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Batman AA Day#2: Where I Learn to Strike Fear into Criminals

Day#2 introduces a random new gadget, and a whole new fun kind of gameplay: predator mode. This is a really well-designed play mode that’s extremely Batman. Also, narrative continues with a fairly linear plot and a few interesting/a few less-than-good moments. Spoilers within.

Okay, I reach the top and I enter into a hardcore stealth puzzle scene. There are gargoyles that I can climb up to. It’s a standard Splinter Cell/Assassin’s Creed kind of play style. I can sneak up on opponents and knock them out silently, or I can glide down in a kick to knock them down, but that’s more noisy. If I can drop an opponent quickly and jump back in the rafters before being seen, they have no idea where I am. If anyone sees me, I’m spotted and they shoot at me until I can get out of their sight for long enough.

What makes this cool for me is that bullets are quite deadly. Getting shot more than a couple of times is fatal. It enforces the stealth with an iron fist, and it adds a nice tension. I die twice in this extended scene (there’s a first bunch of enemies and then the joker sends in a second bunch), but it’s not too hard; I’m just getting used to it.

Anyway, I beat the scene and find a tape of Harley. It’s not a bad bit of narrative, but sitting and listening to long audio scenes is not what makes this game fun.  I also go up in level, which gets me an upgrade. There’s a wonderful black-and-white illustration style to the upgrade screen, and it’s a joy to visit. However, there are an awful lot of Batarang upgrades, which seems to be telling me that I should be using the Batarang in combat more. That would have been nice to see in the tutorial.

Less cool are the Riddler puzzles, which are a kind of achievement system. They seem arbitrary, and I doubt I’m going to kill myself completing them. I know I’ve already passed Trophies that were behind explodable glass, and I doubt I’m going back.

Anyway, I eventually get out of the intensive care ward to the grounds of Arkham. It’s a very pretty environment. It also feels huge, even though the game is pretty linear up to this point. Case and point, I start exploring the grounds, and I couldn’t have made it for more than a minute before there’s another objective (save the Batmobile) that demands my attention. It seems like this game is not very open-ended in how you can traverse it.

Where it is open-ended is how you deal with enemies. Heading to the Batmobile, there’s a tunnel in which two armed thugs are waiting. Charging them is not smart, but the game doesn’t tell me what to do. I bet I could have Bataranged them. Instead, I climbed over the tunnel and dropped behind them, and then silently took them out. In the next scene around the Batmobile, I see that the enemies are unarmed, so I just charge them, but I’m sure I could have been more stealthy.

I get some explosive gel which I can spray on stuff and then explode. It’s basically a key to several doors. Not awesome gameplay here, but it does the job. The controls take me forever to figure out though, since you have to hold down the left shoulder button to activate the gel sprayer and then use the right button and shoulder alternately to spray the gel anddetonate it, and my general confusion between right button and right shoulder leads me to spray a whole bunch more areas than I need to.

I find Gordon’s pipe near the Batmobile, and follow the smoke trail to another building at Arkham. Inside, I have a cutscene with Harley where she mocks me from behind a force field, and I have to search a way in. I do so, and I find out that the Joker is rounding up the doctors. There’s another stealth puzzle to eliminate the thugs in the first room I enter, and then there are three more doctors in three different places for me to save. A little choice here, but since I don’t know these doctors and know nothing about what’s protecting them, it’s more like a random pick of which doctor to save first.

The first one I chose is another poison gas room. The switches for the air vent are pretty hidden, so I’m using my Quick Restore Grapple Hook a lot. There’s also a kind of crappy puzzle at the end where there’s a Joker thug hanging for a rope above a room with a weak ceiling. In that room is the final air vent switch. Turns out I have to throw a Batarang to cut the rope and drop the Thug through the ceiling and then hit the switch. It’s an okay puzzle I guess, although nothing tells me that dropping the guy on the ceiling will do anything but kill him, so I get it on a guess. My main issue with it though is that it seems like I’m killing the thug by dropping him in the poison gas. Batman even warns about “saving the guy” from the gas when I drop him. That’s not very Batman. I hit the switch, and that seems to keep him alive. It still feels cheap. If I drop someone into poison gas, I want them to die. And if you don’t want me to do that, set up the scene differently.

Second doctor is a thug fight, kind of standard, but kind of fun. I decide to call it a night before going to the third doctor.

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