Tag Archives: batman

Batman: the Telltale Series Episode 3: New World Order

After the good but not great Children of Arkham, the third episode of Batman: the Telltale Series takes a turn for the even better. It has shocking bleak plot twists that make for compelling viewing and playing.

With Harvey Dent the new Mayor of Gotham, he makes stopping the Children of Arkham the first priority. After an early rescue mission, Batman investigates the Children. This investigation is eventually sidetracked by romantic interludes with Catwoman and the pressures being Mayor is putting on Harvey awakening long-suppressed psychological problems of his.

Meanwhile, the controversies surrounding what Bruce Wayne’s father did so long ago are coming to a head. Wayne Enterprises’ board of directors is so suspicious of Bruce that the latter’s resignation is demanded. Bruce winds up not liking who the new head of the company is one bit.

Public humiliations make for dark stories.

This is a great story! A little too over the top in its bleakness at times, but still great. The player is enticed to keep playing to see how things turn out, what with all the suspense and whatnot!

The only issue is Harvey’s mental breakdown. Anyone who’s seen any other version of the character knows it has to happen, but to say it happens quickly is an understatement. It would have been better if some signs in previous episodes of it has surfaced. Instead, it’s just the pressures of running a city alone that force it. Not that this isn’t possible, It just somehow feels… wrong.

But things work well in the ending. It’s a surprising, dramatic finish that heads into the fourth episode with a bang!

Not unlike the bang of being slammed head-first into concrete!

This was a short review because there’s only so much I can say without including excessive spoilers. And New World Order relies on surprising plot twists. Just know that this is a great continuation of Batman: the Telltale Series.

Overall: 8 out of 10

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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The box office, duh!

Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent
Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Holly Hunter as Senator June Finch
Gal Godot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White
Diana Lane as Martha Kent

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was one of the most criticized movies of 2016. It shouldn’t have been but at the end of the day, this movie is only worth a rental. That said, I think it’s only the combination of these pop culture icons jacking up expectations that has people hating the film. Because there’s nothing that elevates BvS to megafilm status.

Three years after Superman emerged in Man of Steel, people have formed different opinions about him. Some see him as a hero. Others see him as a villain in the making. Senator June Finch wants Superman to speak in public so he can explain himself. But Batman has concluded that the alien is a threat to us and plans his end. Meanwhile, eccentric and opportunistic CEO/mad scientist Lex Luthor has discovered Superman’s greatest weakness: kryptonite. Luthor figures that his best plan is to help “God” and “man” kill each other so both will be out of the way.

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The God analogy works with the fancy costume material, that’s for sure.

I have to say, this is a very good plot. Fear of the corruptibility of power makes for an interesting story. The viewer can see the controversy surrounding Superman and choose whether to side with him or Batman.

Performances are quite strong. I knew Henry Cavill would make a great Superman again. Same with Amy Adams as the tough reporter that is Lois Lane. I was as worried as anyone that Ben Affleck would be a terrible Batman, but the opposite happened. He displays both intimidation and intelligence in the role (unlike Christian Bale who only showed the former in the role). Jesse Eisenberg appears to be playing homage to Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in his mannerisms and it serves him well, particularly with his analogies to “man” and “God.”

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Some say that Luthor must have giant balls to fight a superdude. Turning the back to him is pretty much the final proof.

So what keeps this from being a great movie? The ending. First of all, they (spoiler alert) reenact Superman’s death a decade too late for it to have the desired impact. Yes, once upon a time, he died in the comic books and the world was shocked. But that was too long ago. At this point, it’s just a death scene that we know will be less than permanent.

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The Bat-stubble shows even in smoke.

A more nitpicky issue is the cameos. A lot of people liked seeing Wonder Woman in this movie, but let’s be realistic: this is commercial for her own movie, and frankly, it shows in Gal Godot’s performance. Aquaman makes an even more superfluous appearance as well.

All said, BvS isn’t the awful movie some have called it. It’s not particularly good, either. It’s worth renting from Netflix and that’s all.

Overall: 6 out of 10

Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 2: Children of Arkham

Batman_20161209041649Yeah, I know I reviewed Batman: The Telltale Series before, but it’s a cheap game that lets you choose whether you want to continue the story by buying the later episodes. Fortunately, I have the Season Pass Disc, which includes free access to all the episodes. I now review the second.

