Archive for March, 2012


Get Over Here!!

Something that has littered much of the Vita’s launch has been ports of popular games from last year that could easily make the transition. And fighting and racing games are typically the easiest of the easy for the bunch. So, I admit, when I heard Mortal Kombat was coming to the Vita, I just shook my head and figured “here we go again”.

But Ed Boon didn’t want that. And seeing an opportunity to play around with some new technology, wanted to make sure that there was something that made this version of Mortal Kombat a little special and differentiated it from it’s console brethren from a year ago. So at GDC, we were able to go hands on with Mortal Kombat for the Vita and the handful of new features were just enough to actually make the short list of Vita titles I’ve been excited for.

A lot of what made last year’s console Mortal Kombat great in the first place remains like the tight combat and story mode. But now there are special Vita-centric challenge towers that utilize the touch screen, like a fight where blood splatters on the screen with each hit and you have to wipe it away to see, and special new mini-games modes to go along with classics like Test Your Might. We were also told of an expanded ‘Krypt’ to show off some behind the scenes of the development of the Vita version.

The challenge tower was the first thing we looked at and to go along with the blood splatter mission, there was also a mission where you had to catch falling ‘koins’ by tapping them before they hit the ground and a juggling contest where you would tap missile launchers to bounce a falling ‘kombatant’ around and keep them from hitting the ground. The promise of even more missions and another challenge tower promises a lot more longevity to this new game. Not to mention one mission where you can play as Shao Khan…

The next thing we looked at were the two new mini-games: Test Your Slice and Test Your Balance. Test Your Balance takes advantage of the Vita’s built-in gyroscope and has a character balancing over a pit filled with blades, acid, or some other instant kill trap. Not only must you balance your character for a certain amount of time, but random body parts from previous balancers who failed will be thrown at you, trying to knock you into the pit below and adding an interesting challenge to this game that was a lot of fun.

But what was most surprising was Test Your Slice, which is basically Fruit Ninja, but with a Mortal Kombat flair. Instead of cutting fruit, you’ll be slicing apart brains, hearts, and skulls just to name a few body parts. There are also a few characters’ heads with special abilities, like Sub-Zero’s freezes the stage, thrown in as well. Just make sure to avoid the bombs. This, too, was a lot of fun and made great use of the Vita’s touch screen.

The most impressive part of the game though may have been the local connection we ended up trying out. Not a hint of lag with the inputs impressed me more than any other multiplayer feature for a Vita game to date as I used my preferred Sub-Zero to best my opponent’s Noob Saibot in three rounds. And what was really phenomenal was I then pulled off Sub-Zero’s classic beheading/de-spining Fatality by using the touch screen. Yes, Fatalities are easier than ever now as with a quick simple rubbing of the screen back and forth over my opponent and his head was my latest trophy for my wall.

All in all, this was easily the most impressed I’ve been with a Vita title to date, as even though it’s a port, it offers enough new features to keep old fans happy and hopefully brings in even more newcomers with its portability. And we can’t forget that it also features PS3 exclusive roster character Kratos and all the DLC characters as part of the package so I can’t wait to really put this fully through its paces when it releases sometime this Spring.

And if you want, the reveal trailer is embedded below for your convenience. FIGHT!

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?

We all kind of know what to expect from the LEGO series of games now, whether it’s Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, or Harry Potter. But with one branch of the LEGO franchise, Telltale Games has decided to be a bit different this time around. Yes, LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes looks to be the biggest and best game in the LEGO universe yet and from the demo we saw at GDC, anyone who is fan of LEGOs will not want to miss out on this title.

It’s hard to know where to start with this one as there is so many new features added in that differentiates this game from all those that came before it, but we’ll begin with the story. In a plot that reminded me of the Adam West Batman, the Joker has crashed the Gotham Man of the Year Awards, angry that HE wasn’t this year’s recipient. Thought to have been locked away safely in Arkham Asylum (yeah right), Batman knows he must get to the bottom of it and realizes Joker had help. Lex Luthor busted Joker out for reasons still unknown and so Batman realizes he needs some help. Enter the Justice League.

