Comic book fans have a ton of "interactive entertainment" experiences to look forward to in 2013.
DC and Marvel have entered into the ultimate team-up with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in order to bring gamers/comic book nerds some awesome games to play. I got the chance to demo three upcoming comic book games that should please a bunch of diehard fan bases. This mega preview delves into the games you’re going to play in your cosplay outfit and superhero underoos – Batman: Arkham Origins, Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
Batman: Arkham Origins
It’s time to start big, right? So let’s detail the demo time I spent with Batman: Arkham Origins. For anyone who’s played the magnificent games in the Arkham series of Batman games, you should find some familiarity with this prequel entry. Batman still sneaks around a wide open environment, beats down goons with the free-flow combat engine backing him and uses his stealthy demeanor to capture foes during Predator challenges. The presence of the Detective Mode from past games also returns as Batman is tasked with solving various mystery occurrences.
A couple of new wrinkles have been thrown into the mix this time around. During the multi-man battle royal sequences, Batman gets graded for how he defeats his opponents. After watching The Dark Knight pull off flawless counters while smashing in the faces of his detractors, a scoring tab popped up to reveal his overall grade for the encounter. Utilizing Batman’s gadgets, countering correctly, using your cape to stun foes and keeping your combo meter high will grant you higher grades. With the addition of more capable enemies who can counter your attacks, fights will become even more challenging for those looking to ace their combat exams.
I’m glad I got to witness the boss fight that Batman encounters when he faces off with DC’s ultimate assassin, Deathstroke. For this prequel, boss fights have been designed to test a player’s knowledge of the game’s many mechanics. As for this boss encounter, you’ll have to know the in’s and out’s of free-flow combat and counters. Mashing the attack button won’t get you very far, which is something I recognized after dying on my first try. Deathstroke uses his staff and sword to keep Batman at bay, but my combined use of punches, counters and gadget special moves began to work. When Deathstroke’s life bar lowers to a certain point, he throws down a smoke bomb and disappears.
Deathstroke doesn’t stay gone for long as he comes raging back at Batman with repeated staff strikes. I mashed the counter button and blocked ‘Stroke’s assault. My final counter dazed him and allowed me to injure him with a crazy array of strikes. After doing this three times, I put down the super assassin for good. I had a ball playing this section of the presumably lengthy campaign. There’s more assassin’s to fend off and a larger plot to discover, I presume.
Batman: Arkham Origins will be available on October 25, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC platforms.
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure
The young protagonist with the chicken cowl for a headpiece thankfully returns in this sequel. Max and his sis engage in one of the oldest and most prevalent comic book nerd arguments known to man – Who’s better: Batman or Superman? Instead of talking it out like sensible children, they go ahead and transport themselves to the main source of their hero fandom – the world of DC Comics. Of course, this disrupts everything and sets up a new adventure for Max.
From all the gameplay I got to witness in person, two things instantly jumped out at me – the seemingly unlimited amount of DC universe lore and the unbridled chaos you can create. Players can type in the name of several DC heroes, villains, all-star teams, vehicles, etc., and I’m quite sure it will pop up on your screen. Type in Dr. Fate and presto, he’s there! Wanna see a battle between the Green, Yellow and Red Lanterns in the middle of Metropolis? You can make it happen! Wanna know who Bloodwynd is? Look him up in the game’s mega glossary and step up your DC Comics knowledge. There’s a wealth of DC material to unearth here.
The gameplay is familiar, yet still a joy to experience by yourself or with the young ones. Each world you inhabit (such as Central City or the Green Lantern planet of OA) comes packed with random activity. The random activity you’ll witness also translates to random missions. For instance, a helpless bystander was getting walloped by Two-Face and a few thugs in Gotham. The bystander in question knew that Two-Face was dumb enough to get caught tripping over a bomb. As soon as my light bulb went off, I watched as the word “Bomb” was typed on the Wii U GamePad. Then, that bomb was strategically placed in Two-Face’s way and I watched as he got blown to Kingdom Come (see what I did there?). Mission accomplished! The presence of new random missions popping up every time you re-renter a world equates to unlimited replayabilty.
One of the cooler aspects of the game is the custom hero creator. The Batcave serves as your main hub and lets you mash together different DC characters for hilarious results. My proposed idea of a mixture between Zatanna and The Flash gave birth to a heroine who could run fast and fling magic spells at will. Her appearance was all the more awesome – Zatanna’s head, The Flash’s body and a pink ribbon crest in the middle instead of a lightning bolt. SAY HELLO TO FLASHTANNA!
Scribblenauts Unmasked will not only serve as an insanely fun comic book adventure and creative utopia, it will also introduce the young ones to a treasure chest of DC Comics lore. Look out for this action/adventure for the Wii U on September 24, 2013.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
The kiddies are gonna love this one, too. If you’re familiar with the long list of other LEGO-themed franchise games out there, then LEGO Marvel Super Heroes should be easy to recognize. If you haven’t played at least one LEGO game, then here’s the drill – famous movie/comic book franchises get LEGO-fied and transported into a super fun platformer that’s filled with multiple characters. DC’s Batman and Co. got the blocky treatment, but now its time for Marvel Comics’ heroes/villains to get their shot.
It’s amazing how many characters from Marvel’s stable show up here – Wolverine, Sabretooth, Archangel, Mr. Fantastic, Venom, Hulk, Sandman, Dr. Octopus, a smiling Punisher, Iron Man in his underoos, and many more. There will certainly be a couple of obscure faces appearing in the game, too (does Squirrel Girl and Howard The Duck ring a bell?). I got a glimpse at the full character select screen and it is massive.
The humor of past LEGO games is present here as well. Leaving Mr. Fantastic idle for a few seconds will trigger him morphing himself into a teapot and Hulk always spats off some one-liners about something he hates. This game got a few chuckles out of me and it will most certainly get a few out of you. The most amazing graphical feature of this comic book bonanza is the recreated New York City you’ll get to run and swing around in. I got a chance to watch Spider-Man nemesis Rhino run through lower Manhattan and bowl over a few taxis. Seeing The Human Torch and Iron Man fly side by side near skyscrapers is awesome, too. As a proud New Yorker, this part of the game definitely pleased me.
The smash happy gameplay and block collecting of these types of games are addictive in nature. One mission pitted Captain America and Mr. Fantastic against Dr. Octopus in the Baxter Building while another mission had The Hulk and Iron Man deal with Sandman. Both scenarios included defeating baddies, collecting LEO pieces and smashing/rebuilding random structures for extra LEGO stubs. Each character has their own way of dealing with foes, so Gambit fans can fling a few cards their way during combat situations. It’s fun, easy to get into and 10-times more enjoyable with a co-op partner in tow. You’ll most certainly enjoy the smashing, grabbing, flying and shooting in Marvel’s world alongside a buddy.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes looks to continue the great legacy of past games in the LEGO series. Keep your eyes peeled for its release on all the major consoles sometime in the Fall of 2013.