Tag Archive: Solomon Grundy


Injustice gets the all-star treatment

When Injustice: Gods Among Us came around for the first time seven months ago, it was hard for me—being the huge DC fanatic that I am—to not immediately fall in love. Not only was it a fantastic fighter that built on developer NetherRealm’s success with the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, but it also delivered a story that made perfect sense for the DC Universe, providing plenty of the comic-style moments I’ve always wanted to see in a game like this.

But, looking back, I now realize that first version of Injustice was incomplete. Six new fighters, 60 STAR Labs missions, and a cornucopia of alternate costumes would come later via DLC, but you needed to shell out a few extra dollars for it. Until now.

Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition puts all that extra content on the same disc as the original game. Now, if you’ve already bought the DLC separately, you’re probably kicking yourself—as is often the case when Game of the Year, Ultimate, Ultra, or whatever fancy word you want to slap on a game to signify “the entire package”, finally comes out. Especially since there’s really nothing else on this disc besides the DLC. No new modes or characters, and only a single new costume (Black Adam’s “New 52”, exclusive to the PS4 version). So, I admit that the appeal for original buyers is lacking.

But if you haven’t played Injustice yet, this is also the perfect time to experience what you missed the first time around. Since the game includes several elements from Mortal Kombat, fighting-game fans should quickly pick up on the power meter, the Clash system, and the STAR Labs tribute to MK’s Challenge Tower. The game handles as tightly as it did before, and its unique two-lifebar system is still a fresh addition to a somewhat stale genre. I specifically went out of my way, however, to see if the next-gen version of the game was any different than its current-gen counterpart.

As with most next-gen titles, all the visuals look slightly better than on the current-gen incarnation. In story mode, though, it seems that High Voltage’s scaling/remastering for the PS4 version was a little sloppy. Longer cutscenes—specifically the ones in between chapters—have clearly noticeable lag and screen tearing.

Story mode also takes advantage of the PS4’s touchpad. While it’s optional—you can use button presses just like in the current-gen versions—the touchpad can be utilized in the various minigames that crop up during the narrative. Though I personally still prefer button presses, I found the touchpad to be surprisingly responsive and accurate while adding a degree of freshness and challenge to something familiar.

Not surprising—but very welcome—is the huge cutdown on load times. You could go make a sandwich while bouts loaded on current-gen, but on the PS4, the process is far faster, which is great if you can’t wait to get back into the action.

Something that did shock me a little was how unbalanced some of the DLC characters still felt. It’s not atypical for a DLC character in a fighting game to be a bit off-kilter when they’re first released into the wild, but patches usually fix what couldn’t have been anticipated during testing. Several of the six newcomers felt just a bit off, and I’d either have extra trouble fighting against these foes or an easier time fighting with them—at this point, I’d figured this would’ve been corrected already.

Despite these minor issues, at its core, Injustice: Gods Among Us is still one of the best fighting games you’re likely to get your hands on. Ultimate Edition simply makes whole what we should’ve gotten in the first place. There’s not much here for original Season Pass holders, but newcomers and folks dying to play something on their PS4s won’t be disappointed.

Developer: NetherRealm Studis/High Voltage Software • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 11.15.13
9.5
All the DLC of the original—including costumes and more STAR Labs missions—plus a little nex-gen shine makes a great fighting game even better.
The Good All the DLC of the original game on one disc.
The Bad Could use a bit more balancing.
The Ugly It’s still Solomon Grundy.
Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4.
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A load of Killer Croc

Batman’s seen so many great representations in different mediums over the past couple of decades, whether it’s animation, movies, or videogames—so it absolutely boggles my mind when someone utterly fails to capture the essence of the Dark Knight. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is such an awful depiction of the Caped Crusader, however, that I had to wonder whether Armature had even heard of Batman before being tasked with making this game.

Set several months after the events of the console Arkham Origins, Blackgate sees Batman infiltrating Blackgate Prison—again—in order to quell a riot. Three of Batman’s most notorious foes are at the head of all the chaos, and they’ve divided the prison up into sections that their respective gangs control. Batman must defeat them all if he hopes to save the hostages kept in the prison’s Arkham wing.

Aiding Batman is Catwoman, whom he apprehended a couple of weeks prior to the riot. In exchange for her assistance, Batman will put in a good word for her to be moved to more “accommodating” quarters, since supposedly a fragile thief like her could be torn apart in a place like Blackgate. Batman must unlock new abilities and gadgets to help him traverse the different security systems and hazards of the now-dilapidated prison, often backtracking frequently to do so.

