76 users responded in this post

Subscribe to this post comment rss or trackback url
mygif
Admiral Snackbar said on February 13th, 2013 at 11:03 am

@JCHandsom
“Injustice: Gods Among Us should be considered a fighting game First and a story set in the DC Universe second.”

And that’s the basis of the argument – I think Injustice or any other DC fighting game should be a representation of the source material first. MGK seems to be coming from the same place.

If I tiered a DC fighting game, those tiers would never touch – that’s why Batman’s in both tiers in my example, because fans are pretty happy just so long as they get to use Batman or have a Batman/Superman battle. The power levels in DC are way too unbalanced to accurately support in a fighting game. Your tournament tier example is useful, but there’s a much bigger difference between Superman and Joker than any two Smash Brothers characters. And then the choice becomes devaluing Superman vs. devaluing The Joker or Harley Quinn or, hell, I don’t know, Geo-Force. The game designers always pick Devalue Superman and that does a huge disservice to the license.

Because, let’s be realistic, there’s no reason to do a DC fighting game over another Street Fighter game or a game with original characters unless it makes DC look good and lets you experience the DC characters in a way that makes them fun and appealing.

Postscript: I’m adding Poison Ivy to Tier 1 and Swamp Thing to Tier 2 of my example. That would rule.

ReplyReply
mygif
MarvinAndroid said on February 13th, 2013 at 11:49 am

@JCHandsom Oh, were do I begin? Sing to me, O Muse, of a really terrible game. First, it’s not “mechanically better.” The game only improved two things: The brawling combat, and giving you all the gadgets at the start of the game. The latter is only possible because Asylum acted as a tutorial for those items.

Now let’s go over what’s worse. First off, the open world doesn’t work. The game isn’t actually any less linear than Arkham Asylum, it’s just more irritating to play. The two-dimension minimap doesn’t work with the three-dimensional game world, and the plethora of arbitrary barriers and glorified invisible walls mean that trying to do any mission is preceded by a long search for the one (or, if we’re lucky, two) magical entrances the developers assigned to whatever building you’re trying to get into. Fun.

Oh, but it’s made up for by the sidequests, right? Well first off, you’re locked out of a fair chunk of them without buying the DLC. Don’t worry, though. You aren’t missing out: you’ll still see reminders of the locked content everywhere. It’s so immersive! But DLC complaints are so 2011, so how about the fact that most of said sidequests are dull and repetitive, and suffer from the same “I can’t find anything” problem as the main game. Where Arkham Asylum was elegant, Arkham City is bloated.

If you buy that DLC, though, you’re rewarded with… a very brief playable Catwoman segment that features everyone’s favorite comic book element: threats of rape against women characters. Good thing we always sexualize depictions of violence against women, or else this might not be dark and edgy enough.

But then let’s get into the plot. Remember how Batman doesn’t kill people? He has no qualms about letting them die around him by the dozens. This is a shooting gallery of major characters. They are all going to die, and it’s all Batman’s fault. Way to go, Bats.

But, of course, tons of depictions of Batman have failed to understand Batman. For example, most of them. So let’s ignore that and look at the plot objectively. It’s terrible. Holy shit, is it every terrible. It’s a giant mish-mash of cameo appearances, weird immortality nonsense, and just straight-up magic. Batman, of course, has little to no impact on the plot. He’s mostly here to get lost in a colorless snowscape (remember how interesting and colorful and filled with flavor and little tidbits Arkham Asylum was? Well, now it’s grey. Realism!) and watch people die. It’s always nice to play a heroic, proactive protagonist.

Remember mystery-solving detective Batman from Arkham Aslyum? He’s on vacation. Instead, we get ineffectual stumble-upon-the-plot Batman. The plot, of course, consists almost entirely of deus ex machina and Clayface. Yeah, Batman didn’t bother to consider that maybe the reason the villain appeared to be in two places at once was because he was. Thanks to Clayface, a villain Batman has put away many times now. Detective Batman might have seen it coming. Blind idiot Batman, the protagonist of Arkham City, missed it. But that’s okay, because so did the player. Because there are no clues.

