Another weekend and a chunk of the week have gone flying past like a bat shot out of a gun that’s travelling on a speeding train. None of that makes sense, but that doesn’t matter! This week I’m talking about Batman: Arkham Knight, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and the new Plants vs Zombies!
Just a single review this week: The Surge 2. It’s a very late review but I’m pleased to say that it’s drawing in a lot of traffic nonetheless. I ultimately really enjoyed the game and found its combat to be brutal, fun and satisfying, but had some issues with the weak story and visual drabness.
I’ve been playing the new Plants vs Zombies which very quietly released this week. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but I’ll offer up my basic impressions here: it’s genuinely quite good. It’s simple, fun multiplayer action with a lot of charming character designs. While I think it might struggle to retain a player base, I’m having heaps of fun with it.
I’m also playing and will be reviewing Asgard’s Wrath, a big new VR RPG. I’ve only managed to play the first hour but it makes a strong first impression, pitting you against a huge kraken which hurls entire ships at your face. One of the game’s coolest tricks, aside from its amazing visuals and sense of presence, is letting you go from a normal view to God mode, where you become a giant and the entire environment becomes like a toy box with everything feeling so small. It’s very, very cool.
This week I also decided to fire up Batman: Arkham Knight on PC. I picked it up on sale last year, and the urge to check it out and see if the PC port ever got fixed grabbed me earlier this week. For the most part the performance issues seem to have been ironed out, and I can happily say that Arkham Knight is gorgeous on PC. The way that water sprays off of Batman’s cape as he glides from a rooftop is mesmerising, as is the neon lights of Gotham City.
I reviewed Arkham Knight way back in 2015 and definitely had some problems with it, but overall still thought it was a great game. I’m happy to say that I stand by my verdict all these years later, and in fact may even like it more now. While the Batmobile is still overused, it’s a lot of fun to just blast around the streets like a lunatic, and though the Arkham Knight isn’t the most compelling villain the things that the story does with the Joker are simply fantastic. In fact, I even wrote a pretty chunky examination of Arkham Knight’s ending, if you fancy going back and reading it.
I think ultimately Arkham Asylum remains the best of the trilogy, though. While the later games introduced amazing open worlds and built upon the gameplay of the first game, Arkham Asylum has an incredibly tight structure at its core which was lost once the series moved to a larger, open world template. Arkham Asylum was a more controlled and linear adventure but with that came supreme pacing and level design that decayed with Arkham City and Arkham Knight. The metroidvania elements were brilliant too, because they made you become more familiar with Asylum in a way that you never truly are with Gotham city.
My favourite aspect of the Arkham series is still the stealth sections. Stalking bad guys as the Dark Knight himself is one of my strongest memories in gaming. When they first released the demo for Arkham Asylum I cannot tell you how many times I replayed it just for those stealth segments, and I delighted in playing around with the mechanics. I’d psychologically torture the goons, dropping down behind them, letting them see me then disappearing back into the shadows, just like Batman would. I’d hang goons from the rafters and as their terrified comrades approached I’d cut them down with a batarang, adding a further scare. It makes you feel powerful in a way few other games ever manage to match, but at the same time you were still vulnerable. The Arkham series’ Predator mechanics truly are a masterclass in game design.
I’ve also been playing a bit of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 on my Switch Lite and have to say that it just isn’t clicking with me. I really thought that as a huge comic fan that I’d be having a blast but the gameplay has grabbed me yet. Keep in mind I’ve only played through the first hour, though, so perhaps things will get better the further I go. Still, it’s tempting to jump back to tending my farm in Stardew Valley instead.
A random piece of news that caught my attention is that Bethesda have decided to introduce a paid subscription option of Fallout 76. Called Fallout 1st, it costs £11.99 per month and gives players access to a bunch of stuff that fans have been clamouring for since the game launched, like private worlds and unlimited junk storage. To put that in perspective, Xbox Gamespass costs just £9.99 and gives you access to a massive library of games, including the upcoming The Outer Wilds, plus Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas.
I really don’t understand it. Fallout 76 was a disaster on launch and has essentially lurched from problem to problem. Earlier this year Bethesda went back on their promise to have no microtransactions that would effect the actual gameplay by introducing purchasable repair kits, which Bethesda then claimed they did because the fans wanted it. It makes me feel bad for people who bought the game on launch for full price and have thus far stuck with Fallout 76 as Bethesda attempt to patch it up, only for a new subscription to be added that introduces features which should just be in the game. One of those features is a bloody tent that you can pop down for fast travelling. That costs £11.99 a month? WHAT!? Do you get anything else? Er, a set of armour and some Atoms, which are the premium currency. That’s all, folks.
Look, if you’re enjoying Fallout 76 then that’s awesome, but I beg you: don’t buy this horrible subscription. It’s absurdly overpriced, offers very little and what it does offer should be in the damn game anyway.
But anyway, in other news Japanese magazine Famitsu’s review scores have been put up courtesy of nintendoeverything.com and those scores include Luigi’s Mansion 3, a game I’m super excited about. Apparently it scored 9/8/8/8 for a total of 33/40 which is pretty damn good. Interestingly in the very same issue Luigi’s Mansion 3 actually got outscored by Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by a single point.
Speaking of Luigi’s Mansion 3 I’m planning on reviewing it. I couldn’t get in touch with Nintendo to secure some review code, so I’ll be raiding the piggy bank. I lost my wallet not too long ago and with it a chunk of cash, so funds are tight at the moment. I’m hoping that I can afford to pick it up and the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. If you fancy supporting the site a little you can use the button at the bottom of this page to donate through Paypal. It really does help.
Finally, the NPD sales for games in September were published:
- NBA 2K20
- Borderlands 3
- FIFA 20
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening*
- Madden NFL 20
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
- Gears 5^
- Code Vein
- NHL 20
- Mario Kart 8*
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Red Dead Redemption II
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
- Plants vs Zombies: Battle For Neighborville
- Marvel’s Spider-Man
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
As you can see, NBA 2K20 has taken the top slot followed up by Borderlands 3, which 2K described as being their fastest selling game ever.
Gears 5 ranked at 7th but it’s a fascinating entry because of how it was available on Gamespass on its launch, so regular sales for Gears 5 aren’t as important as normal. Its actual success is almost impossible to know unless Microsoft releases stats which show a big growth in subscribers around the time of its launch.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has also sold very well, and indeed might potentially be higher on the list because Nintendo don’t provide information on digital sales. In other words, Link’s Awakening has ranked 4th on this list based purely on physical sales, and considering digital is now the predominant way in which people buy games I’d love to know if Link’s Awakening would actually be higher than FIFA 20 or even Borderlands 3.
It’s also worth mentioning that Breakpoint ranked 6th despite officially launching on October 4th, while the window for the September NPD rankings ended on October 5th. With so little time it’s impressive that Breakpoint ranked so high, although it’s also a bit disheartening. From what I’ve seen the game is a mess, features dull gameplay and horrendous monetization, yet despite the terrible PR surrounding it Breakpoint has still sold very well.
Oh, and somehow Grand Theft Auto V is ranked 12th. Seriously, who keeps buying copies of GTA V?
That’s all for this week, my friends. Drop me a comment, let me know what you’re playing.
Categories: Weekend Whammy