Batman Arkham City Launch Party Ground Zero

A cloud-veiled gibbous October moon, chill in the air, dry leaves underfoot—close enough to the perfect mood for a Batman Arkham City launch party. The line at the game store last night was just out the door, not long but not short either. Well, two lines: one for the store itself, one for another selling the game vicariously. I live just a few minutes from two GameStops, one that's in a strip mall, one that's in a mall mall. The latter's management didn't want to pay the landlord extra coin to reopen at midnight, so they partnered with the store down the road half a mile.

When I showed up, midnight hour on the nose, some guy was walking out of the place fast with a life-sized cardboard Batman tucked under his arm. I wonder about guys like that, because it's never just the one thing. Action figures, pictures, posters, cutouts, collector's editions, statues, art books, soundtracks, and so forth. I mean, where do you put all that stuff?

Inside, the susurrus of Batman fans talking Arkham Asylum achievements, or betting who the new game's big bad will be, interrupted every so often by the clatter of the game's plastic case on the store's formica countertops.

You'd be surprised how fast these things clear out, if you've never been to one. Everyone's prepaid, and whatever else you want to say about diehard geekdom, no one really wants to be lined up in a crowded store at midnight.

So I grabbed my copy and hightailed it home (just a few blocks down the street), dropped the game in my system, and... "Disconnected from Xbox LIVE," with a fade to hang (or black—same difference). Yep, there's a day one patch, and for some reason, it crashed my Xbox 360. A quick reboot solved the problem and brought down the 6 MB update. No word around the Internets about what it adds or fixes. Update: Word is, the patch is 16 MB and "for the minor problems of dropouts and bugs in-game," though what downloaded on my system last night was 6 MB, not 16 MB, and the source for that quote is someone's infrequently updated WordPress blog.

And then I watched as Bruce Wayne took the podium during the game's intro to grandstand about the perils of Arkham City, but only after superciliously correcting a reporter who describes him as a "millionaire" and not "billionaire" (like it matters, Bruce!). Have I mentioned how much I despise Bruce Wayne? He's often written as a self-righteous, narcissistic jerk (where Batman's just a totalitarian jerk). So I'm hoping that's Dini's way of signaling the character's in for a takedown. After lines like that, I want to see Wayne/Batman on the hook almost as much as Two-Face or Hugo Strange.

I didn't play much of the game (you know, the 1:00 in the morning thing), but right away, Arkham City feels different. Maybe it's the light snow falling, or the silhouetted Burton-esque cityscape. Maybe it's the old-brick buildings and neon signs, or even the way the colors seem more varied. Arkham Asylum felt like the world's dingiest halloween house party, a claustrophobic madhouse shrouded in green-tinged (and eventually poison-green) miasma. Arkham City looks more like a Batman-style Gotham city should, and I'm actually excited to poke around whatever they've carved off for the game.

And then? Sleep. I know, diehard fail, but I promise, more soon.

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