Four Letter Nerd

Category - Gaming

Hopelessly Devoted to “Devotion”

magic(Todays article is brought to you by a nerdy guest, Tyler McDuffee!)

Greetings PlanesWalkers! I would like to start today’s entry with a few questions: Are you tired of playing the same old deck against your friends? Are you wanting to break out in the local competitive scene? Are you wanting to play something interesting yet frightening?! If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you answered no and are just along for the ride, then I have the deck or decks for you. They are Mono Colored “Devotion” decks. “Devotion” is a mechanic introduced in the “Theros” Block. Your “Devotion” to a certain color is based upon how much of that color you have in the mana costs of permanents that exist on your side of the field. For example, let’s say you summon “Twin Headed Cerberus”. “Twin Headed Cerberus” has a mana cost of two “Red” mana and one mana of any kind. So that means the two Red mana from his mana cost will give you two “Red Devotion”. “Devotion” doesnt only come from creatures, it can come from “Enchantments” as well!

two-headed-cerbers

 

The question you may be asking now is what about devotion makes it so special that it has a deck built around it? That question has many answers! Some of them will be answered along with a deck list of a few mono color Devotion based decks. The reasoning for this is that each Devotion deck has different style and way to be played. But an upfront reason I can give you as to why “Devotion” is special are the Gods. The Gods are Legendary Indestructible Enchantment Creatures with two unique abilities. When a God is summoned it is treated as an “Enchantment”. If the God is an Enchantment you may still use it’s abilities but it may not attack or block. At anytime if you meet the “Devotion” cost for a God it becomes a creature, allowing to swing at your opponent or block his/her creatures. forge

“Devotion doesnt only apply to the Gods! There are actually Instants, Sorceries, and Creatures that benefit from “Devotion” as well.

 

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what “Devotion” decks are about I am going to post some different deck lists for you to examine, choose whichever one you like best!

 

Mono Red Devotion

Creatures:

2x Purphoros, God of the Forge

4x Stormbreath Dragon

4x Fanatic of Mogis

4x Frostburn Weird

4x Ash Zealot

4x Burning Tree Emissary

4x Boros Reckoner

Instants:

4x Magma Jet

Sorceries:

4x Mizzium Mortars

Enchantments:

2x Hammer of Purphoros

Land:

2x Nykthos Shrine to Nyx

22x Mountain

 

The purpose of “Mono Red” devotion is to burn into your opponent’s health as well as his creatures with your burn spells, while summoning beefy blockers such as “Boros Reckoner” and “Frostburn Weird” to keep the opponent at bay. Then you finish them off With “Stormbreath Dragon” or drop the big boss “Purphoros God of the Forge”. Alternate win conditions for this deck can be the use of Purphoros’s burn ability. When you summon a creature while Purphoros is on the field he deals two damage to each opponent! That ability also hits PlanesWalkers! (Elspeth I’m looking at you.) If you happen to be stuck on a pocket of land you can use “Hammer of Purphoros”. By paying 3 mana and sacrificing a land you can make 3/3 Golems, and since Hammer is on the field they have haste! Mono Red is a fantastic match up against the hardcore control players. “Stormbreath Dragon” has “Haste”, “Flying”, and “Protection From White”. No “Detention Sphere” for that lousy Azorius Mage! Sorry Azorius Mages I got a little excited…

 

Mono Blue Devotion

Creatures:

4x Thassa, God of the Sea

4x Cloudfin Raptor

4x Judge’s Familiar

4x Frostburn Weird

4x Nightveil Specter

4x Tidebender Mage

4x Master of Waves

PlanesWalkers:

2x Jace Architect of Thought

Instants:

1x Cyclonic Rift

2x Rapid Hybridization

Enchantments:

2x Bident of Thassa

Land:

20x Island

4x Mutavault

1x Nykthos Shrine to Nyx

master of waves

Ah yes Mono Blue Devotion. Mono Blue Devotion has one purpose. His name is “Master of Waves” The guy is an absolute monster, “Master of Waves” has “Protection from Red” He gives Elemental creatures you control +1/+1, and when he enters the battlefield you put a number of 1/0 “Blue Elemental” creature tokens onto the battlefield equal to your “Devotion” to Blue. WOAH THATS CRAZY! I know right? what is even crazier is his synergy with “Thassa God of the Sea”. “Thassa God of the Sea” allows you to pay two mana and make a target creature you control “Unblockable”. If you have enough mana you can make your “Elemental” army unblockable and swing in for lethal damage! “Thassa God of the Sea” along with “Bident of Thassa”, and “Jace Architect of Thought” allow you to draw and “Scry” away to all of your answers to the board state. Whether it be “Cyclonic Rift” or another “Master of Waves” this deck will get you there!

