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Batman AA Day#5: A Brief Obsessive Interlude in an Otherwise Fun Session

Today, I defeat a major sub-boss and get more juicy predator scenes. Oh, the predator stuff is SO much fun. I also figure out just how deeply this game reminds me of the good stuff in the new Metroids. It’s all about running around a map and getting new tools to access things you couldn’t the first time through, but all in a strictly linear, if disguised, way.  Oh, and I get obsessed chasing an achievement, and pay the emotional consequence. Spoilers within.

So, had to do the last fight over again upon load. No big deal — once figured out, it’s not hard to get through a fifth time.

The fight ends with a cutscene where Batman takes down Harley. I find it a little weird that I don’t get to do that myself; the combat in this game is cool enough that I don’t think I could fuck that scene up with my less-than-film-perfect agency. Still, I get more plot in the scene. Turns out there’s something bad happening over in the garden. I solve a small puzzle to get into a cell when an explosive door, thinking that’s the way out, but all it gives me is a Riddler trophy. Then finding the actual exit, I take off, beating up more escaped crazies on my way to the botanical lab.

The gardens lead pretty quickly to a predator scene in a big garden room. This one takes me a few times. I die once from just hitting the wrong button. I die once being cocky and charging a guy with a gun (this is a lesson I will not learn). But I die the next three times because the background is so complicated that I can’t even see where the gargoyles are, so I am continually aiming my grapple at nothing and getting shot. It’s annoying, but honestly, the stealth scenes are so good it takes a lot for me to not like one. Sneaking and taking down thugs is pure, pure Batman fun.

I continue following Harley’s fingerprints to figure out where all the weird is coming from. It’s a little nonsensical: Harley’s fingerprints run across the floor in several places. I don’t know — maybe she backflips her way around the Asylum. Anyway, I eventually find the Joker across the room with an electrified pool in between. I can’t cross the pool, so I have to trace the power going to the pool to a generator, turn off the generator, and go back. It’s a run around thing, but it introduces a more complex puzzle for my short-circuiting tool. I’m happy to see that they are giving this cool interaction an actual game element.

I come to another cool predator scene at this point. There are a bunch of hostages in cages, and about five armed guards. Anyone sees me, a guy in the control tower drops the scientists to their deaths. But all of the guards have signal collars, so if any of them go down, I’m spotted. I have to sneak my way around the level to get to the guy in the tower first, and then take the others down. It’s a great stealth scene. It’s very Prince of Persia (SoT)/Ico in that there aren’t always clear next steps. You have to really study the scene to figure it out, but when you make a guess, you’re usually right. Nice twist on the earlier scenes.

With that done, I hunt down the Joker with two thugs. He Titan-steroids up the thugs, and I redo the Bane fight from before with two Banes. The only difference is if I beat one thug up, I can jump on his back and steer him to attack the other thug. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s repetitive. It’s interesting to see these two scenes next to each other: one a very original twist on the base mechanic, the other a straight lift from a previous scene. Anyway, it takes me one life to figure it out, and then I take the thugs down. I blow up the tanks that contain the serum, but I know the Joker has a lot of it, so we need an antidote. And since Titan clearly came from a plant, it’s off to find Poison Ivy again.

There’s a crazy cutscene where Batman summons the Batjet to crash into the building just to give me a new weapon. It’s a line cable, which allows me to zip on a line over a horizontal ravine. Odd scene. I mean, the Jet bursting in was kind of cool, but isn’t that a bit dramatic as a way of getting a new power-up? Anyway, I work my way back, following a phermone meter that’s an increasing/decreasing percentage telling me how close I am to Ivy. That’s a nice narrative touch.

I just figured out what game this reminds me of: Metroid. New power-ups that unlock old parts of a map, flashy cutscenes, modes of vision. Not that this is a bad thing — the new Metroids have been amazing.

I eventually find Ivy, which is a cutscene where I threaten her plants and she tells me that I can find the antidote with Killer Croc. That will be an interesting fight, I hope. I take off to find someone who can direct me to Croc’s cell. Along the way, I have to traverse another crumbling area. In this space, there’s a Riddler trophy in the highest parts of the structure. I have in no way been chasing these things, but while I’m trying to find a way out, I stumble about halfway up to the trophy. I’m going to give it up, but then there’s a Riddler voiceover mocking me. I get obsessed, and fifteen minutes pass as I repeatedly try to land the same tricky jump over a wall to a narrow ledge. Oh, I hate it, but now I can’t let go. I even find two completely different trophies along the way. I finally do reach the top, which gives me no other reward than the capture of the trophy itself. So disappointing. There is no way I’m chasing more of these stupid things.

Once I’m done with that fool’s errand, it’s back to finding my way out of the garden. I end up back in the main garden room for a newpredator scene. I do pretty well the first time through, but I try to take two armed guards at once jumping between them and I misjudge the distance and get shot to death. (Remember the cocky above?) I take that as a sign that I’ve tilted, and call it a night when my Xbox twitches and thinks the disk is dirty again. Peace.

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