User menu

Main menu

Entertainment

Gaming Reviews: Batman: Arkham City, Rocksmith and Ratchet & Clank

Arkham City, Rocksmith and Ratchet & Clank fulfill all your alien vigilante guitarist needs (you have weird needs, buddy. But so do we. Let’s talk!) 

Batman: Arkham City (Xbox, PS3, PC) 
Price: $59.99

What’s it about? 
After the events of Arkham Asylum, the inmates of Arkham have been transported to a quarantined zone of the city where they run rampant under the watchful eye of Hugo Strange. Batman gets thrown into the mix and must uncover Strange’s plot from within Arkham, merking minions and meeting a few familiar faces along the way.

How does it look? 
It looks so good we wanna take it under the bleachers and have our way with it. Arkham Asylum’s signature style has returned but on an even grander scale: The city is a monster accomplishment for the Bat-universe, with the main portion of it leading you to seek out specific buildings that are open to exploration, sort of like the dynamic between Hyrule and Dungeons in the Zelda series. Character modeling is displayed in several lights and, though all are fantastic, none shine as much as the cut scenes that help unravel the meaty and dark mystery of Hugo Strange’s master plan.

Is it any good? 
Just having the opportunity to be Batman again is good, but Arkham City is great because of every other aspect of the game. Front and center is the plot: You’re not just beating this game for a sense of accomplishment, you’re doing it to solve the mystery because Batman IS the world’s greatest detective (eat shit, Sherlock) and the story will satisfy any Batfan’s thirst for more of the Dark Knight. Controls and other gameplay systems are top notch as well:Batman’s swooping/gliding/grappling abilities are easily mastered and ensure you’ll rarely touch the ground when traversing long expanses of rooftops. The combat system is a thing of beauty, delivering bone crunching blows while Batman does a deadly dance that will quickly rack up a 40-50 hit combo. Arkham City delivers one of the most satisfying video game experiences we’ve ever had - the fact that you get to play as Bats only seals the deal.

Out of ten? 
10. Arkham Asylum was a near-perfect game and Rocksteady has gone to lengths to rub out those minor existing flaws while also upping the ante for Arkham City. Plot, combat and the design of the world all come together to make this our early pick for game of the year. 

If I like this, what else will I like? 
Arkham Asylum, GTA IV, Batman imitators 


Rocksmith
(Xbox, PS3, PC) 
Price:
$79.99 Game Guitar Adapter ($199 bundle includes Epiphone Guitar)

What’s it about? 
Putting aside your plastic instruments and getting down with a real axe. Rocksmith isn’t just a piece of software but also an audio cord that jacks directly into the guitar you already own, turning your Xbox into one badass amp/foot pedal or the guitar mentor you’ve always wanted (you know, one without the ponytail or the creepy stares at your mom). The game comes with tracks from every major era and lots of guitar gods, just to remind you how far you still have to go.

How does it look? 
A music game is never about the looks, because most of the time you’re too focused on the notes streaming down to pay attention to anything else. What Rocksmith does well is make for a simple way of translating tabs on a six string, with an interface that’s easy for non-musicians to read and understand. The dynamic staff will expand or contract depending on the complexity of the song you’re playing, which is a nice and easy way to follow along and learn that guitar riff you’ve only ever dreamt of playing before.

Is it any good? 
We’re putting a lot of stock in Rocksmith because they’re sidestepping the pitfalls of everyone who’s come before. The choice to use your own guitar might have been the smartest step towards success, allowing people to play with the gitbox they already love. Rocksmith doesn’t do difficulty settings, it automatically adjusts to you and how well you play and progress. Not only will it show you the notes of how to play Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, it won’t penalize you if you decide to jam out a bit while you’re doing it and, if you’re good, it might even reward you by ramping up the difficulty automatically. Beyond the excellent lineup of songs to play, a slew of minigames that will help you hone your newfound skills are included: Shooting down ducks with just a strum of a chord gives new meaning to killing two birds with rock.

Out of ten? 
8. At its core, Rocksmith is the smartest and most fun way to learn to play a real instrument – even competitive and mini-game modes are just cleverly disguised methods of getting you to practice. Rocksmith isn’t the first music game to employ a guitar with real strings, it’s just the first one to do it in a way that doesn’t suck.

If I like this, what else will I like? 
Guitar Hero, Rockband, learning to do cool shit on a guitar 


Ratchet & Clank: All For One (PS3) 
Price: $59.99

What’s it about? 
Teaming up the goodest do-gooders and baddest baddies: Dr. Nefarious’ evil plans get all funked up and so he, Qwark, Ratchet and Clank all have to team up to escape a menacingly evil machine. Absurdly awesome weapons that define the franchise make an appearance, but the dynamic has changed as All 4 One focuses on cooperatively playing through levels instead of the traditional third person that fans have come to expect from the series.

How does it look? 
Hectic. Putting four players on any screen can be a bit much for even the biggest flat screen TV, but when you take into account the colorful worlds and zany weapons, the game comes off as an acid trip that’s as much fun as it can be menacing. The game does a good job with the camera work to pull out a wider angle and frame the gameplay almost like a side-scroller and, for the most part, it works well, but we still found there were moments of frustration that we’d prefer to avoid.

Is it any good? 
Just like the New Super Mario Bros from last year, All 4 One takes a favorite, familiar game and puts it in the hands of four people at the same time. In certain ways, it excels, especially when you consider how much fun the multiplayer is, whether sharing a couch or an internet connection with friends. What’s frustrating is that weapons and players can crowd out the screen and be a strain on your eyes. The confusion can lead to inadvertent teammate murder but, with a little patience for the three other players on your team, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One can be one of the most fun co-ops you’ll play this year.

Out of ten? 
7.5. We like co-op games, but when they make you want to physically harm your teammates, some rethinking might be necessary. That said, All 4 One is a must-have for fans of the series or anyone else that might like a lighter game to play through with friends.

If I like this, what else will I like? 
New Super Mario Bros, Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty, vintage commercials