Now we don’t know how deep the roster is for the JL, but knowing the LEGO series, I don’t see them pulling out any stops with this and so we can expect a lot more than just Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Superman, who were just a couple of the members we saw briefly in action during our demo. And Superman’s entrance was epic in how he drifted down from the sky set to his movie theme, much how a lot of LEGO Batman’s scenes have Danny Elfman’s classic 1989 score in the background as well.

The most stunning aspect of the demo though was the central HUB world. Instead of being restricted to the Batcave like in the first game, all of Gotham, including landmarks like Wayne Tower, Amusement Mile, and the Botanical Gardens, are fully realized in a LEGO 3D environment that you can explore by flying around with Superman or one of the other JL members or drive around in one of Batman’s preferred vehicles. This also leaves a lot of opportunity for teaming up as we special LEGO blocks that could only be picked up by Batman, but needed Superman to melt special gold grating first with his heat vision.

And Batman isn’t alone on the power front. Much like in the first game, him and Robin see brand new specialized suits appear for certain situations. We saw Batman’s Electricity Suit, which makes him immune to electricity and can power up machinery, his Sensor Suit that makes him invisible to security cameras and can let him see through walls, and his Power Suit that gives him rocket launchers and limited strength abilities. We also saw a pair of Robin suits where Robin channels shades of both Tim Drake and Dick Grayson in his Acrobat Suit, which includes a bo staff and the ability to do Prince of Persia style flips from poles and his Hazard Suit which allows him to put out fires and swim underwater.

We were also told that a few new additions were inspired from critiques of previous games on the fan forums. These include mid-level saves for the longer levels, split-screen for when playing in co-op mode to allow for more individual player freedom, and for the first time ever in a LEGO game, voice actors. Yes, finally all the heroes and villains of the DC LEGO-verse will speak. There was no reveal of who the particular voice actors were for each character, but it was hinted at that fans would not be disappointed.

Honestly, I went into this meeting at GDC and had my mind blown by the differences we saw between the first LEGO Batman and this new game and the idea of exploring LEGO Gotham had me a lot more excited than I thought it would. It made me feel like a kid again and I think that’s what has always been part of the appeal of the LEGO games and already with an early build, this game has succeeded on that front for me. Now it’s just a matter of trying to develop some patience before LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes’s Summer 2012 release.

The Truth is Out There

In December, we here at EGM previewed The Secret World in our MMORPG issue of EGMi (Issue 76 if you’re curious to go look) and the excitement we felt then only carried over into a new demo we were able to get at GDC last week. And although it may have been pushed back from an April to June release, The Secret World shows they are pulling out all the stops when it comes to trying to be competitive in the subscription based MMO world.

If you need a little refresher, The Secret World is shaping up to be a cross between The X-Files, Fringe, and some obscure Norse mythology where you play as an agent from one of three very distinct and different secret organizations. The Templars are based out of London and have that old world charm and are zealots when it comes to hording power and control. The New York based Illuminati believe that only the strong survive. And the Korea-based Dragons, who we finally saw in action at GDC, worship and all its causes, including lust, jealously, and other kinds of extreme emotion.

The mythology is really where the action comes from as while playing your part for your respective organization, you have to try to hold back demonic forces that are trying to cross over into the real world and help out folks who are clearly in over their heads. Part of what is breaking down the dimension doorways and what not is something called the Filth, which we saw what happens when there is a full-on infestation of this stuff. People are completely consumed and turned into walking monstrosities when they make contact with the stuff and it is up to you tapping into some crazy powers and weapons to help drive it back.

