Tuesday, June 21, 2016

WarCraft Movie Review

Hello all!

It's Mike again with my review of the movie WarCraft that I saw a couple times last weekend. First, let me preface this by saying that I have played all of the games the movie is based off of, which is not including World of WarCraft (WoW). I have never played WoW, nor do I see myself playing it anytime soon. What I will do in this post is relate some of the things that were in the movie to elements from the games. If you haven't ever played the games, do not worry! Maybe you will want to after reading this, and if you haven't seen the movie, same thing. Sometimes a little explaining things first before seeing a movie helps, and in this case I can definitely see that being helpful.

The original WarCraft game came out in November of 1994 and immediately changed the way people thought about real-time strategy (RTS) games. The game ran through a DOS based engine, which is way out of date to current standards, but at the time was high end. The following year, on December 9th, 1995, WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness was released and this is where I started playing the game. This was by far my favorite game at the time growing up. Between my brother and I, we played this all the time, even created our own campaigns using the characters in the story. It wasn't until StarCraft, another Blizzard Entertainment product, came out in 1998, this was my go to game. WarCraft II did get an expansion pack called Beyond the Dark Portal soon after the original release and just added a ton of depth to the story.

Blizzard then released WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion Frozen Throne in 2003 with a new graphics engine and a continuation of the story line but featuring a new generation of characters, some of which can be seen in the movie that was just released.

Ever since my brother and I saw some of the original cut scenes of the first two games, we thought the game would make a great movie. Blizzard has always been or tried to be at the forefront of storytelling through gameplay and through cinematic pieces that knocked your socks off. So when it was finally announced that this movie was happening and had direct input from Blizzard themselves, I was immediately satisfied that this wasn't going to be some terrible knock off that tends to happen with video game movies.

Side note: I realize that movie critics have been extremely hard on this movie, but I know they didn't give it a chance. Any video game website that has reviewed this movie has given it glowing reviews and in fact this movie carries high ratings from those who have seen it (7.7 on IMDB and 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, at the time of this posting). Also, this movie has broken every single movie record in China, so it is nowhere near as bad as critics say it is.

Now let's dive into the movie itself. The movie begins with the Orc horde led by Gul'dan, a warlock who is a master of Fel magic that is very dark and thrives off death opening the Dark Portal on their homeworld of Draenor. Gul'dan is a very important player not only in this movie, but in the story as a whole. The reason the Orcs want out of Draenor and to a new world is that their world is dying, which is a cause of who they serve. And by they, I mean the Burning Legion.

This is where I will explain some of the backstory that the movie doesn't get into, and I'm fine with that. The movie could have easily spent awhile trying to set this up, but frankly, I don't feel it was necessary to show that there is a higher power driving the orcs to act like this right away. It is implied a little bit into the movie, and at this stage, that should be good enough. At least that's what I thought.

Back to the Burning Legion. The Legion is made up of a bunch of demons led by Kil'Jaeden who go from world to world killing it off. In this instance, the orcs made a pact with the Burning Legion to be their servants and invade other worlds and give the control to the Legion. The demons then gave them the power of Fel magic which turns the orcs skin green. There were two warlocks that were granted power over of the horde, Ner'zhul and Gul'dan. Ner'zhul isn't in this movie, and he isn't in the first game because Gul'dan feels he could be more powerful than Ner'zhul and breaks from his group and leads the invasion into Azeroth, one of the areas that the humans live in.

There are several clans that make up this initial version of the horde that goes through the portal, and by far the biggest clan is the Blackrock Clan led by Blackhand. Gul'dan has his own clan of lesser warlocks that is called the Stormreaver Clan. The other two major orcs in this movie belong to the Frostwolf Clan, Durotan and Orgrim Doomhammer. In the first game, Doomhammer is who you are when playing the orc campaign. There is a point where you take control of the horde by killing Blackhand, which doesn't happen in the movie.

This is another instance that I'm perfectly okay with how the movie does this. In the game, Durotan is more or less assassinated, but in the movie, I liked how he became more of a martyr for the orcs by dying in a fight with Gul'dan. Also, Lothar kills Blackhand and earns the respect of the orcs in the process in a pretty bad ass scene. In the movie, Doomhammer betrays Durotan and earns the trust of Gul'dan in the process, which sets up the events of WarCraft II where Doomhammer becomes warchief of the horde in the place of Blackhand.

