Batman: The Telltale Series – Ep. 3: New World Order Review
We’re at the midpoint in Telltale’s Batman game and the strengths and warts of the brand are now quite noticeable. Any one who has played previous Telltale games knows exactly what is being referred to here. The story continues to escalate and all its stakes are laid out now. Things are coming to head and the hero finds himself assaulted on all sides with no clear path to victory. Because the story scope is clearer now, the illusion that your choices will affect it are pretty much revealed as a sham at this point. The game aspect of the experience is confined to small sections that have no relevant impact to your game playing journey. The story narrative has fully taken over. In episode 3 a new world order may be striving to take over Gotham but old Telltale Game game restrictions overshadow the experience.
As with previous Telltale games, each subsequent installment in a game is a little less interactive than the previous one. The game playing scope feels smaller and smaller as if the lead time between episodes dwindles allowing for less and less player control. Cracks in the freedom facade start to show as the game must funnel all players and their choices to the same conclusion. My own personal journey with Batman had that illusion shattered as my interaction with reporter Vicki Vale was based on an action I specifically choose not to take in a previous episode. These type of game glitches totally take the player out of the game. Especially so, when story choice is sold as the primary strength of the game and we are specifically reminded of it before the start of each episode.
“In episode 3 a new world order may be striving to take over Gotham but old Telltale Game game restrictions overshadow the experience.”
The lack of player choice is really driven home when you compare your choices against other players after finishing. In every instance of a player story choice, the percentage that choose the same path was in the high 80s.
On the technical side, I have been fortunate to not experience any of the glitches being reported by other players that run from performance issues such as stuttering to game crashes. Until now. During one sequence that does not seem technically demanding, the scene is in the interior of the Batmobile with Batman racing through the streets of Gotham while engaged in a telephone conversation. The combination of audio and moving cityscape outside the car windows induced a near slide show sequence with lurches and fits all the way through it. Thankfully this issue was restricted to that one sequence.
Despite these minuses, overall I still found enjoyment with this episode. The story still intrigues and continues to raise the stakes. Bruce has been removed from his position at Wayne Enterprises and replaced by Cobblepot. The revelation that Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin – has been a front for the Children of Gotham and a still un-named leader of the Children of Gotham from episode two is explored further. This new villain who has a scarecrow like physique and carries a staff capable of a deadly electrical discharge definitely seems like a worthy opponent for Batman. The Children of Gotham have been operating in the shadows, using others to carry out their plans. Their reach is far and wide to the point where they have extended it by piggybacking on Wayne Enterprises tech to eavesdrop on the Gotham City Police Department and their communications and information systems.
This latest twist brings in Lucius Fox – Wayne Enterprises chief tech guru and Batman’s version of James Bond’s – Q into the narrative. Bruce’s loss of position and the increasing proof of his family’s criminal activity puts him in a position of relying even more heavily on his few allies such as Lucius and Alfred. The sexually charged relationship between Bruce and Selina Kyle also goes deeper as circumstances bring them together and closer than ever before. A situation that leads to a confrontation with Harvey Dent who is becoming increasingly erratic as his persona continues to disintegrate towards becoming Two Face. You can really feel Bruce’s frustration at not being able to give his full attention to helping Harvey. This is a well played moment as Harvey has previously tried to reach out to Bruce and Selina only to find the two of them together. It’s a moment of mistaken betrayal, anger, and guilt that really make these three characters come to life.
The game continues to look and sound great – technical glitches aside. The voice acting really sells you on the characters and story. The chapter ends on a cliff-hanger with Bruce injected with the mind-altering drug and about to go batty all over Cobblepot in public. I’ll gladly be back for episode 4, not to play a game but to find out how the story continues.
***A PC review code was provided by the publisher***
- Story continues to engage
- Game looks and sounds great
- More of a team feel in this installment
- Much more story than game
- Story bug which contradicts previous choices
- Performance issues continue