 

Mono Black Devotion

Creatures:

4x Desecration Demon

4x Pack Rat

4x Nightveil Specter

4x Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Instants:

4x Hero’s Downfall

3x Devour Flesh

3x Bile Blight

Sorceries:

4x Thoughtseize

Enchantments:

4x Underworld Connections

Land:

18x Swamp

4x Mutavault

4x Temple of Deceit

 

Mono Black Devotion is very sinister deck. Mono Black Devotion can win very early game and race aggro decks with the card “Pack Rat”. “Pack Rat’s” Power and Toughness are equal to the number of “Rats” you control. With “Pack Rat” you can pay three mana to discard a card and put a token onto the battlefield that is a copy of “Pack Rat”. This means that every “Pack Rat” you have on the field will have Power and Toughness equal to  the amount of “Rats” on the battlefield. So if you control four “Pack Rats” every single one will be a 4/4. A cool combo do with “Pack Rat” is to use “Mutavault”. “Mutavault” is all creature types. So That means he is a “Rat” as well! More “Rats” more power! Mono Black Devotion also allows you to control the board with it’s kill spells such as “Hero’s Downfall” and “Devour Flesh”.  Mono Black is the only “Devotion” deck with hand disruption. The card “Thoughtseize” allows to look at your opponents hand and pick a nonland card from it, that player then discards that card and you lose two life. The deck is known for it’s immense draw power. The “Underworld Connections” enchants a land. You may then tap the “Enchanted” land to draw an additional card. Much like Mono Blue, Mono Black is another “Devotion” deck that lets you dig for your answers to the opponents board state. Mono Black also has the incredible “Gray Merchant of Asphodel”, when he enters the battlefield your opponent loses life equal to your “Devotion” to Black and you gain that much life! (The list doesnt include “Erebos, God of the Dead”, but at least get one. He is so cool!)

erebos

You may be wondering why I have not included “Sideboards” into each decklist. This is because I believe that a “Sideboard” is strictly up to interpretation. Make whatever “Sideboard” that fits the situation and decks you are playing against.!

Well that about wraps it up! The question that stands is what color will you be devoted to?! Until next time this is Tyler McDuffee.  May you walk the Planes with honor!

Batman: Arkham Knight Announced

Rocksteady, the company behind Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, has announced the next installment, Batman: Arkham Knight. The first two games revolutionized freeflow combat and really were some amazing games.  Rocksteady is apparently trying to out do themselves with this next one.

The teaser trailer is unbelievable and promises something everyone who played the other games has always wanted — a chance to drive the Batmobile!  The design of the Batmobile is fresh and looks incredible..  The streets of Gotham will be wider to accommodate the new driving mechanics, and its supposed to integrate nicely with the already established grapple and glide travel from the previous games.

The game is set a year after the events of Arkham City and, according to Game Informer, might just be the end of the Batman’s journey.  Based on the teaser, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, the Penguin, and Two Face will make appearances and I imagine there will be many others from the Rogue Gallery.

As of right now, Arkham Knight will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 14, 2014.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available and check out this awesome trailer.

 

 

 

How to Build a Fun, Casual, Magic Deck

 (Todays article is brought to you by the 4LN Magic contributor, Jason Hill. Please enjoy.)

The holidays are over and a new year has begun. Along with the new year, comes a new deck to build. With thousands of different cards to choose from, how do you narrow it down to a mere 60 card deck? Should you limit it to only 60? The rules say you can have more if you want. Do you need spend a ton of money on new cards? Are older cards better than the newer ones? How much land should this fun deck have? Is it possible to make a deck that doesn’t suck while at the same time doesn’t make your friends hate you? The answers are: yes, no, maybe, the square root of seven, and the holodeck aboard the S.S. Enterprise. Wait, what were we talking about? … Ah, yes!

First, a disclaimer: This isn’t an article on how to make a deck that will beat all other decks. There are enough of those floating around the internet without my input needing to be added. This article is about making a deck that is fun, not only for you, but your friends as well. Unless, of course, you want to be the kind of person who doesn’t want your friends to have fun. If that’s the case, then stop being a jerk! Nobody likes the person you try to be, no matter what your mother says.

Back to the matter at hand. How to build a fun deck.

Step 1: Figure out what you like. There is a card for almost anything you can imagine. Do you like elves? Knights? Giants? Jellyfish? Unicorns? Ducks? Well too bad! Wizards of the Coast hasn’t made any ducks yet. (Come on, Wizards, what are you waiting for?) If this isn’t helping you figure out what you want, think about your play style. Do you enjoy drawing cards? Do you want to do damage that your opponent can’t block? Do you like to make your opponent discard cards? Maybe not letting your opponent do as they please is your thing. Whatever it is …

Jace, Memory Adept

This card will make your friends really hate you.

