Category Archives: Video Games

Game of the Month: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Games based on movies, TV series and comics are frequently very disappointing. It seems that most of the money is spend on the rights and the resemblances of the main characters, but none on the gameplay. After a favourable review in the c’t magazine I decided to buy the PS3 version of Batman: Arkham Asylum nevertheless.

The game is based on DC Comics‘s Batman comics and not on the recent movies. If you like the dark atmosphere of these comics you will really enjoy this game. Excellent comic-style graphics, brilliant animation and the voice actors from DC animated universe bring the story to life.

Your job as Batman is to regain the control over the Arkham Asylum and stop Joker‘s plan to create an army of Bane-like creatures. Besides Batman’s formidable skills as a fighter you can also use his well known gadgets like batarangs or the grappling gun. But even those won’t help you much against a group of Joker’s henchmen with automatic guns. You need to plan carefuly, attack from the shadows and silently take out the bad guys one by one. Between the fights you have to solve puzzles to gain access to the next area or to find hidden extras.

If you want to know how it feels to be Batman this game is as close as you can get without getting up from your sofa. 😉

Game of the Month: Mario Kart Wii

A lot of people told me that Mario Kart Wii is a must-have. As usual I grew suspicious and wasn’t sure whether I wanted such a hyped game. But after playing Mario Kart Wii with my nephew I had to agree. When we were back home Silke browsed through a lot of shops in Cambridge until she managed to find the game in the last shop where it wasn’t sold out.

Mario Kart Wii is a comic style racing game. You pick a character from the Mario universe (e.g. Mario, Toad or Bowser) and either a kart or a motorbike and race over imaginative race tracks. The gameplay is simple, you only need to steer, accelerate and use extras. The extras are what makes the game so interesting. You can e.g. get extra speed boosts, missiles, temporary invulnerability, shrink all your opponents or turn into a cannonball which dashes along the race track. But some amount of fairness is maintained nevertheless. The racer in the lead e.g. never gets powerful extras. The real fun starts when you play the game with multiple players. Up to four people can play in split screen mode if you have enough Wii Remotes at hand.

I can highly recommend this game because it is very entertaining, a single race doesn’t require much time and you can play it with your friends. My advice is however not to buy the Wii Wheel. It only makes steering more sluggish compared to using just the Wii Remote. Overall I prefer to use the Wii Nunchuk anyway.

NetBSD TV: The Streaming Video Client

For quite some time I’ve been looking for a streaming video client that would allow me to watch the video files that are stored on my NetBSD server on the TV in the sitting room. I thought that my requirements for such a client were pretty basic:

  1. Decent analog video (preferably via a SCART connector) and digitial audio output.
  2. An HDMI connector for future use.
  3. Support for popular video file formats like DivX and MP4.
  4. Doesn’t require a proprietary server software.
  5. A good WAF.

But I was wrong. I couldn’t find any streaming video client that met these demands in over a year. When I recently learned that Sony’s Playstation 3 (PS3) supports DivX in newer versions of its firmware my interest was sparked. After a bit of research I found a number of facts in favour of the PS3:

  1. The PS3 supports UPnP AV and works fine with MediaTomb, an open source UPnP MediaServer.
  2. The PS3 has all the video and audio connectors that I wanted.
  3. As the PS3 can also play DVDs it could replace my DVD player. That would not only avoid an increase in the number of devices in the sitting room but also prevent a shortage of SCART ports on the TV.
  4. The case of the PS3 is well designed and shiny.
  5. In addition to all that the PS3 is also a powerful game console and a Blu-ray Disc player. And I was keen to play Assassin’s Creed anyway.

Based on the above evaluation I came up with a profound business case which was approved by the secretary of domestic affairs straight away (the WAF was even better than anticipated). I bought a Playstation 3 online the next day.