Category: Batman

Gamer Geek Review: Batman-The Telltale Series

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Growing up, I loved the old Choose Your Own Adventure series.  If you’re not as old as me, they were a book series that put you, the reader, as the main character of whatever story you were reading, and they put you in these extraordinary situations, from time travel, to a post apocalyptic world to anything in between.    And, as you’re reading this book, you get to make decisions that affect the course of the story.  It’d say something like “To open the treasure chest turn to page 35, or  to ignore the chest and move on turn to page 42”  and sometimes there were bad outcomes, and you would die a horrible death, but others there weren’t.  There was no wrong way to read one of these books, except perhaps in chronological order.

The games that Telltale makes are the Choose Your Own Adventures for a new era.  I got hooked on them really a couple years ago, when at Christmastime they had a sale on the Telltale collection on the Xbox store.  $50 for all the major releases they’d put out til this point all 2.5 series of The Walking Dead game,  The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands and Game of Thrones.

And that was where the majority of my holiday break was spent that year getting absorbed into these worlds, playing these characters and feeling like I know them, getting into playing a character like you’ve never been able to before, by actually playing them, not by pushing a button to make them jump or punch, but getting in their head.  It’s an ingenious method of storytelling that sets them apart from any other gaming company out there.

I longed for the day when they would come out with a superhero game, something from Marvel or DC, that would change the game for superhero stories in video games.  And then, they announced that they would be doing a Batman game in 2016.  I got really excited at this point.  Batman to me has always been a favorite character, since the Superfriends days, into the darker Tim Burton one that I saw opening day when I was 9.   There have been some great Batman games over the years, namely the Arkham series, and those games you truly felt what it was like to be Batman, and punching the crap out of bad guys is amazing, but you don’t get to really feel what it’s like to be Bruce Wayne/Batman until you play this game.

By this point in your life you should already know what type of gamer you are, if you like story based stuff, or is it more about the game play.  If you’re looking for great game play this isn’t the game for you, nor are anything that Telltale does really.  But if you’re like me, and you love to play and watch great stories, then this is something you should look into.  Especially as a Batman fan.

This game is set early on in Batman’s career, Jim Gordon is still a Detective on the force, and Gotham isn’t quite sure what to make of this Bat-Man that’s prowling the streets at night. Along the way you encounter such familiar Batman characters such as Harvey Dent, here still an optimistic District Attorney who’s running for Mayor,  his new girlfriend Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman)  and more, along with some new characters such as Lady Arkham, who really makes an impact in this game.  But I don’t want to talk too much on the plot, and just let you figure that out for yourself.

One of the elements about the game I like the most is, it lets you figure out what  type of Batman you are, and what type of Bruce you are will determine how the rest of the story goes.  The writers here pull from all eras of The Dark Knight here.  Are you the borderline psychotic Batman of the DC Cinematic Murder-verse, or are you the stoic defender of Gotham?    And anything in between.  Same goes for Bruce Wayne, you decide which one is the real mask basically.

I can tell you on my playthrough I alternated back and forth, just playing the Batman that I like, a mix of the two, but you can do it your way.   The writing team here on this game crafts some great story and dialogue choices for you, led by a great voice acting cast including Troy Baker as Bruce Wayne/Batman, who may just be the first voice actor to ever portray both Batman and The Joker in two different franchises.  Baker was the voice of the Clown Prince of Crime in the (underrated in my opinion) Arkham Origins game.

The game isn’t without it’s technical faults however though, there are portions of the game, each episode early on that are choppy as hell, and in my opinion, borderline unplayable, but thankfully the glitches smooth themselves out before the first action scenes are up, it does get annoying though and I really wish Telltale developers would fix that in future games.

This game is, in my opinion, right up there with the Arkham series as far as a definitive video game of the character, but a different side.  One where you actually can show off the World’s Greatest Detective title forreal, and not just world’s greatest puncher of faces.   I look forward to seeing what they do with the Guardians of the Galaxy series when that comes out in a few months.    Nor can I wait for them to announce the second season of this game, which I hope it gets.  Still waiting on a Wolf Among Us season 2.  But we’ll see where this story goes.

 

 

Reel Geek Review: Gotham Season 3, Episode 1

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Gotham returned for it’s third season last night, and I for one am loving the direction the show is going in.   It’s come a long way from it’s beginnings a few years ago with it’s heavy handed references of things to come later in the story of Batman.  They’ve really figured out how to do a Batman series without Batman essentially.

