I woke up bright and early in the morning and blearily wondered who might have sneaked into my apartment during the night and shoved a wad of cotton into my mouth. I got up, drank some water, and then went back to bed. A couple hours later, I got up, drank some water, and after all that strenuous activity, had a nap on the couch. After my nap, I settled into a hot bath with my PSP and started Disgaea Infinite, which I sadly do not love. I should like it, as the premise is essentially that you’re playing through a choose-your-own adventure story, where you can possess characters and influence their actions, but instead of feeling like a game, it feels like an interminable cut-scene, which makes me feel antsy instead of having fun. I’ll give it a little more time as playing while hungover wasn’t exactly giving it a fair chance, but I definitely prefer the strategy-tactics games in the series.
After giving up on Disgaea for the day, I took a glance at my huge pile of shame (unfinished, or in some cases, not even started games), and decided it was time to work on it some. The first game I popped in was Batman: Arkham Asylum which I love. Action games tend to be hit-or-miss for me, it seems like a lot of them have one gimmick that they beat to death while you’re beating the same bad guys to death over and over and over again in settings that all look the same–this one got great reviews, which caused me to pick it up, but my own apprehension about the genre caused me to let it sit neglected on my shelf for months. I shouldn’t have waited so long. Everything about it is awesome. The gadgets you get to use aren’t gimmicky. Combat is uncomplicated, well-animated, and wholly satisfying. It’s equally satisfying whether you jump into the middle of a crowd of ten guys and go nuts beating the hell out of everyone or perch atop something high and wait for a patrolman to pass below, swoop down, and silently choke him, lay him to the ground, and disappear back into the shadows before the other guards even know what’s happening. You feel like Batman in this game, whether you’re gliding through the night or just nonchalantly strolling down some stairs (Yes, I make Batman take the stairs sometimes. It keeps him humble.) All of the Riddler puzzles are well-executed, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of tiny details that make it clear that the developer actually gave a damn about the franchise and making a good game. They didn’t just make a good game. They made a great one, the only worthy Batman game in existence. I intend to finish it tonight–if I hadn’t had to get up for work today, I probably would have finished it last night. My only nitpick is the design of Arkham itself: my inner vision of an insane asylum is that of one with intentions to rehabilitate its patients, and the treatment wards in Arkham all look like elaborate torture chambers. No wonder the criminally insane in Gotham stay criminally insane and take others down with them!