PS3 Reviews: Batman: Arkham City Review

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Batman: Arkham City Review

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Graphics:

 

9.2

Gameplay:

 

9.7

Sound:

 

9.6

Control:

 

9.4

Replay Value:

 

9.5

Overall Rating:       9.5

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Developer:

Rocksteady Studios

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Typically, the autumn is loaded with pre-holiday blockbusters, many of which pull down high review scores and are in the eventual running for Game of the Year. As of right now, we have a frontrunner for the prestigious award: it’s Rocksteady’s amazing Batman: Arkham City, which expands upon the winning formula from Arkham Asylum, gives us an open, exquisitely detailed world, just about every villain one could hope to encounter, and that beautifully refined combat mechanic that never gets old. Wow.

Although I won’t say this is the best graphical production of the year (thus far, that goes to RAGE in my estimation), Arkham City will still take your breath away. It’s probably larger than you expected, and the designers painstakingly crafted just about every nook and cranny of the expansive, intimidating environment. Character design is excellent (despite a somewhat unrealistic, plastic-y look), and the wonderfully fluid animations and ridiculously sharp effects are a pleasure to behold. It’s sweeping, epic and almost painfully immersive.

The sound is even more accomplished, as the deep, resonating orchestral soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment for our butt-kicking and general exploration, and the voiceover work is tremendous. This counts for extra given the sheer number of characters, each with very distinctive personalities. Mark Hamill as The Joker is fantastic, Nolan North as The Penguin is awesome, Corey Burton as Hugo Strange excels, and Grey DeLisle as Catwoman is…seductive. I just wish the music was a little more prominent, it's so good that we want more.

First and foremost, if you were a fan of Arkham Asylum, there’s almost no doubt in my mind that you will adore Arkham City. That free-flowing fighting system is back and better than ever, we get more gadgets and more abilities, and the detective mode has been reduced in terms of prominence, although it still works extremely well. The control, responsiveness, and freedom are the biggest highlights and the combination is highly addicting. You could play all afternoon and most of the evening and come out smiling.

At the start of your new adventure, Bruce Wayne is faced with a city under siege; just about every sadistic wacko on the planet descended upon the metropolis after Arkham Asylum inmates spilled onto the streets. At first, Wayne tries to run for office to help with the threat but it isn’t long before he has to don his suit and go to work. That’s when the greatness kicks in: the added exploration we didn’t have in 2009’s production, and an absurd amount of stuff to do. And you know, I have to make a comparison.

Surprisingly, I was immediately reminded of the inFamous games. We have two superheros that move about the city; one uses a supernatural ability while the other uses hi-tech tools, but the feel is very similar. We can run around the rooftops or drop down to take down groups of baddies to earn experience, and we use that experience to purchase upgrades in various categories. In Arkham City, that’s the Batsuit, Combat, Gadgets, and yes, you can even get upgrades for Catwoman (provided you get the code).

Quick side note- I highly recommend you use that code for Catwoman right off the bat. She’s actually the first character you use – if only briefly – before the story shifts to Batman, so take advantage. Besides, who wants to miss out on a whole other character to upgrade and enhance? You'll also be missing out on one sultry, swaying, surprisingly deadly vixen...she's great fun to use.

Getting back to it, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Rocksteady was influenced by Sucker Punch, as the similarities are obvious. However, if there’s one element that stands out, it’s the combat; as Cole, it felt more like a third-person shooter while the melee fighting was simpler. As Batman, it really is all about the hand-to-hand combat, although you can still use gadgets. And it’s like nothing else you’ve seen or played, with the exception of Arkham Asylum; it’s fast, intuitive, well-designed, and oh so satisfying. It’s one of the best mechanics of the generation.

Sure, one can claim you could button-mash your way to success, but that’s doing the system a grave disservice. While it’s not like God of War or an action-oriented game that relies upon multiple-button combinations, Batman primarily strikes with the Square button. He can also select gadgets to use in battle with the directional pad, and countering is a blast. When you see blue lightning bolts over a foe’s head, it means he’s about to strike. Just press Triangle and watch the fun.

You can string together consecutive strikes when battling a group – which is often – simply by maneuvering with the left analog stick, and special abilities can be executed with the face buttons. For instance, Batman can summon a swarm of bats to assist in combat just by pressing the Square and X button at once. Pressing Square and Triangle will have him attempt a Special Takedown. When hit, the screen will blur and darken, and you’ll know it’s time to either redouble your efforts or start dodging.

