''Welcome to the madhouse!''
Is a line that perfectly sums up the experience of Batman Arkhum asylum. From the medical ward to botanical gardens, The sewers to the Cliff sides, its been a long wait, but i finally got my hands on the game after fearing it would be just another washed up, money grabbing plan to cash in from the recent crazer on some of our favorite heroes.
I was wrong.
I picked this up recently after building my new PC, and after a good 3 hours of fiddling with the Games for Windows Live (Which is annoyingly required to play it!) I finally got it running. And with the lengthy introduction and cutscene out of the way, i delved into what became a 15 hour story (If you decide to explore aswell like i did) full of old batman villains, and some nods to people who may read the comics.
Now, while the screenshots from the console versions looked very shiny and nice. Alot of third person adventure games that are released on console, from my experience tend to be ports to the PC. Which can vary in quality from fantastic, to terrible, depending on how well they map the control options and such. Luckily, the game runs fantastically on PC. Especially if you're running off at least a semi decent rig.
The game looks fantastic, paired with great animations (Apart from somewhat stiff conversations with guards, which is rare.) and a lush and varied setting. The game doesen't topple the graphical giants such as Crysis, or Farcry, but it does what it needs too, and does it well.
Small things like damage that appears on batmans suit (Which, by the end of the game, really makes it look like he's been through hell!) or slow motion knock outs make it feel gritty, but still batman.
The only major nit-pick i had with the presentation of the game, was the lack of variation on the texture of the enemies. However this was barely noticable, and rarely do you fight 2 of the same.
When the game was announced, they promised to bring the batman from the comics to games, more than just a super fighter. Detective skills, stealth and combat all play a major part in the game, which vary from 'stalker' style rooms, where you must clear the rooms of enemies before moving on, using creative moves to stealth defeat the enemies (Such as hanging them by the feet from gargoyles, or pulling them off railings using the batclaw) to following trails left by the alcahol of someone you're chasing. And the game manages to spread these apart to keep it fresh.
The game also manages to bring the batman ethos of 'Never kill'. Infact, you don't kill anyone in the entire game. Combat renders people unconscious, pulling them into holes will result in satisfying splashes, the game actually restricts youp from doing things like throwing thugs into deadly electric pools, which while slightly questionable, helps bring it all together.
The game introduces an upgrade system, in which you can upgrade gadgets, or the batsuit, for example, allowing you to throw 3 batarangs, or quickly hack into computers and so on by using experience gained in fights, or by solving the riddlers riddles. And while the layout confused me at first, it quickly became simple and easy.
The boss battles are, for the most part, fun, and well paced. While one or two seemed slightly longer than need be (The battle with Croc, for example) they were good fun and took place all over the island, usually requiring creative use of the Batarangs. The best boss battles are however, the clashes with Scarecrow, which are surreal and almost disturbing, but fun.
The game is loosly based of a comic, but apart from that, its a mostly original story which helps bring batmans comic persona into the game world, as opposed to the much more hollywood like character from the films (Which still remained loyal, but batman games never nailed it up until now.)
The game follows a simple premise, where the joker (Who was captured in the introduction sequence) is taken to arkham after allowing himself be caught, batman, being suspicious, follows him into the asylum, but all hell breaks loose as its revealed to be a plan by the joker to take over arkham. With appearances from bane, Harley Quinn, Ivy and Killer croc (And more) the game introduces the characters well.
The game sticks to the batman lore well, with the as mentioned above no killing, or familiar gadgets, or even the old style bat-mobile. And while i was dissapointed with no appearance of 2face, its hard to complain at the cast of the game. Aswell as fantastic voice acting (With talens such as mark hamill, where could you go wrong?)
The only nag i have is to question when the game is set, due to Burce wayne now apparently being dead in the comics (or at least, out of action) and replaced by the original robin as batman!
On the whole the game manages to nail the batman ethos in a game. And with fantastic presentation, good pacing, refreshing boss battles and great controles (For the pc version at least) its hard to think of a comic fan, or a third person adventure fan who shouldn't play this game! Go.. buy it.. Now!
Yes, this is a music review. There, you've been warned.
Also note, this was written in quite a few different bursts, so it may kinda jump and skip a bit. But eh. Shoudl get the points across.
Alice in chains, The heavy metal grungers that erupted in the early 90's representing the harder side of seattles scene in comparison to the much more punk like Nirvana. And against all odds seemed to have come back from the ashes to release their new album, Black gives way to blue. This was my chinese democracy, being the massive alice in chains fan I am.