What this movie did really well is set up the possibility of an orc civil war, which is exactly what happens in WarCraft II. I won't get into too much detail about that, but the horde ends up splitting up right when Doomhammer is about to claim victory over the human Alliance because Gul'dan cares more about finding the tomb of an even more powerful demon named Sargeras. This shatters the orcs plan and they never recover from it.

The beginning of the movie shows the birth of Durotan's son who turns out to be a major player in events after WarCraft II. This child's name is Thrall and he leads the horde out of Azeroth in WarCraft III to the west to a place called Kalimdor where eventually the orcs and humans unite to fight the Burning Legion. That is yet a story for a later time. The story of Thrall in this movie is exactly how it happens in Blizzard's original storyline.

Getting into the human side of things, you first meet Anduin Lothar, a knight who is the brother to the Queen of Azeroth, who is married to King Llane. In the first game, you send forces to go find Lothar who is trapped in a dungeon on an expedition. He is the main human hero in both the first game and second game. Medivh, the great mage of Azeroth, although not necessarily the Guardian yet in the game, still follows the same arc. He is corrupted by the Burning Legion as well as he hears their voices and drive him to open up his side of the Dark Portal. In the first game, you find this out mid-campaign and go to his tower and kill him, similar to the movie version.

Khadgar plays a major role in WarCraft II, which was hinted at greatly in the movie from Medivh, as not only does he help destroy the Dark Portal, he leads an expedition with other characters that weren't in the movie through the Dark Portal to destroy the threat of the orcs for good on the Draenor side.

Garona does make an appearance in the first game, but she doesn't have as big a role as in the movie. I liked how they tied her to both sides in the movie as she was able to communicate between them, which I thought was huge in how they showed that Durotan wanted to unite with the humans setting up the civil war. In the game, in the orc campaign, you rescue her from a dungeon as she is the horde's best spy. During the human campaign, you find out she murders King Llane, which she did in the movie, although under his orders.

I really liked how they showed the early stages of an Alliance that essentially forms at the end of the movie of humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves. Early in the movie they are all bickering and saying that this orc threat isn't a big deal. After the events of the first game and also in the movie, they understand how great the threat is.

Here is a little background on the areas of their continent that Azeroth is on. Azeroth is the southern end of the continent, with the other human kingdom called Lordaeron in the North. Between these two in the narrow landbridge portion is the dwarven kingdom of Khaz Modan. To the far north, bordering Lordaeron is the elven kingdom of Quel'Thalas. The wizards of the Kirin Tor, that appear in this movie, are from Dalaran (also seen in the movie), and early on this was located in Lordaeron.

At the end of the first game, the Azeroth capital city of Stormwind is destroyed by the orcs, which isn't what happened in the movie. I'm a little mixed on this, but I'm guessing if they have a sequel, the city most likely gets destroyed fairly early perhaps. This is what leads the remaining human forces north to ask Lordaeron and their ruler, King Terenas for aid and they form the Alliance.

Some other minor tidbits seen in the movie:

At the beginning of the movie when Gul'dan uses the blue creatures' lives to activate the Dark Portal, those are the Draenei. They are the ancient race that was on Draenor way before the orcs were.

When Lothar is suiting Garona up in the armory, she says she wants a certain sword they show on the rack and that sword is called Frostmourne, or it becomes that. That becomes a famous relic in WarCraft III that the main human antagonist goes in search of thinking that it will help him defeat his enemies, but in reality it drives him mad due to a spirit trapped inside, which the spirit belongs to someone named in this post.

When Khadgar breaks Lothar out of the prison, he uses the Polymorph spell which turns units into sheep. As described in the movie is exactly how long it lasts in the games (60 seconds), and it is extremely annoying when enemy mages do it to you in the game.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. To me, it is easily the best video game adaptation I've ever seen. As someone who is a WarCraft diehard, I loved it a lot. As stated through my post, the stuff that differed, I didn't really have a problem with it. In some ways they streamlined the game, especially the first game that had parallel campaigns. To this I mean that both sides mirrored each other, yes you destroy Stormwind, but at the same time you destroy Blackrock Spire (the orc base). So I understand something has to give.

One of my criticisms for it was for the sequences right after the orcs enter through the Dark Portal is that the speed of the movie was quite fast to set up the plot. As someone who has played all the games knowing who is who and where is where, it wasn't as big of an issue for me, but for those who don't know anything about it, I can see where that can be troublesome. After that part, I thought the movie's pacing was just fine. It wasn't an all out CGI fight fest like the Hobbit movies became, and it had just enough slow portions to add character depth.

