A Matter Of Going The Extra Mile

In mid to late 2011 I had heard snippets about Batman Arkham City coming out for Xbox but hadn’t paid an awful lot of attention.  Its predecessor, Batman Arkham Asylum had come out in the time when I didn’t own an Xbox and wasn’t heavily into gaming, so I never gave it a go. During AMOLAG’s latest trip to Eurogamer, queuing to try Batman was the last thing we did, as we had a good feeling the queue would be phenomenal. Even leaving it to the end, there were limited spaces in the queue so I skipped out and just watched 2 of our guys, Al and Kev, play it instead. It opened up into the first of Catwoman’s story lines. I was instantly transfixed. Mainly because she looked HOT in her cat suit (yes I am well aware that it is an animated character and not real….but still…..) I was genuinely surprised to see Catwoman and not Batman, I would have thought that the demo they gave at Eurogamer would have been Batman but I was definitely not complaining! I watched Al play the story line out and engage in combat as Catwoman. The way she moved, seamlessly darting across the room whilst taking down enemies with thighs of steel or razor sharp claws amazed me. It made combat look graceful which I never thought was possible! The graphics were great, they certainly done a good job on Catwoman’s appearance 😉

A positive to waiting to the last minute to play was that it was a short queue, but the negative? We only got to play for around 5-10 minutes. As we left Eurogamer, Batman was one of the games that I couldn’t stop thinking about and probably the one I was anticipating the release of most. Back at home, life continued as normal until I was recommended to use ShopTo if I was thinking of purchasing Batman by Al and Ben, both frequented users of the site. With a combination of night and day shifts at work I knew I had been a tad moody at home so I thought my better half could do with a nice surprise as thanks for putting up with me. I considered the options. Cook him a meal? Too boring. Buy nice underwear?  Too predictable. Just say thanks?  Too boring. And then it struck me. A classic example of buying someone a gift from you, to them, for you. It was simple! I would pre order Batman!

I went onto ShopTo site and searched for Batman on the Xbox. There was an ordinary copy, Limited Edition copy or Collectors’ Edition. Originally I opted for the limited edition; a steel cased 2 Face themed hard copy of the game. It looked pretty cool but then I spotted the collectors edition. It came with so much extra such as DLC, the soundtrack, a poster etc. But it also came with what was the deciding factor to me – an awesome Batman figurine. I knew Al would love it, and I loved it too. I considered it and thought that actually there really was no point in both of us having a copy of Batman, as I had originally expected this would be the path we would take. This was for a number of reasons. The first being we live together and there is just no reason in the expenditure. The second being I knew if it was gifted to Al he would exhaust it within days or maybe even hours(!) and then I would be free to play the game, and only have to spend out on one copy. My plan was genius and I figured it would earn me big girlfriend points too which always comes in handy to cash in if I need a favour!

I had just gotten paid so bit the bullet and spent more than id care to admit on the collector’s edition. I then took a picture of the screen and uploaded it to Facebook, simply tagged Al and awaited his response. I wasn’t disappointed, he was chuffed to say the least. The next bit was the hard bit – the waiting. The day finally arrived but we soon worked out that stupidly we were planning a belated house warming party on the weekend that it was due to arrive. There were some tears (Al) and tantrums (Al again) as the realisation dawned that it would not be a gaming fuelled weekend as we had hoped.  The game was due to be delivered on Friday, and we both had to work. We left that morning, smiling sweetly in the knowledge that later that day the long awaited game would be delivered to us, or our neighbour (providing the postman abided our kind request stuck to the door) I returned home at 3pm. I walked up the stairs leading to our front door and came face to face with every gamer’s worst nightmare. A red slip. On the stairs. Not even at our door. It was an apologetic note informing us the delivery could not be made (no one was home) and offering some futile solutions that seemed irrelevant during this stressful time. I must have paused on the stairs for a while as a neighbour came out and told me the postman had left the note for us on the stairs. ON THE STAIRS! Not even our door! I broke the bad news to Al, texting furiously as I ran upstairs to the laptop. I skimmed the instructions on how to re-claim my parcel and let myself get excited once again as in my  head I believed the local collection office to be a mere 10 minute drive away. I typed in the link provided and immediately my heart sunk. Apparently, my ‘local’ collection office was Alton. ALTON!! A good 40-50 + miles away and this was my ‘local’ one! There was still so much to do in preparation for our party the next evening, and time was running out. Al came home and I had to break yet more bad news about the location of the collection office.  We looked at each other. We didn’t even have to talk and we knew we had made our decision.

The collecting office closed at 10pm so time was on our side. We drove A Team style to McDonalds and practically inhaled some food before heading off on our mission. Just over an hour later we were there and 10 minutes later finally reunited with the long awaited parcel! We made our way home and prepared for the party, carefully ignoring the sight of the game in case we gave in to temptation. The next day arrived. The party came and went. A lot of alcohol was consumed. Sunday arrived. I had to work. Al did not. I feared this time would come. I left for work and skimmed Facebook and Twitter feeds whilst walking.

Alan Wincott: Batman Arkham City is now going on – hold all calls! (1 minute ago)

1 minute is what it had taken Al since I left to make a cup of tea, barricade the door and immerse himself in Batman. Hours came and went. It was time for me to go home. I didn’t see much of Alan after that day. Hours turned to days. Days turned into a few more days. A week passed. I had watched, envious of Al playing Batman. And then, finally, the day had arrived. Alan HAD to leave the house, he was going Paintballing for a friends Birthday. I was so excited! He left the house.

Holly Stanswood has finally got my hands on Batman Arkham City and will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. (30 seconds ago)

I too had succumbed to Batman. I took full advantage of a free house and blearily glided through Arkham City into the early hours of the morning. And pretty much haven’t stopped playing since then. Batman has taken over me slightly. I think about it when I’m not playing it. And when I’m playing it, I think about how much time I have left playing it, or when I can play it next after this. I recently completed the main story line and have loved every (in some places infuriating) second of it. I admit, there have been a few tantrums thrown by me as I clearly do not think like Batman. I would like to tell you that I just began to think like Batman and it all became logical, but what really happened was me typically asking Al what to do or investing some time into Google.

The graphics are amazing, and Arkham seems so detailed and vast, everywhere I look there is more buildings and skyline to explore. I have enjoyed unlocking the concept art and looking at the pictures too. The concept of playing as Catwoman has been amazing and I love how integrated into the story line she is. The way she fights in combat is so utterly different and streamline, it is a completely different experience to Batman and so nice to have the comparison. The side missions seem endless but so addictive. I decided to ignore most side missions until I had completed the main story line, because I like to tackle things one at a time so I knew where I was within the game. There were a few side missions I did do as they appeared, such as if I saw the mystery watcher I would talk to them, or spotted a Riddler trophy I would pick it up but the rest I have saved until last – which is what I am currently working my way through.  I truly want to 1000 point this game, as it would be so rewarding to know I completed every achievement in a game –  aside of course from Air Bender – which is not becoming any less embarrassing over time.

The reason I wanted to write this blog about Batman, and why I have only skimmed the surface of the game itself, is because I wanted to explore the anticipation of a game, and the lengths we go to get it. Whether it is pre ordering a game, choosing a collectors edition over a standard copy, driving to a not so local ‘local’ collection office late at night or waiting in the cold for a midnight release I don’t think any one can knock the dedication in gamers.  And it just goes to show, even if it isn’t your game, or it is a gift for someone else, some games are worth the extra push.


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