The first part had Bruce Wayne realizing that there was corruption in his family for which he was under investigation. On top of that, Batman’s questioning of mob boss Carmine Falcone prompted Falcone to claim that the Waynes are “the biggest gangsters in Gotham.” The second episode, Children of Gotham, has Bruce finally getting Alfred to admit that Bruce’s father,Thomas, did in fact have dealings with the mafia.

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What’s wrong, Bruce? Can’t take a little loss of innocence?

Bruce (not Batman) confronts Falcone in his hospital bed to learn the total truth. Before he gets it, a police officer named Renee Montoya shoots Falcone dead. Batman’s research reveals that Montoya only did it because of a mind-control device. And as it happens, it seems that Gotham has a new, more violent kind of crime-fighting vigilante.

These episodes are interactive movies so you make character choices and in push buttons corresponding to the signal that appears on the screen in action scenes. You do both as you go through.

No what's "messy" is the blue goop.

No what’s “messy” is the blue goop.

Alas, this is decidedly not as good as the first episode. The reason is that this game uses The Penguin wrong. He’s supposed to be a criminal, but the plot has him as a violent vigilante. Also, he’s tall and skinny. No doubt they did this because of the popular version of the character in the ongoing crime drama Gotham. The difference being that Gotham is set when Bruce is a teenager and Penguin’s deforming condition hasn’t gotten serious yet.

But there are certain redeeming qualities with this game. The mystery involving vigilantes going too far actually is very well-done. Additionally, there are character interactions between Batman and Catwoman (who circumstances force to work together) that work well, as do certain plot twists.

Those eyebrows are how you know he's a bad guy.

Those eyebrows are how you know he’s a bad guy.

While not a great sequel, Children of Gotham is worth the money.

Overall: 7 out of 10

Batman: The Telltale Series

Batman_20161026022527The latest Batman game is rather unconventional. You don’t actually control anybody. The game proceeds mostly on its own and Batman follows it.

What can you do? First, the action sequences have quick graphics that tell you which button to press to make Batman dodge or strike. You have to press that button quickly. You also make choices along the way.

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Like whether you’re cool about being framed.

Plot: 10 out of 10

First, an explanation is in order. This is a remarkably cheap game. It costs just thirty bucks. It also lasts only two hours but several other episodes are either out or coming soon for an Abraham Lincoln each. I must say, that’s a great idea. If we don’t like it , we can stop for not too much money wasted. If it’s a hit, there’s no rule that Telltale Games can’t keep making more episodes beyond the amount originally promised. We could do without the waits in-between the release of mandatory episodes, though.

I’ve only played through the pack-in episode, Realm of Shadows. I may review the others in the shorter style I used for Super Mario Maker. Right now, I’ll just say that Realm of Shadows has an excellent plot! It has a mafia plot that involves shocking corruption in Bruce Wayne’s family. This is an effective and gutsy attempt at tragedy and man, does it work! Subplots like Batman meeting Catwoman and Bruce Wayne trying to help Harvey Dent dethrone the ineffective Mayor Hamilton Hill but Hill attempting to embarrass Bruce and, by association, Harvey, are almost as good.

"I believe in Harvey Dent" from The Dark Knight gives me a bad feeling about this...

“I believe in Harvey Dent” from The Dark Knight gives me a bad feeling about this…

To tie it all together in a bow, you get to make choices. I don’t know if this is broadened later, but in Realm of Shadows, you mainly seem to choose whether to be the usual firm but restrained version, or if you want to be a brutal crimefighter. In the case of the latter, think the Michael Keaton version.

Graphics: 6 out of 10

OK, this isn’t so impressive. While backgrounds are well-done, characters are flat and don’t really fit in. But the Batman look is accomplished and besides, there is a sense of competence. If you want my idea of bad, recent, graphics, play Duck Dynasty or The Amazing Spider-Man 2… or not.

Sound: 7 out of 10

We have good music, good supporting cast voices, downright excellent actors for the villains, and a Batman who is rather off-key. I’d think that Telltale would prioritize getting the central character’s voice right. The sounds can be considered good overall, but just barely.

The pressure of a policeman's job rises to a new level.

The pressure of a policeman’s job rises to a new level.

Gameplay: 8 out of 10

You rarely move Batman. Instead, copies of buttons or directional signals appear on the screen telling you which button to press in action scenes. This seems more fun than in some other games in which this is done. The action scenes are well-done, helping this along.

