Tag Archive: nightwing

Holy rusted armor, Batman!

For me, Batman: Arkham City was one of the crowning achievements of this console generation—never mind just 2011. So, when I heard it was being ported to the Wii U for the system’s launch (13 months after its initial release, mind you), I certainly understood why. But when I went hands-on with the new Armored Edition at this year’s E3, I was disappointed with the Wii U “innovations”—it seemed Nintendo loyalists wouldn’t get nearly the same smooth experience I had when I first played the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. I understood that a 15-minute demo wouldn’t be nearly enough time to pass final judgment on this one, though—especially as it was my first experience with the Wii U, period.

Flash-forward five months later, and I’ve been playing the Wii U incessantly along with my fellow EGM cohorts. And though some of my fears have been assuaged—and some of the new features have even impressed me—several new problems that have arisen that make Batman: Arkham City—Armored Edition the clearly inferior version of this phenomenal game.

The first flaw that you’ll notice rather quickly is glitches that were never present before—audio suddenly cutting in and out and weird shadows in cutscenes that make many characters look unnatural. In fact, the very look of the game as a whole has almost a waxy quality to it now, where you wonder if it actually takes full advantage of the Wii U’s HD. Maybe some of this odd look is just Batman’s new cheap suit of armor, which leads us to another major problem in all the gimmicks that have been tacked on in order to try to sell this version of the game: the B.A.T. system.

With the B.A.T. system, Batman can absorb the kinetic energy thrown around in battle and then channel it into enhanced strength. The problem is that this redesign makes the game far too easy. Fights where you had to strategize who you’d take out first—as thugs came at you with knives, shields, stun batons, and all other manner of weaponry—are now nullified, as the B.A.T. system makes it so that every enemy can now be taken down in only a couple of hits.

The next problem comes via the Wii U’s GamePad controller and the touchscreen features that have been added. The hopes were that by adding your inventory screen and minimap to the controller, it would create a more fluid experience. Instead, it does the exact opposite. The controller’s minimap is less detailed and harder to read than if you were pausing the game and looking at it on a normal-sized TV screen. It also fails to streamline the experience in any way, as you’re still interrupting the game to look down at the screen and set waypoints, level Batman up, or change gadgets—and now you’re doing it with Batman in the open, vulnerable to the dangers of the living, breathing environment of Arkham City. This again deters the strategy offered in the original version.

One way to escape this problem is by playing the entire game on the Wii U GamePad tablet, should you wish to use your TV for something else. I do applaud the fact that there’s no lag or choppiness, but playing the game on the controller’s tiny screen—which is of a worse quality than what you’d get with an iPad, iPhone, or even the PS Vita—only makes the visuals look even more muddy and unappealing.

The final shortcoming with Armored Edition also involves the Wii U controller. Having to hold it up and move it around to scan areas in Detective mode or to pilot my remote-controlled Batarang had me grinding my teeth at times while also grinding the poorly placed controller joysticks. Also, the cheesy effect of having Alfred talk through the controller became tiresome quickly, as the audio quality is so poor on the small speakers. It all felt like unnecessary proof-of-concept mechanics that again were much smoother and simpler on other systems.

Now, I’ve really honed in on the negative aspects I found with this port, but this isn’t to say the game is broken and completely unplayable. Gamers who don’t have the muscle memory of playing the game on Xbox 360 or PS3 will likely more readily adapt to the controller, and the core elements that made Batman: Arkham City so great are still present. The enthralling story, the classic DC characters, and even all the DLC is bundled onto the disc so that once you beat the main story, you can go back and play Harley Quinn’s Revenge or use Nightwing, Robin, or Catwoman on their challenge maps. The combat system that allowed Batman to showcase his bevy of martial-arts maneuvers is also still available, should you choose to ignore the B.A.T. feature.

But, like many of the ports that are coming to the Wii U long after their initial release, there’s really no positive reason for you to look into this port if you’ve played it before on other consoles; this is simply a dumbed-down version for the Nintendo hardcore. I legitimately feel bad that they get this bastardized version of Batman: Arkham City—they’ll never know how great this game was in its perfectly polished original form.

SUMMARY: Although the core of Batman: Arkham City remains intact, new glitches and tacked-on gimmicks take away from the overall experience enough to make this a clearly inferior version of one of the great games of this generation.

  • THE GOOD: Same great story with all DLC packs already on the disc.
  • THE BAD: New glitches and unnecessary gimmicks make this a worse version than its predecessors.
  • THE UGLY: How the game looks if you play exclusively on the Wii U controller.