Arkham City has its moments. Unfortunately, they’re the same moments from Arkham Asylum. All of Arkham Aslyum’s good stuff, like the stalking missions and solve-them-how-you-want stealth sections are here. They’re just padded with some of the worst “why wasn’t this cut” bullshit I’ve ever seen in a game. Arkham City is the Assassin’s Creed III of Batman games.

It’s bad.

ReplyReply
mygif

@Admiral Snackbar

Alright, but even with your tier system don’t we still run into the problem of devaluing Superman? Superman has withstood Supernovas, is capable of moving the Earth, and can move several times faster than the speed of light…so I can totally beat him with Lex Luthor in his armor right?

“Aha!” You might say. “Lex’s suit is powered by kryptonite, so that weakens Superman enough so that they are evenly matched.” Ok, so why can’t I just give the Joker a magic wand that strengthens him/weakens Superman?

You’re absolutely right in saying that the DC Universe is wildly mismatched in power. In fact it’s so mismatched characters like Superman will inevitably be depowered. I don’t see why someone would get upset over the Joker beating Superman because of some plot device but be ok with Superman losing to Lex Luthor because he’s wearing power armor.

There will always be some mandatory power re-balancing, because it’s a fighting game, and a good fighting game determines victory by the skill of the player. The use of DC characters, in my opinion, is meant to allow players to play with iconic power mechanics (The Flash’s speed, Batman’s gadgets, Superman’s strength)in a controlled and balanced environment. It isn’t so much a matter of “Batman vs. Superman” as it is “Gadgets vs. Super Strength”. DC characters are often closely related to their powers (The Flash moves fast), and are relatively well known (The Flash is well known for moving fast), so it makes more sense to use them rather than make up some new hero (Speed Man!).

All the story needs to do is say that some disturbance in the 5th dimension is shifting power levels between the characters and the player can get on with the game.

ReplyReply
mygif

@MarvinAndroid

Alright then, let’s start with the mechanics.

First, boss battles. Major improvement right there. I love Arkham Asylum, but I hate it when a game forces you to fight the same boss multiple times. I hate it even more when it doesn’t even let you fight the boss and instead gives you rooms full of the same enemies to beat up. Arkham City improved this drastically, by having the boss’es weakness be exploited by a gadget you obtained (ala Zelda), ramping up the visuals of each fight, and by emphasizing different mechanical aspects(The Solomon Grundy fight is all about movement and dodging, Ra’s Al Ghul is all mastering those special combo and beatdown moves, Mr. Freeze is all about stealth and smart gadget use, and Clayface combines movement/combat/gadget mechanics together), all of which make each fight distinct and unique.

Second, brawling mechanics. I’m glad that you mentioned this as an improvement, because that saves me the time of going into just how much they added to it. I do think though that you are undervaluing the importance of that improvement. Most of the time spent playing Arkham City is spent flying/exploring, and fighting bad guys.

Speaking of flying/exploration, that’s something I think Arkham City also did very well. I think you’re frustrations with finding objectives may be subjective to you, as I’ve never had difficulty finding an objective and I’ve never heard people complain about it (then again I could be totally wrong on that). Even then, Arkham City still has some fine movement controls. Let’s use Assassins Creed for comparison, since you brought it up. If you fall off a building in Assassins Creed, it can take from anywhere from 10-30 seconds to get back to the top, and that’s frustrating. In Arkham City, it takes less than 2 seconds to get back on top. In Assassins Creed, if you’re not using fast travel, it can take a very long time to get to where you’re going, and is you do use fast travel, it breaks immersion. In Arkham City, you can get from one part of the map to another in a very short amount of time thanks to the gliding mechanics and grapling(which is drastically improved from Asylum in terms of elevation control and speed).

Fourth, side content. What did you think of the Riddler Challenges (the ones where you compete to get high scores in combat/stealth missions)? That makes up a good chunk of game content and are a good holdover from Asylum. As for your remark that the side quests are “dull and repetitive”, I disagree. The Riddler side missions are pretty creative in their construction and I thought were cool in the ways it made you use gadgets creatively. The Zsasz phone missions/AR training missions emphasized mastering the new flight mechanics, the Madhatter side mission gave us a little of that Scarecrow trippiness, and the Deadpool and Hush side missions had more of an emphasis on using the detective scanner to find clues. There were some duds, looking at you Watcher in the Wings aka “Pointless Easter Egg Hunt”, but they stuck out at least for me. Catwoman, while questionable in terms of sexual exploitation, fought and moved differently from Batman, so there is some incentive to get her if you want to try going through the world with a different set of skills. You also forgot to mention Robin, Nightwing, and Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC (although that last one was a bit of a letdown personally). Also, what “reminders of locked content” are you referring to?