Step 2: Pick two or three of these things and start building a deck with them. So you want to have a giants and jellyfish deck that makes your opponent discard cards? Sounds like a fun deck to me. Maybe a cat and elephant deck that has a lot of artifacts in it could be interesting. Just don’t go overboard. A zombie, wizard, ninja, shark, and warrior deck that lets you draw cards, gains you life, counters opponent’s spells, and destroys artifacts might be a bit much. A deck that tries to do too much usually ends up doing nothing at all.

Step 3: Try to narrow your selection down to two or three colors. If you need to go into four colors, don’t fret, but try to stay away from going into all five colors. (tasting the rainbow can be a bit spicy) Five color decks are feasible, but difficult to pull off. The more colors you have, the more types of land you have to include into your deck, resulting in a more difficult time getting the mana required to play your spells.

Step 4: Land ho! Put some land in that deck. Land, being the main mana producer, is incredibly important to balance. It ought to be about a third of your library, meaning anywhere between 18 and 24 cards of your deck. A recommended ratio of spells to land is usually 36 spells : 24 land in a 60 card deck. While this is an excellent mark to build most decks by, each deck is different and that ratio might not suit your selection of spells.

Color_wheel

Here is a good representation of what each mana type will do, and how they can work together.

I usually use between 20 and 22 land in most of mine. There are 2 exceptions for me, one for more and one for less. When I use more, (24 – 26) the spells I’m using usually rely on having land as basis for the rules of that particular spell. Example: “Gain 1 life for each land under your control” or “… deals 1 damage for each Mountain you control.” When I use less, (18 or 19) it’s because most of the spells in my library cost less than 3 in their converted mana cost, and I’m able to fit more spells in.

How much of each color is going to depend on the spells you have chosen. If you have kept your spells to one color, then it’s pretty much a no brainer. Just add the number of land you need and start playing. If you have more than one color, a little more work is involved. First separate out your spells by color. If you have 2 colors, try to split your land evenly unless you have mostly 1 color and only a few of the other. If that is the case, use mostly the land of your prominent color with 2 – 5 of the lesser color and maybe one or two multicolor land that share both colors. If you have 3 colors, again try to split the land evenly, but use common sense, and definitely put in a couple of multicolored land or an artifact that can give mana.

If you have more than 3 colors you should rely on multicolored lands fairly heavily along with mana giving artifacts and creatures. This should help keep you from getting the wrong colored mana when trying to cast spells. It sucks having nothing but plains and islands out with a hand full of forest cards. A word of warning though, most multicolored land have to come into the battlefield tapped, so you aren’t able to use them that turn.

Step 5: Keep your deck as close to 60 cards as possible. Yes, I know, the rules say you can have as many as you like over the 60 card minimum, but they advise that you stay as close to the minimum as possible for a reason. The reason is the more cards you have in your deck, the less likely you will come across them in a game. Now if your deck consists of 61, 62, or even 65 cards, no one will come and force you to go to magic kindergarten or exile you and put you in a dungeon in the land you were exiled to. You may relax and have a whimsical time with the deck you have made. If you have something in the realm of 75 or more, then you might want to start making some cuts. If you don’t, it might be real difficult to get out that awesome minotaur you built your deck around.

Step 6: Play with friends. Time to test out your final creation. See which cards you enjoy drawing, and which cards you aren’t so excited to see. Switch out what works with what doesn’t, and remember, this deck is about having fun, not about always winning. Anecdote time!

francis

Don’t get so competitive that no one wants to play with you.

I remember this one specific moment where my friends and I were having a 4 on 4 free-for-all battle. I was using an earlier incarnation of my Angel deck. I don’t remember what decks they were using, but I do remember that they kept killing my angels. Angels, for the most part, are expensive. So I was only able to get one out per turn, and each time I did, someone else would get rid of it. After my third angel was Doom Bladed, I was frustrated and fed up.

I tapped 4 mana and slapped down the last card in my hand. I said, “Fine! If that’s how it is, then destroy all your creatures!” It was Day of Judgment and the text on the card literally says “Destroy all creatures.” Everyone was flabbergasted. None of them had seen the card before and didn’t realize that all creatures could be destroyed at once like that. The room filled with exclamations of “What the …?!” and “No way!” The card was read by each one in turn and they put all their creatures in their graveyards. I didn’t win that game, but I will always remember the look on their faces.

Now to settle the dispute of which is better, old cards or new cards. The answer is both. New cards are awesome, but don’t dismiss the older cards thinking that they are outdated. The possibilities with combining the old with the new are endless and can have awesome, weird, or just down right hilarious results. Also, good decks don’t have to cost millions, they don’t have to be filled with mythic rares, they just simply need to reflect you and how you define fun.

