Southard's Long Box
Batman: Arkham City #2
Issue Score - 9/10
Arkham City #2 splits itself between two plotlines, the grand opening ceremony of Arkham City with Bruce’s subsequent investigation into Mayor Sharp and the Joker’s transport to Arkham City. Of course both the investigation and Joker’s transport do not go as planned. The comic ends on the note that bigger things are in the works that will leave lasting repercussions.
This issue continued the momentum of the first issue and made me constantly want more. The plot overall was well done, though a little predictable, and has made me really look forward to the next issue and eventually the game. The one thing that really made this issue though was the Joker plotline. Everything about it just felt right. All the jokes and one-liners were quite funny, Harley felt like Harley and the conclusion of it made me really want to see what Joker has up his sleeve because now I am questioning who will be the real mastermind at the conclusion of the game. Arkham City has once again amped up the stakes and brought the fuse closer to the metaphorical powder keg that will eventually explode. When the dust settles, Gotham will survive the blast, but things will never again be the same.

Batman: Arkham City #2

Issue Score - 9/10

Arkham City #2 splits itself between two plotlines, the grand opening ceremony of Arkham City with Bruce’s subsequent investigation into Mayor Sharp and the Joker’s transport to Arkham City. Of course both the investigation and Joker’s transport do not go as planned. The comic ends on the note that bigger things are in the works that will leave lasting repercussions.

This issue continued the momentum of the first issue and made me constantly want more. The plot overall was well done, though a little predictable, and has made me really look forward to the next issue and eventually the game. The one thing that really made this issue though was the Joker plotline. Everything about it just felt right. All the jokes and one-liners were quite funny, Harley felt like Harley and the conclusion of it made me really want to see what Joker has up his sleeve because now I am questioning who will be the real mastermind at the conclusion of the game. Arkham City has once again amped up the stakes and brought the fuse closer to the metaphorical powder keg that will eventually explode. When the dust settles, Gotham will survive the blast, but things will never again be the same.

DC Universe Online Legends #9
Issue Score: 9/10
Issue #9 focuses mainly on Superman and his devotion to Lois. It all starts with a dream of Lois and him in space on the moon. They are having a romantic time, but Lois’ suit has a tear and the vacuum it creates kills her. Superman wakes up and proceeds for the rest of the issue to try to save Lois. Lex’s plan from the last issue continues, and Superman still has no idea this is all a set up to take him down. Lex brings the Daily Planet bottle back to Earth and restores it. However, this is a distraction and an exobyte bites Superman and may have stolen one of his powers. In Superman’s quest to save Lois, he leaves the other heroes to fight off an army of super villains that Braniac releases. At the end of the comic, Batman calls Superman and upon his arrival it is revealed that because of Superman’s decision to save Lois and leave the heroes to fight without him, J’onn has been drained of all his powers by exobytes that were a part of the attack. The Martian Manhunter is no more. J’onn is completely helpless. Batman gives Superman an ultimatum; he must decide if saving his loved ones or the world is more important.
Issue #9 really reached a new high for this series. The “death” of Lois was excellently done and was quite shocking because of the violent way in which it happened and the fact that there was no hint at all of it coming. It was just a punch in the face and it worked so well. The degradation of Clark’s judgment due to emotions really showed a more human side of him because even the Man of Steel can screw up and despite his best intentions, cannot save everyone. It took him off of his pedestal as an icon and showed him as a man. Furthermore in this issue, I found both Lex’s deception actually working and J’onn’s loss of powers to be completely awesome and unexpected. I really thought that Superman would have seen through Lex’s deception, but he did not due to his clouded judgment. The J’onn situation completely flabbergasted me because in this universe, the Martian Manhunter is no more. Though he is still living, DC has essentially killed him off and really set up the dire situation of Brainiac’s invasion because honestly, Clark and J’onn are the only two heroes that could have a shot at defeating him. With J’onn out of the picture, it is up to Superman alone. I am looking forward to the next issue.