Something else we saw in our original demo was when you are first brought into the fold of your respective organization is that you live the last moments of a life, flashback style, that came into direct contact with the Filth. At GDC, we saw a level that took that a step further as we were transported back to pre-colonial America and had to fight off a monstrous dragon-like creature and much like the Cthulhu type creature we faced off against back in December, you need a full-team before taking on any dungeon master as these creatures do monumental amounts of damage.

It should be interesting to see how well The Secret World can do in the AAA MMORPG space to compete against titles like World of Warcraft and now even Star Wars: The Old Republic as the market continues to move towards a free-to-play stance for the most part. But one thing is for certain, the concept is definitely there and I can’t wait to go hands-on with a finished product.

THE BUZZ: Activision and Hasbro have announced Transformers: Prime, a video game based off The Hub TV show and that will be available exclusively on Nintendo’s Wii, 3DS, and DS platforms this fall.

EGM’S TAKE: “Transformers: Prime” is a hugely popular show on The Hub and so it is no surprise that a digital extension of that brand would be made at some point. The timing for the release of the game is also ideal as it will go hand in hand with the release of Fall of Cybertron, offering Transformers fans on all systems an option of some sort when looking to get their Robots in Disguise fix.

With Arcee, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, and Bulkhead all confirmed to be playable in the game, fans should get a good amount of variety in terms of action set in the Prime universe. Also, it has been said that you will have to cultivate the relationships between the Autobots and their three human friends from the show as Team Prime looks to take down Megatron once and for all.

The game is being developed by Now Production for the Wii and 3DS and Altron Corporation for the DS version. If you would like to see the reveal trailer, feel free to check it out below!

What do you folks think? Does it make sense for Nintendo to take the cartoon oriented Transformers game? Would you rather play this game or Fall of Cybertron if you could only have one? Let us know what you think with comments below!

Robots Hate Your Freedom

Very rarely can you gather the entire concept of a game just from the title alone. But publisher Ubisoft’s and developer Demiurge’s Shoot Many Robots does just that as the title simply says it all. You play as P. Walter Tugnut, a redneck who has been stockpiling weapons and beer for years in his RV just waiting for the robot apocalypse. And then one day it actually happens. After destroying his beloved pick-up truck, Tugnut knows his day has come to Shoot…Many…Robots.

As soon as I started playing the game, I felt like I had been transported back to a childhood arcade where I was still feeding quarters into Metal Slug as I was given this somewhat cartoony, but still modern enough looking hero, with a bevy of weapons and an even larger horde of enemies to take on in classic side-scrolling fashion. And when I say there is a large horde of enemies, I’m easily talking 20-30 robots on screen at once, and 200-300 robots per level. And I used everything from conventional weapons like assault rifles and bazookas to some more sci-fi inspired weaponry like freeze guns, to grind the gears of these gyro driven automatons into dust.

An interesting dynamic thrown into the entire game though is an RPG-like leveling up system where Tugnut could unlock new weaponry and armor that allowed him to slide, double jump farther, carry more health restoring beer, or, of course, do tons more damage. This reward system helped keep the game play satisfying as you mowed down the metal monstrosities.

Unfortunately, even with these unique features throw into the old-school side-scrolling dynamic that Shoot Many Robots gives us, it can get monotonous as you work through three or four stages per level and you just keep taking down the same robots over and over again for the most part. The look and sound of the game is rather dull and lacks the vibrancy you’d prefer in this kind of game to help keep your senses stimulated considering the monotonous game play. And with no real story to tie everything together, this is more a true arcade game in every sense, but this could turn off players who prefer a deeper experience.

There were also times where I wish I could upgrade the individual weapons with laser sights or other goodies as the aiming function was clumsy at best. More often than not I found myself trying to jump or slide into a better position, or use the bullet reflecting melee technique, rather than aiming as I couldn’t tell half the time where I was shooting.