My goal in building decks is to build a deck that can win, but isn’t one that is to be feared. When I have a deck that is feared, I either find myself the target of everyone playing me (I usually play in group free-for-alls) or not being played against at all. My philosophy is “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s the memories you make playing.” So play on, and have fun!

(While Jason Hill excels in building fun, casual decks, he fails spectacularly at building fun, casual card houses.)

Nintendo, Sega, and the Demoralization of a Generation

Sega Genesis is the system that got me into gaming.  I was given one for Christmas when I was around 5 or 6 and it absolutely blew me away.  I still remember sitting on my Power Rangers beanbag, with my Power Rangers pajamas, playing Power Rangers on the Sega on Christmas morning at my grandparent’s house.

247195_510711774552_1378110_n

Astute observers will notice a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sitting next to me, but the rest of the picture still suggests I was playing Power Rangers.

Last week, whilst partaking in some craft beer, Cody and I hooked the Sega up and played through several of our favorite games.  On about the third or fourth game we began to notice a trend in almost every single one of them – they were soul crushingly difficult.

There were no save games and no checkpoints, which we have grown accustomed to over the years.  You could play all day long trying to stop Dr. Robotnik (side note: I wonder what his doctorate is in… I imagine he has a PhD in art with an emphasis in mechanical engineering), pause the game when you had to go to school or run errands with the fam, only to return and die almost immediately. When you died you see Game Over then its right back to the title screen with a snarky hedgehog smirking at you.   There was no consolation prize for getting to the final level, there was no partial credit for coming so close, you either won the game or you started at the beginning with nothing to show for it.

Over the course of the last few generations of gaming consoles the games have gotten more complex (see photo below), yet they have also gotten easier and more accessible.

SONY DSC

Throw in at least 8 more buttons, an analog stick, and a D-Pad just to be sure.

Gameplay for systems like the Sega, Nintendo, and SNES were all based on arcade systems.  If arcade games were easy or allowed you to have checkpoints or saved games, you would spend less coinage, which cuts into the profit.  So they make their games frustratingly difficult so that you will continue to grind it out until you can finally win and, with any luck, you could input your three initials in the high score list (or just put ASS in the high score list, which was way more prevalent).

SEGA-and-Nintendo

Working together to crush the spirit of 7 year olds since 1991.

Modern gaming has transitioned from that big, euphoric, payoff, which requires the player to persevere through gaming adversity to a series of smaller payouts that keep the player hooked using a reward-based system.  When you die now you either respawn if you are playing online, or you simply revert to your last saved game.  So instead of having to start back at the beginning you just have to go back a few minutes.

A clear evolution from this older arcade-based system to the modern achievement-based system can be seen with one of the forefathers of video-gaming: Mario.  The first Mario was extraordinarily difficult.  I am sure most of those who played it got really good at the first few levels, because that’s all we ever got to play.  Mario 2 was so difficult it didn’t even get released in the United States at first and Mario 3 was no walk in the park.  In Super Mario World the checkpoint system began to be implemented and instead of going all the way back to the beginning when you died, you would just have to go back to the beginning of that particular world (or wherever your last saved game was).  All of the levels were playable in Mario 64, you just had to find the right mirror to get to it, and if you died you just went back to the main area to pick another world to play without losing much progress.  The current generation is so easy that Lycan, the resident video game expert, dominates it easily at 6 years old.

It’s much easier to win now than it was then.  Instead of the enormous feeling of relief and pride you get beating Bowser for the final time and rescuing the princess, you get achievements for smaller actions, or you unlock certain abilities or additional options that weren’t available before so you still get that feeling of accomplishment without having to sacrifice your self-esteem on Mario’s altar.

Modern gaming and those old systems both have their advantages. There is something incredibly nostalgic about hooking up the Sega, pressing the power button, seeing a blank screen, turning it off and blowing the dust off the cartridge, then seeing that blue Sega logo (Seeeeeggaaaaa).  It is almost impossible to have a bad time playing those old games with friends, and if you haven’t done so recently you should go find your old system and play it (or find some friends, that would be advantageous too).

Throwback Thursday Review: Super Smash Bros.

For the first edition of Throwback Thursday I want to take a look at one of Nintendo’s most popular (and one of my favorite) series – Super Smash Bros. I cannot tell you the amount of hours I have spent playing this series, an estimate might land in the months… I would say I am not proud of that, but I am not exactly ashamed of it either. What I am saying is that Nintendo freaking nailed it, and it all started with this awesome commercial.

