Monday, 28 October 2013


 The continuing adventures of the World's Grumpiest Dad.

Released October 26, 2013
Developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal.
Published by Warner Bros. Interactive.
Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U (forthcoming).
Version played: PlayStation 3.

Oh, Batman.  No matter how much mud I sling your way for your deeply tiresome obsession with things being 'dark', your horrible fanbase full of the absolute worst of the internet, and your irritating ubiquity that threatens to blot out all other DC heroes like the shadow of Unicron falling o'er that poor bunch of non-Autobot robot people at the start of Transformers: The Movie, I still can't quit you.  You're like a really mangy cat.  For every bit of roadkill you drag into my house and throw up on my shoes (see The Dark Knight Rises or the current 'Zero Year' comics that are dedicating 12 whole months to telling us that, yes, his parents are still in fact dead) you still do something that makes me reconsider putting you up for adoption/throwing you in a dumpster far away from here.  In recent years, those 'somethings' have tended to be the Arkham Insert Noun games from Rocksteady, which were quite rightly praised for giving players the sensation of 'being' Batman to a tee and just being really good Metroid-y puzzle adventures with a great combat system everyone else has tried copying.

The combination of 'properly good game' and 'Batman is in it' propelled both Asylum and the bigger, more ambitious City to crazy sales numbers, which made it deeply unsurprising that Warners chose to outsource the engine and art assets to another developer so they could churn out a third game super-quick and franchise the hell out of the Arkham name.  Whether or not this works is, at time of writing, up in the air; the transparency of this game as a cash-grab, I think, will likely hurt its numbers a bit.  But that's not really what I'm here to talk about.  What matters, after all, is whether or not they threw the weird cosplaying ninja orphan baby out with the bathwater...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Gloomy cover, oft-gloomy book.

If there's one thing I cannot stand about comics, it's the term 'graphic novel'.

Oh, I get what it's meant to be used for, don't get me wrong: it's to illustrate the difference between the typical comic book series (with individual 20+ page installments delivered monthly, each serving as a chapter of a larger book) and a full story told in one single volume.  It's just that the term has been co-opted by snobbish types who can't bear to admit they once read "one of the funnybooks" and actually liked it.  "Oh yes, I have read that GRAPHIC NOVEL by mister Moore, it was rather enjoyable - what?  Comics?  Pfah, no, dear boy, I never read COMICS..."  Say that last sentence in your best Mark Kermode voice for maximum impact.

Anyway, that nitpick aside, graphic novels (grrrr) are something that Marvel has been kind of ignoring for the past few years.  DC, on the other hand, have had a pretty good grasp on what the format can do - namely attract a different audience, the kind of people who have a passing interest in the characters and worlds found in comics but lack the patience or obsessiveness to throw themselves into the deep end with an ongoing series.  Stuff like the Earth One Batman and Superman stories have been pretty successful examples of this, but with the debut effort of their new OGN line, Marvel are perhaps being more ambitious; instead of retelling the beginnings of one of their iconic heroes, writer Warren Ellis and artist Mike McKone choose to drop the reader into a very of-the-moment universe, with a team of already-established characters, and trust that you'll be able to keep up with the self-contained story.  Does the gamble work?  Read on to find out! (or to save you some time - yes, it does)