There is also a steep difficulty curve with Shoot Many Robots as after the first couple of levels the robotic horde gets to the point where they can easily surround and start to engulf you. Mid-chapter checkpoints do help alleviate frustration in many instances, but it seems whenever a new foe or environmental hazard is introduced, you will likely meet your doom as you try to figure out what to do about them while still beating back the blade-wielding ankle biters that make up the majority of the robotic force as the game just keeps throwing more and more bad guys your way and barely gives you a chance to breath.

Aside from the mid-chapter checkpoints, the game does have another arcade staple fortunately that can assist you as well and that is 4-player co-op. Having three of your friends come on board so you can have a redneck death dealing parade and leave a swath of robot carcasses in your wake does help a lot and co-op like this always makes this style of game a better experience in the long run.

Still, I think that even with its strong positives and nostalgia inspiring experience that Shoot Many Robots is best served in short, but fun doses. This doesn’t seem like the kind of game you’ll sit down for three consecutive hours for. Instead, maybe just grabbing a friend for 30 minutes before tackling a more hardcore game seems to be the right speed for this title. But if old-school side-scrolling arcade shoot ‘em ups are your thing, Shoot Many Robots definitely hits all the right buttons considering it’s $10 (800 MSP) price tag.

SUMMARY: A frantic side-scrolling shooter reminiscent of classics like Metal Slug that may become tiresome in long intervals, but is more than enjoyable in short bursts.

  • THE GOOD: Fun, frantic action in an old-school arcade style
  • THE BAD: Even mindless mayhem can get tedious at some point
  • THE UGLY: Rednecks with guns are always a scary proposition

SCORE: 8.0

Shoot Many Robots is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), and PC. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

The Cycle Repeats

In Mass Effect 2, we learned a lot about the Prothean race, the beings that took the Reapers head on in the last cycle and fell to the wayside from their robotic onslaught. They then went extinct after their last resort, cryogenic sleeping pods, malfunctioned due to power failure. But what if one was to miraculously survive?

The Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC answers that question, and just like Liara, my reactions were very similar in that they were along the lines of “Oh my God, a real life Prothean! Amazing!” Javik, a Prothean general who was supposed to usher in a new cycle of dominance for his race, is now the last of his kind after his pod is discovered by colonists on Eden Prime, always a hot bed for Prothean activity in the Mass Effect universe. And his story and added dynamic to the team fits in very well after you rescue him from Cerberus, who are after him for their own nefarious means.

The problem with the DLC though mainly revolves around the price. You paying $10 (800 Microsoft Points) for literally only an hour of content in terms of missions and maybe an extra half hour worth of unique conversations aboard the Normandy and CItadel just seems really steep. The pack also features some new costumes for your other squad mates, but with no difference in terms of bonus attributes from the armor that ships with the game, it’s all just cosmetic. So really, I just can’t help but keep thinking to myself that is this is just another ploy to squeeze a few more dollars out of the players.

The way Javik is worked into the story and how he plays just like any of the other characters with his own unique powers and abilities is very well done. But it just seems like this DLC pack was cobbled together. And now that Bioware has decided to step into the multiplayer realm, to include a DLC pack without any sort of multiplayer content at all should irritate a lot of folks who have really embraced the mode, even if Mass Effect will forever be seen more as a single player experience.

So at the end of the day, you have to appreciate how good a character Javik is, but when you drop $60 for a 30 hour campaign, it just doesn’t seem to add up to get only another 60-90 minutes when you drop another $10 and so I just don’t see this DLC being worth the price considering how little it really affects the game overall. DLC stands for Downloadable Content…so where’s the freakin’ content?!

SUMMARY: This is a great story and new character, but he should have just been included in the game in the first place, not a $10 Day 1 add-on.