When i first heard the album was announced, i had the same opinion as many other fans did. ''They're replacing layne!?'' Layne being their singer who died in 2002 after years of suffering from drug addictions. And while thats when they officialy disbanded, the band had not released an album since 1995 when they released their Self titled.
So until they released their first single, a looking in view, i wasn't that excited. But boy, was I wrong. William DuVall (Singer of Comes with the Fall) does a good job of becoming part of the band, without looking like he's trying to rip off and replace layne. And after reading interviews, my worries were put aside when i heard he was more than just a random replacement, and had infact known Jerry, and layne previous to his death.
So with the release of the album, i quickly gave it a listen. Almost worried it would not live up to my sky high expectations. And it did. Infact, it surpassed them. It isn't another dirt (The 1992, generally considered their best album) but it still holds up well to their material. With the signature droning guitars and harmonized vocals.
The album adresses the issues of respecting, and moving on from the passing of their friend, which had greifed the band members even up to when it they were recording (Jerry cantrell had 3 weeks of terrible migrains due to the stress of bringing up memories during the recording.) and i feel it does a service.
While William DuVall does not have the same signature voice of layne staley, he does well to at least keep the feeling. And this seperated this album from sounding like another Jerry Cantrell solo album (Which isn't a bad thing, his second album is one of my top albums of all time.)
It's heavy, its grimy, and its alice in chains. Even with a new singer the band manages to retain its signature sound with a new spin. Layne would be proud, and i think, so should their fans.
Because i dont.
Yes, thats right kids, its that time again for taofires boring babble about stuff this time its a discussion on what the internet needs.
I ask you this for a reason. That reason is that im not in college at the minute and still looking for a job, and thus have alot of free time on my hands between searching. So im looking into developing some form of an internet community, or website, or some sort of business (maybe.) online! And i got the idea from watching a Chris Pirillo video, here it is!
Obviously thats slightly more specialized about 'how to make money' online, but you can't complain about that. So theres lots of stuff people can do, the internet is your oyster as it were. People blog for money, people advertise, you can sell things on ebay. But, as chris said in another video, you can also be extremely imaginative, yet disturbed. As chris set up www.rentmychest.com, in which he explains how he made a site to rent space or links and so on, on his chest. (the background image is down for some reason.)
Theres lots of way. The CAD artist Tim Buckley makes enough money for it to constitute a full time job. Im an artist so thats advertising to me. Ofcourse he does alot of work, not just the comic. He does gatherings, material comic books and all that stuff. And as chris said, you get out what you put in.
But off the money topic. What sort of websites does the internet need? Theres plenty of flash game websites, theres plenty of game reviewing websites, theres plenty of lots of stuff! but what sort of unique ideas can people come up with? There must be some sort of stuff the internet has a gap with the market in?
The whole 'sell advice for cash' is a pretty cool idea infact, while some people such as myself are pretty much useless at accounting or other such things, theres always something some people can do. Artistic, scientific, fictional. Hell you could proof read papers or whatever!
Blogging and community sites are another option. The www.facebook.com community was made by a guy sitting at his computer at university and it spread around his campus, and then to his county and so on. Social networking seems to be a big money gap but its quickly been filled by things like bebo, myspace, facebook, twitter and so on.
So, opinion? share, go go go!
Im gunna let loose another session of brain leakage. It was originally gunna be a serious topic, but its a bit of a scramble and rush of random words tossed into semi coherent sentances now.
This time, im going to ramble on about something that seems to plague movies and games nowadays, usually for awesome stuff, but still too much for alot of stuff. The kind of stuff that would push humanity to the egde, Nuclear war, robot invasions, sickness out breaks, meteors! All sorts of things, which have churned out fantastic stuff like Survivors, Fallout, Terminator, left 4 dead to name a few.
I saw a tv show a few months ago that was on during my nocturnal lifestyle, airing at the erly hours of the morning when most had been asleep for a good few hours. It was about what would happen if, in this example, there was some form of global event like meteors. There were a group of people that had to come up with a 'new world order' as it were, and discusses governments, religion and the like. Which kept me awake for a good hour or so.
It was something worth thinking about, ofcourse being a gamer and a rather large fan of the epic stories such as Fallout or films and games in general where humans are pushed to their limits. I'd thought about this all before, mostly in a humerous fashion. It would greatly depend on the situation really.. So.. lets get started?
We've all seen zombie films, from Dawn of the dead, to Shaun of the dead. But what would happen if the brain obsessed bastards were to pop up? Really? if you were lucky enough to somehow be one of the lone 7 or so who never get bitten. And if you happen to fit into the usual crowd. The tough guy who always dies, the desperate guy, the doctor, the one who has family problems, the war veteran, and then the generic red coats. Ofcourse if you dont fit into any of those descriptios you'll join the generic hordes.