Fifth, the level up system. In Arkham Asylum, you got xp for fighting bad guys, collecting collectibles, completing story elements, and exploring the world. Arkham City retains all of that and expands it. Now there are more Riddler trophies, riddles, and gadget puzzles scattered throughout the world, more enemies (and more types of them) to fight, there are side missions to complete, and there are a ton of little collectibles to get for xp (Joker’s balloons for example). Not only there are a lot of ways to get xp, there are several new ways to spend it. You can now better customize the Batman you want to play as. You can focus on combat (special moves, combo extenders), gadgets (new gadgets, new abilities for gadgets), armor (melee/ballistic for brawling/stealth respectively). Simply put, more xp + more options = a more diverse play experience and an incentive to play new game+ in order to get everything.

I think I’ll save my thoughts on the story for another post. And don’t worry, it’ll be much shorter 🙂

ReplyReply
mygif

Actually he does when bullets are laced with kryptonite or gun in question is magical or he was dosed with kryptonite/red sun beams or he was magically cursed. Yeah, I read a lot of supes too.

And when it happens, it’s a subversion of an iconic aspect of the character. How many times has that happened, compared to the number of times he’s been shot and nothing at all happened? When someone shoots Superman, he doesn’t cower in fear because what if kryptonite, he thrusts his fucking chest out because bullets don’t hurt Superman. It’s what he is.

And that’s exactly my response to your hypothetical supercritic – “There are thousands of Superman at once, all the time” is not an iconic feature of the character. There’s a lot of room to play with Superman’s power level, but turning him into a dude who loses a little health every time he’s hit by a bullet is stupid in a way that turning him into a dude who doesn’t travel back in time hundreds of times to film a Burly Man sequence is not.

ReplyReply
mygif
Admiral Snackbar said on February 13th, 2013 at 10:46 pm

@JCHansom

The difference with Superman vs. Luthor as opposed to Superman vs. Joker is that we accept, canonically, that Luthor plays in Superman’s league. It’s the same with Batman. They’re the two smartest, best-equipped men on the planet, and we’ve had tons of stories where they’ve gone head-to-head with Superman. Joker’s more specialized; he just doesn’t have that cachet.

We’re still coming from two different places. You say, “The use of DC characters, in my opinion, is meant to allow players to play with iconic power mechanics,” but to me, the characters are the iconic part. I play a DC fighting game to use Superman, not super-strength, just like I play a WWE game to use CM Punk, not the Go to Sleep. The powers are part of the experience, of course, but I can get super-strength anywhere. Superheroes may be synonymous with their powers in many cases, but people want to play Batman vs. Superman, not gadgets vs. super-strength. You might be an outlier here, because you’re clearly a big fighting game guy, but was the attraction to Smash Brothers that you could play boomerang vs. lightning, or Link vs. Pikachu? I think most people would say Link vs. Pikachu.

This conversation is actually echoing MGK’s post about Ameritrash vs. Euro board games, ie, thematic experience vs. rich mechanics. To me, the value of a DC fighting game is in how deeply it puts you in the DC Universe. I have no interest in Injustice because it doesn’t feel like the DC Universe to me – part of that is the grim aesthetic, and part of that is the story’s all Elseworldly, and part of that is that the power levels are wildly off the mark. It could be as good as Marvel vs. Capcom and I’d still have no interest, because the liberties taken with the setting are too great. I’m cool with having a DC game where Joker CAN’T fight Superman, as long as it feels like a proper DC game to me.

ReplyReply
mygif

And again: Smash Bros and MvC’s situation != Injustice’s situation. Those two games are insane right out of the gate. Sure, an immortal and divinely-empowered sorcerer, a bounty hunter with a kill count including four planets, and a swordsman who routinely wipes out entire armies singlehandedly should logically be able to beat up a couple of mountaineers, but it hardly matters that it’s not an even fight, because the other fighters include a stick figure and an NES peripheral.

