Playing catch up

This is how the world ends... with posters!

Friday, October 21, 2011 | 09:22 PM | by

A couple of years ago I did some fun Zombie Ninja versus Robot Pirate artwork, and then made a limited edition poster out of it for that year's Digital Overload. We had some leftover, and they've been sitting in my office for the past two years.

I finally sent them up to SplitReason so... you know... you can own them now. The first 300 or so are signed, and are first-come first served. 

CAD - Ninja Pirate poster @
CAD - Ninja Pirate poster design @ ©


Friday, October 21, 2011 | 11:34 PM | by

Arkham City has worn out my patience.

My largest gripes are technical, and may only be prevalent in hard mode (I haven't played on normal to compare). At first I just thought I'd forgotten all of the combat timing I'd learned in Akrham Asylum, and just needed some practice to get the hang of it again. At this point though, after a few hours spent just on combat sequences, fights aren't getting much easier, and I'm starting to recognize the differences between what is my fault (miscalculating an enemy's movements, not timing the counter right), and what is the game just fucking me over with some sloppy mechanics.

To get into specifics, Arkham City will regularly send two attackers rushing in at the same time, and show you the lightning bolts over their head simultaneously. This is the queue for you to perform a cool "double" counter attack. When it works, it's awesome to watch, and it takes down two baddies. However I'm noticing it not work just as often, and it's a result of animation problems. If both enemies come in at the same time, but for some reason (shifting or sliding due to coming in contact with another enemy, or a change in the location of Batman/Catwoman in relation to the bad guy) one of the enemy's attack animation gets delayed, then your double counter turns into a single counter. Except the second enemy still continues his attack, a split second later.

So you'll be locked in a counter animation taking one enemy down, completely helpless to avoid or block the second enemy. The second enemy makes contact, which breaks you out of the counter with the first enemy, who then turns and punches you himself. You get hit twice even though you successfully countered.

And of course, there's the issue that some of the attack animations (for Catwoman especially with her flips and whatnot) are so lengthy that an enemy will charge at you in the middle of one, and you can't break out of it execute the counter and thus get hit.

It certainly doesn't happen every time, and on easy or normal mode, it's probably not even a big breaks your streak, whatever. You just go on pounding bad guys. But in hard mode you take so much damage from enemy attacks, and the enemies take such a beating that you really can't afford to just be giving up free hits. Tack on the fact that Arkham City's checkpoints are so spaced out, sometimes with 2-3 consecutive brawls inbetween them, and you could be facing a lot of replaying fights if you have a string of bad luck in regards to animation glitches. And after the sixth time its the cause of having to start over at a checkpoint, what might otherwise be an "oh well, shit happens" kind of a thing starts to become incredibly frustrating.

I'm all for difficulty in games, and I'll happily smash my face into the brick wall of a hard mode for hours trying to overcome a challenge, as long as it feels like my skill level the only thing standing in the way of victory. When it starts feeling like the game is throwing shenanigans at me that I have no way to counter or avoid, then it stops being fun.

Yeah, I could probably just play the game on normal mode, and walk through these fights. Maybe that's what needs to happen. But I remember Arkham Asylum on normal, and it was a bit of a joke, difficulty-wise. Fantastic game, great story, etc, but I don't think anyone would call it a challenging on normal. I think it's disappointing that I now have to choose between playing the game without a challenge, or fighting a frustrating system that doesn't seem like it was designed/tweaked to be played on the higher difficulty setting they included with the game.


Saturday, October 22, 2011 | 11:06 AM | by

I gave normal mode a try late last night. I caught up to my previous game in a third of the time, and didn't even come close to losing any of the fights.


Look, if you enjoy playing your games on normal, more power to you. I'm certainly not going to tell you "you're doing it wrong". You paid for the game, however you want to enjoy it is the right way for you to enjoy it.

There are a lot of games out there, and not a ton of time to play them all... especially in the holiday season when great titles are dropping every week. I very rarely play a game a second time through, so I want to get the most out of the first playthrough as possible... it's why I always go for the hardmodes. Just going through the motions to get to the next cutscene, without any challenge, feels too much like a mouse learning to press a button for a piece of cheese. I don't play games "just for the story." If I just want to sit back and be entertained, I can read a book.

I love Batman, I loved Arkham Asylum, and I want to love Arkham City. It's not making it easy though.


Saturday, October 22, 2011 | 04:01 PM | by

I threw my face at hard mode for another hour this afternoon, experimenting, testing... I think I've found a passable if somewhat less than ideal workaround.

When I see a double charge coming, and I'm in the thick of enemies, I've started simply using the double-tap A evade to just clear out rather than risk a possible buggy double-counter. I've notice that the double-counter seems to have more issues in a crowd, where the enemies may be clipping into eachother.

If I evade out into open space, and they double charge me where I can stand still and only worry about those two enemies, it seems to have a higher success rate.

Like I said, it's less than ideal having to exit the fray constantly as opposed to continuing a fluid attack string, but it does seem like the safer, and ultimately less frustrating alternative.