Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

[Game Play] The Problem with Catwoman

Arkham City has a lot of things going for it and for those things has earned plenty of accolades and inclusion in Game Of The Year discussions.  I'm not really going to to go on here about the improvements to the combat, or how the open world plays well with the Zelda-esque handling of the adventure genre in general.  Instead, we're going to talk about Catwoman.

The used games market is something of a villain for the games publishers in general and the reason why you now usually will need to enter in some kind of code to do things like play online.  The publishers are infuriated with the numbers stores like Gamestop make in repeat sales of their products without the publishers seeing an additional penny.

For gamers, the so-called "grey market" can be a huge boon.  By waiting for titles after the (insanely important to the publisher's PR) release day they can get increasingly better deals on titles and by trading in their recent titles they can see even better discounts on completely new titles.  This reason alone is probably why we shouldn't read too much into reports about game console X banning used games anytime soon (especially with said rumors reporting on extremely vague technology in order to accomplish said feat).

However, we should expect developers and publishers to continue to find new and inventive ways to force people who buy used games to give them money.  In fact, I just entered a code for the online pass for Kingdoms of Amalur.  This is notable because Amalur has no online mode.

For Arkham City, Rocksteady decided to include a code to unlock what could essentially be considered first day DLC - meaning that it was additional content outside of the normal gameplay which could otherwise be purchased separately - but Rocksteady decided to give people buying the game new a bonus of having the DLC right away.

At face value - I don't have any real issue with this strategy.  An argument could be made about what is truly "DLC" and what is simply normal content that is being intentionally divided out for an extra fee.  It gets particularly contentious when gamers discover this "DLC" was actually on the disc they paid for all along and the "download" is just a key to unlock it.

I'm honestly on the fence on that one - just can't bring myself to feel too strongly about it.

No, none of that is the problem I had with Catwoman - the star of the DLC for Arkham City.  The problem I had with it is all the ways Rocksteady made sure to shove the leather clad whiptress in your face.  It started with every single time I started a game, getting a reminder that Catwoman existed and I hadn't entered in any code to unlock her and am I sure I want to continue without doing that?

She also gets her own icon on the main menu, again reminding you if you haven't unlocked her that maybe, just maybe you should?

And of course, she gets a leading role in the first part of the game because if you didn't remember already, Catwoman is totally in this fucking game.

Now at this point I found the above mildly annoying.  Annoying enough that I eventually just entered the damn Catwoman code even though I had no intention of trying her out until I was completely done with the main Batman material.

Oh, how wrong I was.  Now remember that Batman is one of these non-linear designs with tons of side quests.  But it isn't open so much as branching - which means that some parts of the side quests until you get the right gear or whatnot.  Which is fine - and I didn't even think it was weird when late in the game I wasn't allowed to pursue side quests because "so-so is in trouble".

But that mission finished the main storyline.  And once you finish the main storyline, and you have unlocked Catwoman: Rocksteady forces you to play Catwoman.

Let me repeat that in bold, Rocksteady forces you to play Catwoman.  Continuing your existing mission will start as Catwoman.  Starting a New Game Plus starts as Catwoman.  Why "New Game Plus", which traditionally means starting completely over but with more difficult settings and more interesting bonuses - starts with supposedly completely optional content and no other options I am completely and utterly baffled.

Supposedly, the appeal of New Game Plus in Arkham City is starting with all your gear.  Which would be cool, except that Rocksteady forces you to play fucking Catwoman.

And Catwoman?  She kinda sucks.  Towards the end of the game, Batman is tricked out with all kinds of gear and Catwoman has squat, crap and a whip.  So being forced to play as Catwoman is exactly like having all of your toys taken away.

The result?  I did not finish any of the side quests.  I did not finish the so-called Catwoman DLC.  I didn't do anything because I found being forced to play as Catwoman to be such a dull, that I simply exchanged the game for Kingdoms of Amalur when my pre-order came up.

Rocksteady.  If you're reading.  Hear this: I will not play your boring DLC to get back to my main game.  Forcing your DLC down my throat does not make your DLC more important, it makes me annoyed and your game an early contender for the very used game market system you apparently so despise.

If you want to have used game buyers buy DLC which was free for new game buyers - fine.  But, sweet Jeebus, Rocksteady - keep Catwoman in your pants.  Featuring her in all the promo gear, flashing her in my face on every new game, putting her in the main menu and then shoving her down my throat when it comes to the game does not make her compelling.  Giving her truly new compelling gameplay would make her compelling.  All you did was make her annoying, me annoyed, and your game sold for $23 to be resold for ~$50.

I sent some tweets to Rocksteady to explain why supposedly optional DLC suddenly became my only option.

They have yet to respond.


Brinsar said...

Those are obnoxious sales tactics.

Because I work in the industry, obviously I support DLC--it keeps the lights on, but those are really obnoxious sales tactics. I can't blame you for selling it to buy something else almost immediately.

Josh said...

Yeah - the fact that it is DLC is almost external to the fact that Rocksteady replaced my Batman experience with a subpar Catwoman one. It would have been just as annoying if the game had started with her installed like that (minus the repeated reminders when you continue a game).

DLC is good, and I think most strategies have a lot of merit. I hope Rocksteady's is one that is never used again.

muavotink said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.