It never lets you down, although I must add that the camera isn’t always perfect. As was the case with Arkham City, I still think we’re too close to Batman and enemies lurking just outside our field of vision can prove problematic. It actually encourages some button-mashing because you can’t see everything as well as you’d like. But it seems less of an issue out in the open streets, and that’s a plus. This leads me to the open-ended, freedom-based aspect of this new game, which is just plain sweet.

There’s always something to do. Always. There are Riddler Trophies (and corresponding puzzles) to solve, phone calls to answer (I won’t give anything away here), and various side-quests that often feature familiar faces from the Batman universe. You can conquer challenges to earn new upgrades, and Rocksteady did a great job implementing the grappling and gliding in a very large area. There’s plenty of variety and a distinct sense of accomplishment goes along with every completed mission, whether it be primary or secondary.

There are only a few very minor issues. For instance, because grappling points are often close together, you might not grapple to the exact location you originally intended. Then there are grapple points that actually don’t work; you can sail to the location, only to find that Batman actually can’t fit or stand, so he just falls. I also think the glide mechanic is just a bit touchy, and again, the camera isn’t always spot-on. But besides that, you will be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with this superbly presented, excellently acted, sublime adventure.

Batman: Arkham City gives us an atmosphere we won’t soon forget, and an environment that is just begging to be explored and conquered. The control and responsiveness is perfect, the open-ended exploration is immersive as all hell, the stunning visual display and on-point voice performances are gigantic highlights, and the combat mechanic is second-to-none.  It'll keep you riveted for hours and hours. It isn’t perfect, as there are a few minor although obvious problems involving the camera, grappling, and gliding. But those will melt into the background of the infinitely appealing Arkham City.

Enjoy it.

The Good: Beautifully detailed, stunning environment. Great music and some fantastic voices. An incomparable, free-flowing combat mechanic. Exploration is addictive. Control and overall gameplay mechanics are reliable and accessible. The most diverse, deadliest Batman ever. Huge amount of content.

The Bad: Camera still sits too close. Grappling isn’t a perfect system, and gliding is a tad touchy.

The Ugly: “Two-Face’s ‘other’ side…but it’s countered by Catwoman’s allure, so who cares?”

10/18/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (56 posts)

Lionheart377
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:23:12 PM
Reply

If only I had the time for this game!

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fatelementality
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:38:02 PM

Make time!!! This is NOT to miss. I really hope that they eventually come out with a villains animated skins pack to make the whole game look like the old show. That would be sweeeet. Wouldn't mind the high-tech version of the costume that was in Knightfall as well. Think of the mini-batarangs you could fire at people. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

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telly
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 9:35:52 AM

Seriously. i'll play this one eventually, no question, but my to-play list is getting high! And with Uncharted 3 around the corner, one must prioritize.

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mike rlz
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:41:19 PM
Reply

if you havent played asylum i think walmart is selling both in a dual pack like uncharted 1+2

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La_Bete12
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:55:03 PM

Yeah, I just bought it from them. It's definitely a great deal for two amazing games.

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ZenChichiri
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:49:02 PM
Reply

This game looks awesome. I wish I didn't have a pile of unplayed games at home. GYARGH!! I think this will have to take precedence over some of those though.

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chedison
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 10:54:43 PM
Reply

Love seeing all these good reviews for this game. I'm glad I was able to get it for free! Have to wait until the 15th though, got it on PC.

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Shams
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 11:17:46 PM
Reply

My heart always leaps when reading a gushing review at psxextreme. Don't come by those too often. I already purchased it at Kmart due to the awesome deal this week (comes w/$30 coupon), but the review raised my excitement levels. Really, I appreciated AA, but found it a bit dreary. I actually preferred the spidermans due to the joy of movement and lighter toned story and atmosphere. But the reviews are in, and my curiousity has been piqued.

