Batman: Arkham City box art

The comic book video game genre has been one of the most disappointing genres of video games in history. Almost as bad as movie-to-game adaptations (neither of which is worse than game-to-movie adaptations, though). You'd think that with all the awesome source material at their disposal, that game developers would have been able to come up with some pretty amazing games. But other than a few stand-outs, Spider-Man held the crown as the king of good comic book video games for almost a full decade during the 2000's before Rocksteady blew all previous comic book-themed video games out of the water and gave us the first truly great comic game with 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I cannot sing that game's praises enough. It was like a video game love letter to Batman fans (and all comic book fans in general). Despite being a little tedious towards the end, this game delivered an unparalleled experience that made all comic book games before it look as embarassing as Super Mario Bros. the Movie! Elements of Arkham Asylum's design (such as the free flow combat system) have even found their way into other games and genres such as Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Uncharted 3.

A sequel was inevitable, and hopes were high for Arkham City (which the developers had enough foresight to tease with a secret room showing the sequel's map in the first game). Arkham City promised an open-world map with a longer story, more villains, and Catwoman as a playable character. “Bigger, better, more” seemed to be the motto going into this game. Well, they definitely got the “bigger” and “more” parts, but not necessarily “better”.

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Madden NFL 12 box art

Once again, this review is exceptionally late. The football season is almost over, and Madden has already sold its bazillion copies for this year. So anything I say here is kind of moot when it comes to helping people decide whether or not to buy this year’s game. But maybe – just maybe – my critiques will help the developers provide us with a better game in the 7 or so months that they have left to make Madden 13.

After being thoroughly disappointed with last year’s Madden game, and not being won over by either the new demo or the gameplay in NCAA 12, I didn’t rush out to buy Madden 12 on day one. I waited till September and bought the game used. This also contributed significantly to the tardiness of this review.

Overall, Madden still just seems uninspired, even when compared to EA’s NCAA Football game. All the same gameplay enhancements go into both games each year now, but NCAA has at least taken some efforts to better represent its sport. Setting up “linked” plays is simplistic but was a start towards a better representation of football strategy. Integration of the No-Huddle offense into the game is a bit clumsy, but is a major component of modern college football, and is thusly represented in that game. Requiring the QB to “read” the defense on option plays doesn’t work as well as last year, but it’s actually an important part of the option strategy. The collegiate look and atmosphere really looks and sounds like Saturday afternoons, and the ESPN integration is actually pretty slick at times.

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Catherine box art

Despite the over-corporatization of the video game industry, not every game is going to be a consumer mega-hit like whatever Call of Duty game that happens to be coming out any given November. Sometimes, these little-known, niche titles can be real gems in the rough (Demon’s Souls, Trine). Other times, they just barely get by. But more often than not, they are utter garbage.

Catherine is not a game for everybody. Not only does it have a very mature plot, but most people probably won’t find it’s gameplay very appealing either. But even though I wouldn’t consider Catherine to be a particularly good game, it isn't a horrible game either, and I have no doubt that its charmingly quirky nature will earn itself a very hardcore following from its niche fans (particularly among adolescent boys). And I definitely have to give the developers credit for really trying to create something that is new and interesting instead of just something that has mass-market appeal.

The entire game consists of pretty much 3 parts that loop a handful of times:

  1. Long-ass cutscene that the player has absolutely no control over.
  2. A scene at the bar in which you walk around with your hands stuffed in your pockets, talking to friends and fellow patrons, and sending/receiving text messages on your phone.
  3. A series of increasingly-long and increasingly-difficult puzzle/platforming sequences in which you push blocks around in order to climb to the top of a wall of cubes.

Rinse and repeat. Or not rinse. But definitely lots of repeating.

The first two parts tend to be the most interesting parts, while the puzzle sections start off being fun but quickly devolve into a frustrating mess of bad camera, twitchy controls, and unnecessarily escalating and cheap difficulty.

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Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception box art

Has it already been two years since Uncharted 2 was released? Wow, I suppose it has. Doesn’t seem like two years. But I guess that’s partly because Uncharted 2 is a game that really sticks out in your memory when you play it. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t stop feeling new and impressive. Uncharted 2 is one of – if not the – best games on the PlayStation 3. It was an order of magnitude better than the first Uncharted, which was also an exceptional game. What few flaws existed in the first game were fixed or rendered moot by the sequel, and Uncharted 2 is one of those rare games that is as close to perfect as a game can possibly be.

So, of course, Uncharted 3 has big shoes to fill. It was hard to imagine how a game could be better than Uncharted 2, whereas there were obvious areas for improvement with the first game.

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NCAA Football 12 box art

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A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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