Visually I thought the movie was very stunning. It looked great, and parts looked like a game, which as a game movie, I feel they should do. The orcs were outright fantastic. I've heard some say that the humans looked out of place, but I counter that opinion by saying I felt they added tangible things to some shots that were CGI filled. By the way, the armor they created was awesome and I kind of want some of those Azeroth helmets.

Closing, I highly recommend this movie. I saw it with a couple people that knew nothing of the games or story and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe giving my post a read will help convince you to see it after getting some of the backstory and future happenings to it. I really want them to make the sequels, which THANKS CHINA!!

Thanks for reading,

Mike G.

Monday, June 13, 2016

RollerCoaster Tycoon - Star Wars Galaxy

Hey all, we've talked about it briefly at times on the podcasts that I am a little bit of a roller coaster tycoon junkie, and it designing rides is what I've wanted to do for a living for most of my life. The Roller Coaster Tycoon series of games has granted me that ability to live out that dream as a hobby as the job market for this kind of work is a little small.

Over the next couple of weeks or months, or however I get around to posting, I will showcase some of my theme park designs as Eddie pushed me to do, as not only are they relevant to a lot of pop culture that you and I love, but shows you the power of these video game simulators to create things you wouldn't think possible.

This week, I figured I would start us out with my second massive park I built, but probably hits a big topic of many lives, and the name of this park is Star Wars Galaxy. I built this park roughly around 2004 or 2005 using RCT2, and thankfully had screenshots saved of almost every square inch of the park. With all the news surrounding the Disney expansions of Star Wars into their theme parks, I couldn't help but laugh that I dreamt a lot of stuff up for it over ten years ago in my version of the world created by George Lucas. **Disclaimer: This is my own work and in no way am I claiming anything that is actually built as my idea, as I defer to the Imagineers of Disney as they are awesome. My park mainly focuses on the events of the original trilogy, so don't be afraid! There is no prequel action here!

First off, I will start you out with a screenshot of the theme park in its entirety, and you can make out the different lands showcased in my park. The various sections are Tatooine, Dagobah, Coruscant, Endor, and Hoth.


The park opens with the Galactic Spaceport that is filled with shops dedicated to everything Star Wars as one would expect in typical theme park fashion. However, there are some simulator rides here as well similar in name and fashion to the real life version, as well as the Jabba's Palace Hotel that gives direct access to the Tatooine section behind it. Also located here is the Mon Calamari Grille and Max Rebo's Cantina where you would be able to see his band from Return of the Jedi performing live.

 
 

If you venture to your right upon entering the park, you would access the Yavin IV section of the park that is modeled after the dense jungles and the Massassi Temples from A New Hope.

 

First thing you will notice is the two roller coasters that prominently stand up from the area, and those two would be Jedi (in Green/Black) and the Millennium Falcon (in Gray/Black). Other rides in this sector include a vertical launch tower called Lightsaber, a spinning ride called The Force, and a couple of motion simulators including one based off of the Rogue Squadron as shown below.

 
The tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park is no doubt called Jedi and is over 300 feet tall and over 80 mph in max speed. Starting out in a Jedi Temple, it then rises you out of the jungle before plunging you back into it making you go through the trials of becoming a Jedi, regardless if you are 'Too old'.
 
 
The other coaster is the famous Millennium Falcon, as the name just lends itself to a great ride of the same name. This twister roller coaster embraces you with a feeling of loops and barrel rolls, and even located out front is the ship itself (I know how it looks, I did what I could with what I had at my disposal in the game...).
 
 
 
Located in the center of the park, just like in the Star Wars galaxy is Coruscant, the planet wide city home of the Galactic Empire. This section of the park features most of the Empire themed attractions including two roller coasters named Star Destroyer and of course, Darth Vader.
 





 
This portion of the park has Boba Fett's Bar, the Imperial Palace, Stormtrooper Training Laser Tag, TIE Fighter simulators, another vertical launch drop called the Death Star Blast and other Empire based attractions. The Star Destroyer coaster has you make twists and turns around an actual Star Destroyer itself!
 
 
Darth Vader is the second tallest and fastest in the park, but is right at the park's focal point, just as the story of Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker.
 