DC Universe Online Legends #9

Issue Score: 9/10

Issue #9 focuses mainly on Superman and his devotion to Lois. It all starts with a dream of Lois and him in space on the moon. They are having a romantic time, but Lois’ suit has a tear and the vacuum it creates kills her. Superman wakes up and proceeds for the rest of the issue to try to save Lois. Lex’s plan from the last issue continues, and Superman still has no idea this is all a set up to take him down. Lex brings the Daily Planet bottle back to Earth and restores it. However, this is a distraction and an exobyte bites Superman and may have stolen one of his powers. In Superman’s quest to save Lois, he leaves the other heroes to fight off an army of super villains that Braniac releases. At the end of the comic, Batman calls Superman and upon his arrival it is revealed that because of Superman’s decision to save Lois and leave the heroes to fight without him, J’onn has been drained of all his powers by exobytes that were a part of the attack. The Martian Manhunter is no more. J’onn is completely helpless. Batman gives Superman an ultimatum; he must decide if saving his loved ones or the world is more important.

Issue #9 really reached a new high for this series. The “death” of Lois was excellently done and was quite shocking because of the violent way in which it happened and the fact that there was no hint at all of it coming. It was just a punch in the face and it worked so well. The degradation of Clark’s judgment due to emotions really showed a more human side of him because even the Man of Steel can screw up and despite his best intentions, cannot save everyone. It took him off of his pedestal as an icon and showed him as a man. Furthermore in this issue, I found both Lex’s deception actually working and J’onn’s loss of powers to be completely awesome and unexpected. I really thought that Superman would have seen through Lex’s deception, but he did not due to his clouded judgment. The J’onn situation completely flabbergasted me because in this universe, the Martian Manhunter is no more. Though he is still living, DC has essentially killed him off and really set up the dire situation of Brainiac’s invasion because honestly, Clark and J’onn are the only two heroes that could have a shot at defeating him. With J’onn out of the picture, it is up to Superman alone. I am looking forward to the next issue.

DC Universe Online Legends #8 
Overall Score 9/10
Issue 8 of DCUO Legends follows the present day heroes as they try to find Brainiac. It also focuses on the present day Lex Luthor who, after having a building fall on him, has seen better days. He is augmented and healed by Brainiac though he is now more cyborg than man and ends the comic ready to try to win over the public by trying to make himself a hero and turn the public favor away from Superman.
This issue was pretty good. The pacing was well done and the editing kept the issue flowing without much fluff. The dialog was also pretty well done and never felt forced. I really enjoyed the scene of Braniac about to repair Luthor because of the unstated humor in contained. Luthor freaking out right before he was operated on and Brainiac just being cold and stone faced as Luthor screamed out in pain just seemed really funny to me in an ironic way. Also, I really like the fact that present day Luthor is falling into becoming just a puppet, the same way future Luthor did, all because of his hatred for Superman. For being a man with an over 160 IQ, he is pretty dumb to think that Brainiac only wants to help him get rid of Superman. That is about as likely as Batman killing a person or using a gun. Also, I want to give special mention to the final shot of the comic, which was Luthor holding and looking into the bottle that contains The Daily Planet. It is just such an iconic shot with Luthor appearing God-like while peering at the Daily Planet. I feel it embodies Lex perfectly and provides an excellent scene to end the comic with.

DC Universe Online Legends #8 

Overall Score 9/10

Issue 8 of DCUO Legends follows the present day heroes as they try to find Brainiac. It also focuses on the present day Lex Luthor who, after having a building fall on him, has seen better days. He is augmented and healed by Brainiac though he is now more cyborg than man and ends the comic ready to try to win over the public by trying to make himself a hero and turn the public favor away from Superman.

This issue was pretty good. The pacing was well done and the editing kept the issue flowing without much fluff. The dialog was also pretty well done and never felt forced. I really enjoyed the scene of Braniac about to repair Luthor because of the unstated humor in contained. Luthor freaking out right before he was operated on and Brainiac just being cold and stone faced as Luthor screamed out in pain just seemed really funny to me in an ironic way. Also, I really like the fact that present day Luthor is falling into becoming just a puppet, the same way future Luthor did, all because of his hatred for Superman. For being a man with an over 160 IQ, he is pretty dumb to think that Brainiac only wants to help him get rid of Superman. That is about as likely as Batman killing a person or using a gun. Also, I want to give special mention to the final shot of the comic, which was Luthor holding and looking into the bottle that contains The Daily Planet. It is just such an iconic shot with Luthor appearing God-like while peering at the Daily Planet. I feel it embodies Lex perfectly and provides an excellent scene to end the comic with.

