By: Jeb Haught
DEVELOPER: WB Games Montreal
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros.
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
It’s no secret that the recent Batman reboot is the most successful and well-made superhero game series to date. Not only are these titles extremely fun to play, but they’re also highly imaginative and filled with hidden content. Yet, although the third game in the series, “Batman: Arkham Origins,” faithfully follows the concepts presented in the prequels, it doesn’t offer many new ideas.
When the nefarious villain, Black Mask, escapes from prison, it’s up to Batman to bring him to justice. However, Black Mask has grown tired of the caped crusader’s interloping, so he puts a rather large bounty the bat’s head. Eight well-known assassins, including Killer Croc, Bane and Deathstroke, answer the call, making Batman’s job more dangerous than ever.
Although this game is a prequel, Batman still uses familiar gadgets and beats down opponents with free-flow combat. It’s kind of odd to see the young superhero utilize advanced moves and items not found in previous games (confused yet?). For example, the Tesla-inspired Shock Gloves easily penetrate the defenses of most enemies, so why wouldn’t they become a permanent armament?
Other new gadgets include the blinding Concussion Detonator, the EMP-releasing Disruptor and the handy Glue Gun. It’s great fun to combine these cool devices with Batman’s flowing combat in order to take out large groups of enemies! When more advanced adversaries — like armored enforcers, venom users and martial artists — enter the arena, these new gadgets become necessary for victory.
Exploring new sections of Gotham is interesting at first, but the lack of civilians makes it seem like a ghost town. I appreciate the option to stop random crimes in progress, but that usually ends up as little more than fighting a group of enemies. Thankfully, optional hidden missions, which include taking down Gotham’s Most Wanted criminals like Anarky and Penguin, add needed variety.
“Batman: Arkham Origins” is fun and exciting, but it lacks originality.
DEVELOPER: David Pittman
PUBLISHER: Minor Key Games
SYSTEM: Windows PC
PRICE: $14.99 Download
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
I’m immediately intrigued any time I see a game that’s inspired by the well-known author of horror, H.P. Lovecraft. The fact that the first-person action title, “Eldritch,” eschews modern game design in favor of randomly generated levels and semi-permanent deaths also piques my interest.
Players take on the role of an adventurer who can’t seem to remember why they’re locked in a library. But this isn’t just any library; it’s a labyrinth. Reading certain ancient books allows the player to enter strange worlds full of insidious creatures ripped from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, and this is the only way to actually escape the library.
What becomes immediately apparent when the game begins, is the old-school, blocky 3D visuals and monotone color palettes that are bereft of detail. However, this adds a certain bit of charm to the game and lets players focus on the intricate game play. It’s also humorous to slay enemies that resemble stuffed animal versions of deadly creatures.
Fighting enemies is simplistic at first because of weak enemies and a plethora of ammunition. Fortunately, the game play becomes much deeper in the second book of levels. This is when the game becomes more tactical, and using stealth to sneak up on enemies for a silent takedown is more preferable to fighting them head-on. The third book of levels and the final showdown are even more challenging!
Stealth isn’t the only advantage that players can unlock, as several spells such as teleportation and hypnosis are also available. One thing that I really found to be fun is the ability to blast holes in walls to create my own pathways, and conversely, the ability to erect my own walls and staircases. These cool features add welcome variety and customization.
Not everyone will enjoy playing “Eldritch,” but it’s a great challenge nonetheless.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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