Remember that? I remember watching that when I was a kid and being completely engaged. What were these gaming icons doing skipping through this field? Whoa, why is Mario such a jerk (Luigi was right all along!)? I remember this commercial vividly 14 years later, so I guess their marketing director is great at his job… well done, sir.

When I was in Jr. High, I played the original Super Smash Bros. religiously after school. I would go to my friend’s house and three of us would play until we wanted to kill each other. A decade later I was in college and I played Brawl so much I am surprised the disc still worked by the end of my senior year. While other college students were studying the intricacies of the university tradition known as “beer pong,” I was Falcon Punching Jigglypuff off of Hyrule castle and introducing Mario to the cold steel of the Master Sword. Unfortunately there was a flood in Nashville the day I graduated and my Wii was murdered by floodwater.

Enter (reenter) the invincible N64. With my Wii gone and the hours spent unlocking characters destroyed with it, I dug out my old N64 and dusted it off. The first game that I found was none other than Super Smash Bros. –the original that started it all. I blew the dust out of the cartridge as is customary, fired the system up, and was Marty McFly-ed to over a decade ago.

Even after all these years I still get a kick out of playing it. Occasionally I hook it up when I have some of my friends over and it always leads to a lot of laughter and the occasional smattering of swear words.

For those that have never played it, Super Smash Bros. takes famous Nintendo characters and pits them in an entertaining battle royale mixed with some good old-fashioned King of the Hill. It’s similar to the Hunger Games minus the dystopian government and the death of children. There is not really a health bar like you find in traditional fighters. Instead, the game uses a percentage point system. Every hit increases your damage percentage, and the more damage you have the farther you fly when you are hit. Each stage “floats” in mid air and when you are knocked off you have to try to double jump back to the board. If you can’t grab the edge you lose a life and respawn at the top of the map.

When playing with newer players I generally put it on timed matches as opposed to having a finite number of lives. This ensures that newer players can continue to learn without being thrown off the map every 5 seconds.

The game also has items from other games like Mario’s hammer from Donkey Kong, the Bob-omb, turtle shells, and Pokeballs. It’s a creative way to bring additional nostalgia and mayhem to the game.

The game itself has aged as gracefully as it could. The graphics can be jarring, but that’s not why you play it. I remember when I was younger and went from my Sega Genesis to the N64 and was blown away by how “real” everything looked, but now it looks like the N64 is vomiting polygons and that’s totally okay. The control scheme is tight and easily remembered, but can be slightly confusing at first for the N00bs out there (do people still use this word? If so, should they be? I doubt it.)

If you have access to an N64 you should definitely check out this game if you have never played it. And if you haven’t played it in a while, then what are you waiting for? This is by far one of the best games of that console generation (Goldeneye was great too, but this isn’t about that so settle down), and it has held up incredibly well.

I am going to go gorge myself and play Super Smash Bros. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Nerds.

Lycan’s Video Game Review

(Editor’s Note – This article was written by Lycan. He’s the 6-year-old son of 4LN writer Stephen Andrew. He has a very extensive knowledge of superheroes and he loves video games. He wrote this article himself, with only minor assistance form his mom and dad. Enjoy!)

 

Lego Marvel Superheroes: Universe in Peril / for Nintendo 3DS

I love that you get to fight and that this game is challenging. I love challenging games. I think my friends would like the Hulk and that you get to be Iron Man. I also love that you get to save Stan Lee in the game.

You start out as Iron Man and Hulk. They fight sand people. Why would a sand monster do any damage to the Hulk? He would just like touch it and they would die!

The first level you fight Sandman and you fight these big sand-guns that shoot sand bullets and that are on top of a tower.

There are things that I don’t like about the game too. I don’t like that you only get to pick your own character in Freeplay mode. I don’t really like to fight the sand monsters. They look mean. I also don’t like that my dad can’t find cheat codes for the game.

(Editor’s note: Cheat codes are not currently available on the 3DS version of the game at this time. Believe me. We searched… extensively…)

I think my friends would like this game. Kids age 5,6, & 7 would really like it.

(Mom – “What do you think about the graphics in the game?”

Lycan – “What are graphics?”)

 

Lego Chima: Laval’s Journey / for Nintendo 3DS

In this game you play as Laval. He’s a lion and He’s trying to stop Krager from destroying the lion kingdom. He almost got away with it once. He tried to destroy all of Chima.

Laval has a sword that he uses to fight the crocodiles. It’s a long sword, and it’s shiny blue.

Besides Laval, there are 7 other characters that you can play as.

Forever Rock is my favorite level. You get to play a hide and go seek challenge that’s fun.

I don’t like this game more than Lego Marvel Superheroes, but I don’t have anything I don’t like about it. It’s a really fun game.

