon and Batman which play such a pivotal role in many Batman stories.

Batman is also brought close to another character in the narrative of this game: the Joker. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Joker is portrayed in a sympathetic light, however his sadness and mental ill-health are written large – the Joker attempts to kill himself twice, both times being saved by Batman. We see in Arkham Origins the genesis of the co-dependent relationship between Batman and the Joker which Alan Moore captured so expertly in Batman: The Killing Joke.

Having completed the game in the New Game Plus mode, I think it is time to say goodbye to Arkham Origins. There is a further level of difficulty (I am the night mode) but it’s addition of a permadeath feature in a game where simple fights can very quickly take a turn south, means that I am unlikely to revisit it.


Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD for Playstation 3 – I f**ked up

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD for Playstation 3 – I f**ked up

As anyone who has read my review of MGS2 will know, I’m really not very good at these games. But I love playing them for their crazy storylines and intriguing characters. What follows are ten ways that I messed up in MGS3, so that you might avoid the same mistakes/laugh at my ineptitude (minor spoilers ahead):

  1. I thought that Snake’s stomach rumbling was a crocodile. I think that the first time Snake’s stamina dropped low enough for his stomach to start rumbling there must have been a crocodile within view, as every time it happened after I assumed there was one nearby, even inside buildings. It wasn’t until very late in the game that I realised the error of my ways.
  2. I forgot that I could move bodies. The ability to pick up and move bodies was included in this game, and despite the fact that I had used the same ability in the previous two installments, I completely forgot that it was a thing. It wasn’t until I had to hide Raikov that I looked in the back pages of the manual and found that I could pick up bodies. This was particularly annoying as precious ammo from unconscious soldiers could have been gathered in this way.
  3. I didn’t realise that batteries recharged. A new featured of MGS3 are pieces of equipment that run on batteries such as a motion detector and life-sign scanner. Both are very useful pieces of equipment for avoiding sticky situations, but I hardly used them for fear that the batteries would run out and I wouldn’t be able to use them in a boss fight. Little did I know that by unequipping the item, it’s batteries gradually recharged.
  4. I failed to read the instructions on the RPG. For almost the entirety of the game I fired the RPG from the hip like some kind of badass gunslinger – and missed almost every time. It wasn’t until the battle with the Shagohad that I realised I could hold down L1 and use the scope on the weapon.
  5. I had been sneaking wrong. I couldn’t figure out why the enemies kept noticing me sneaking up on them, until I found out that I should have been using the directional pad instead of moving slowly with the left thumbstick.
  6. My interrogation technique needed some work. All too often, when grabbing an enemy I panicked slightly and held down the circle button too hard. This resulted in Snake accidentally cutting the throats of many enemies that I really needed some answers from.
  7. My epic battle with the Shagohad. I fought the Shagohad for a good thirty minutes, waiting for an opening, before realising (read: ‘googling’) that I had to shoot the treads. In my defence, this is something I tried early on in the battle, but I must have hit the wrong spot. Also, when I called up SIGINT he told me that I could fire my rocket inside the tank when the big machine gun fired. You lie SIGINT!
  8. I thought the fight with The End was just making Snake really hungry. I couldn’t figure out why Snake’s stamina was falling so rapidly in the fight with The End until I noticed he was shooting him with tranquiliser darts – but not before I had practically cleared out his backpack of food.
  9. I kept shooting people with the handgun by mistake. The names of the handgun and the tranquiliser gun both begin with an ‘M’, and their silhouettes are almost identical. So, whilst trying to put guards to sleep by shooting them in the leg with a tranquiliser dart, I instead pissed them off and gave away my position.
  10. The combat roll. I didn’t discover that the combat roll could be used to knock enemies down until the very end of the game. I can’t tell you how many times that would have been useful.

Perhaps I’m too used to in-game tutorials, but really that’s just an excuse. I should have read all of the manual, not just the first few pages, and/or the instructions on the weapons. Oh well, you live and learn, perhaps I’ll be better when I play Peacewalker, although somehow I doubt it.