 
The other portion of the park that is adjacent to the Galactic Spaceport is Tatooine and is one of my favorite parts of the park in terms of how it looks. This section of the park has its own version of the Mos Eisley Cantina, a Jawa themed restaurant built into the side of a cliff, Bounty Hunter rides, and its own hotel called the Dewback Inn and Suites.
 

 
 
 
There are two roller coasters here that are both embedded into canyons, the first of which is Tusken Raider, a mine train coaster that zips in very tight quarters in the mountain canyons.
 
 
The second is called Beggar's Canyon, a corkscrew roller coaster that starts out with the style's looping nature, then sends you flying through the canyon and emerging out of it by going through the Eye of the Needle, a landmark most Star Wars diehards would recognize.
 
 
One of the more remote sections of the park lies next to Tatooine and it would be none other than Dagobah. Just as it appears in the films, it feels off the beaten path. Lush swampy jungle mirrors what is what Luke finds in The Empire Strikes Back, and you can even find Yoda's Hut and Luke's downed X-Wing here.
 

 
A water ride can also be found here nestled into the dense jungle and is called Geyser Grove. This ride is an original idea that I came up with to showcase the terrain and wildlife of Dagobah, since you see a lot of it in the movies, but it isn't really explained. The screenshot below shows a scenery/underground view of most of the ride, otherwise it would be hard to pick out of the trees.
 
 
Dagobah has an inverted roller coaster where you dangle below the track and it is another original idea I had and is named Swamprunner. The idea would be that it is to give the feeling of Luke running all over with Yoda strapped to his back going his 'Jedi Stuff'.
 
 
Located in the back central portion of the park is the ice planet Hoth. My main goal here was to create an attraction based off of the Battle of Hoth, and in grand fashion was able to pull it off constructing my own version of AT-ATs. This area of the park has other Hoth landmarks such as the Ice Crystal Forest and the Wampa Cave. It also has a ride named the Ion Cannon as well.
 

The roller coaster though, is the centerpiece of this land. It takes you through many of the motions that you see in the movie, as you fly through the legs of a walker, and as you tangle up one of their legs.

 

The final portion of the park would be Endor, or I guess to be accurate the FOREST MOON of Endor. But for simplicity sake, Endor sounds way cooler than the Forest Moon of Endor, so Endor it is. This area has a simulator called Speeder Bike Chase where you get to partake in that epic scene racing through the trees. There is also a ride named AT-ST Spin that features a large model of those walkers that are prone to slipping on logs, and also a log flume called Endor Logging Co.

 
This area also has two roller coasters, with a mini coaster that zips through the Ewok Village giving kids a great experience, because let's be honest, that's what the Ewoks were for, amirite?
 




Finishing out the pictures is of the massive wooden roller coaster named Endor Express, as the name just sounded cool and a wooden roller coaster flying through the dense woods of Endor IS cool.


So there you have it. That's a quick run through of my theme park I created over ten years ago called Star Wars Galaxy. I hope you guys find this interesting and pretty cool, and let me know what you think.

As stated, I have at least 3 more parks I will upload on here with some descriptions like this. The other RCT2 park that I built before this that will most likely be posted first is Metallica World, which is based off of the band where everything corresponds to their massive library of songs. My two recent ones done in RCT3 that will be shown later and are my crown jewels are World of the Witcher based off of Witcher 3 and my newest one finished a couple months ago, Batman: The Theme Park.

Once again, I love putting ideas like this out there as something I would love to experience, and hope others would too! As a theme park aficionado, this is my passion, so also if you want to talk coasters and what not, don't be afraid to hit me up.

Thanks again for reading,

Mike G.





Sunday, June 5, 2016

Batman Arkham Series Review

Hello everybody! This is Mike and I recently completed the last installment of the Arkham series of video games from Rocksteady Studios and Warner Brothers, which was Arkham Origins (yes, I know, Arkham Knight was the last one created but I played it before Origins). Therefore, I feel like what better way to kick off our first actual blog post by giving my thoughts on the series!


- - - - Spoilers Ahead - - - -


These games have been out for a couple of years now, so I feel many of you will have either played the games, or know most of what happens in them. But regardless, there is your spoiler warning if you don't want me to reveal plot items to you, there you go.


Let me first start out by saying that these four video games are definitely worth the time to play them. I spent numerous hours completing most of the tasks set before you, including pretty much all of those dang Riddler trophies scattered throughout each game. I achieved 100% completion on Asylum, Origins, and Knight, and completed about 75% of City including all of the main story. I will write this in the chronological order of the events in the games, which is Arkham Origins, Asylum, City and then Knight.