And it’s not just crossover fighters that can do their own thing. Street Fighter’s power levels are all over the place, but Street Fighter has always been silly. Who cares if being electrocuted should logically kill Ryu? The lightning came from a green-skinned Brazilian who learned to generate it from electric eels!

But Injustice can’t get that excuse, because it’s a game that’s clearly trying to focus on its story, and trying to cultivate an atmosphere of oppressive darkness. It’s got rampant deaths, bone-breaking, gritty costumes, and a tie-in comic where Superman kills a baby. Why all the realism, when everything else plainly runs on fighting game logic? If it ran on a Brave-and-Bold-style tone, I could totally deal with it, but as is, it just feels dumb.

Also, second a more in-depth look at the tie-in comic. When we look back on this decade like we do on the 90s, that’s going to be one of the comics we hold up to say, “So here’s everything wrong with the early 2010s…”

ReplyReply
mygif

@AdmiralSnackbar

I totally see where you’re coming from. In fact, most of my favorite games of all time are primarily thematic experiences. However, I still think that Injustice is a fighter with DC characters and not a DC story framed within a fighting game setup, and that is mostly due to the mechanics inherent in fighting games.

When I said that “The use of DC characters, in my opinion, is meant to allow players to play with iconic power mechanics,” what I was trying to get at is that the player’s main method of interacting with the characters is by playing with their iconic power mechanics. I didn’t mean to suggest that someone is going to get excited to use “Gadgets” to fight “Super Strength”, I was merely laying bare the primary mechanical appeal.

Because let’s be honest, you’re not interacting with the characters beyond making them hit each other. There won’t be a section of the game where the player has to worry about whether or not Clark Kent’s secret identity will be revealed, and there won’t be a scene where you get to investigate a crime scene as Batman, so those aspects of those characters (double life/Batman as detective) will at best be relegated to cut scene and at worst be left out entirely. What the player does get to play with are their powers and abilities, like Superman’s heat vision and super strength. In a DC fighter,the player should feel a connection to Superman because they get to know what it feels like to punch a guy into orbit, and because they probably won’t get a chance to dive into Superman’s alienation and moral dilemmas.

This is where balance and power distribution comes in. A sufficiently skilled player should be able to use any character to beat any other character in a good fighter, and more importantly each character should feel good to play as. That is, each character should be able to use their respective power set in a way that feels satisfying to the player. It’s hard to feel good playing as Superman knowing that nobody can touch you, so level the playing field and make player skill the deciding factor. Not all fighters can do this, and even the best have tiers and some balance issues, but in general it can be done. I still want to feel awesome punching dudes into orbit as Superman but fear being taken out by an opponent, even of that opponent is the Joker. It wouldn’t be hard, just say 5th dimension stuff is causing it. It would certainly be easier than trying to build a fighter around a built-in tier system.

At some point you have to make a commitment on whether or not you’re OK with forcing some balance into the DC universe for a fighting game. Personally I’m OK with it, because I know what a good fighter generally needs and I want to punch dudes into orbit (in case you couldn’t tell). I consider Injustice to be a capital-F Fighter not because I don’t value the more thematic elements, but because I know that trying to stay true to the power imbalance inherent in the source material would be less fun to play, even if it was more faithful. There are plenty other sources where I can get DC stories that are faithful to the power mismatch. Games are meant to be played however, and balanced mechanics are the core of a Fighter.

In other words if devalue/overvalue character powers you only weaken the narrative, but weaken the mechanics and you weaken the whole game.

ReplyReply
mygif

Also, @Sumguy

I agree with you there on the story. I doubt there would be any problem if this was done in the style of Brave and the Bold, because the tone of the story would fit the nature of the game play.

But no, we get infanticide and grim dystopias. I’d chalk this up more with DC editorial then anything else, since they started with the whole “Dark Age of Comics 2: Dark Harder” thing.

ReplyReply
mygif

Chris K

You claimed that bullets never hurt Superman. Bolded that claim for emphasis. It’s still there I am not imagining it. And I reminded you how reality begs to differ.

“…There are thousands of Superman at once, all the time” is not an iconic feature of the character…”

So it doesn’t count as monumentally stupid when you close your ears and sing lalala when outsiders criticize stupid parts of your holy book you ignore(I may have mixing up my discussions).