  • THE GOOD: Dynamic new character that fleshes out your roster
  • THE BAD: $10 for an hour worth of content, next time EA and Bioware should buy us dinner first
  • THE UGLY: The Prothean redefines the term ‘four-eyes’

SCORE: 5.0

Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

Rebel with a Cause

While Commander Shepard is taking on the Reaper threat head-on, there are many individual stories happening in the galaxy about the struggle and strife of the galaxy’s citizens, both within themselves and with outside threats. Mass Effect: Infiltrator explores one of those stories. You play as Randall Enzo, a Cerberus agent who will fulfill his masters’ wishes at any cost. As long as it’s non-human, Enzo has no remorse in taking it down, whether heartless Geth or Turian Raiders. He is a soldier through and through…until Cerberus goes too far and uses his best friend, Inali, in one of their twisted experiments. Now, pushed to the edge, Randall looks to take revenge the only way he knows how…by putting a bullet in his problems.

Fans of the Mass Effect universe will the see the immediate appeal of this game as you get to get behind an assault rifle and use some biotics to take on both familiar and new enemies specific to the game in a portable form for only seven dollars. The controls are a bit difficult to get used to at first as you obviously lack joysticks, but you will soon be mimicking the patterns of the console basis for this game as your left thumb moves you around and your right serves to aim, and remember this is easier, of course, on a larger iPad screen than a pint-sized iPhone.

You get plenty of practice to get used to this mechanic though no matter your iOS format as the game has an arcade on-rails shooter feeling as you move from area to area picking off your enemies one by one as they slowly march towards your position and you duck behind a conveniently placed piece of cover. This can get boring quickly and only the thought of enjoying a decently developed spin-off story in the Mass Effect universe will drive the more hardcore players forward in many cases as the casual Mass Effect fans may fall to the wayside.

Something else that might push people to finish this game though is the fact that Infiltrator can link to Mass Effect 3’s “Galaxy at War” feature. A cheap gimmick to help sell the game, I know, but if you’re determined to avoid the ME3 multiplayer for various reasons, this might be another way to help your galaxy readiness and for you to get the best ending if you’re willing to shell out more cash. I would have loved to have uploaded my specific Randall at the end of the game though instead of just the special Cerberus intel I collected. All in all though, Infiltrator looks and sounds great and is a solid purchase for diehard Mass Effect fans as it gives you about 4-5 hours worth of original content that might give fans flashbacks of Mass Effect 2 as you look at things again from the other side. Newcomers and casual fans of the series will likely want to steer clear though as this is definitely not the best way to experience the Mass Effect universe overall.

SUMMARY: An interesting spin-off to the main Mass Effect universe, only the most hardcore of fans will look past the repetitive on-rails game play and iffy controls.

  • THE GOOD: Unique adventure that ties in nicely with the Mass Effect universe
  • THE BAD: Repetitive on-rails game play, hit or miss touch controls
  • THE UGLY: Randall Enzo’s biotics infused face

SCORE: 7.5

Mass Effect: Infiltrator is exclusive to the iOS format.

Tally-ho!

There were a lot of great moments at GDC. From the parties to the panels, GDC was a huge learning experience for me and definitely something that anyone interested in game design or the industry in general should look into attending one day. The conference also has a modest show floor to show off games, especially of the Indie variety and I admit, my personal highlight of the show may have been when I stumbled into a ring of people forming an impromptu arena for what became a hot topic of discussion at the show: Johann Sebastian Joust.

This indie game isn’t a video game in the most traditional sense. In fact, it has no video at all unless you YouTube videos of people playing it in the middle of the street. You see the only thing that Johann Sebastian Joust requires really is a PS3’s wireless connectivity and everyone who wants to play, two player minimum and seven player maximum, needs to bring their own PS Move controller.

After activating your Move, the sensor ball will turn a specific color. Your objective is to jostle the other players physically enough for their sensor to turn red, signifying their elimination. The sensitivity of the Move controller also changes depending on the tempo of the music. The music, of course, always being Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto”. The faster it plays, the less sensitive and the slower it plays, the more sensitive.