Red Dead Redemption for Playstation 3 – True Grit

Red Dead Redemption for Playstation 3 – True Grit

A plot full of betrayal and back-stabbing means the storyline of this game has as many twists and turns as the dust tracks one must navigate on horseback. The broad range of environments is matched only by the scope of human emotions this game deals with. Lines are blurred and waters muddied (and sometimes bloodied) in this Western epic from Rockstar Games.

This recent playthrough marks my second attempt at this game. I gave up the first time shortly after having reached Armadillo, sick of being blasted in the face by seemingly every NPC in the game. Since then, having watched and loved the HBO TV series Westworld, I decided it was time to saddle up once more.

My version of John Marston conducted himself with honour, helping those in need and dealing out swift justice to those who would do others harm. Likes included playing Horseshoes, picking flowers, and hunting treasure and grizzly bears. Dislikes: cougars.

There are still some issues with this game. I mainly disliked the combat system here, similar to GTA V, with the white dot which snaps to the target. I tried turning the aim assist off but it makes firing your weapon on horseback near on impossible – for me at least. Also, the difficulty curve once you enter Mexico and Act II of the game was, I felt, much too steep. In particular, the missions involving trains seemed to be ridiculously difficult, only managing to complete them once I had died multiple times and had memorised where the enemies would appear.

However, things I liked about Red Dead far outweighed my dislikes. Stand-out missions such as ‘Hanging Bonnie MacFarlane’ and ‘The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed’ got my heart pumping in ways I had not felt in a video game for many years. The characters were another excellent feature of this game. Rockstar has a way of creating the most vivid, funny and vile characters, that are often in their own way very likeable, Irish being a notable example.

Red Dead Redemption, like almost every character in the game, is flawed yet lovable. It is guaranteed to make you laugh, get your heart thumping and, if it’s doing it’s job right, will probably make you angry at some point. It’ll even bring a tear to your eye, but not in a sentimental way as this is the Wild West, everyone has their own motives and agenda, but even in this desolate land, flowers can still bloom.

Trophy cabinet:
The Gunslinger” this silver trophy is earned simply by changing the targeting mode to extreme and scoring a single headshot.

Devil May Cry 2 – Hack-and-shoot

Devil May Cry 2 – Hack-and-shoot

So we are back again in the signature red coat. As before we don’t know when and we don’t know where, but it’s chock full of nasties wanting to do us harm. We’ve got our guns and our sword – as well as the aforementioned red coat – and it’s time to chew up some bad guys.

The combat system here is simplified from the first game, with less button combros. This makes fighting more fluid, chaining easier and achieving the coveted ‘S-grades’ more readily. The linear level designs also follow this trend, meaning less back-tracking and re-visiting old areas to put object A into it’s corresponding slot – something I did not like much about the first game.

Ultimately, Devil May Cry us truer to it’s hack-and-slash nature, and less like the early Resident Evil games. Here, you throw yourself into a room full of monkey-boys or magic-men, start swinging your sword, popping off a few shots and add in a couple of cool wall flips and soon you’re having yourself a pretty good time.

Weapons are less varied than the first game. Instead of a variety of swords and even fists-of-fury to choose from, the sequel features ‘sword’, ‘thicker sword’ and ‘thinner sword’. Thankfully, the variety of guns is preserved, meaning that play style is primarily determined by your firearm rather that your main man. Weapons can be levelled up and elemental damage is determined by customisation of the devil trigger.

Some may disagree, but I thought that the bosses were more varied than the first game. Yes, there are some real stinkers such as ‘helicopter-with-eye’ and ‘floating magic heads’ but overall they did a not-bad job. The dude with balls-and-chains for arms was always fun to fight, it was nice to see old spider-bro make a return and even fighting the gorilla had it’s good moments.

I don’t think I enjoyed Devil May Cry 2 more than the first game, but I did die a whole lot less, even managing to complete the game on Normal (a task I found impossible in the first game). I appreciated many of the changes made to the sequel, but found that it lacked the depth and character of the first. The uncomplicated (albeit confusing) storyline and a straightforward play style make this a good hack-and-slash game to play while sipping on a cold one or listening to some talk radio. I also appreciated the subtle (not subtle) anti-capitalist message.

Oh, and you can play as different characters, that’s new too. You can also wear jeans.