Choices are made with time limits to making them. This adds suspense to the game, especially since the choices you make affect a lot.

This style of play may be simple and unconventional, but it’s fun. Not for everyone, but for what it’s attempting, it works.

Bruce: "Oh, yeah! That's my cathoney! Take it off!" Alfred: "Sir?" Bruce: "Just... reading up on archcriminals currently at large."

Bruce: “Oh, yeah! That’s my cathoney! Take it off!”
Alfred: “Sir?”
Bruce: “Just… reading up on archcriminals currently at large.”

Challenge: 8 out of 10

This isn’t a very hard game, but it’s fun. The thrill of the plot keeps you going. Also, the different outcomes determined by your decisions add a lot of replay value.

Overall: 8 out of 10

A different approach to making a Batman game, this one works. The story is effective and the choices with different outcomes will keep you playing. Just don’t expect a lot of balls to the wall action.

Gotham

gothamtitleBen McKenzie as James Gordon
David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne
Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock
Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle
Zabryna Guevara as Sarah Essen
Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin

Following the success of Smallville, it was apparently believed that a similar prequel series set in the Batman franchise could work. And I must say that they were right. Gotham adds many twists to both this franchise and the crime drama genre of television.

This show seems to take place roughly twenty years before Batman is Gotham’s watchdog against crime. We have a Gotham that is run by organized crime. James Gordon is a police officer in a corrupt department trying to stem the tide. Young Bruce Wayne is sometimes caught up in these things as well. Bruce’s romantic interest, Selina Kyle, is a wild card, torn between her affections for Bruce and the fact that her hard life drove her into burglary long ago.

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Before his eighty-five years of calling someone else to solve cases for him, Gordon was actually a half-decent cop.

Like many crime dramas, the main antagonist changes over time. There was female crime boss Fish Mooney. At the time of this posting, the possessive (literally) Jervis Tetch is making his mark.

The standout villain in The Penguin. I was shocked when I first saw him. If you’ve seen any other version of this character, you know from heart that he’s short, overweight, and and has a huge nose. Here he’s tall and skinny. I guess whatever disease he has that gives him an abnormal appearance hasn’t taken effect yet. Anyway, this is a great character. He’s got a seemingly undeservedly cocky attitude that gets him underestimated and he consistently outsmarts people because of that. Everybody sees him as a self-deluded pushover. That he’s really a crafty genius nobody can understand. They don’t see it. And that adds to Penguin’s character.

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Hearing him get called “Penguin” for the first time was quite a shock, but it turned out well.

Story arcs are great! There was the Fish Mooney story, the one in which maniacs were running loose throughout Gotham City, and now Penguin has became Mayor! A bit of homage to Batman Returns, but this time it really happened!

Some comic book nerds criticize the faithfulness to the source material. Hey, it’s the gloomy setting with urban crime. Factor in the effects of the prequel setting, and it’s true enough for me.

Plus if you think this show has to have the Joker, we got that... kind of.

Plus if you think this show has to have the Joker, we got him… kind of.

Gotham succeeds with flying colors as both a Batman show and a crime drama.

Overall: 9 out of 10

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

LEGO® Batman™ 3: Beyond Gotham_20160604190338It can be difficult to keep a series fresh over a long period of time. Has the Lego Batman series been kept fresh? I’m afraid not. While the technical aspects are there, the level design isn’t very good. What’s worse is some questionable decisions in which mission objectives to put in the game. All this makes LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham not the great experience that part 2 was.

Plot: 4 out of 10

The first mistake is the “beyond Gotham” part of the title. Why is this a Batman game? Given that the story is about the Justice League teaming up with some villains led by Lex Luthor against a greater evil, perhaps a more appropriate title would be Justice League: Beyond Good and Evil. A lack of good interactions between characters make this the beginning of a disappointment.

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Most parents try to keep their children FROM taking bad falls.

Graphics: 8 out of 10

You can give credit to the look of this game. The LEGO and Batman feels are captured and everything is well-detailed. But as too few development teams have learned, graphics don’t make the game. How it plays makes it.

Sound: 6 out of 10

One major advantage DC games have over Marvel games is the fact that DC’s parent company, Warner Bros., owns the rights to the vast majority of these adaptations of the comic books. So like in the prequels, Lego Batman 3 makes good use of Danny Elfman’s score in the first two Batman movies. But this game’s original tunes are… meh. Bland, tame, and unremarkable are good descriptions as well.