SCORE: 7.0

Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition is a Wii U-exclusive version of Batman: Arkham City. 

At SDCC 2012, EGM Reviews Editor Ray Carsillo had a chance to catch up with Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director for the upcoming Warner Bros. game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ed Boon.

After finally recovering from a SDCC caused coma, The Pullbox has returned! A busy week this week in terms of comics as we saw an enticing new #1, some crazy things happen in AvX, and a new entrant into our indie space. So without further ado, here is this week’s Pullbox!

DC – Batman Beyond Unlimited #6 – This collection of stories following Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future, gives us three interesting continuations of tales started in earlier issues. First, Solomon Grundy reveals himself to Superman while Lex’s daughter’s plan comes to fruition. In another story, Batman and the rest of the future Justice League travel to Apokolips to help Orion and a blinded Darkseid fight a giant serpent. The final story follows Batman by himself and the Jokerz from all over the country continue their migration to Gotham and Batman needs to prioritize multiple attacks at once!

Honestly, I love this comic. I don’t mind paying an extra dollar each month to get several stories in an obviously extended book. I just hope that they don’t forget it’s called Batman Beyond as there is a lot of Superman love here. If they were going to do that, they should really give him his own future book as I think fans would snatch up both. Especially considering how epic the fight is between Grundy and Superman and Lex’s illegitimate daughter following in her daddy’s footsteps is priceless. The other two stories were okay in terms of writing and pacing, but the Jokerz story is starting to drag as so little happens month to month and needs a jumpstart again.

DC – Nightwing #11 – Nightwing starts to get to the bottom of this new villain named Paragon and his group called The Republic of Tomorrow. But with him fighting both the police for being framed, the banks for a loan to buy Amusement Mile, and these new bad guys, it’s going to be hard for Nightwing to come out on top!

This book did a good job of setting up the next issue where we will likely see the climax of this story arc where the villain and his connection to everyone in the past few issues will be resolved. Good action early on followed up by a lot of plot to maintain order within the story worked well for my tastes and shows why Kyle Higgins is the perfect guy to be writing Nightwing. My favorite part of the book though may have been Damian actually accidentally assisting Dick in putting the final pieces of this puzzle together and their banter back and forth.

Marvel – Captain Marvel #1 – After what happened on the Kree homeworld, Carol Danvers has donned a new costume and a new outlook on life. While helping Captain America battle The Absorbing Man though, Cap suggests that it’s time Carol changes her superhero name to something that fits her a bit more and pays respect to someone she clearly cared deeply about. This, Carol takes the mantle of the new Captain Marvel.

This was a good start to this new monthly. I’m not really sure how I feel about the new costume and haircut for Carol just yet, and the plain cover might turn some folks off, but once you crack this book open, you’ll be happy you did. The art inside is something special and its rare I’m this blown away more by the art than the writing of a book. Not to say the writing isn’t solid. Starting off with a B-level villain, but coming out of the gates with it, was a good move because Absorbing Man can be quickly dispatched and that allowed for plenty of time to develop Carol and her hesitation at taking the Captain Marvel moniker. Her banter/beating-up of Spider-Man briefly also added some necessary comedy relief to what was otherwise a very serious book. Good pacing, action, humor, and drama, all in the first issue, really shocked me and has made Captain Marvel a book I will at least be picking up a few issues of, if not making a permanent fixture in the Pullbox.

Marvel – Avengers Academy #33 – Emma Frost continues her tirade about why Juston’s Sentinel must be turned into scrap. And the entire Avengers Academy wants to fight her tooth and nail to stop that from happening. Has Emma become mad with power though or does she make a point about the Sentinel being an abomination? Either way, Juston doesn’t care and won’t stand for it!

This was an entertaining story arc from the first issue up to this conclusion. It subtly asks questions about artificial intelligence and what makes us human, while mixing it with a lot of over the top action and fighting between Emma and the Academy, even if the save at the end was a little weak. More importantly, this issue serves as a launching point for what could be the four most important issues in Avengers Academy history as things look to take a turn for the worst as this AvX event continues.

Boom Studios – Extermination #2 – Alien forces have invaded the Earth and its people have been utterly decimated. In order to survive, odd alliances have been made, most notably between a former superhero named Nox and a former supervillain named The Red Reaper. All does not seem lost though as the unlikely pair moves across the wasteland towards Nox’s secret lair for supplies, they are discovered by another band of survivors. Unfortunately, Nox and the leader of this rag tag band have a history and he’s having a tough time letting go of the past. 

