Batman and Uncharted and GTA5, oh my

1.  I just finished watching the GTA5 trailer.

So it’s Los Angeles.  And it looks like it’s keeping the gravitas of GTA4.  The most impressive thing to me is how colorful the trailer is – not that GTA4 was bland, but everything here is crisp and bright and beautiful.  Didn’t catch a release date, but I’d guess it comes out next spring/summer.

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2.  So I’m a little over 2 hours into Uncharted 3; I finished the “burning chateau” section and that seemed like a logical place to stop for the night.

The good:  it looks absolutely phenomenal.  It is, hands down, the prettiest game of this generation – which includes Uncharted 2.  The dialogue and voice acting are terrific; I like these characters and care about them and I enjoy watching them interact.  The platforming is still engaging, and the few puzzles I’ve encountered so far are interesting and have been immensely satisfying to solve.

The bad:  the melee combat is really awkward and unsatisfying, and this sticks out specifically because I’ve spent the last 20 hours of my game-playing life beating the shit out of every living thing in Batman: Arkham City, which does 3rd-person melee combat better than anyone else.  The gunplay is still awkward, too – the early enemies aren’t bullet sponges, which is much appreciated, but it’s still a bit touchy, and it’s also a bit off-putting to consider how many people Nathan Drake murders over the course of an adventure.   (As noted above, I’m only 2 hours or so in and I’ve already killed dozens of bad guys.)   The walking/running animations are, for the most part, really beautiful and fluid – except when they’re not, like when you suddenly change direction.  And there are quite a few chase sequences when you’re running towards the camera, and the controls in those sequences are pretty rough, and you’ll die a lot, and in doing so you lessen the impact of the chase itself – it becomes less about HOLY SHIT LOOK AT WHAT I’M RUNNING FROM and more about rote memorization and hoping that the controls move the way you intend.

I’m still enjoying the hell out of it, but I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I’d hoped.  Its strengths are still top-notch, but its weaknesses are becoming glaring.

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3.  I’m more or less done with Batman: Arkham City.  As noted above, I’ve put at least 20 hours into it; I’ve found almost 300 Riddler trophies, and that’s probably enough for the time being.  I may put it in every once in a while during a release lull to try and get all 400, but it’s not a priority.

My first impressions were not overly kind, to be honest; in my excitement for the new game during the summer I’d replayed Arkkam Asylum on the PC and so the first hour of AC was pretty much the exact same experience.  But I grew to really enjoy it.  The story is ludicrous if you look at it for more than 5 seconds, but if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief it’s an enjoyable ride, and the ending is easily one of the best endings I’ve ever seen, in any medium.  (Again, keeping my disbelief suspended.)  And I was certainly excited to know that after I finished the story I’d still have more to do – and for the most part, that was true.  But I’m a little fatigued with it now.  Knowing that I have over 100 Riddler trophies to go is not enticing – it’s exhausting.

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