Games like left 4 dead give people the impression of the 'RUN OR SHOOT' mentallity, ofcourse unlike Resident evil 5, you could do both. But in reality.. are you really going to have a shotgun? No, you're more likely to be the guy huddled into a corner with a baseball bat and 'swinging for the head!', really the shaun of the dead impression all over. Run to the pub, shut the door and enjoy what possibly would be your last days on earth. You're probably screwed, unless ofcourse, the military just happen to come and save you at the last moment.. but really, how likely is that?
Now, dispite the fact we pretty much know every asteroid thats likely to go near earth.. one always seems to get to that point where we have to scramble a crack team of oil drillers to fly up and blow it up. Dispite this being obviously what we'd do, the slight scientific problem is that if we dont see it coming from a long way away, by the time we see it.. its probably already blinded you from the force of the impact.
But no, we'll fire nukes at the thing, which once again doesent really work scentifically due to the fact its like throwing a small rock at a charging rhino. The whle 'splitting it in two' theory isn't as easy as it may seem either.. The size of the hole in armageddon after all, was.. lets put it this way. The size of the meteor, and the size of the whole they dug to drop the bomb in.. well imagine a football pitch. Get a blade of grass and lay it down on its side. Thats pretty much how deep the hole was in. The firecracker example kinda screws up now aswell eh?
So lets look at survivors, the TV show made by the BBC in the 70's/80's and recently was awarded a suprisingly satisfying sequel. Now.. i'm not an expert with things like the outbreak rate of virus's, i know all the school stuff about how the plague killed so many people and all that boring stuff. But really, this is a rather decent example. Apart from falling once again into the zombie situation. They've got a badass prisoner, a caring loving mother, a guy out of his element, and then some average people.
But they do manage to nail the whole idea of actually having to find supplies, and focus on the fact that people wouldn't be as ...civilized? as before. It'd probably break out into a war of survival, who can find water, supplies, a shelter could probably survive long enough for ...well what? Re-population? I dont know. Ofcourse, the goverment tried to keep control in the show.. which really didn't go very well. But oh well, really it seemed like everyone and their grandmother survived in it, with so many 'pockets' of survivors every mile its a tad over the top.
Ah yes. The big one! When humanity for some reason or the other loses all sense of self survival and for some reason or the other decides they should start hurling explosives around big enough to take out the bigger portion of a county, who're the ones who have to bear the consequences? Its the civilians. No no, the goverment and people who decided to fire are all snug down in there shelters, but unlike them, you'll be tossed into the wasteland and forced to survive.
Ofcourse im going on the Fallout example.. because.. well because i love that game! So, you've been one of the lucky people not to be entirely owned b having a bomb on your head, welldone! What now? You probably can't find much food, the water is probably highly irradiated. (Correct me if im wrong, im going on fallout logic!) so what do you do? Go underground? Or what? No idea. I'd just panick and run into the nearest grocery store to hide!
Meh i went off on a bit of a tangent and stuff, but its all in good fun. and im bored, so i'll probably do another blog! but yeah, post away or whatever, don't take it seriously.. apart from the de-bunking of the meteor stuff beause thats all true, heard it from an astronomy lecturer online! Everything on the internet is true etc.
Thats right, i actually just quoted Heroes for a blog post. But im on a more serious note today, which makes a rather big change to my usual un-wse ramblings which i seem to vomit forth on a daily basis on these forums.
So yes, the above quote is somewhat relevant on the topic ive been thinking about the last few days, after watching a number of videos on the 'science of super heroes', which was somewhat inspired by the UK airing of Heroes. Not so much just super heroes, but the human limitations, or somewhat 'supernatural'. I'll link the videos as necessary through this insatiable rambling.
Some 'super hero' powers, have somewhat more of a scientific basis than others. Some, are near enough pure fiction with very little (if any) science or support behind it. Others have somewhat more evidence, not entirely scientific, but at least some more theorised ..stuff. Things such as 'energy', or 'Qi/Ki/Chi.' is a little more researched or done than things such as setting things on fire with nothing but your mind.
The whole 'body energy' idea is not simply located in the realms of things like Dragonball Z, or naruto. The idea of an internal energy is used alot in Chinese mythology, and has been researched in many places, such as this article below, in which a monk entered a state of meditation.