Rage? It's a mixed bag visually. I rented it immediately after reading Ben's review. It's 60 fps, which I love, but shoot a vase with a rocket launcher, and on the vase you get a disappearing "web" from last gen. The enemies animate beautifully (all two or three of 'em at any given time), but the first person character's animations remind me of Golden Eye's (the N64 original). The lighting is at times photorealistic, but rarely, if ever, dynamic. The scenery is beautifully rendered, but the rocky terrain doesn't take my breathe away like the vistas of Uncharted 2, and the late loading and muddiness of the textures are things that ND and GG wouldn't tolerate even if I could. Granted, I didn't play through the whole game, but what I saw from it reminded me of pretty wallpaper...not particularly immersive. Stronger story and character depth would've helped, though.

I'll give it more of chance when I get it on the cheap.

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Victor321
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 11:27:44 PM
Reply

My friend says that this is the next best thing before The Dark Knight Rises and that I have to buy this.

I concur.

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TheOldOne
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:18:48 PM

"The Dark Knight Rises" has not been released yet! Maybe you meant: "The Dark Knight".

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Victor321
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:37:57 PM

No, I did mean "The Dark Knight Rises" because when it releases, until then Arkham City will hold me over :)

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ZettaiSeigi
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 11:27:54 PM
Reply

Great review Ben! Good to know that at least one superhero got a more-than-just-decent video game! And who else to get it but my fave, Batman!

I'll eventually get this game, but it would have to wait as I want to make another go with Arkham Asylum and do as much as I can with it. I feel I won't go back to it once I have Arkham City. LOL

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Gamer Girl Gemo
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 11:39:22 PM
Reply

Wonderful review, Ben. I played a bit of Arkham Asylum, but never got much into it. Maybe I was just kind of missing something. Arkham City looks great, but my wallet is already crying in tears at just how much has been invested into this year already. Not to mention what's yet to come. UC3 and Skyrim are my must-gets of this year, but I hope that Arkham City will make its way into my hands some day in the future.

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Oxvial
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ 11:46:18 PM
Reply

This game is awesome!

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mk ultra
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:12:57 AM
Reply

This sucks. I have zero disposable income right now. Hopefully GameFly doesn't take a month to send it to me because thats the only way I can play it right now.

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mousekiks
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:13:34 AM
Reply

Bought at Walmart for $60 bundled with Arkham City GOTY edition! Never thought I'd see that good of a deal at wally world.

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 8:57:14 AM

Yeah, I saw that deal, how awesome is that! I already owned Batman AA so I just went for the Kmart deal with the $30 game credit!

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PharaohJR
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 8:22:38 PM

lol wally world. thats a good deal though.

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Geobaldi
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:15:34 AM
Reply

Picked up the PC version last week for $27, now just waiting for it to unlock in a few weeks.

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TheOldOne
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:22:25 PM

What site?

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Geobaldi
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:02:52 PM

Ebay. Guy bought a new video card that came with a free Steam code for the game, which he didn't want apparently. I did the same thing with Arkham Asylum when it came out, and picked it up on Ebay as well for less then half off.

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johnld
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:54:12 AM
Reply

my only problem with the game is that it keeps freezing on me, froze twice already. although dynasty warriors gundam 3 also freezes my ps3. i can play uncharted 3 subway multiplayer and gran turismo 5 all day without problems though. anyone know how i can fix this? i dont really want to do a restore file system because the last time i did that i got an error and had to reformat my hard drive a couple days ago.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:56:25 AM

You were the one with the ME2 problem too, right? Dude, sorry but it seriously sounds like your hard drive is broken (bad sectors).
That's my five cents.


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/19/2011 2:57:49 AM

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TrophyHunter
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:01:24 PM

Yep, sounds like a bad hdd, try a deep formating bro

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:32:58 PM

No no, this is hardware failure.
Not sure how good the ps os is at handling faulty drives and thereby prolong the lifetime of the drive but a) I doubt it's particularly good and b) I can guarantee you it's going to be a continuous source of problems.
Gotta get a new drive.


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/19/2011 2:33:55 PM

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jimmyhandsome
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 5:59:37 PM

happened to me about a month ago John. I had to upgrade to a 320gb, so in the end it was probably worth it for me to do so. I had one of the "older" slim models, so my HDD was only at 120gb. Try googling videos or looking on Youtube how to replace it, its actually pretty easy. And this is coming from a guy that is awful with technology.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:54:24 AM
Reply

I'll wait 'till I've beaten Deus Ex I think, I have a hard time focusing on more than one game at a time. But this baby SHALL be mine.

/me cries in the direction of Marvel: "Take a long hard look at THIS, damnit!!!"


