Since last week I missed out on posting Orson Wells talking about grammar, here is another classic internet video.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Every once in a great while I experience such a transcendent moment of pure joy that I fear, even while grinning like an idiot, that I may never feel this happy about anything ever again. Batman, Arkham Asylum had three (THREE!) of these moments, and while I won't name them specifically, I will note that this is fully two or three more than most games tend to manage.
At the outset of the game, you (Batman!) are locked in Arkham Asylum, which has been taken over by the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill no less! And Batman and Harley Quinn are also voiced by The Animated Series cast! Excellent!). What follows is punchin', sneakin', detectivin', and grapplin' hookin' (?) in what amounts to a big awesome wish fulfillment for anyone who ever thought it might be fun to fly across the room and surprise kick a guy in the face so hard his family tree cracks in half. I don't use such cliched hyperbole lightly, either. To be sure, a lot of the game is spent following a scent and sneaking through air ducts and entering data into the Bat Computer, and it does not take much gunfire to bring Batman down, but in a sneak attack or a hand-to-hand brawl, this Batman can bury a lead pipe in a guy's gut pretty easily. Non-lethally, of course. He's just knocking them out with his hand spring into a roundhouse that stomps a guys skull into the wall.
Combat control essentially boils down to pressing an attack button to punch and kick guys around. When enemies are about to throw their own punches, they flash a blue icon, and if you press the counter button at this time, you'll grab the guy's arm and elbow him in the teeth (or grab his leg and kick him in the back of the knee, or twist his fist backwards and knee him in the jaw, it's really a fairly varied arsenal of brutality). Yet another button will twirl Batman around like a pretty ballerina and he'll toss what I assume is fairy dust at a guy, which will (quite understandably) confuse him, making him much more susceptible to having his bones removed by blunt force. It's not very difficult to string combos together, though there is some measure of skill required to actually do these things effectively and without taking damage. Additionally, the game makes it a reasonably simple matter to swoop down on a guy, knock him out, grapple up to the rafters, then drop down on someone else and string him up by his ankles. Again, some skill is required on the part of the player to actually do this without being seen, but it is quite doable.
Sneaking and, to some extent, boss battles are pretty similar to what might go on in Metal Gear Solid, and power ups, exploration and some tools are pretty Metroid-esque in their execution. The game is unmistakably Batman, but given that super hero games are not typically heralded for their quality, I think it's important to point out that while the game play may be familiar in some ways, it's reminiscent of the greatest games as opposed to the worst. There are quite a few cameos by characters new and old, and those who don't appear in person at least leave their gloves and masks around for you to find, netting a piece of their character art and a bio.
There's a challenge mode that lets you try more challenging variants on some of the more memorable beat downs and sneak-fests, which was pretty nice of them. The bottom line, however, is that this is really the most fulfilling experiment in creating software that allows you to do things that Batman would do.
And that's why Batman: Arkham Asylum gets five exploding knuckle sandwiches out of a possible viking punching a polar bear so hard in 990AD that it ratified the US Constitution.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Holy Shit. It's the man we voted for. Where the fuck has he been all summer?
Apparently they were keeping his balls at Martha's Vineyard and he just now got them back.