I think kids from age 5 to 10 would like this game.

 

Scribblenauts Remix / for Android and iOS devices

In this game, you play as Maxwell and you help other people get across things. You also fight mean people or animals.

You can use anything you want to beat the levels like a sword, gun, volcano, super hero, skateboard, giant flying metal alligator. There is a notepad in the game that lets you make pretty much anything you want to help Maxwell beat the level. My favorite thing I’ve made so far is a dragon, because it kept killing everything.

The levels are fun. There’s a beach level, a classroom level, and even a heist level. Each level has different things that you have to figure out to create so that you can beat it.

My favorite thing about the game is that I can burn the barn on the farm level.

I don’t like that you can’t use Batman in the game. But, there is a DC comics Scribblenauts that I want, where I bet you can be Batman.

 

(He’s right!)

Is Fallout 4 Happening?

Recently http://thesurvivor2299.com/ has popped up online. It’s a pretty mysterious site with nothing but an annoying morse code sound and a timer counting down to December 11, 2013. What does this have to do with Fallout you ask? Well here are a couple of hints so far:

1) If you do a WHOIS lookup to search information on the domain purchaser, you will find that Zenimax Media is the owner. Zenimax is parent company of Bethesda and their publishing/developer divisions.

2) If you sift deep through the sites code, you will find a script specifically named fallout.js

 

3 ) Lastly, Erik Dellums, the voice actor for the radio DJ Three Dog in Fallout 3 has been sending out tweets like crazy hinting at something Fallout related.

 

I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed in hopes that Fallout 4 is about to happen and I can once again lose my life for a few months while exploring a barren wasteland.

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

arkhamoriginsBy:Micah Russell

A group of lowlifes are mercilessly laying into a couple of beat-cops towards the end of their shift. Suddenly a massive black figure drops down from above, overwhelming them with speed, strength, and fear. They scream as they realize that the rumors are true. The batman exists and he is darker than they thought.

Batman: Arkham Origins is the newest installment in the Arkham series, a prequel that expands on the familiar territory of its predecessors under the helm of a different developer: WB Montreal. Rocksteady handed over the title, coming out at the end of the current-gen systems’ life cycles, to the new company earlier this year, leaving little room for complaint. Even though the game is in new hands, if you loved Arkham City, then you won’t be disappointed.

I had been anxiously awaiting my copy of Origins from GameFly in the mail since its release almost two weeks ago. Once it finally arrived, I wasted no time in sitting down and starting my new adventure as a much younger Dark Knight.

The game wastes no time throwing you right into the action, dropping the caped crusader into the middle of a prison break at Black Gate, caused by the notorious crime lord, Black Mask. All of the controls and gadgets you start with are very familiar, since they are all items Batman had in Arkham City. The fighting system also has very little changes. The Dark Knight seems to fight like his older self in almost every way, except for a few minor changes. I almost wish his moves had altered a little, even if it was just making his moves more brutal, to help exemplify the inexperience of this early hero. Nonetheless, the best parts of the game that help the player understand that his is a much younger Bruce Wayne lie almost completely in the storyline, which is where the heart of the game also lies.

In my opinion, even with the amazing ending the previous game held, this is definitely the best overall story arc. The voice acting of Roger Craig Smith (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Troy Baker (The Joker) is phenomenal. If no one had told me, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill hadn’t returned for this title. The much grittier voice of Batman is what truly made me feel that this was a very young, emotionally driven vigilante. My favorite moment of showing how inexperienced he is was a part where he accidently forces a henchman to pass out while choking him, attempting to obtain some information on Penguin (who by the way does not currently have the infamous bottle smashed into his eye). Then, once the Joker steps into play, you almost hate any scene that he isn’t in, mainly due to the fact that this is possibly the craziest version of him I have ever seen outside of the comics, really driving in where all of his insanity comes from. All in all as this story becomes more and more emotionally driven, each moment leaving you with a since of, “Holy s*** this game is crazy!” Though I loved every part of the storyline, the most memorable part was literally walking through the mind of the Joker (as the Joker) while having his first psychiatric evaluation from Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Holy foreshadowing B-man!) Though the story is really what seems to pull the entire game together, there are still plenty of holes that leave the player longing for something more. Since the main difference that sets the game apart from the other seems to be time, there truly isn’t enough “new” dynamics that set this game apart from previous entries. The map is twice as big Arkham City, but the only addition is an equally sized (and not very unique) island connected to the previous one by one lengthy, annoying bridge, that you will find yourself crossing constantly in order to complete the many side quests and collectibles. The only other real change from before is a new bad guy in the combat system, the martial artists, who can counter Batman’s counters and a couple of new gadgets, like the shock gloves and the zip line tool, which are picked up old school Mega Man style, by beating different bosses. One of the few highlights of the new combat mechanic is an incredibly long battle with Deathstroke, in which batman literally trades punches with the assassin, proving his combat ability. So the combat is pretty much the same, the side quests are pretty much the same (picking up Riddler stuff again), the gadgets are the same except for a couple of new toys, and the map doesn’t feel that new either, just bigger. So where are the pieces that make this a new experience besides the story? Mostly in the details.