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/19/2011 2:58:20 AM

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 9:00:58 AM

I know right!!!! Come on Marvel, COPY Batman AC into Spider-Man or even Moon Knight and you will have a winner. Who cares if you copy Rocksteady's ideas, everyone copied Id Software's ideas!

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AshT
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 4:15:35 AM
Reply

Great review Ben, just what i expected from you.

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tridon
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 5:40:46 AM
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I just came back from the New York Comic Con and I attended the Batman: Arkham City panel there last Friday. Sefton Hill played about 10 minutes of the game in front of the crowd and I was just sitting there in awe. Just watching that little bit made me think that this was going to be the best superhero game EVER! Another reason to be in awe: Kevin Conroy was also sitting at the table beside Sefton. The crowd was chanting, "Let Kevin play! Let Kevin play!" It was hilarious! I can't wait to pick this up today! I have my Future Shop Steelbook being held for me right now! :D

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R3ZR
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 7:29:48 AM
Reply

ooh! i cant until friday :( its out in stores but my collectors edition doesnt arrive at EB Games until friday.. -.- totally excited to play this tho!!!

btw Ben: great review !! :) love your work...:)

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 8:49:49 AM
Reply

This review is spot on! I have the same gripes about the Batman Arkham series. But it is something special that's for sure. I played for the first time last night for 5 hours until 3:30am, dragging bad today. The flying training challenges are very challenging. I totally agree about the flight being touchy. He likes to go left/right way to easy, but I am getting better. The flight mechanics really add to the gameplay. The dive bomb, pull up and then dive bomb and pull up is amazing!! You can really fly some good distances. The fighting is magnificent, of course. I have a lot of room for improvement but find myself doing better now than how I did in the first game. The graphics are amazing along with the sound. I am sorry but Uncharted 3 is going to have to really earn it's GOTY trophy this time!

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TheManOfAction
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 9:45:33 AM
Reply

I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!

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tridon
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:12:40 PM

Were you at the NYCC panel, too? That's exactly what Kevin Conroy said to the crowd when he walked on stage. :D

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TheManOfAction
Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 9:38:37 AM

I wish man, I dont have as much free time anymore... But that quote has been immortalized since I first heard it in TAS haha

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MadKatBebop
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 10:36:49 AM
Reply

Man, this sucks! I wish I had more money. I would love to get that dual pack at wal-mart, but Uncharted 3 comes out in 13 more days, I just can't risk it. I would love to own both of Arkham city and Asylum.

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DemonNeno
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 12:58:59 PM
Reply

Overall, simply amazing! I will say, however, that I have already set the controller down so that I wouldn't bash it into a million pieces. Rarely do I become so frustrated, especially over something so simple. Gliding and maneuvering are easy as pie, unless you're trying to squeeze in tight areas and the dumbed-down auto-grab happens... In the end of my 5hr+ marathon, I never succeeded and simply moved on to something new. I couldn't believe it.

Otherwise, I can't complain about any of it. In fact, I have to go... The Bat signal is lighting up my brain! :D

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:27:39 PM

It's tough especially the flying training where you have use dive bomb and glide together through a tunnel!!!!! Took me like 20 tries in the second series. I am getting more and more use to it. Constantly failing and then working your way back up to the location where you can try again really helped me get use to the controls again. Fantastic game!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 3:14:05 PM

As I said in the review, the touchy gliding and grappling is one of the reasons why this game isn't perfect. I had a lot of difficulty with those training segments, too.

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mousekiks
Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 10:33:52 AM

Damn those AR training missions...-_-

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TrophyHunter
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:31:05 PM
Reply

I'm decided to finish my unplayed games before i get new ones, but damn, games like this just make it harder

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:38:13 PM
Reply

i've just got a question. i never played asylum but i'm thinking of picking them both up and playing them back to back. thing is i'm not a batman fan (or even a superhero fan for that matter) so i'm just wounding are these games appealing to none batman/comic book fans like me or are they mainly for the fans ?. i hear you don't need to be a fan of the fiction to enjoy them. just like to hear some of you on here have to say.

Last edited by TheCanadianGuy on 10/19/2011 1:42:34 PM

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TrophyHunter
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 1:57:52 PM

I'm not a Batman fan neither, my favorite superhero will always be Wolverine but really, this games are a must for fans of awesome games.

