Quick Hits: Lego Marvel Superheroes and Batman: Arkham Origins!
The month of October saw the release of two major video games for nerds to salivate over:Lego Marvel Super Heroes and Batman: Arkham Origins. Naturally, I bought both games, and while I haven’t come close to beating them, I figured it’d be good to get my first impressions down for anyone on the fence about either game.
I’ve always had a fondness for the Lego series of video games. From the original Lego Star Wars to the most recent title, Lego Lord Of The Rings, I’ve always had fun smashing things into tiny Lego studs and unlocking characters. Yes, the game play is super simple and the games are designed for younger players, but if they made the same games without the Lego designs people would be all over them.
With Lego Marvel Superheroes, developer Traveler’s Tales have outdone themselves. While previous Lego games have padded the rosters with security guards, goons, and other assorted unknown “bonus” characters; Marvel Superheroes has 100 different characters. While I’ve barely scratched the surface of the playable heroes, the sheer amount of blank profiles at the end of each mission is both exciting and daunting, and I can’t wait to see who else I can unlock.
Speaking of those characters, there’s a lot of variety amongst them. Traveler’s Tales has updated many of the character types and abilities, so when you’re playing as the Hulk he’s not only moving around like a giant green monster, but also able to lift giant objects that other characters can’t. Add in the fact that you can visit the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and run around Manhattan and you have one of the best Marvel video game experiences since the first Ultimate Alliance game.
However, the game isn’t perfect. Some of the controls in this game are a little wonky. Flying definitely takes a while to get used to, and there are times where the special abilities of Wolverine and Spider-Man aren’t as clear as they should be. Traveler’s Tales problems with in game maps continue here as well. While it’s certainly better than the one used in Lego Batman 2, it’s still a confusing exercise to try and set a waypoint, and figure out if you’re at the place you intended to be when you get there.
Despite these (hopefully) easily fixable flaws, Lego Marvel Superheroes is THE game to play for Marvel fans young and old. It’s easy to play, features a ton of characters, and has a lot of good-natured fun with the established characters we know and love.
Easily my most anticipated game of the fall season, Batman: Arkham Origins has a lot to live up to. Following up Rocksteady’s incredible Batman: Arkham City, the prequel game is the first “Arkhamverse” game not developed by the hit making developers. Naturally this made me nervous, as it wouldn’t be surprising for Warner Bros. to start annualizing a series based on their most popular character and rake in the money. Thankfully, Arkham Origins plays like its predecessors.
This is a double-edged sword though. The previous Arkham games were a blast to play, and using the same game mechanics allows you to jump right in without having to figure out a new combat system. However, by using the development system that Rocksteady created and putting a new story in it, there’s not a whole lot to differentiate this installment from the ones that came before it. In fact, the ability to use all of the gadgets from Arkham City right from the get go flies in the face of the premise of Origins’ story. This Batman, in his second year as a vigilante, is supposed to be younger, brasher, and greener. But having access to all of his gadgets makes him more powerful than the older Batman that appeared in Asylum and City.
There are also some small glitches I’ve noticed in my time playing Arkham Origins. At times Batman’s cape disappears into his legs, or he starts to sink into the floor. None of these have been game breaking (yet), but I have heard horror stories of players getting close to the conclusion of the game and having their save files corrupted by a glitch during saving. I’ve heard that Warner Bros. is working to fix this, so we should have a patch soon, but be wary of playing too far until an update becomes available.
Despite this, I’m having a lot of fun playing the game. The story, which has Batman being hunted by 8 assassins on Christmas Eve, is cool, and the few boss fights I’ve encountered so far have been a lot of fun. It’s refreshing to see a Batman game that features Black Mask, Deathstroke, and other lesser-known characters as the main villains. Roger Craig Smith’s Batman isn’t nearly as good as Kevin Conroy’s, but it does a serviceable job, even if he does sound like the host of “Gangland” at points. The real revelation is Troy Baker’s Joker, who both imitates Mark Hamill’s Clown Prince but also does something unique too. With Hamill claiming to have retired from voicing the character, I’d be more than happy with Baker taking over the vocal chords of Mr. J.
The Playstation 3 version of the game has exclusive extra content, including the “Knightfall combat missions”, which includes an Azrael Batman skin. This addition, plus the fact that I can return to the Batcave and walk around, makes this Batman fan geek out so hard that the rest of the game could completely fall apart and I’d still recommend it.
Batman: Arkham Origins, while not as innovative as the previous game, is still a fun game to play. No it doesn’t do anything to push the series forward, and yes, it’s a little glitchy, but I’m still enjoying my time hunting down criminals as the Batman. Origins may not be the successor to the mighty Arkham City, but it’ll definitely hold you over until Rocksteady announces their sequel.
NOTE: As of this writing, I have yet to really play the multiplayer. I was able to get into a game but was kicked out after a few minutes of play as Robin. I’ve heard mixed things, so I wouldn’t recommend buying the game just to shoot people as one of Bane or Joker’s thugs. It sounds like a lot of fun though.