Thursday, February 9, 2012

Another take on Batman

Batman is great and all but I've never really bought into the fact that his super power is that he's a normal guy but just awesome.  That's really the opposite of a 'show don't tell kind of argument' because it's it all tell and all too often it's Batman doing something crazy (like dodging a light speed punch or whatever) and then the reader being told by another character how scary*/awesome Bats is, and that's why he can do it.  Ya I know there are good Batman stories but there are a lot of liberties taken with this too.  He's supposedly awesome because his parents were killed and this made him dedicated to training a lot.  Well unfortunately I think that happens a lot but it rarely makes other people awesome, more likely it makes them depressed.  Sure he trained a lot, but apparently he's the best martial artist/super hacker/detective/scientist/race-car driver/pilot ever.  So how does he train all that and still spend every night fighting crimes?  A lot of people in comics have had bad stuff happen to them (way badder than loosing their parents) or train a lot, and sometime it makes them awesome, but never as awesome as Batman.  I like Batman but I don't know how much I like it when this theme gets too grand and Batman becomes the Chuck Norris of the DCU.

I've been playing a lot of Arkham City lately.  It's great fun and I really feel like Batman zooming around the shadows and beating down goons.  But I'm also getting killed and falling in the water a lot and sometime I get thinking, this game makes me the exact opposite of Batman.  I'm playing the game and I need to swoop in and take down 15 guys, some with knives, and I get capped and Mark Hamill gets in some great voice acted Joker taunting.  Then I do it again.  This time I almost get them before I get slammed down by a thrown crate.  Once more.  OK this time I am the Bat and I take them clown faced mofos out!  Swinging across a electrified floor, parkour off a wall and land on the release switch to save the poor doctor lady?  No problem - just takes 4-5 tries to get it right.  If I'm really really (really) stuck I might look up something on the Internet (Hmmm, you can throw a 90 degree zip-line turn in mid air?  Cool I'm on it.) and my wife will make fun of me.  I just tell her "I am the Bat" and she tells me I sound more like Joe Pechi than Christian Bale.  I might not be the Chuck Norris of the DCU, but I still like saying "I am the Bat" when I finally get the moves right.

But maybe there's another way to think about this (and save my ego...).  This is also an idea if you want to play someone like Bats in an RPG.  So here's my take on Batman:

Instead of being super awesome just because everyone says he's super awesome, The Bat is super awesome because he's actually got the Leibniz "Best of all Worlds" super power to get things right.  He gets to redo things from the last save.  He gets the pause button and the Internet.  Ya, Batman is meta.  If he has to fight Darkseid you bet he's gonna be working it 12 times to get it right, maybe even scraping the forums for a walk-through.  It might take him all night but he's gonna get the moves right and knock ol' granite face into one of them Apokolips fire pits to save the day.  And Superman, Flash and Wonder Woman will never know about the other 11 times he got fried by Omega beams.  He'll put in the time and he plays a lot of videogames, you see his parents were killed and left him some cash.  He doesn't go out much, he took it kind of hard the poor guy.

On second thought you probably don't want to do this with Batman.  Interesting character, but not as fun anymore is it?

I like Arkham City a lot and can  recommend it as a great game, but I think I felt more like Batman playing Arkham Asylum.  It was a bit less over the top and I didn't feel like I was playing Simon type memory pattern matching game sometimes.  I might have been, but I didn't feel it as much.  I also think there was a real missed opportunity with the art.  I wish that they had dialed it back a notch so that everyone didn't look like Bane with necks and arms as thick as their legs.  And the ladies... The ladies are built like statues with massive boobs and butts made of marble, but they have no charm at all - zero, which is too bad.  It would have been great with a bit more of the Animated Series style physical expression to match all the great voice acting in the game.  Arleen Sorkin and Bruce Timm Harley Quinn is such a fantastic voice/image package.  I do like the Joker and Riddler game models though.

 *I like in Arkham City the Joker quips to his henchman that Batman hasn't even managed to kill anyone yet.

**If you have a feeling of deja vu, don't worry.  This post was moved from my Beacon blog to this one on account of it fits in here better.

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