What We’re Playing – November 11th
The weekend is upon us and it’s time to play some videogames. Here are a few games we’ve been playing away from the office this week. What’s on your agenda? Share what you’re playing!
Rocksteady Studios is in the unique position of providing an experience no other developer can claim to offer: the chance to be Batman. Arkham City continues in the same vein as its predecessor, but with more of an open-world and glut of extra things to do besides pummel and terrify criminals into submission. This is a classic example of Sequel-Making 101–take everything that worked in the last game and make it twice as big. There are way more villains from the rogue’s gallery, even more gadgets, ridiculous numbers of ways to take down enemies in combat and stealth, tons of side quests, and an expanded challenge mode (with plenty of maps on the way, too). The biggest change is the setting, its size easily eclipsing Arkham Asylum‘s island.
I’d say Rocksteady sacrificed some intimacy and detail for the sake of scale, but Arkham City is just as compelling to explore and there’s always something to do. That said, the only drawbacks I could find is that more time seems to have been devoted to the side quests rather than the main storyline and the plot tries to juggle way too much at once, but it’s a compelling experience nonetheless and reinforces Rocksteady’s status as the only developer to really do Batman justice.
Returning to the beaches of World War 2 after hours of Battlefield 3 multiplayer – playing out in the sprawl of modern city based maps – was a huge relief. And perhaps this makes for a dissenting opinion, but apart from Caspian Border and Operation Firestorm, I find the rest of Battlefield 3‘s maps a bit dull, even the ones re-purposed or thematically borrowed from older games. There’s some weirdness about them – in the inability to fully tailor the game for each of the target platforms.
The feeling’s kind of like playing a makeshift off-console port on handhelds – yeah, you’re getting a rough approximation of the experience and it’s likely hitting most of the same notes, but it feels wrong to the experience in a way Battlefield 1943 never does. And I guess that’s what I keep coming back for.
Despite being enveloped in the same kind of all-out warfare, there’s a real feeling of character and enthusiasm in 1943 that’s unrivaled in any other XBLA game. It’s the more effective aesthetic for significant reasons such as presenting the warfare in a more accessible manner. And while some of Battlefield 3’s destruction tech is downright impressive, not even the overstated set pieces feel so good or as effective as demolishing full chunks of buildings in 1943. The look just lends itself better to that kind of action.
Both relay fine examples of DICE at the top of their game, only they do so with a different context and perhaps the developer is strong at both. Either way, 1943‘s still fantastic and with lively servers still functioning, it’ll hopefully continue to run for a long time yet. It remains, I think, the perfect entry point for the series, if someone’s playing on consoles. There have been a lot of imitations and despite their best attempts, not a single one is playing on DICE’s level.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
COD is back and it’s better than ever. I’m neck deep in the single-player campaign on my quest to stop Makarov once and for all. So far, it’s everything I expected: huge action set pieces, great atmosphere and presentation and a whole lot of enemies to take down. I’ve been on planes, shot at trains, been in the gunner’s seat of numerous automobiles, encountered numerous high-ranking government officials, and the game is still showing no sign of slowing down. I’ve also taken in a good deal of Spec Ops mode with some friends and have been having a great time there. Modern Warfare 3 is everything I expected, which is saying a lot because my expectations were extremely high.