158 "A Devoted Fan"
January 27, 2013

If my heart has ever known the feeling that is love, it was thanks to Arkham City. I recently finished my third play-through and intend at least one more. I've spent probably an embarrassing number of hours just playing the combat challenges. I could probably write a lengthy post describing the various elements of the combat system and their various uses. I'd go on to tell you that the combat gives you reasonably free reign to fight creatively, all the while looking and feeling consistently smooth and badass. I'd point out that with good timing, an attentive player could finish any battle without taking a single hit.

In fact, I'd say that the only thing that I dislike about the combat system--the one factor that makes me sad--is that the game gives you all of these great tools, but it's just way too easy to ignore a vast majority of them. It's a versatile combat system that doesn't necessitate much variation in its execution. Any non-boss fight can be won without the use of gadgets or special takedown moves, which takes over half of your possible attack options at any given time out of the equation.

It's kind of a silly thing to be bummed about, though. The fact that the combat CAN be simple makes it more approachable as well as more forgiving as you ease yourself into more advanced tactics. But the reason why it gets me down is because it makes it difficult to appreciate all the tools it gives you, when simply sticking to strike, counter, and stun commands is essentially as effective; using anything else kind of feels like self-imposed difficulty most of the time. In fact, I rarely use the explosive gel in particular, simply because I just haven't gotten the hang of throwing it into a seamless combo. That isn't to say the other attacks don't have their uses at all--once you get comfortable with them, it can make battles much easier. You can use the disarm ability to permanently take a gun out of a fight. You can use a batarang to blow up the gas cananister an enemy across the room is going to throw at you, causing it to explode. The stun gun will send an armored guard flying backward, knocking down anyone behind him, which you can follow up with a multi-ground takedown to finish off anyone on the ground, potentially taking out a group of thugs (the most I've gotten with this attack is 6 thugs at once). Still, all of these scenarios can also be solved by pressing the punch button. Well, except for the armored guard, who you'd need to stun before you can punch. Basically, the downside is that I can completely understand why someone wouldn't appreciate the combat system to the extent that I do. There's no one I talk to who can empathize with me on this, and that's a bummer, man.

Anyways, enough gushing about the fighting. The rest of the game is pretty good, too. If you haven't played either of the Arkham games, I give them my full recommendation, because they're both great games, and excellent Batman games.

And now classes start again tomorrow. Hopefully everyone managed to squeeze some enjoyment out of their break, because it feels like it came and went in the blink of an eye.