The first issue was only $1 and it was an interesting concept that this Batman/Joker like team are forced to pair up in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies and other monsters that have destroyed everything they know and love. This second issue though was well worth the normal cover price as it completely blew me away. The relationship between Nox and Red Reaper is wonderful to see develop and Nox’s loyalty to his morals is admirable to a fault. The best part of the book so far has been the interspersed flashbacks showing us their world as it once was as they make off the cuff references to things that clearly no longer exist. I can’t wait to see where this book goes from here and being only two issues in, it shouldn’t be hard to find Issue 1 and get on board immediately, which I highly recommend. 

From the Shadow of the Bat

The first extended member of the Bat-Family in terms of crime fighters, Robin, the Boy Wonder, has been a comic staple for over 70 years, first appearing in 1940’s Detective Comics #38. The original lad who took that mantle though, Dick Grayson, has gone through many changes that fans of the DC Universe have been enjoying now for the past 25 years. In that time, he has worn the Batman mantle twice, but spent most of that time as his own crime fighter, ever evolving outside of Batman’s shadow, as Nightwing.

So, with Batman: Arkham City featuring Catwoman and Robin as playable challenge map characters, it would only make sense that the next member of the Bat-family to be featured would be the original sidekick for the Caped Crusader in the form of Grayson. But is he worth the $7 DLC price-tag (560 Microsoft Points) he comes with or should he simply retreat back to the shadows?

In the DLC, you get a pair of Nightwing costumes, one imagined for the Arkham City universe that features his better known black and blue look (the blue has since been changed to red in his most recent incarnation in the comics) and another based off his brief appearances in the last season of Batman: The Animated Series. You also get a pair of challenge maps, Main Hall and Wayne Manor, with one serving as a brawler challenge and the other serving as a stealth challenge. You also get the ability to use Nightwing in any other maps that come with the game or that you may have downloaded otherwise.

But, unfortunately, that’s it. Rocksteady didn’t even bother to record a voice over for the character so the load screen for each map is just Nightwing standing there, looking pretty ragged for a character who didn’t even make it into Arkham City’s story. At least Robin makes a brief appearance in the actual campaign. Not to mention that Dick Grayson, known for his quips during battle is dead silent because Rocksteady cut a corner with no voice actor there and yet Batman, who NEVER talks, starts every challenge map with a taunt. Very out of character for both Batman and Nightwing and a questionable move by the Rocksteady folks if you ask me.

Nightwing does handle solidly, yet still differently, when compared to the other characters in the game though. To make him feel special in a fight, Rocksteady made sure to focus a lot on his now signature Escrima Sticks that Dick mastered when he first took on the Nightwing mantle and became protector of Bludhaven as well as giving him a heavy MMA feel in terms of his takedowns like arm-bar submissions. He also has gadgets similar to Batman like the grappling hook and line launcher and some unique gadgets of his own, like a wrist mounted tranquilizer gun that stuns enemies on the brawler maps and knocks them out cold in the stealth maps. The tranquilizer gun only holds three shots for the entire stealth map though and doesn’t recharge, otherwise it would be too easy to work your way past the six thugs you have to take out. The Escrima Sticks have also been modified for the game so that they can act like the stun batons Batman faces in later parts of Arkham City. This gives him some interesting special moves with a lot of range as he can channel the electricity by crossing the sticks and stunning foes.

Despite his smooth handling though, the challenge maps are such a secondary feature to the game for me that to charge $7 for a character you don’t even see in the campaign is really disappointing. Now, if Nightwing had been given his own campaign missions or even could be used in the campaign, I think we’d have a different story on our hands. Or if the DLC was really cheap like one or two dollars. But the same goes for the Robin DLC that I got with the game; the campaign is the bread and butter of Batman: Arkham City and so something that adds nothing to that aspect of the game in any way just seems unnecessary to me, especially at the price that this content is listed as. And so unless you are a huge fan of the challenge maps and doing them over and over again, plus a huge fan of Batman’s history, then I really think overall that the Nightwing DLC for Batman: Arkham City is mediocre at best and unnecessary at worst considering its price tag.

SUMMARY: As wonderful and enthralling as Batman: Arkham City is, paying $7 for the two challenge maps and costumes in the Nightwing DLC is a rip-off.

  • THE GOOD: Another unique fighting style to use in the Arkham City challenge maps
  • THE BAD: Only two extra maps and no voice acting for the character
  • THE UGLY: Dick Grayson’s ragged haircut

SCORE: 5.0

There were a lot of issues that I wanted to put on my list this week, but then after reading them I was disappointed and had to fall back onto some old standbys to get me through. So as much as I like to mix it up and try to give a variety of monthlies and one-shots, I ended up picking the next issue in some series’ I’ve already featured because even though I grabbed a couple dozen comics this week, including a lot of DC #1’s, these are my five best overall stories.