Having played Origins last of the four games (it was the 3rd release, and not by Rocksteady) it took a bit of forgetting what has happened in the other three. Even though it had been a couple years since I had played Arkham City, immediately noticeable is the map of Gotham in Origins. The northern part of the map is known as Old Gotham and mirrors the Arkham City map. Making it fairly obvious was the areas of the map known as The Bowery, Park Row, the Amusement Mile, and the Industrial District. In City, you become very intimate with these areas having criss-crossed your way through the parts of the city many times. Most of the landmarks are very similar to what they were in City, especially the Wonder Tower in Sheldon Park, and we'll get to more on that later.


To elaborate more on forgetting things, Origins (as the name implies) goes back to pretty much the start of Batman as a vigilante. It is set on Christmas Eve, after Bruce returns from the mountains after receiving training from Ra's al Ghul, and a time where Batman had just started putting criminals away at Blackgate Prison. The cops don't trust Batman yet at all, including Gordon, who is not yet Commissioner. The main story begins with the crime lord Black Mask (a.k.a. Roman Sionis) leading a break out of Blackgate. As Batman arrives on the scene, you chase him down and eventually end up fighting Killer Croc atop the prison and learning from Killer Croc that he is the first of 8 assassins that Black Mask has recruited to kill Batman in order to get a $50 million bounty.


This part of the story is pretty intriguing, first with Black Mask being the main villain at this point, as it is refreshing to see someone other than the major villains be the primary antagonist. My main gripe with how they reveal this bounty up front is that they show you the 8 assassins that are looking to take you out. I would have liked to have been surprised by the villains that show up, as they do in the other games. It is revealed to you that along with Killer Croc, that more well known villains Deadshot, Deathstroke, Firefly, and Bane, as well as minor Batman villains the Electrocutioner, Lady Shiva, and Copperhead are out to get you.


As you first get out into Gotham via the Batwing, you learn a mysterious hacker is out to release extortion files of major players in Gotham, and at this point you pretty much know who he is, however he is known throughout this game as Enigma. At this point, you can pretty much start the usual Batman game fare of finding Enigma Data Packs, this game's version of Riddler Trophies. I'll get to more on these later, as it takes the length of the game to be able to collect all of them.


Besides the 8 assassins that you know about, you end up encountering other villains in other side quests part of the Most Wanted missions. I like these missions almost more than the main storylines as they not only world build, but make you feel more like the detective part of Batman as you solve shorter crimes to put away guys. In this game, you come across The Penguin and his lovely assistants, the Mad Hatter, as well as Anarky.


The assassins out to get you show up through the main quest, usually you will have to do the side quests to defeat them, and after dealing with The Penguin, you get the first twist that these games are known for. You eventually learn that the Black Mask you have been dealing with is actually the Joker. The Joker kidnapped Sionis and then posed as the Black Mask running his operation. You still end up doing a side quest to defeat the actual Black Mask, but your main story after this point is to apprehend the Joker (as it usually is).


After saving Joker from his death from falling off the Royal Gotham Hotel building, you put him into Blackgate under the supervision of Harleen Quinzel, who everyone knows how this will go. Bane then becomes your primary adversary as he and Joker were working together. At this point, I really didn't like how the main story was progressing. I really don't know when Bane became such a popular villain to have things centered from him. I guess it was Tom Hardy's portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight Rises, which I thought was fantastic, but to me he is one of the least interesting Batman villains which are full of interesting characters.


This version of Bane is from South America and learns Batman's identity and almost kills Alfred at the Bat Cave. After a couple incidents involving Firefly going all pyro, you learn Joker is leading a breakout at Blackgate, and this is where the story comes to its conclusion. You end up defeating Bane after he overdoses on his steroid and forgets Batman's identity. After the events of the game, you and Gordon have a working relationship that the cops won't get in the way of Batman. You also basically end the game how Asylum begins, watching Joker get taken into the island Prison


Back to probably my biggest gripe of the game, the handling of the Enigma stuff. After you spend all of the game looking for all the data packs and collecting them, you get access to Enigma's secret room in his HQ. In this room, you find possibly the greatest annoyance in all the games, a single Riddler Trophy. Yes, you find essentially the first trophy that all the other games are filled with them. Another annoyance that I had in this play through was the fact I couldn't grapple off of things that I would be able to in the other games. This made it frustrating to get to some places or escape from certain areas because the grapple function didn't work properly in my opinion. I'm not sure why they would deviate from the current game engine in a negative way such as this. It really made navigating Gotham more annoying than it should have been.