In this episode we pick up 6 months after the events of last season’s finale, wherein the resurrected with mind control powers Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and an assortment of unnamed freaks, criminals who were mutated into monsters or given superhuman abilities by Hugo Strange (B.D.Wong)  escaped from Arkham Asylum and have been set loose upon Gotham City.   Basically the setup to the Knightfall storyline without Batman of course.

Jim Gordon (Ben Mckenzie) still has yet to return to the police force that we know he will one day become Commissioner of, and now works as a bounty hunter, collecting the Arkham inmates in a deadly game of Pokemon Go.  At the start of the episode we see his encounter with a not quite all the way mutated Killer Croc, which was a nice little easter egg.

Also introduced this episode is the new love interest for Jim Gordon, reporter Valerie Vale (I’m guessing Vicki’s aunt or cousin in this version of the story) played by Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time), she’s on the trail of a hot story, and as will be the case for Gotham City from here on out, there’s no hotter story than the freaks the city has to offer.   I really enjoyed the chemistry between her and Gordon, it works better than the chemistry the past season with Lee, who we see get written out of the show in the opening moments of the show.

We get more into the developing Court of Owls story that was started to be touched upon last year, it seems that these guys will be the big bads of the season, with Fish and Company offering as secondary villains, which is fine by me, I’ve been a huge fan of the Court of Owls since they were introduced a few years ago in the comics.  For the uninitated, they are a cult who secretly has run Gotham City since the beginning.

I like where the show is going, it’s a definite twist on the Batman mythos, but a welcome one.  Traditionally it’s always been assumed that it was Bruce Wayne’s eventual donning of the cape and cowl that led to the rise of the supervillains in Gotham City, but here it seems more likely that the freaks will be the ones to inspire Batman himself to put on the suit, which I hope we get to eventually if this show keeps running.   There’s still plenty of monsters to catch and plenty of stories to tell in Gotham City, and I look forward to seeing where they go with this one.

Reel Geek Review: Batman from Telltale Games Episode 1

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I’ve been a huge fan of Telltale Games output since they dropped the first episode of their game set in the world of The Walking Dead comic book a few years ago for free, then I went back and played the whole game and was just sucked into that world.    And as far as being a Batman fan, well that goes back years to the time when Scooby Doo and the gang met Batman and Robin, so I’m no Robin come lately to the Dark Knight either, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that this is one of the best explorations of the character in any medium.   Not to discount the Arkham series, which was phenomenal (I even liked the non Rocksteady produced Arkham Origins, mainly for the inclusion of The Joker, and the performance that Troy Baker did there, whom here takes his turn in the opposite side of that coin as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

If you haven’t played one of their games before, it’s not your typical video game.  It’s similar to the old point and click adventure games such as Maniac Mansion or Sam and Max that were popular on PC’s in the 1990s,  it’s story driven, and you choose the dialogue your character says at integral times in the game, and the choices you make affect how the story plays out, who lives, who dies, who tells your story in some cases, to quote the Hamilton soundtrack.

In previous Batman games we’ve felt what it’s like to be Batman as being badass Batman, and we get that here too, but we also get the sense even moreso of being Batman as a person, as the focus is on Bruce Wayne here, both in and out of the suit.    It’s set early on in Batman’s career, like around his second year on the job or so, and Harvey Dent (Travis Willingham) is running for Mayor opposite the corrupt present mayor Hamilton Hill.  And there are also this Batman’s first encounter with Catwoman (Laura Bailey) and perennial early career Batman foe mobster Carmine Falcone (Richard Mcgonagle).  I don’t want to spoil too much of the story as that’s what the game is built up around, but it’s an intriguing take.

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One of the aspects I loved most about the gameplay is with the different dialogue options you can play Batman/Bruce Wayne however you like,  whether you want to be the dark and violent Dark Knight style Batman, or if you want to be the more superheroic Batman, the choice is yours.  I myself like to mix the two up a bit throughout the game, as I’m playing it like he’s still early on in his career, so there’s no Robin yet to lighten his mood up just yet.  And much like Christian Bale’s take on the character in the Nolan movies, you really get the sense of the character that millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is the real mask, and Batman is his true self.

The graphics are the same cel shaded graphics that we’ve gotten in previous games, that really feel as though you’re playing a comic book come to life, and the game play is fast and fun as well, with a few quick time events in the action scenes which never feel overplayed or distracting from the game itself, which is nice.

It’s only the first episode, but I’m already hooked and waiting to see how the rest of the series plays out.   And if you haven’t played any of the other games yet I highly reccomend you do so, especially The Walking Dead games and The Wolf Among Us (their take on the amazing graphic novel series, Fables) .    Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.  ***** Five out of five stars.