I played 10 matches of Johann Sebastian Joust, winning all my matches but one, and that was because I was against the idea of roughhousing with a girl I did not know…or pay for. Johann Sebastian Joust appealed to my competitive gamer nature in ways that few games can actually hone in on nowadays while working perfectly with the music set up. The game also forced you to think outside the box in some instances.

My first victory came when I hid my controller in my coat pocket, and when the last man standing assumed he was victorious, I went up to him and pushed him aside for the victory as he forgot that only when the sensor ball flashed multiple colors did it mean he was truly victorious. I also used my coat as a shield in one match and actually won another match by default as a competitor kicked me in the stomach (seriously, dude went all Kung Fu on me), but all his hectic motion caused him to eliminate himself before he even touched me. My favorite though was when it was down to two of us and I yelled “Hey look at out behind you!” and my opponent turned around and let me tap his sensor ball (I actually got an ovation for that one as people were shocked the guy fell for it).

Describing it can only do the game so much justice though, so below is one of the promotional videos for the game. Considering though this likely is only going to be a few dollars on top of the price of a PS Move controller, I think this could easily be the best PS Move game yet if enough people find out about it. Of course, the only drawback is you might need to move your PS3 outside to make sure you have enough space for the game. But if you have the space, this was easily the most fun I had on the floor of a show in a long time and was more than worthy of its 2012 GDC Innovation Award and cannot wait until it becomes readily available everywhere.

A New Challenger Approaches!

The MMA market is one of the fastest growing sports demographics out there. And part of this has to do with the strong showing by some brands in the digital realm. More often than not though, these MMA games are difficult for newcomers to pick up and play and even more difficult to master. But there may be a new contender stepping into the cage to finally appeal to those casual fans out there that are looking to just jump in and dish out a good ol’ fashioned beat down.

Bellator MMA Onslaught is the partnership between Bellator Fighting Championships, who just kicked off their sixth season this past weekend on MTV2, MTV Tres, Epix, and Spike.com, and fellow Viacom property, 345 Games. Looking to try to be a bit less of a simulation like UFC and more of an old-school arcade fighter, Bellator MMA Onslaught looks to differentiate itself from its competition primarily via its arcade-like controls and RPG style fighter leveling up system. This, and the fact that unlike UFC where the fights are picked by management, Bellator lends itself more naturally to the fighting game genre with its eight-man tournament style set-up to determine champions and number one contenders. I had a chance to jump into Bellator’s cage and see first hand just how this game looks to merge modern MMA and the classic fighting game.

The first thing I picked up on was the quicker pace of the matches. This gave a better sense that a fight could end literally at any moment as even when my opponent or myself decided to try to slow things down, there was a tension there that you only feel in the tightest of fighting games. This also allowed us to get more matches in during a shorter amount of time to really determine some bragging rights. One fight isn’t enough. Winning three out of four on the other hand is something to write about.

The next thing I noticed is something that most players complain about still with other MMA franchises and that is the way Bellator controls, especially in terms of player feedback. The punches and kicks were crisp and three, four, and even five hit combos could be strung together if you were fast enough with your inputs, allowing you to turn the tide should you have left yourself open one too many times. But the biggest concern with MMA games typically is the ground game. Much like UFC’s amateur controls though, a simple flick of the right joystick allowed my players to perform some fluid takedowns and easily transition when on the ground. But more so than in UFC, I felt like that it was actually doing something. Again, faster model movement here was a factor in this where it seemed that every flick I made gave me a more clear and instant response, even when being countered by my opponent.

And since we’re down there, let’s stay on the ground. The submission system was likely the best I’ve seen yet in terms of conveying a fighting game, as it was a classic button masher mechanic instead of a confusing mini-game. By mashing the four face buttons to fill up your tap out bar first, you’d either make your opponent tap or you would escape their hold. Again, clear feedback on what I needed to do and how my button inputs were affecting my fighter. And obviously the fighter’s submission ratings, which you can level up when you create a fighter, affects the ease or difficulty it is to fill up that bar.

