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Gaming's greatest failure

Opinion: The end of level boss is lagging behind, says Tom Pakinkis

"Ah, Sonic! I see you've survived my devilishly designed level!"

"That's right Robotnik: I jumped over your spike pits, I negotiated your moving platforms, I even ploughed my trainers into the skulls of your so called friends!"

"All mere foreplay my hoggish foe, for now you face the power of Dr. Robotnik and, as a result, your doom!"

"And what exactly, makes you so sure of victory?"

"Allow me to divulge my tactics you blue buzzard - Not that it'll do you much good: First I shall fire three projectiles in your general direction from your right. You will barely be able to stand against such a barrage of pain, let alone attack me. Then, should you survive that, I will gently hover to your left, admittedly leaving myself vulnerable for a time but all the while preparing three more projectiles with which to finish you off."

"And if I jump on you while you're hovering?"

"Then I will surely combust after no more than six strikes from your bouncy behind, but that will not..."

"Seriously? That's all you've got? Three canon shots, an obvious window of opportunity and repeat?"

"Of course! We end of level bosses have been doing it for years."

"Yeah and you've been losing for years."

"But Bowser said... *sigh* Touché."

I cracked open Batman Arkham Asylum for another play-through last night after an unprovoked surge of excitement for Rocksteady's follow up Arkham City. I thought I'd better give the old cape an airing, brush up on some of that free-flowing combat, make sure my batty mind was as sharp as ever.

If nothing else I just wanted to jump back into one of the best action games I've played for years, nevermind its credentials compared to the rest of the catalogue of mostly crap superhero video games.

It's such a smart game in so many ways. Every mechanic is geared to making you feel like The Bat but none more than the Predator system which gives you the opportunity to craft a string of glorious punishment across a tailored arena against a group of thugs that never saw it coming.

It lets you recreate the combos, flying kicks and brutal concussions of the comics and movies that have, until now, been so hard to replicate convincingly in an interactive form.

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If you ask the guys at Rocksteady how they got Batman so right, they'll tell you it's because they built a game around the Dark Knight - they didn't wrap Batman around a video game.

But Arkham Asylum's boss battles are built upon gaming's biggest cliché - that tired, nonsensical cycle of making the player defend against an AI attack until an all too obvious opening in their opponent's defence reveals itself - and all of a sudden the whole experience looks a bit dumber.

Take the final Arkham Asylum fight with The Joker, for example - not that any of them are really that different - A monstrous, venom deformed Joker stands on top of a an annex roof and send his goons to fight Batman while he throws explosives into the mix as well. This is the 12 foot, monster Joker who was only seconds ago throwing Batman around like a doll. That was working just fine, but no, better go with something a bit more creative and pointless.

When Bats has completely cleared out the henchmen it's just the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince left face to face again. You'd think that's when The Joker would start paying a bit more attention to the situation, maybe get down there himself and end the formalities with a massive fist to the Bat-ear.

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