Thursday, 20 October 2011

My Week in Gaming 20/10/2011 - Batman and RAGE

So this week was all about three big games; Starcarft 2, RAGE and Batman: Arkham City, which arrived a day early in the post. This weeks Starcraft 2 posts can be found here and here so I wont say anything more about that. I have now completed RAGE so will be talking about my final impressions of the game and will be giving my initial impressions of Arkham City which was one of my most anticipated games of the year. You may notice that I have yet to mention Dark Souls and that is because I haven't mustered up the courage to play it again since last week; you can read last weeks section here where I talk about starting Dark Souls.
Gadgets can play a greater role in combat if you want them to.

When Arkham Asylum came out two years ago I thought it was going to be a cheap tie in cashing in on another franchises success but what we got was so much more. Fluid combat mechanics, stellar voice work and beautiful graphics helped make Arkham Asylum one of the best games of the year despite some of it's faults. Boss fights were boring and faces were expressionless which was a shame because of the great voice talent behind them. For Arkham City the developers promised to outdo the original in every way, but have they succeeded? From what I've seen it looks like they might have.
Apparently Catwomen is playable for 10% of this game.

I haven't got very far though the game but so far I'm really enjoying the slick presentation of the story though it does feel a bit disjointed with the Catwoman sections which pop up every now and then. Catwomen is fun to play, with similar moves to Batman but a lot more agile, she can just as efficiently take down a room of enemies. The combat in this game is almost identical to the first's however I think some more moves have been added and there is a greater emphasis on using items in combat. So far the only new item I have acquired is the remote emp launcher that can be used to power up mechanical objects in the world; from what I have seen so far this item has great scope and I'm interested to see what other new things they bring in. Already Arkham City feels more cinematic and character focused judging by how many villains have already been introduced, I'm just slightly afraid that the game will have too many shallow characters and not go into enough depth with any.
Gotham is beautiful and well gothic.

The main difference you notice when you start the game is how big the world is and how free you are to roam around it and beat up thugs or find any of the hundreds of Riddler trophies. In Arkham city I spent a lot of time exploring the world and I think I'll probably spend even longer in this game. I always think that games where the antagonist is present throughout have more character and in Arkham Asylum constantly having Mark Hamill's Joker with you created a great atmosphere; hopefully Arkham City will manage this too. Anyway I'm going to leave this preview there as I want to get back to it as soon as possible. Onto RAGE.
The Riddler plays a greater role in this game.

As with many fps games the story in RAGE isn't important it's just there as a device to allow you to progress through the fun single player campaign. Choice is what makes RAGE great; you get so much choice in what weapons you use as well as what ammo and what items; so the variety keeps everything fun. My favourite weapon was only unlocked just before the final mission and is basically a laser mini-gun that kills everything ridiculously quickly and makes you feel like a complete badass when using it. In general I think that the weapon selection is brilliant an part of what makes playing RAGE just so enjoyable.
The bandit gangs are diverse and well realised.

Half way through the game the player goes to a new hub town which has a very different tone with a striking visual style, new characters and upgraded items. The tone, the voice acting and the audio give RAGE a great atmosphere that is important in giving the game it's identity. I see a lot of parallels between RAGE and the TV show Firefly as both are a genre mash-up of cowboys and sci-fi. You have mutants which are a lot like the Reavers and the Authority are similar to the Alliance in their dominance through technology.
Animations and voice acting are great in this game.

I was disappointed by some aspects of RAGE however. The bosses are all very boring and very simple if you just distract them with a sentry bot then just shoot them repeatedly with a sniper rifle or shotgun. I played the game on normal but didn't die once; when you lose all of your health you get de-fibrillated stunning all the enemies around and it's only if you lose your health again before that's recharged that you really die. For a game with such a reliance on racing I didn't enjoy it enough to want to do it any more than I had to so it's a shame it isn't as deep as the shooting part of the game. It's also a shame that the game has such an issue with texture popping considering how beautiful the game can look if you run it on full settings. id has released some patches so far that help with the problem and gives you more graphics options but it's too late for people that have already completed it.
I prefer the crystalline environments of the second act to the canyon environments in the first.

Overall RAGE is a very enjoyable game to play with precise controls, a large array of weapons and interesting environments. The change of location for the second half of the game helps to keep you invested in the game. I spent 12 hours in RAGE and I skipped most of the racing, didn't do all the co operative missions and never touched the multiplayer races so it's good value for money. I would recommend this game to anyone who has an interest in first person shooters as that part of the game is a blast.

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