The first difference that is the easiest to spot in the story mode is the new crime scene investigations. This has actually become one of my favorite parts of the game, mainly due to the fact that it makes the player get the feeling of why Bruce is nicknamed the world’s greatest detective. This was something the previous games failed to do and I hope it becomes a new staple in the series. There are several points in the main quest and side quests alike where the players will find themselves looking over a murder scene from first person view. Although the new mode is very straight forward, literally being talked through it by Batman’s inner thoughts, it’s very refreshing. The player will scan the body, do blood spatter analysis, and be able to rewind and play forward the crime as it happens, in order to catch any small details needed to close the case. Seeing a body reanimate and watching its death by a thrown air-conditioning unit in reverse is quite a thing of beauty. Once Batman has found enough DNA evidence to tie the killer to the body, he then has to track them down and take them out. Very satisfying.

The other big change to the series is the introduction of the all-new multiplayer, 3 vs. 3 vs. 2 mode, in which three members from the Joker’s gang, three members from Bane’s gang, and Batman and Robin, face off against each other in a bout to control territory. The gameplay mechanics of the new online mode are fairly straightforward, basically being a 3rd person shooter for the gangs while Batman and his sidekick roam the shadows above. On paper the idea is great, but there isn’t a lot of room for newcomers to be able to face off against others who have been playing a lot longer. The higher the opponents level, the more likely it is that their weapons over power a newbie, basically being able to mow down anyone who is not as experienced with ease. Nonetheless, one of the other enjoyable parts of the online is being able to create load-outs of different baddies on each side, choosing how they look and what the wear, along with being able to earn new outfits for the two heroes (I really want the 1990’s animated series costumes). Though there are a lot of good things about the online, the worst part is the lobbies. Within a matter of an hour, I was only able to successfully play about 4 matches, since the game’s matchmaking forces the player to wait until all 8 possible spots are full before counting down, leaving 45 seconds for someone to change their mind and back out, starting the process all over again.

In the end, the further into the story I played, the more I loved the game. But once the game was over, even with all of the side quests to explore and multiplayer left to attempt, I began to lose interest, feeling like most of these activities became a chore. Though the game is not as being as a jump as the one from Asylum to City was, it’s still fun to dawn the cape again and experience a much younger, darker knight.

I give Batman: Arkham Origins 8.5 gee willikers out of 10.

From The Nerdery: Dangerous Characters, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Batman, and Next Gen Systems

Happy first day of November nerds! And welcome to another installment of The Nerdery! We’ve taken your questions to our secret nerd cave and brought back answers of great worth (or at least some that will make you laugh a little).

But first, our nerds of the week this week!

Our first nerds of the week is a group! Our good friend Ashley Lyle and her co-workers put together this awesome Halloween costume theme…!

pac man

 

Our second nerd of the week is a lucky little 5-year-old boy, named Miles, from San Fransisco who, through the help of Make-a-Wish, is gonna get to be Batman for a day! It’s an amazing story that we hope you’ll check out by clicking the link!

 

On to the Nerdery!

 

Edward asks, “What character (comics, movies, books, etc.) do think would pose the most real-world threat?

Cam – This is a huuuuge question. There are so many characters that would be absolutely terrifying if they somehow existed. The Joker is pretty horrifying (serial killer clown!), but I don’t think he is the biggest threat on a global scale, as he is a local threat to anyone around him. Globally, I think the biggest threat to the most people would be Lex Luthor. He is rich so he has the means to an end, and he’s a megalomaniacal, genius, sociopath who will stop at nothing to prove his dominance. He has destroyed entire cities, enslaved masses with mind control, and he most likely killed his parents. Oh, and he came up with a vaccine to cure muscular-dystrophy in one dose, but decided to make it into a lifelong treatment so that he could make money. That’s pretty disturbing if you think about it.

Stephen – I’m gonna say the Punisher. I know, I know, I ALWAYS say the Punisher. But think about it… he’s got no family ties (they’re all dead) he has access to (what seems like) an endless supply of weapons, and he evades even the most skilled of heroes… in the comics we call him a vigilante, or and anti-hero. In  the real world we’d call him an OH-MY-GOD-HE’S-GOT-A-GUN! Let’s be honest with ourselves; you’re in the grocery store, minding your own business, shopping for spicy mustard, when suddenly you notice the guy that walks in wearing all black and clearly looking very angry and unstable. First thought that goes through your head is, “To hell with spicy mustard.” The next thought you have is, “Who here is about to be fatally maimed?” Armed rogues are scary no matter what side of the good/evil coin they’re on.

