In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Beware the Batman: “Family” Review – In Comes the Lady
[Though it should scarce bear mentioning, spoilers resides ahead. Ye hast been warned.]Oh, boy. Things have certainly happened in “Family” though whether everything has gone pear-shaped or headed in a better direction remains to be seen. Whatever shape the world has turned, it has irreversibly altered the status quo in Beware the Batman.
The actual start of episode 7 sets Batman and Tatsu back to back in a shrinking circle of ninja-cosplayers from the League of Assassins, led by Silver Monkey. Yes, this fearsome foe is back and he really wants Tatsu’s supernatural jade sword.
For the sake of chronological continuity, we’ll skip ahead in the episode (where time is rewound) to Bruce who is on yet another with Bethany Ravenclaw and to Tatsu who is deep in the middle of a fight…with video game aliens on a nondescript handheld. Silver Monkey makes a surprise appearance and the ensuing “scuffle” leaves Tatsu battered and the limo a little worse for wear, which gets promptly gets even worse when Monkey feeds the limo a grenade and immolates it. I wonder what it says about me that I was more upset that Bruce’s car was totaled than the fact that Tatsu was being targeted again. I guess, my reasoning was that Tatsu could handle herself while the poor limo couldn’t.
The story pans back to Wayne Manor and Tatsu, with Alfred’s help, decides to come clean about her past involvement with the League of Assassins and the magical Soultaker Sword. The entire time I was wondering when Bruce would decide to out himself as the Batman; the time was ripe. Tatsu’s past was starting to involve Bruce Wayne the Man, as well as, Bruce Wayne the Bat and it seems everyone was finally being “caught up” (let’s just ignore the fact that Batsy has probably known everything Tatsu had told him since the moment he first met her). Instead, we are treated to a wonderful acting job by Bruce Wayne. Wearing the “angry, jerk billionaire” costume like a glove, he “accepts” both Tatsu and Alfred’s resignations and struts out of the room. I did not for a minute believe that Alfred was really fired but I was stunned by Bruce’s composure: this cat is cool as ice. We actually see sassy-pants Wayne again after his date, Bethany, delivers him to Silver Monkey’s simian clutches. I don’t know how he manages to stay so flippant and quip-happy while being held hostage by a crew of ninja-assassins. Though, I guess being Batman might ease your mind in most situations.
Tatsu, then, learns that Bruce has been kidnapped and leaves her waiting taxi to try and save him. It is a short scene and everything about her decision is implied but it’s touching nonetheless; it’s a quick and effective way to show Tatsu’s strong moral character. She arrives at the ARGUS club that had been name-dropped multiple times throughout the first six episodes, with just enough time to spare before seeing Bruce Wayne take a crossbow bolt to the chest and fall out of the wall-high windows. As Tatsu goes bananas on Silver Monkey and his crew, Batman shows up and everything comes full circle. We arrive back at the scene from the beginning of the episode and our new Dynamic Duo are captured. And just when it seems all hope is lost, a voice drifts out of the shadows. For all its elegance, there is an edge of menace that is unmistakable. Lady Shiva has paid this little corner of Gotham a visit.
Lady Shiva, for the uninitiated, is master assassin and high-ranking member of the League of Assassins. And so darn scary that, as soon as she arrives on the scene, all of the assassins that were following Silver Monkey turn on him. As the Lady put it, they feared her more than than feared Monkey. Silver Monkey is subdued through poison and is forced to watch along with Batman (as are we) the first real “death” in Beware the Batman. Tatsu turning her head away from the spectacle is a little tip-off to the how terrible of an act it is. And, jeez, is it terrible.
While Shiva reassures Silver Monkey that Bethany is not dead, I feel an intense need to disagree with her at the risk to my own life. Pardon my old-fashioned thinking but removing a one’s soul is can never really be conducive to living. Bethany’s pupil-less eyes and withered, mummified skin would appear to corroborate my thoughts. Batman breaks his bonds too late to save her but they do get into a rather intense fight with Lady Shiva that I would like to nominate for the award of “best choreographed fight so far” in Beware the Batman. It’s a rather unofficial achievement but it managed to convey the fact that both Batman and Tatsu were not yet of equal skill with Shiva while still reminding viewers that they are skilled fighters. Every episode this show keeps getting better.
The episode ends in the Batcave with Alfred and Bruce welcoming Tatsu to their messed up, crime-fighting “Family” and I swear my heart almost burst in excitement. The cowl is so much a part of Batman and he guards his identity so jealously, you can’t help but feel the gravitas of the situation when he takes it off. Many a fangirl-y giggle was had and I’m sure I will have to wipe my neighbors’ memories because that’s not an impression I want people to have of me. But episode 8 can’t come fast enough because I feel they are sure to explore how things are going to change both in the atmosphere of the house now that everyone is in on the secret and in how their vigilantism is conducted.
The only complaint I can level is at the plot direction for this season. It has been shared by the creators that Anarky, the villain introduced in episode three, is meant to be “the big bad” for season one but I say “fooey” to that. I want to see more of the League of Assassins. Everything has been tied up neatly on that front what with Lady Shiva dragging Silver Monkey away (to be tortured slowly, I’d imagine) and absconding with the Soultaker Sword. But the idea of continuing with this newly opened storyline of war against the League of Assassins is so intriguing that it feels almost criminal to pit whatever Anarky has up against that.
Either way, the cat is out of the bag, so now there’s nowhere to go but up, in terms of their crime-fighting efficiency. Unless, Tatsu gets scared off by how utterly insane Bruce is and quits at the start of the next episode. Who knows. But I can’t wait to keep watching.[box type=”shadow” align=”alignright” ]Favorite Quote of the Episode :
“You know, I’ve always argued that no one needs therapy more than therapists. And now, you’re proving my theory.”
– Bruce Wayne[/box]