1) DC – Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: So this one came a little out of left field for me because I haven’t been the staunchest of Red Hood supporters, but from the get-go this comic sucks you in with a lot of action, throws in some spectacular art of Starfire coming out of the ocean in the middle, and then leaves you with a cliffhanger mystery ending. This comic screams pick me up and I got to love a writer and artist who both agree that the best part of their first issue together was the above panel because it was my favorite as well. My friends and I several years ago came to the conclusion that the three hottest chicks in comics were She-Hulk, Mystique, and Starfire (no particular order) and this comic shows that we were at least correct on that last one for sure.  Seriously though, this comic has such awesome potential and the three characters are such stark contrasts to each other, but play so well together that every page written by Scott Lobdell was a joyous read and combine that with the great art by Kenneth Rocafort and I’m sold on Red Hood and the Outlaws. Only question will be, can they keep it up?

2) DC – Nightwing #1: I think part of the reason why I disliked Dick Grayson so much as Batman was that it stepped out of character for him too much. He was trying to be Bruce Wayne and fill that shadow and just when he might have been starting to turn that corner, he goes back to being Nightwing. After reading this comic though by Kyle Higgins, I can say without a doubt that was where he should always have been. Dick is back to being the jovial, do things his way, screw up with a smile and Higgins’ writing pulls it off as if the character never missed a beat and there was never that year when he was Batman. I also like the prospect of new villains being introduced as it can help Dick to become his own character again much like when he first took the Nightwing mantle. Also loving the Batman Beyond-esque red logo to show that the character has changed somewhat from his time as Batman. Definitely a must pick up as in terms of the Bat-family, it feels like things are starting to get back to normal.

3) Marvel – Uncanny X-Men #543 (Fear Itself Tie-In) – I don’t think there was any way I could not feature this issue after reading it. Colossus has taken the power of Cyttorak away from the Juggernaut, with help from his sister Illyana, in an attempt to weaken the Juggernaut enough in the hopes that fighting magic with magic will be enough to save San Francisco. How Colossus describes his mindset once he is empowered by Cyttorak gives brand new insight into both his character as well as that of the Juggernaut’s after so many years and to see Colossus, the X-Men’s gentle giant some would say (or at least powerhouse), so easily bent to the will of Cyttorak and his hunger for chaos is a sight to behold. This also opens up so many new paths for Colossus and Juggernaut as characters once Fear Itself ends that we could really see the X-Men turned even more on their head with Schism wrapping up soon as well. Once again, this is proof positive why any comics featuring the X-Men are must reads if you’re a Marvel fan.

4) Marvel – Heroes for Hire #12 – I’m going to admit it was a toss-up between this and Daredevil this week as my second Marvel title. I’ll probably get to him next month, but I wanted to feature Heroes for Hire because I feel it’s a book that isn’t getting a lot of love, but is a lot of fun to read. You never know what heroes are going to show up and it offers Marvel a chance to feature several heroes who may have become buried in recent years due to all the major events going on. For example, this issue features Stingray and Silver Sable. Next month though could feature Spider-Man and Big Bertha or Punisher and Squirrel Girl for all we know. And the same goes for villains as it’s also already featured Fantastic Four classic villain Puppet Master in its opening arc. It’s this unpredictability combined with the solid writing to work all these characters in to make this a worthwhile read. And since next issue will be the Fear Itself tie-in, I feel this a good standalone issue to jump onto the series bandwagon if you haven’t already.

5) IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 – Again, there were some other indie comics that caught my eye this week including some Star Wars titles, but the best book I picked up hands down was the next issue in the new TMNT. We see Raph’s legendary friendship with Casey Jones begin to develop as well as via flashback see how Hob the Cat and the Turtles all mutated. The flashbacks interestingly enough also foreshadowed the appearance of the Foot Clan at some point down the line. We also learn that Raph is suffering from amnesia, and although we can speculate why from the flashbacks, not everything may be as it seems as the other turtles are continuing to look for their lost and wandering brother. I’m really loving the old school art and hard lines seen in most panels and seeing the turtles in their old school universal red bandanas still brings a smile to my face as most people from my generation think of them in the more widely recognized purple, blue, orange, and red that were used to differentiate them beyond just their weapons and fighting styles and you know this move to go old-school has Kevin Eastman written all over it. Any child of the 80s must pick up this book, period.