Cody – Definitely The Joker, That psycho clown always seems to execute on his chaos and in real life is monstrously terrifying. I was reading one of the villain issues where he is talking about training his gorilla to shoot rocket launchers and whatnot.  I mean…. it’s a freakin gorilla!!!

 

 

Nathan  asks, “How would any comic character fare against the likes of Jason, Freddy, or Pinhead?

Bill – Victor Zsasz against Jason. Victor kills his victims with a knife, then carves tally marks into his flesh based on what number killing they are. (This is also one of very, very, few criminals that Batman has questioned his moral rule of not killing in order to save more.) Zsasz also believes his victims are Zombies and he is just liberating them from life and giving them freedom. Jason can be argued as a zombie. So I would love to watch these to fight to the death. I see Mr. Zsasz coming out in alive. Until he puts his tally mark across his neck to mark his biggest victory.

Cam – Batman vs. Freddy – Despite Freddy having the supernatural edge over Batman, I think Batman could pull off the upset here. Batman has a mental fortitude that only a few could possess. I mean, when you strip Freddy down he really is just the Mad Hatter with murderous tendencies, some horrific burn scars, and a questionable choice in hand accessories (they both even wear ridiculous hats!), and we have seen Batman beat the Mad Hatter’s mind control on a consistent basis. I think it would be close, but I think Batman would win based on sheer indomitable will.

Cody – Here’s my answer…

Stephen – I’m gonna go with Thor. In part only because Bill doesn’t think that Thor could take any horror movie monster and I’m petty, and also because YES HE F—ING CAN! He’s the GOD OF THUNDER! Here’s how it would go: Jason Voorhees walks up to him. SMASH! Hammer to the stupid hockey mask. Michael Myers walk up to him SMASH! Hammer to the stupid, white William Shatner mask. Freddy Krueger walks up to him. SMASH! Hammer to the stupid… well.. face. Do you see my point here? He comes from a world of magic and can SUMMON THUNDER. Even Pinhead (who admittedly would be VERY difficult to beat) would be challenged by his magic-based strength. Thor FTW, not just like a boss, but like a GOD.

 

Link asks, “When are you purchasing a next gen system? Or are you planning to?”

Bill – I am going to have to say I can not wait to pick up the Playstation 4. Some of my friends always go out and do black Friday shopping and I am planning on picking up the PS4 on black Friday. Not sure of a killer deal, but I have been waiting a long time. I have been an X-Box fanboy for my entire life, but with the X-Box One, I am jumping ship and heading over to Sony. And I personally believe Sony is a better company compared to Microsoft so that’s playing a role in the decision as well.

Stephen – I’m getting a PS4. And, like Bill, I’m gonna get mine ASAP. Our PS3 was stolen a few months back and so we’ve been slumming it with a Wii ever since. I’ve owned a couple of PS3’s and with all the streaming capabilities and the blu-ray player function, a Playstation is an essential part of our household. We all get something out of it and my oldest kid is already accustomed to the Sony way of life. Plus, I love the Infamous games and couldn’t be without inFAMOUS: Second Son.

Robbie – I really want to purchase a PS4 because of the awesome lineup of games as well as the great price point. At the same time, I want to purchase a PS3 because I missed out on pretty much everything from it this past generation. Classic PS3 games are super cheap right now and I’m sure that the console is going to have another price drop this upcoming holiday season, so I’ll be putting my money towards catching up for now.

Cody – I always wait to buy new systems. Always. I didn’t get a PS3 until about 2 years ago, but with the PS4 I might make an exception. I’m a part of the group Bill is talking about with Black Friday Shopping. If the price is right, I’ll buy it. If not, I may wait 6 months to a year, or until my PS3 fails. The PS4 looks great, but I always like to wait for reviews before I jump in.

Cam – I will be buying the Xbox One… eventually. There are so many other things that I want to buy right now that a new gaming console just hasn’t reached the top of my list yet. However, I imagine my resolve to play through older games will be demolished once Star Wars Battlefront 3 comes out. As far as why I am going Xbox over PS4 it’s just out of preference. I have always gone Xbox over Playstation, and I see no reason to change now. Also, my wife and I have played through every Halo Campaign, and the possibility of not being able to continue the streak would drive me nuts.

 

That’s it for this weeks Nerdery! Keep sending in those questions nerd friends! Later!