And sure—this sounds like the makings of a decent Batman game. The prologue level that revolves around catching Catwoman at an abandoned construction site gave me high hopes that this would be the Batman game we never knew we wanted on handhelds. But as soon as you set foot on the prison grounds, the game takes a serious nosedive. When I sat down to write this review, two words kept coming into my mind to best describe Blackgate: broken and boring.

The first major flaw? Armature tried to develop the game as a Metroidvania within the confines of the story. As we all know, Batman is never without his gadgets and his utility belt, and he goes to Blackgate of his own volition after being called by Commissioner Gordon. Yet, right from the get-go, all he has are Batarangs. No rhyme or reason—just to stay within the parameters of what defines Metroidvanias as a genre.

Someone who actually knows the character would’ve set up the story so to have Batman kidnapped and dragged to Blackgate against his will. Since we’re talking about a young Batman here, he wouldn’t have all the safeguards in his utility belt to prevent it from being forcibly removed. Batman shouldn’t randomly find a Batclaw in a container—like he does in Blackgate—just because he forgot his other one at home. Breaking the character’s basic traits to fit the genre you want your game to be is not forgivable.

Speaking of breaking character, Catwoman’s always played both sides of the fence in Batman lore, but she fills the role of Oracle/Alfred in this game—again, for no apparent reason. Catwoman doesn’t need Batman to break her out of prison, and she doesn’t really need to help Batman. After what happened in Origins, Batman should know Blackgate like the back of his hand. If he does need help, though, did Batman give Alfred the night off? Were his shows on again? Yes, I could definitely imagine Alfred curling up with a cup of Earl Grey and catching up on Downton Abbey instead of manning the Batcomputer!

The story isn’t the only element that’s broken, though. The game itself, from a technical standpoint, is as glitchy as it gets: items flickering in and out of existence, Batman getting caught on invisible walls, or falling through the floor to oblivion (or a checkpoint reload). At one point, I actually glitched through a wall and into a hidden compartment that had an armor upgrade I shouldn’t have been able to get to at that point. I was lucky I could backtrack with the gadgets I had—otherwise, I might’ve had to start over completely.

And if I had to start over, I might’ve just chalked this game up as a lost cause (more so than I already do). If I had to stare at another gray, bland, repeated prison wall, I’d have broken my Vita. The only good-looking aspect of the game is the comic-style cutscenes.

You can forgive the look of a game to an extent if it’s at least fun to play. But with Blackgate, the combat system that has made the Arkham games great is almost completely nonexistent. You can’t quickfire any gadgets, and you don’t even need to counter most of the time, since you’ll rarely encounter more than three of four guys in a room at once. Sometimes—almost like an early-’90s side-scrolling arcade game—a couple more will crawl out of the background when the first group’s been dispatched, but never will there be more than a few fightable enemies onscreen at any given moment.

Detective mode was also a pain in my cowl. I don’t mind having to tap the touchscreen to turn it on—it actually helped deter me from wanting to stay in Detective mode and served as a unique fix to a persistent problem with the series. But I did mind having to keep my finger on the screen to actually scan or look for things because it prevented me from freely interacting with the environment while I was in the mode. I had to move, enter Detective mode, scan, find I was out of range, turn the mode off, move to a better position, re-scan, turn the mode off, then interact. Just let me scan things automatically—no one wants their thumbs off the sticks for that long!

At least the boss fights provide much-needed variety. New characters to the Arkhamverse like Bronze Tiger actually make you work for your wins, since they’re more or less the only time you need to utilize multiple gadgets or techniques. And even though we’ve seen most of Batman’s gadgets before, the one new addition—an explosive-gel launcher—was something I’d like to see on consoles at some point. It reminded me a lot of a grenade launcher, and it could be used in a lot of ingenious ways in both combat and puzzle-solving.

Some decent boss fights aren’t enough to save this game, though. Never before have I been so disappointed in a Batman-inspired property. Plus, this is also one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of a Metroidvania, since the backtracking and gadget-finding is kept to a bare minimum. Broken, boring, and just plain bad, everyone should steer clear of this as though you had chiroptophobia (fear of bats).

Developer: Armature Studio • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.25.13
3.0
A waste of potential, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a broken, boring game and a stain on the Metroidvania genre. Its positives are few and far between, buried under a mountain of glitches, tedious gameplay, and poor level design.
The Good Comic-style cutscenes look great.
The Bad One of the worst Metroidvanias you’ll ever play.
The Ugly All of Blackgate Prison—and its single shade of gray.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is available on Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was for PS Vita.

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.