Interesting review of Batman: Arkham City by Tom Bissell, who suggests that “of all the experiences video games make theoretically available to us, a simulated superhero experience turns out to be what, at the end of the day, video games do best”.  A little hyperbolic, but being Batman turns out to be pretty damn compelling.

One thing he says I disagree with, and it shows how much tastes differ: he doesn’t like the thug chatter, pointing in particular to a scene where Joker’s thugs discuss how they’d hypothetically break into Joker’s lair.  I thought that was pretty funny, myself.  It’s just the sort of stupid conversation extremely bored people would have.

At the end of AC Catwoman is looking a little peaked:

Even getting into an explosion doesn't motivate her to zip up a little

I really like playing Catwoman, and especially fighting as Catwoman– she is definitely faster than Batman, and there’s something to be said for a simpler array of gadgets.  She has a pretty good heist mission, as well as a revenge mission against Two-Face, but I wish they’d done more with her.  Intriguingly, playing Catwoman, the player can make the only moral choice in the game: whether to save Batman or not.  It’s not exactly a balanced choice, but I like the way they handled it.

I only realized on a replay that you can go look inside Catwoman’s apartment, though there’s a distorting screen that makes it hard to see.  She has some nice lamps, a couch, and a bare mattress.   Well, probably better than most of the other inmates.

Bissell notes that Batman is dickish with Robin (for sure), and says he’s dickish toward Catwoman, because when she says “I almost chipped a nail back there,” he responds “Funny.”  But that bit is actually well written.  They are setting up Catwoman as a girl who doesn’t like to be indebted (which leads into that moral choice later), and showing Batman as kind of humorless.  Which he is, along with the slight dickishness.  He’s an image of hypermasculinity, the strong silent type, and the game is honest enough to show that he is really not that good at empathy.  (When he rescues some cops from ice, he suggests they get warm, but it doesn’t seem to occur to him to go find them a coat.)

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