I won't go into as much detail about the rest of the games as some of them I played years ago, as I have only just finished Origins and Knight recently. But the first game to be released Asylum deserves all the praise that everyone has given it over the years. This game helped shaped a new style of Batman games that are extremely enjoyable to play. The story picks up as Origins ends, with Joker being admitted into Arkham Asylum, but then Harley Quinn stages a takeover with a couple of bought guards and Joker then has a plan of releasing Titan drugs all over Gotham which cause massive mutations.


In this game you encounter all sorts of classic villains such as Scarecrow, Victor Zsasz, Bane, Killer Croc (in one of the more terrifying encounters I might add), and my favorite Poison Ivy. Many other villains have cameos (including Clayface in a very creepy way) inside of prison cells inside the Asylum. This is one of the most fun things about the game is encountering a bunch of Batman's Rogues Gallery in different ways.


Scarecrow's encounters are some of the most intense and scary things I have seen in a video game. And this coming from someone who played DOOM 3, which I feel is one of the freakiest and scariest games ever made. The first encounter Scarecrow puts you in, you are pretty much in WTF? mode. But it makes it why I really love theses games. They are very dark in most of the things they do, and in my opinion they should be. Gotham and Batman is not a happy place. As much as I love the Batman '66 TV show and its colors and playfulness, I think the darker version is what it should be.


There isn't a lot for me to pick out of this game that I didn't like. At the time, it was a new style of playing a game, but I guess if one could be found, it would be that throughout the game, you see things and places you try to get to, but require a gadget you later get in the game forcing you to go back to that place. Sometimes these places are a pain in the rear to traverse more than once. But that is fairly minor.


Joker ends up ingesting the Titan drug becoming a frightening monster joker, and after you defeat him it sets up the events of Arkham City. Joker becomes infected and is going to die if he doesn't get the antidote to cure himself of what the Titan did to him. After Bruce Wayne gets into Arkham City (which once again is Old Gotham from Arkham Origins) by admitting himself after he lobbied against the City-like Prison. Ending up in Hugo Strange's lab up in the Wonder Tower that overlooks Arkham City, you find out you are injected with the Joker's blood so your life is now at risk like his is. The Joker played his cards right (pun intended) on this knowing Batman would find a cure.


This is where Arkham City started to deviate for me in terms of liking it and disliking it. I really like the parts where you encounter the different villains, and in this game you see ones you didn't see in Asylum. The Penguin, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and Catwoman all show up. The ability  to switch between Batman and Catwoman is a fun and different aspect of this game as each have different objectives throughout. You do get to see recurring characters as well so it makes for a game with many of Batman's classic villains.


I really liked the inclusion of Talia al Ghul in this storyline. She added a lot of depth in the story and a personal element for Batman/Bruce Wayne. Even though she is technically serving her father, who makes an appearance in this game along with the Lazarus Pits, she definitely cares for Batman.


What I didn't like the most about this game is the fact that throughout your character has moments where you lose vision and everything becomes blurry. At first it seems like it is a timed thing and the game basically tells you your time is running out. You feel rushed as a player and this is main reason I didn't get 100% completion. I felt I had to get the cure before finishing all of the side quests and the end of the game's story made me not want to play it anymore.


The ending struck a nerve with me Talia herself as a Joker-looking Clayface fools both you and Talia into thinking you killed Joker, until Joker shoots her killing her. However, her body disappears lending to the fan theory I have subscribed to that she isn't actually dead since she like her father can access the Lazarus Pits and not die.


After this though, the Joker doesn't get the cure as it smashes on the ground and he dies, leaving Batman carrying his body out of Arkham City. At first glance, this is a very shocking ending to the game, that your main nemesis for three games now is dead. However, after playing Arkham Knight, this turns out to be an excellent thing for the next game.


Along with feeling rushed and the ending to the game, the other things that I didn't like about City were the AR challenges which got too difficult to waste time on I felt, and the Riddler trophies in this game were obscenely hard to get. Some were easier than others, but some seemed to rely of absolutely perfect timing that only hours and hours of trying and failing could achieve you. This made it a lot harder for me to want to play Arkham Knight, that and along with hearing how hard the Batmobile was to control, but boy was I wrong, Arkham Knight was one of the most fun of the Arkham games that I had.