Batman: Arkham City #1
Overall Score  10/10 
The stakes are getting higher for Batman in part 1 of 5 of Batman: Arkham City. Serving as a bridge between the smash hit Batman: Arkham Asylum and the highly anticipated sequel Batman: Arkham City, this miniseries gives readers a glimpse into what exactly the Dark Knight will be up against in the new game.
This first issue picks up six months after the end of Arkham Asylum with Warden Sharp becoming Mayor of Gotham. Sharp plans to make Gotham a crime-free city, though there are ulterior motives in his plan due to the fact that he seems to be controlled by a mysterious doctor who is thus far not revealed. Also, Joker appears to be terminally ill due to his Titan formula usage at the conclusion of Arkham Asylum, though who knows what Joker he will have up his sleeve.
 The comic is written by famed Batman writer Paul Dini, and it shows. The writing is excellent and the dialog is completely believable. Each bit of dialog fits each character completely and serves to pull you in more and more. Also, the artwork by artist Carlos D’Anda just seems to explode, both figuratively and literally, on the page and is a perfect complement to Paul’s writing.
My only dislikes and concerns for the comic are the fact that it was supposed to be a six parts but was cut down to five, and I hope it can keep the momentum going. The fact that it has been cut by an issue concerns me because I feel they may try to cram too much into each issue as a result. Also, the pacing in this issue is excellent and I am hopeful it will keep this pace consistently. For both concerns, all we can do is wait and see.
Overall, this comic has made me want the game even more because it seems to be setting up an even darker storyline for Arkham City, which I feel will be even stronger than its predecessor. Arkham City may become the Dark Knight of video games, and that is exactly what I am hoping for.
 

Batman: Arkham City #1

Overall Score  10/10 

The stakes are getting higher for Batman in part 1 of 5 of Batman: Arkham City. Serving as a bridge between the smash hit Batman: Arkham Asylum and the highly anticipated sequel Batman: Arkham City, this miniseries gives readers a glimpse into what exactly the Dark Knight will be up against in the new game.

This first issue picks up six months after the end of Arkham Asylum with Warden Sharp becoming Mayor of Gotham. Sharp plans to make Gotham a crime-free city, though there are ulterior motives in his plan due to the fact that he seems to be controlled by a mysterious doctor who is thus far not revealed. Also, Joker appears to be terminally ill due to his Titan formula usage at the conclusion of Arkham Asylum, though who knows what Joker he will have up his sleeve.

 The comic is written by famed Batman writer Paul Dini, and it shows. The writing is excellent and the dialog is completely believable. Each bit of dialog fits each character completely and serves to pull you in more and more. Also, the artwork by artist Carlos D’Anda just seems to explode, both figuratively and literally, on the page and is a perfect complement to Paul’s writing.

My only dislikes and concerns for the comic are the fact that it was supposed to be a six parts but was cut down to five, and I hope it can keep the momentum going. The fact that it has been cut by an issue concerns me because I feel they may try to cram too much into each issue as a result. Also, the pacing in this issue is excellent and I am hopeful it will keep this pace consistently. For both concerns, all we can do is wait and see.

Overall, this comic has made me want the game even more because it seems to be setting up an even darker storyline for Arkham City, which I feel will be even stronger than its predecessor. Arkham City may become the Dark Knight of video games, and that is exactly what I am hoping for.

 

DC Universe Online Legends #7
Final Score 8.7/10

DC Universe Online Legends continues in issue 7 with Future Batman apparently surviving Future Joker’s missile attack though he is gravely injured. He is saved by Cyber and is rebuilt with technology, becoming a cyborg. Brainiac attacks and he is forced to flee with some of the other survivors and takes them to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. He interfaces with Superman’s computer and tries to contact the remaining heroes. Luthor answers and has Batman lower the defenses so he can warp there. They come up with a plan to travel to the past and use the stolen exobytes to give people powers in order to create an army to repel Brainiac and prevent this bleak future. Luthor double crosses Batman and leaves him to die while he takes the portal to the past.
This issue was overall pretty good. It focused entirely on the future timeline and led directly to the beginning of the DCUO game. The writing was pretty good but the pacing felt a little rushed. Quite a bit happened in a short span of time and I feel it would have been better if the pace was a little slower. The art was top notch as usual and served its purpose.
I am really curious to see where the next issue takes the story because it now has caught up with the beginning of the game. I really hope that the future timeline is still expanded and I also hope that Batman does survive. Having Batman being a cyborg intrigues me and makes sense because of his reliance on technology. Also, it makes him pretty badass with his enhanced abilities. I am looking forward to the next issue because I am really not sure where they will go with the story.