You mean Batman's actually real?

You mean Batman’s actually real?

Back to the easy access to Bat-stuff For just a moment. How about downloadable adaptations of past movies and shows in the next Arkham Whatever game? This would be stuff I’d really like to buy. Just think about, WB, kay? We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Gameplay: 5 out of 10

Once again, you have control of Batman and Robin. Once again, both have a wide variety of suits with different abilities to use. What’s different this time is that this time the controls feel kind of clunky. Batman and Robin seem harder to control. This is an inconvenience that makes the game much harder to enjoy.

Green Lantern kicks ass!

Green Lantern kicks ass!

Challenge: 1 out of 10

All these LEGO games have the following problem: you can’t die for good. Appropriately enough, you get blown apart but come back together. The only challenge comes in collecting Coins and hidden objects to improve your completion stats. Adding to the issue this time is that level designs have gotten repetitive and boring. Some have very little action, just trying to find the exit. This becomes very tedious as the game drags on.

A city-based hero has a space suit? If you say so.

A city-based hero has a space suit? If you say so.

Overall: 4 out of 10

This is not a good game. At all. Not much work was put into it this time. Additional downloadable characters and levels (for more money, I might add) do not make up for a sub-par game.

Batman Returns

BatmanReturnsTitle

Once upon a time, multi-platform games actually meant different, unique games. It was uncommon to see games released on multiple platforms at all. In the case of this review, different games by different companies were released for different systems, though all based on the same movie, Batman Returns.

The PC version (by GameTek) would have been a below average detective game even without awful, boring action sequences that you only watch. The Genesis version (Sega) is pretty good if you don’t mind outrageous difficulty and a lack of plot. The NES version would arguably be the best version if it weren’t for a difficult mystery that has no place in a beat-’em-up that you’re required to solve to see the whole game. The Game Gear version is the most mediocre of them all.

The SNES version is the subject of this review. It’s probably the best of them all, albeit derivative of Final FIght. Still, give credit where it’s due. This is a solid beat-’em-up and Batman game.

Plot: 7 out of 10

This game does a good job of using cutscenes in the intro*, between levels, and at the game’s end to tell the story of the movie. Actual quotes are used that fans of the film will recognize instantly.

The only real problem is that although the intro and advertisement of this game confirm Catwoman’s importance to the story, in the actual game, her two battles with Batman are reenacted before she just mysteriously disappears, never to be mentioned again. The tragic ending of the movie, sadly, is not here.

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Gotta love how the programmers troll the player by having you save Selina Kyle, knowing that she becomes Catwoman. I know that happens in the movie, but still!

*Like many old games you have to not do anything for awhile after turning the game on to see this intro.

Graphics: 8 out of 10

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Yes, that appears to be a screen of static behind him.

This game looks great for the SNES. These programmers have the dark, gloomy atmosphere of The Dark Knight down to every character looking just like they do in the movie. The only problem is the crude imposing of character stills from the movies onto whatever background they programmers decided to use that we see in the cutscenes.

Sound: 7 out of 10

The music is recordings of Danny Elfman’s awesome score for the movie and come about as close to the real songs as the SNES’ limitations allow. Some voice acting is included, though, and it’s not nearly as impressive. Much of it seems forced.

Gameplay: 8 out of 10

This game has gameplay schematics similar to Final Fight. Instead of a flat side-scrolling terrain, you can move up and down to maneuver into the best position to attack. You can do jumping attacks, punching-kick combinations, move in close to headbutt or throw the target, or throw a Test Tube to knock out all nearby enemies.

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All superheroes cause millions in property damage. Scientific fact.

The controls handle pretty well, but the lack of uniqueness compared to other 2D beat-’em-ups cost it a point or two. If the lack of freshness leaves the gameplay less than classic, it’s still quite classic.

Challenge: 6 out of 10

Whereas the Genesis version seemed inaccessible to all but truly elite gamers, this one is fairly easy most of the way. While some enemies do hit hard, they’re easily outsmarted and not very fast. Still, the fairly creative variety of enemies do allow for fun throughout the game.

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Ironic that two of the only hard parts of the game are the boss battles against a short, fat, waddling guy.

Overall: 7 out of 10

Not a great game, but an enjoyable one. Fans of the movie will probably like this game even more than most. Just don’t expect a true test of your skills.