After the Joker died, Arkham Knight seemingly had a villain gap, but as it is set on Halloween, the Scarecrow and his fear toxins became front and center. As the inner three islands of Gotham City were evacuated due to this threat, the other major players of the Rogues Gallery show up including Penguin, Two-Face, Firefly, Harley Quinn, and new guys such as Deacon Blackfire, Man-Bat and Professor Pyg (in a deeply disturbing series of side quests).


After Batman gets a taste of fear toxins disarming Scarecrow's bombs, the Joker makes an appearance in his mind the rest of the game. This is where the game really takes off with Batman's conscience battle with the Joker as he will pop up all over city and talk to you about things. Even billboards and gargoyles will have Joker's face on them, but when you look away and look back, they are gone. This is creepy at first, but then becomes a little funny at where you will see his face pop up at random.


Even though it isn't very difficult to figure out who the Arkham Knight is as it is fairly obvious early on that it is Jason Todd, but later in the game when dealing more with Harley and the other "Jokers" that were injected with his blood, the story of Joker torturing Todd and how he became the Arkham Knight is very creepy but intriguing.


This is once again a game that I couldn't find very many things to gripe about. But some of them are fairly major points. The Batmobile wasn't as bad to drive around as most people wrote about, I found it really fun to zoom through the city shooting stuff and blowing up tank drones. But the Riddler races were super annoying. One sequence literally took me an hour to beat. That shouldn't be the case. I also didn't care for the fact that they made Poison Ivy died. I get that she played a major role in helping Batman and then pretty much saving Gotham City, but really? You finally make her a 'good guy' and then kill her after she does what she needs to? I understand that there is a flower that starts growing in the place where she died and that she could be regenerating, but man, that was hard to take. I guess that is what makes these games really good is that they play with your emotions at times.


Another thing that was really difficult was how stupidly fast the Cloudburst tank was. My lord, you would shoot it that you could barely get away. In no way should a massive tank be able to out run the Batmobile like that thing almost could. I would twist and turn through streets but that tank seemed like it was always on my tail. Deathstroke's tank that had no blindspots was way easier than that Cloudburst tank.


One thing that I couldn't gripe about though is the Riddler Trophies! They went back to pretty easy to get all of them, and in no way were they as difficult as they were in Arkham City. This was extremely satisfying. Also, the fact that you got to beat the hell out of Riddler if you got all his junk at then end is so rewarding to the mind. Finally, after slogging through all his riddles and finding trophies, to get to punch the dude in the face made finding all 243 things in this game fun.


All in all, I thought all four games were very good. I am eagerly awaiting the Return to Arkham that Rocksteady is releasing in which they are making Asylum and City available to be played on Xbox One and PS4. I definitely want to play through both of them again. Especially City since I wasn't able to get 100% completion yet.


I'm not sure I could rank the games in order of how much I liked them. I liked many different parts of the story lines and games individually so below are the parts I really liked:
- Inclusion of many Batman Villains
- Reading Character Bios that show their first appearance in comics
- Mark Hamill's masterful Joker performances
- Funny Joker sequence in Knight where Joker sings to Batman as you sneak around as Robin disarming his bombs
- Mad Hatter's weird Wonderland visions
- Throat punching Harley Quinn in Arkham Knight
- Tackling Man-Bat out of mid-air
- Ruining Two-Face's bank robberies
- Solving Riddler's riddles with Catwoman in the mansion in Arkham Knight
- The Museum Penguin hides out in Arkham City with Giant Shark
- Watching GCPD fill up with bad guys I defeat in Arkham Knight
- Using Batmobile as tank destroying drones
- Not saving Ra's al Ghul who falls to his death... Jerk
- Finishing predator sequences without being seen
- Beating Mr. Freeze in City
- Poison Ivy and Talia al Ghul


I pretty much described all the parts I didn't like throughout the post, so I won't necessarily list those things again. but that list is pretty short.


So that's pretty much my take on the Arkham series that I thought was extremely well done. I haven't gotten through most of the DLC options of the games, which I think I will once the Return to Arkham game comes out that has them in it, but I will definitely get to those. Overall, I loved the way they designed the characters and the portrayals of Gotham and the Asylum. Not only are these games filled with Easter eggs to many things in the Batman universe, they add more depth than there currently was. If you haven't played them, I highly recommend them, and if you have, let me know if you agree with the things I have said or disagree.


Thanks for reading!


Mike