The presentation was also something that gave the game a fighter’s feel as the HUD featured your classic health and stamina bars. It also featured a balance bar that showed how close a punch or kick was to knocking you off your feet or if you throw a haymaker and miss, how out of position you are. That one was still a work in progress I was told, but the mechanic definitely came across as I started to wobble a few times after failing to block a three-hit combo.

My only real concern is the fact that the game is only shipping with eight fighters at launch and you typically want a larger roster for any fighting game. Of course, with online and offline tournaments, the create-a-fighter mode should supplement this in many ways as I’m sure most people would rather play as themselves if afforded the opportunity.

All in all, although still touted as an early build, I was very impressed with Bellator MMA Onslaught, especially considering this is going to be a PSN and XBLA title. I’d still like a more in-depth look at the create-a-fighter and leveling up system before I comment on them, but promises of being able to customize everything about your fighter, even crossing up several different martial arts when creating your repertoire of moves, has me salivating at the idea of creating a hodgepodge fighter that no one will be able to predict when this game drops in Summer 2012.

One of the major reasons that the Batman: Arkham series from Rocksteady has been so successful is the look and feel of the game. It is as if the Dark Knight has leapt right from the pages of Detective Comics and onto our TV sets. And one of the key men behind this feeling is the Art Director on both games, David Hego. David did a short panel at GDC explaining what inspirations went into Arkham City and also a few problems they noticed in Arkham Asylum, like Detective Mode, and how they tried to fix them.

Right from the get go, David admitted that being Batman is pretty freakin’ cool. And so game play was always the primary pillar for both games. The combo systems, the gadgets, the villains, etc., but this is still a visual medium so although some may see the art of the game as having taken a bit of a secondary role, it was still vital to the experience and knowing this, he and his team had a monumental task on hand as they wanted to give a respectful interpretation and thus created their Arkham-verse. Their representation, although a bit different, still needed to have Batman’s DNA all over it from the locations to the characters designs, like making the Penguin’s monocle a broken bottle.

And so when it came to actually crafting Arkham City, he and his team looked to blend the late 19th century Art Nouveau movement with the very modern Hyperrealism. The hyperrealism comes out best in many of the game’s character models, but much of the architecture took on more of the Art Nouveau style, like the Wonder Tower, which was modeled after the Eiffel Tower, one of Art Nouveau’s most easily recognizable works.

He also spoke to the challenges he had in designing Arkham City, like fixing the Detective Mode as he reminisced about how heart breaking it was to hear players spending the entirety of Arkham Asylum in that mode. And so they removed everything that was not vital from that mode so navigation and combat became much more difficult and compelled players to play the game it was meant to be played.

Another problem Hego spoke to was normalization. “Normalization is when the player stops being in awe of what they see on the screen. And what happens is a normal part of gaming. You start getting into the action and the game play and the narrative and you stop focusing in on a lot of the details of the environment. And even many of the subtle color schemes of Arkham City’s levels hurt us because they appeal to the base instincts of gamers where we have an ice level with Mr. Freeze, the steel mill is a fire level, Poison Ivy is our jungle level, and so on. So we need to combat this with a lot of variety. Contrasting elements and color schemes to keep things entertaining. So we create a lot of clashing in many of the levels. We added a lot of fanfare and the giant white clown faces to the steel mill to help fight the oranges and reds, for example. And so we just keep clashing in the hopes of creating new and still interesting environments.”

Hego also talked about how much the posters and Riddler clues spoke to the world they wanted to create without being too distracting to the player and taking away from the experience and even removing details in many areas with enemies and NPCs so that the player would focus on the objectives at hand.

All in all, Hego’s brief talk was an interesting look into seeing how this gorgeous world was created and how much care went into making sure we players and fans were happy while Hego and his team were still able to express themselves creatively in a way that fit into the game play and story.

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