You'll notice the monk is wearing nothing, but the man measuring his vital signs is wearing somewhat warmer clothing, this is because they're in a cooling room.Which is at a rather chilly 4C, (bout 40 F'.)
Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49 degrees) and placed them over the meditators' shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.
If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.
ofcourse, there are other powers like Levitation, or flight. Which is slowly edging more so to the realm of fiction, but still there are many logs of human levitation, such as this:
Thats not the only image to do with the idea, on the article they present 4 images from a full surrounding view, these were taken in 1884. And thus are out of the limits of Photoshop or simple editing. Does that make it true? no, ofcourse not, it does however make for an interesting read, even if you're an entirely logic based thinker. Original article is linked at the bottom of the blog.
Now, those are both religious examples. Alot of theories go on the basis of 'The human is using one tenth of his brain power' or whatever the base figures are, ofcourse that theory isnt the most logical idea in the world, why would using the brain cause super-natural abilities? instead of simply making us ...genius's? Some people go on the theory that the human brain and body uses electrical currents and pulses (Ofcourse, rather weak.) and thus could theoretically harness it somewhat, thats yet to be proved in any way.
But then again, take a look at modern astronomy, or what it was a few hundred years ago. Humanity considered its self to be at the center of the universe, we thought the earth was a few thousands of years old. It wasn't just a theory it was accepted in christian society as being completely correct. Great minds have somewhat altered that belief, Einstein, Darwin both (As two of the better known ones) changed how we see ourselves on a global and galactic scale respectively.
Super human strength is somewhat more down to earth, Not on the scale of the Hulk, ofcourse no human could punch away meteors or anything of that scale. But the whole 'You wont like me when im Mangry!' is somewhat true, when a person gets angry, or worried, their body created Adrenaline. Mothers have been noted to lift cars to save children stuck under them, some martial arts note this down to the 'inner body energy' and unleashing it, others use this example. Either way, humans strength can change due to chemicals or other reactions being introduced into the blood stream.
Chemicals, thats an interesting idea to carry on this trail of brain poop. Adrenaline is just one chemical, and it can have astounding effects. So what if science was to introduce or develop other chemicals which had similair or other effects, maybe reaction speed? (I dont know the science behind human reaction speed, btw.) Or healing rates? Rapid cell regeneration? Would it be ethically wrong to introduce new chemicals to do this? Could evolution develop these chemicals? Well, probably not, thats not how evolution works really. But it still burdens thinking about. The human body COULD adapt to speed up the healing process, fascinating stuff really.
On a slight tangent in which im going to bitch slap the logic behind Spider man. Spider sense more so, what the hell? Spiders dont have some sort of super speed, or reactions (Which spider man has taken from his many legged friends.) They have hairs over their body, peter parker is not a yeti man. And have you ever seen spiders walk? they arent exactly that fast. And in comparison to other insects or Arachnids (Spelling?) they arent amazingly strong either! (Comparison to ants.)
So weather its down to science, religion or whatever other theories, whats everyone's opinions on this sort of stuff? Im not religious, im more agnostic leaning towards science, but as i said above, there is some scientific stuff that can back these things such as super strength and so on. I'd love to believe humans can have these sorts of powers.. and im gunna startdoing some more research into the whole genetic stuff that could maybe grant some of these ideas, mostly from curiosity.
There are of course other examples of humans with super natural abilities. Excuse the lack of names, i saw these on a BBC show a while back. There was a blind man who could draw extremely intricate(SP?) buildings just by a touch, there was a young man who could replicate songs and music by hearing the once, not simple songs, im talking complex piano peices. All sorts, and its intresting to read up on.
Im a huge comic nerd, so its all pretty interesting. So i'll leave you with a Mohinder quote which is pretty coolio!
Mohinder Suresh: Man is a narcissistic species by nature. We have colonized the four corners of our tiny planet. But we are not the pinnacle of so-called evolution. That honor belongs to the lowly cockroach. Capable of living for months without food. Remaining alive headless for weeks at a time. Resistant to radiation. If God has indeed created Himself in His own image, then I submit to you that God is a cockroach. They say that man uses only a tenth of his brain power. Another percent, and we might actually be worthy of God's image. Unless, of course, that day has already arrived. The Human Genome Project has discovered that tiny variations in man's genetic code are taking place at increasingly rapid rates. Teleportation, levitation, tissue re-generation. Is this outside the realm of possibility? Or is man entering a new gateway to evolution? Is he finally standing at the threshold to true human potential?
Opinions? Share etc
Monks drying sheets in cold rooms and staying warm: http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/04.18/09-tummo.html
Post away, suggestions for more plogs/articles are welcome.