Batman vs. Jedi: The Dark Knight of the Force

Some days I feel like designing titles to blog posts that will result in the most hits.   Without direct references to pornography, of course.  How’d I do?

It’s referring to the fact that I spent a weekend mostly away from MMOs and into single-player games.  I wasn’t really planning for it, but as I’m spacing LOTRO out, I’m mostly done with Guild Wars, and I’m giving Fallen Earth a little break before diving back in, I figured I’d go where my heart led me.  And it led me to two games I bought in the past but never completed: Batman Arkham Asylum and KOTOR 2.

To my delight, they both proved quite engrossing.  I’m not anti-single player games these days, but most of them have lost their luster for me.  RPGs are difficult to play knowing that they’ll end and the world isn’t persistent, and other titles might boast more visual appeal but lack the depth I’m used to with MMO mechanics.

Batman has a terrific, almost Bioshock-like look to it, and I’m happily chewing through the story.  The game’s been widely praised for its controls, and oh my goodness, they’re just perfect.  Moving and fighting are easy and intuitive, and I like how it slowly ramps you up to more complicated techniques as the game continues.  Plus, getting to hear Mark Hamill as the Joker is always a treat.

I probably won’t be playing Arkham City for a while (it’s on my Christmas list), but it’ll be nice to finally wrap this one up without that nagging feeling that it’s on my “to play” list.  Don’t you hate that?

KOTOR 2 is a slightly different proposition.  I talked about it the other day, and most of that holds true: It is unfinished and not quite KOTOR 1, but there’s a nice darker bent to it that makes it worthy of playing through.  I actually think that the opening segment on Peragus station is incredibly creepy, and as I’ve felt in the past when I’ve played it, I couldn’t wait to get off of it and to places where people were less dead.

For the SWTOR fan looking to whittle away the month or so until launch, it does and doesn’t fill the void.  I mean, we’re dealing with 2004-era graphics, which looked pretty impressive back in the day but are noticeably lacking in color and lighting effects now.  The combat is “meh” although I’m having fun building a dual blaster-wielding Jedi — no lightsabers for me, no sirree Bob!  Pew pew!

While there’s pretty much no aspect of the gameplay that’s similar to what BioWare is prepping for SWTOR, there are two reasons I can see why it’s worth playing (at least for me).  The first is to just “live” in the KOTOR universe and get reacquainted with the places, major players, factions, technology, and whatnot.  The second is to get back into the spirit of KOTOR storytelling, especially with the morality choices and surprise twists.  It’s kind of cool to get to know an evil Wookiee, and I’m finding this a good refresher course for what happened with Revan and the state of the galaxy, 30 years or so prior to the events of SWTOR.

I know a lot of folks are excited to the point of pants-wetting over Skirim, but the Elder Scrolls series never had much of a hold on me, and based on my brief excursions into Morrowind and Oblivion, it’s probably best just to wait until the discounted “game of the year” edition comes in 12 months or so.

So what about you?  Enjoying any good non-MMO video games lately?

5 thoughts on “Batman vs. Jedi: The Dark Knight of the Force

  1. Geldarion October 31, 2011 / 11:23 am

    I, too, went through KOTOR 1 and 2 in preparation for SWTOR, and I have been playing City of Heroes along with LOTRO for when I get frustrated with the Ettenmoors. I am just in a holding pattern of LOTRO doing the raid until SWTOR or Update 5 hits, whichever is first.

  2. Prenerfed October 31, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    I played through KOTOR1 recently when it was on sale and found it interesting, but not particularly fun. It was interesting as a dissection of BW’s storytelling techniques and learning some of the history of characters who will be in SWTOR (I’ve read all of the Revan spoilers for SWTOR, so I played as “I have perfect foresight of my ultimate destiny and I’m pissed off about it” Revan).

    The wonky UI and dated graphics made it a hard slog, and I was glad that I only spent 1/10 or it’s original price on the game (I played it briefly at a promo kiosk when it launched, but the stop and go combat is just boring to me). I have zero interest in playing through KOTOR2, mostly because I know that it IS being largely ignored for the sake of SWTOR’s story, and it’s even less polished than KOTOR1.

    Since finishing KOTOR1 a couple of weeks ago, and after finally wrapping up an epic replay of Starcraft 1, SC: Brood War and SC2 back to back to back, I’ve just been biding my time with Team Fortress 2 (slaughtering the F2P noobs), and a tiny bit of other F2P titles that pique my interest like WAR:WoH (withholding judgement due to my love of WAR), LoL (which is exactly what I do when I encounter the no-lifers in that abortion of a community), and Spiral Knights (which is great for amusing my 3 y.o. daughter for about 5 minutes, and not much else). None of those are capable of holding my interest though. It’s just my familiarity with TF2 and a small community of challenging players there that keeps me coming back to a few of those servers while I wait patiently for a SWTOR beta invite. *crosses fingers*

  3. Trippin Ninja October 31, 2011 / 3:30 pm

    I recently picked up GTA 4 and it’s expansions on sale. I already owned it on ps3 but I wanted to check out some of the great mods available for pc. Plus I hadn’t played through the expansion so I got to see those side stories. I really enjoyed the added content, they tied everything to the original game very well. It’s kind of sad so many people don’t even play through the campaign of these games because I feel Rockstar really does a great job on the cut scenes and voice acting. If they release gta5 on pc at the same time I will get it because mouse aiming was sooooo nice!

  4. Tesh October 31, 2011 / 4:20 pm

    “RPGs are difficult to play knowing that they’ll end and the world isn’t persistent”

    That’s a *problem* with MMOs. MMO worlds are terribly persistent; players can’t change them, so they are supremely static beasties. Respawns, static worlds, even the nature of death and other setbacks are very different in MMOs. Single players RPGs really *can* give the player a heroic experience and tell a great story as the world can make huge changes as they progress and make choices. In an MMO, killing someone only lasts until the respawn, unless there’s an Arthas/Cairne moment where the devs have to conveniently ignore magic and Spirit Healers to give a story pathos. Realistically (mechanically), death doesn’t mean much in an MMO, but writers have to pretend that it does, and the storytelling dissonance can get absurd sometimes.

    Similarly, single player RPGs are stronger for storytelling, partially because they actually *can* end. An ending to a story isn’t just a bonus, it’s a critical part of the narrative.

    MMOs are fantastic vehicles for *player stories*, but lousy for a dev-written narrative. They are interesting vehicles for play and exploration, but they simply can’t operate the same way single player games can. Each is superior in their own ways.

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