ReplyReply
mygif
Ian Austin said on February 14th, 2013 at 3:06 am

Kyle – someone should write a time-travel story where Bonnie and Clyde are revealed to be Hitler and Harley Quinn!

ReplyReply
mygif
Ian Austin said on February 14th, 2013 at 3:11 am

Yeah, the Freeze fight in Arkham City is better than any fight in Arkham Asylum and is one of the best boss battles ever.

It forces you out of your comfort zone. Instead of relying on your usual attacks, you have to use action moves and time it just right. Can’t use the same action move twice, so you have to be exceptionally creative.

ReplyReply
mygif

I wish they’d just do a fighting game utilising Batman family vs Gotham villains already. Lots of popular characters, most of them are martial artists or fist fighters, no need for wildly inaccurate power levels and plenty of setting material for level design.

ReplyReply
mygif

I like the idea of Batman in both tiers. In superhero theoretical fighting terms, Batman arena rules Tier 1, Batman with prep time tier 2.

ReplyReply
mygif

zob, you’re interested in winning an argument. Fine, you win. You are much more skilled at arguing than I am. You found the place where I said something never happens, you found at least one time when it has happened because you have read a ton more Superman than I have, and therefore my whole argument falls apart. Flawless victory.

Bear in mind that you are having an argument about how to precisely measure how stupid a particular use of a character in a fighting game is.

So let’s back up, and allow me to rephrase my argument such that it will withstand your assault:

Superman is well-known as a character who is not affected by being shot by hand-held firearms. In every decade, we can find multiple examples of Superman brazenly ignoring hand-held firearms as their projectiles bounce off his chest. It is true that some types of hand-held firearms could affect Superman, and there are all sorts of arguments we could have about whether the kryptonite would actually have time to affect him before it hit him and what kind of magic the bullet needs to be ensorcelled with in order for it to kill Superman. But Superman is well-known as the dude who stands there, arms akimbo, and smiles while bullets bounce off his chest. It is easily one of the three most iconic images of the character ever. It is fundamental to the character of Superman in a way that “loses consciousness when punched in the head” is not fundamental to the character of “random fictional character who exists only in a fighting game.” It is also fundamental to the character of Superman in a way that “Thousands of Supermen appear, drawn from all corners of the chronoverse, and punch Deathstroke in the head simultaneously” is not. I concede that the latter obviously could happen, but it baffles me that you think “why aren’t there thousands of Supermen all at once” is a criticism of the same character as “why make a game about Superman being shot to death?”

ReplyReply
mygif

How about use the tier-style fight, but make it so the Tier-Ones can fight the Tier-Twos? A Green Arrow player CAN beat a Captain Marvel player, but they’re going to have to spam Rocket Arrow, exploit the hell out of their range, and avoid getting hit more than twice. Just like how in the DBZ games mentioned earlier, Videl can fight (and defeat) Goku, but the Videl player has to be unbelievably good.

ReplyReply
mygif
AJ from GA said on February 14th, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Arkham City was awesome. Haters gunna…well, you know it goes.

ReplyReply
mygif

I gotta agree with JCHandsom. The Arkham and Spider-Man games are super-hero focused games. This is a fighter with super-hero theme and I think that can fine. A game that really tried to model the powers of the DC heroes would be a very different game and its unfair to criticize the MK team for not choosing to make that game. It would be like criticizing Mario Kart for failing to be a detailed kart racing simulation.
If you are interested in DC charterers but not in fighters this game may not be for you, and its unlikely that making it less balanced in the name of accuracy would really change your mind.

ReplyReply
mygif

@MarvinAndroid

I’ve thought for a bit on what you’ve said about the story, and I have to say that while I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, its just that I didn’t feel as strongly as you did. That may just come down to our individual natures; I for one am pretty forgiving when it comes to a story as long as it doesn’t go to far with obvious inconsistencies or license betrayal. It may just be a matter of where our breaking points lie.

That said, there are some things I can comment on about the story. I liked the little background stories you could get for solving Riddler riddles/challenges. Making the story a collectible is something I really like in a game when its does it right (see Metroid Prime). I really liked the section where Batman starts to feel the effects of the poison blood. Having Batman’s max health drop, his movement slowed, and giving him hallucinations of his dead parents were good ways to “show, don’t tell” the player Batman’s decline on health. I thought that the depictions of most of the new villains (Two-Face, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange) worked well.