DC Universe Online Legends #7

Final Score 8.7/10


DC Universe Online Legends continues in issue 7 with Future Batman apparently surviving Future Joker’s missile attack though he is gravely injured. He is saved by Cyber and is rebuilt with technology, becoming a cyborg. Brainiac attacks and he is forced to flee with some of the other survivors and takes them to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. He interfaces with Superman’s computer and tries to contact the remaining heroes. Luthor answers and has Batman lower the defenses so he can warp there. They come up with a plan to travel to the past and use the stolen exobytes to give people powers in order to create an army to repel Brainiac and prevent this bleak future. Luthor double crosses Batman and leaves him to die while he takes the portal to the past.

This issue was overall pretty good. It focused entirely on the future timeline and led directly to the beginning of the DCUO game. The writing was pretty good but the pacing felt a little rushed. Quite a bit happened in a short span of time and I feel it would have been better if the pace was a little slower. The art was top notch as usual and served its purpose.

I am really curious to see where the next issue takes the story because it now has caught up with the beginning of the game. I really hope that the future timeline is still expanded and I also hope that Batman does survive. Having Batman being a cyborg intrigues me and makes sense because of his reliance on technology. Also, it makes him pretty badass with his enhanced abilities. I am looking forward to the next issue because I am really not sure where they will go with the story.

MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! For those out there, like myself, that have played Mortal Kombat since the first one and have been disappointed by the degradation of the series as of late, uppercut those disappointments right into the pit. Mortal Kombat has come home. The latest release in the series has brought it full circle and returned itself to the 2D fighter that people used to line up to play. Everything about this game shines from the blood and polish that the team at Netherrelm Studios put into this game. The game runs at a silky smooth 60fps and the combat is back to basics with a deep but simple fighting system that will have you freezing people with iceballs, pulling off ridiculous combos and visibly breaking all sorts of bones with the new, and absolutely brutal, x-ray attacks. Also, Fatalities are back once again in their gory and disgusting glory, after the sad, T rated ones that were present in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Besides bringing back all the usual stuff, like arcade ladder and the 10,000 ways to off your opponent, the game has brought an immense amount of content to keep you busy for a long time.
The content is just bursting at the seams in this game. Old fan favorites such as the Krypt, where you unlock many of the secrets of the game including alternate outfits and secret fatalities, and the other numerous secrets are present once again. However, the new content and features is where the game absolutely shines. For the first time ever, there is a real story mode in the game that is about 6 hours long and features over 2 hours of cut scenes. The story is a sequel/reboot of the series in which Raiden, at the conclusion of Armageddon, sends a message to his younger self in order to prevent the destruction and death in the wake of the worlds ending. This allows the game to retell the earlier games though there are glaring differences because of the fact that this transmission of knowledge has altered the timeline, so people may be dead that were alive in the old timeline or events may have occurred differently or not at all. All in all, it is one of the best stories I have ever seen in a fighting game and it sets the bar for story modes in future fighting games.
Another new amazing feature that Netherrelm has crafted is the aptly named Challenge Tower. It is a collection of 300 absurd and utterly fun missions that have you doing simple things like just winning a fight to fighting zombies with special moves or attacking by throwing your limbs at your opponent, leaving behind exposed bone and bloody stumps until they regenerate. The missions progressively get harder and more ridiculous until the final epic challenge and interesting unlockable for beating it.
Finally, online play deserves mention. It is absolutely awesome. It features the standard one on one match, along with the new two on two tag mode and the completely fulfilling King of The Hill mode, that all run smoothly as long as you have a decent connection. King of the Hill allows up to 8 people to be in a room and fight arcade style where winner stays on and loser moves to the back of the line. While you wait to fight, you watch the current match in real time and can use your Xbox avatar on the 360 or one of the included ones to cheer and jeer the match as it happens. This is the closest I have ever seen to the arcade experience brought home and I hope more games use this feature.
Now, there are a few faults with the game, though they do not really bring it down much. Like previous MK games, the AI can be really cheap, especially when played on higher difficulties and when you fight one of the bosses. Also, while the game is really balanced overall, some characters feel more useful than others or can be really cheap, like Noob Saibot, who can spam his shadow tackle that spans the length of the screen, though I am sure a patch or two will fix that in time. Finally, while the Krypt has a massive amount of unlockables, most are paintings or artwork that will be unlocked and never viewed again. I wish that there were more substantial unlocks like costumes or more secret characters, since there are only 2 and they are obtained from finishing the story mode, but what can you do?
Mortal Kombat is a fighting game that I see myself playing for a long long time due to the fact of the massive roster, including the Playstation 3 exclusive Kratos, of the God of War series, and the promise of DLC characters, along with the awesome online modes that give you plenty of people to bloodily rip in half. Even if you do not have or use online, the game provides a solid single player experience that will keep you busy for at least 20 hours between the story and challenge tower, plus of course local multiplayer. So please, run out to your nearest store and buy this game. Even if you just remotely like fighting games, it is worth every cent.
Graphics – 9
Story – 9
Gameplay – 10
Audio – 9
Content – 10
Replay Factor – 10
Final Score - 9.5

MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! For those out there, like myself, that have played Mortal Kombat since the first one and have been disappointed by the degradation of the series as of late, uppercut those disappointments right into the pit. Mortal Kombat has come home. The latest release in the series has brought it full circle and returned itself to the 2D fighter that people used to line up to play. Everything about this game shines from the blood and polish that the team at Netherrelm Studios put into this game. The game runs at a silky smooth 60fps and the combat is back to basics with a deep but simple fighting system that will have you freezing people with iceballs, pulling off ridiculous combos and visibly breaking all sorts of bones with the new, and absolutely brutal, x-ray attacks. Also, Fatalities are back once again in their gory and disgusting glory, after the sad, T rated ones that were present in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Besides bringing back all the usual stuff, like arcade ladder and the 10,000 ways to off your opponent, the game has brought an immense amount of content to keep you busy for a long time.

The content is just bursting at the seams in this game. Old fan favorites such as the Krypt, where you unlock many of the secrets of the game including alternate outfits and secret fatalities, and the other numerous secrets are present once again. However, the new content and features is where the game absolutely shines. For the first time ever, there is a real story mode in the game that is about 6 hours long and features over 2 hours of cut scenes. The story is a sequel/reboot of the series in which Raiden, at the conclusion of Armageddon, sends a message to his younger self in order to prevent the destruction and death in the wake of the worlds ending. This allows the game to retell the earlier games though there are glaring differences because of the fact that this transmission of knowledge has altered the timeline, so people may be dead that were alive in the old timeline or events may have occurred differently or not at all. All in all, it is one of the best stories I have ever seen in a fighting game and it sets the bar for story modes in future fighting games.

Another new amazing feature that Netherrelm has crafted is the aptly named Challenge Tower. It is a collection of 300 absurd and utterly fun missions that have you doing simple things like just winning a fight to fighting zombies with special moves or attacking by throwing your limbs at your opponent, leaving behind exposed bone and bloody stumps until they regenerate. The missions progressively get harder and more ridiculous until the final epic challenge and interesting unlockable for beating it.

Finally, online play deserves mention. It is absolutely awesome. It features the standard one on one match, along with the new two on two tag mode and the completely fulfilling King of The Hill mode, that all run smoothly as long as you have a decent connection. King of the Hill allows up to 8 people to be in a room and fight arcade style where winner stays on and loser moves to the back of the line. While you wait to fight, you watch the current match in real time and can use your Xbox avatar on the 360 or one of the included ones to cheer and jeer the match as it happens. This is the closest I have ever seen to the arcade experience brought home and I hope more games use this feature.

Now, there are a few faults with the game, though they do not really bring it down much. Like previous MK games, the AI can be really cheap, especially when played on higher difficulties and when you fight one of the bosses. Also, while the game is really balanced overall, some characters feel more useful than others or can be really cheap, like Noob Saibot, who can spam his shadow tackle that spans the length of the screen, though I am sure a patch or two will fix that in time. Finally, while the Krypt has a massive amount of unlockables, most are paintings or artwork that will be unlocked and never viewed again. I wish that there were more substantial unlocks like costumes or more secret characters, since there are only 2 and they are obtained from finishing the story mode, but what can you do?

Mortal Kombat is a fighting game that I see myself playing for a long long time due to the fact of the massive roster, including the Playstation 3 exclusive Kratos, of the God of War series, and the promise of DLC characters, along with the awesome online modes that give you plenty of people to bloodily rip in half. Even if you do not have or use online, the game provides a solid single player experience that will keep you busy for at least 20 hours between the story and challenge tower, plus of course local multiplayer. So please, run out to your nearest store and buy this game. Even if you just remotely like fighting games, it is worth every cent.

Graphics – 9

Story – 9

Gameplay – 10

Audio – 9

Content – 10

Replay Factor – 10

Final Score - 9.5