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DemonNeno
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 2:25:47 PM

This game is far less like your typical Batman and more like the Frank Miller incarnation, IMO. I'm not much of a Comic fan myself and absolutely enjoyed AA as well as AC. Being that Batman isn't much of a "Super Hero" with magical power, he's easily one of the best Comic characters to to appreciate regardless of your interest in the comics.

I wouldn't think twice about it. Grab them both and enjoy them for the Game, not the Comic.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 3:13:09 PM

I'd have to say that when a game is as good as Arkham Asylum, it crosses boundaries.

I'm not a superhero fan, either, and in all honesty, I probably won't finish Batman. That has a lot to do with current time constraints, though.

At the very least, I say you have to try it. Not sure if there's a demo out there, but it really must be sampled by everyone, IMO.

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 3:57:11 PM

thanks guys that pretty much settles it i'm gonna get them probably in the new year because i'll be busy with uc3 next month (like everyone:) yea b there was a asylum demo i liked it but didn't bother with the game because i knew nothing of batman. the characters/ fiction. but i won't make that mistake twice.

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 3:02:34 PM
Reply

Was my post deleted? Wtf?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 4:11:51 PM

I didn't delete any posts.

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Nerull
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 4:15:06 PM
Reply

I've been waiting for this one since the teaser trailer a couple years ago at the spike vga's. Unfortunately it looks like I'll have to wait a bit longer since the pc version got delayed.
Is it possible to get a dualshock 3 working properlly with a PC? I want to take advantage of finally having a beast of a laptop but I'll always prefer a dualshock except it seems less supported so I might have to resort to actually buying a xbox pad. Please show me how to avoid that.

I'm still in the process of trying to repair my YLOD'ed ps3 since I'm waiting on a torx for a single screw. wtf? If they were using a torx why not use it for all the screws rather than just one? It's not like you can do much worse than a philips, with the exception of a straight.
But ya it's Batman, and I'm not normally into comics, tied with Skyrim for most anticipated. I know uncharted 3 will be awesome but 3 games at once is too hard on both wallet and schedule. Really it's 4 since deus ex just came in the mail. I'll sleep when I'm dead it seems.
Cheers

Last edited by Nerull on 10/19/2011 4:18:03 PM

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 7:30:48 PM

Nerull,

Yeah you can get a combined PS2/PS3 controller to PC adapter cable.
Just I just picked one up a few weeks ago & it's a plug-&-Play, no software to convert.

Just eBay it, I got mine super-cheap for only $1.90 (USD) with free shipping using a Hong Kong seller.

The only drawback is that it will be about a 3 & 1/2 weeks worth of waiting for it to pass through China Post(their Postal system) & reach my door in the US.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/19/2011 7:32:47 PM

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Nerull
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 11:19:52 PM

Thanks muchly, I'll take a few weeks of waiting over fiddling with whatever other software google would lead me to.

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Geobaldi
Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 2:27:53 PM

Or you can pay $3 more and get it from Amazon in two days.

Assuming you have Amazon prime that is, otherwise add just a few bucks more for shipping.

Last edited by Geobaldi on 10/20/2011 2:29:13 PM

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Lairfan
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 @ 4:52:28 PM
Reply

I can't believe it, but somehow I'm enjoying this even more than inFamous 2. And inFamous 2 was my GotY so far!

Rocksteady's really gone all out with this one. After I finished Arkham Asylum I knew that they were one of the premier multiplat devs, but this game has solidified them as second to none IMO.

Now I'm just interested in seeing the real clash of the titans this year, Arkham City vs. Uncharted 3. Who will win GotY?

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Silent_J
Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 10:30:56 AM
Reply

Im in love with this game. The combat is amazing as always and flow of the story is just right .there is definitely a lot of variety in the side missions .this is one open world that is not boring in anyway. There's tons of riddler's trophies to collect and new gadgets. I will be playing this for long time .highly recommended if you liked the first one .

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Silent_J
Monday, October 24, 2011 @ 10:17:01 AM
Reply

Just finished playing out this last. Definitely a wtf just happen that crazy Moment at the end .now to play it in plus mode .

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Sirius
Sunday, January 22, 2012 @ 4:42:10 AM
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Amazing game, one of the best of 2011 and of this generation without a doubt. Very well done game.

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