I also didn’t mind the look of the environment as much as you did. Gray though it was, I would never confuse the Museum with Wonder City, as the overall level design and aesthetic of each area was distinct from each other (mostly). I loved all the little changes the city goes through over the course of the story (the Riddler’s graffiti on the Church steeple, the ice bridge Mr. Freeze makes when you complete his side mission, the damage from the missile strikes at the end of the game) and how they mirror the damage you take to your suit over the course of the game. Probably the biggest thing I liked about the city was the way it felt alive with activity. Flying over the rooftops and picking up bits of conversation from prisoners about the state of the city, seeing a prisoner doing push ups, and using your decrypter to tune into the GCPD frequency or Vicki Vale are all little details that made Arkham City feel real to me.

As for the more troubling matter of the threats of sexual violence made against Catwoman and the lack of coherency in the story, that’s a little more difficult for me to talk about. I know how bad this makes me seem, but given how much sexism and bad logic there is in modern comics, I saw that stuff in Arkham City and thought it was just par for the course. You yourself said that threats of sexual violence was something brought over from comics. That doesn’t excuse it of course and I realize how bad it is, it just didn’t affect me as much as it affected you.

ReplyReply
mygif

@Matt_M: It is entirely fair, however, to criticize them for making the tacky, infantile, oversexualized, childishly overviolent game they’re making. The MK team is crap not because they don’t know how to make a game work, they’re crap because they don’t know how to make a game that isn’t catered to the teenagers that bought Bloodstryke and Liefeld’s X-Force in the 90s AS IF WE WERE STILL IN THE 90s.

Excusing and enabling their retrograde sensibilities is damaging to the DC brand. The fact that whoever is in charge of getting these things made fails to see this is astonishing, even WITH the terrible history Warner has at managing what should be their most successful brands.

ReplyReply
mygif

Sometime after Mortal Kombat 2 or possibly 3, the series started taking its bad-metal-album-cover aesthetic seriously and forgot that it was supposed to be a fun parody of bad metal album covers and bad martial arts movies, all mashed together by the people who made Smash TV and Total Carnage. Neither of which took themselves or anything else seriously in the LEAST.

ReplyReply
mygif

Chris K

You still don’t get it. It’s not a pissing contest about which media is the most moronic one. What I am trying to convey here is, If you are going to criticize this game (or something else) for something power related (in your example guns vs. Supe) and deem it “stupid” be ready to throw down the towel on whole comic book continuum.

I gave the most ludicrous example I can think of to underline that point. You are trying to ignore that for frequency. Fine let’s scale back. How can anybody without super speed can ever punch Superman? We know that Luthor’s power armor doesn’t give him super speed(except for flying) yet we saw hundreds of fights between them. Super speed is one of Supe’s “iconic” powers. Yet he never uses it when he needs it. (yes you can handwave it, but if you are going to handwave one stupidity why aren’t you handwaving another?)

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. When you start using the word stupid, gloves comes off.

ReplyReply
mygif
socraticsilence said on February 16th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

@zob- Superman can’t be written to fully utilize even his modern non-Earth lifting power set- it severely limits the number of stories you can tell if Supes is Batman level intelligent along with everything else.

A more interesting question I think is why is Batman always the one who sides against a fascist order- is it the legacy of DKR or what?

ReplyReply
mygif

@socraticlicense:
I think it’s only to be expected for bats to become the one against fascism in every iteration. His ethics have always been the most clean-cut so, unlike with other heroes, where there’s wiggle room on the matter, his deontological tendencies are just taken to their logical conclusion when fascism shows up.

It’s an interesting discussion nonetheless.

ReplyReply
mygif

Is Batman punching out Superman really that much further away from Captain America punching out Shuma-Gorath in the MvC series?

ReplyReply
mygif

Its hilarious that people think there’s something in dkr somewhere that was *against* fascism.

Like maybe that page is hidden somewhere in the other hundred and fifty where that book is busy being Birth of a Superheroic Nation.

ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please Note: Comment moderation may be active so there is no need to resubmit your comments