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Arkham City Day#6: A Trial in Many Senses

I had a long time away from games as I watched all of The Wire recently (very good, by the way), so it’s a return to Batman with fresh eyes. Verdict so far is still the same: great moment to moment gameplay, awful boss battles, and dumb dumb narrative. There is one great story cut scene in this session, but overall it’s a gimmicky set of levels and the story is largely both obvious and ridiculous. It’s a relatively self-contained plot though and the fighting and predation are still excellent, so I’m hoping I can leave this behind. Spoilers within.

I start where I left off: following the blood trail from the assassin that happened to be in the museum. I like that I’m doing this using detective mode, but it’s kind of annoying because whenever it gets to a ledge or jump, it’s impossible to find the trail again without a long search. I finally  see the assassin when I get to the end of the blood trail and now I have to chase her. Eh — the chase is mediocre. The rubber band is pretty obvious, in that whenever I slow down a little bit, I see her waiting for me around a corner. The dynamic difficulty adjustment here is failing the way too obvious test. It makes the chase scenes in Assassin’s Creed seem that much better. I catch her and then dodge a knife attack to put a tracer on her as we fight. She takes me down CS and the scene ends with her over me with sword ready. Then Robin shows up, ready to fight. Batman tells him to stand down and he does. The assassin says Batman’s only alive because Ghul wants him to be, and they leave. Robin says that Alfred sent him to help Batman. Batman tells him to go back to Gotham and get the blood of the people in Gotham tested to see if they are poisoned. Robin says he’ll come back. Batman says Robin’s needed in Gotham and just about tells him to get lost. Wow, Batman was kind of a dick to Robin there. I guess that’s consistent character. Still, you can’t help but see the homoerotic between them. There’s a tension I think you can’t miss. Anyway, as Robin leaves, I get a new line launcher tool from the last game that lets me zipline across spaces.

Back to assassin hunting. I follow the tracer in circles having several good fights with random thugs. When I get close to the target, I die because I don’t see that one group of thugs has two guns instead of one. I do it again to beat them and then enter an underground tunnel. I contact Oracle to make sure my signal stays good, and she comments on my fading health. More fighting and then I die in a fist fight where I can’t find the rhythm right. I take them down the second time. Apparently, Joker’s men are rounding up Penguin’s now that he’s down. And there’s the return of the chattering teeth. There’s another big fight that I take out smoothly, and then, oh hey, I’m back where I took out the last disruptor in the Penguin plot. That’s pretty interesting. I traverse more tunnels and as I do, there’s a CS where Batman collapses from the poison and then recovers. I walk into another fight in which I get a nice takedown where I use smoke bomb smartly, and then a predation scene with some kind of jammer that disrupts my ability to track which enemy is which. I die because I don’t know what to do with the jamming guy, but then the second time I take him out and predate them in a really sloppy set of punch and run moments.

Winning the predation scene has me save a nurse, and talking to her reveals that the Joker isn’t stealing the weapons – Strange is giving them to the Joker. I blow up a Titan container that’s nearby before I go. There’s another CS of Batman coughing as I approach a closed door. It’s an electric door and when I use my tool to open it, I see a room full of strung up thugs. There’s a series of corridors behind doors which end with a large room filled with small amusement park size buildings and a number of deactivated robots. I get a Riddler trophy inside crevice and then I suddenly teleport outside for a CS. Batman sees a long sealed door and then says I should scan the robots for video memory of another way in. When I start scanning the first one, its head explodes so I have to scan multiple robots to get what I need. In the middle of the scanning, I fight two ninja in a quick fist fight. I find all the robots and learn about a secret door off to the side. It’s got a keyhole that looks like it needs a scimitar to open it. And, lucky me, a guard shows up on cue. I beat up the guard to use sword to unlock the door.

I run around through more tunnels until I reach a ladder to climb up ladder. When I get to the top, Batman CS collapses. There’s a very cool CS of Bruce’s parents calling to him from a bright beam of light. I can’t do anything but feebly walk forward so I do. Then in CS, guards suddenly appear and Talya, daughter of Ghul, stops Batman. She tempts him, and he does his no-nonsense Batman thing. She tells him that to get the blood he needs, he has to do the assassin’s trial. She says as part of the trial, he’ll have to take a life. They walk down a staircase to the trial together, and as they walk, she warns him that many have tried and failed the trial. He says he won’t. He then asks if she’s trying to dissuade him, and she says no hesitantly. Finally, they arrive at the door to the trial and he enters.

Ras al Ghul is speaking in a voice over throughout this scene, and he says the first trial is to drink from the chalice in the small room I enter. This causes the walls to crumble to reveal a new colorful desert world of high platform with huge chasms between them. I then have to glide along a path without touching the ground or any other objects. I basically have to dive bomb then climb to make it to an unknown destination. It’s kind of unfairly hard because it is impossible to judge distance from this perspective. After several deaths, I finally realize that I just have to make it to a blue platform, and as soon as I realize that, I do it right away. I glide a second time to get to a next tower, and when I land, I have to beat up two guards. After beating them,  I glide a third time to go through portal to a slightly different weird desert world. The next glide is hard because I can’t judge depth, and I fail many times trying to weave through a lattice. When I land on the next platform, there’s another fight and a glide to enter a final portal.

I reappear in the tunnels, and I’m told that I passed the gauntlet of ninja. I talk to Talya, and see Ras in CS who says Batman must kill him to get the blood. Batman says he won’t kill. Ras dives back in his Lazarus pool and comes out regenerated. This triggers a stupid boss battle against Ras. I beat him in the room, and then teleport to a fight in desert with multiple and a giant sandstorm Ras. Why when Batman does everything else so well does it always fall down on the bosses? I beat this dumb desert scene pretty easily and then cut to a CS of Batman with a sword at Ghul’s throat. Talya says Batman has to kill him, and Batman says no. Tayla says Ghul has to die and then we cut back to the desert. There, we literally repeat the whole desert battle. Sigh. I beat him again and we return to the room. Ghul takes Talya hostage and says that if Batman won’t kill, he will. The scene is resolved with a cheap shit win with new tool  I receive at this moment (reverse batarang). That’s nice — beating a villain with a tool that I didn’t have until this moment. Batman then uses a syringe to take some of Ghul’s blood. Newly freed, Talya says that she thinks they both betrayed them. Ras says he’s gone mad from continued resurrection and Batman tells him he has to kick the Lazarus pit. I leave back to go back to the street. Man, was that subplot filled with stupid turns and obvious crap. I beat up guys with shields and CS tell Oracle that the trial has cured the poison for me. I find my way out of the Ghul area, but I’m not out yet because I can’t remember this maze. I’ve been playing a while so I call it a night.

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