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Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 3 - New World Order
Score: 80%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Introduction:

Batman: The Telltale Series continues to impress, on both the merits of its willingness to tell its own story (instead of someone elseís) and a sense of relentless pacing that is generally uncharacteristic of most Telltale games. Plot and character are front and center, and the storyís rapid-fire delivery of game-changing and often brutal developments means thereís not a single wasted chapter. Thereís a price to pay for all this superb, nearly airtight storytelling, but all in good time. Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 3 Ė New World Order is a very bold continuation of what has so far been a very bold series; its understated intensity remains enthralling and absolutely worthwhile.

Occupy Gotham:

Despite the actions Batman took during the mayoral debate, the outcome was pretty much the same. Thanks to an impromptu (and live!) gangland execution carried out by the Penguin, Gotham City Mayor Hamilton Hill is now the late Gotham City Mayor Hamilton Hill. Harvey Dent, now unopposed, is promptly whisked into office. With the Hill problem more or less solved (albeit not in the way anyone would want), the bigger problem is brought into nasty relief: the hijackers of the debate, calling themselves the "Children of Arkham," are revealed to have already wormed their way into Gothamís infrastructure using means that hit far too close to home. In addition, they are clearly planning something sinister with the help of their newly refined inhibition-lowering toxin. Itís up to Batman to repair the damage that has already been done, do some recon on the terrorists, and ultimately stop them before theyíre able to carry out their attack.

Meanwhile, regardless of whether or not poor Harvey ended up getting intimate with a stage lamp, his history of crippling mental illness is beginning to surface. With his condition leading to rage-fueled outbursts and fundamental misunderstandings of otherwise simple situations, what was once a potentially bright future for Gotham now seems like it might have been too good to be true. And with Dent being forced to push away his closest friends for the sake of his political career, he is rapidly becoming his own worst enemyÖ


The Sins of the Father:

Continuing a welcome trend established very early on in the series, New World Order features far more Bruce Wayne than Batman. Telltale has always been more interested in vulnerability than power, and their penchant for putting their heroes through the wringer is on full display here. Bruceís back is so firmly against the wall in this episode that youíll be in a constant sense of unease. There are forces at work that are currently beyond his ken, and they seek his destruction. And where better to destroy a man than his home? After the upsetting revelation of Thomas Wayneís gaslighting of Esther Cobblepot went public at the debate, Wayne Enterprises is of the mind to remove its namesake. This is bad enough for Bruce himself, but when he discovers the companyís new leadership, he has no choice but to trust in the friends who are still there and ultimately play the long game.

The final moments of New World Order set the stage for what should be an outstanding episode. More importantly, it inexorably leads this storyline into its endgame. Itís a necessary development, and perhaps even a touch predictable, but it has to happen. Before Bruce Wayne becomes vengeance, before he becomes the night, and before he truly becomes Batman, thereís one last place he needs to visit.


Conclusion:

"This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored by how you play." Though the experiences that follow those words are rarely poor, that ubiquitous prelude to every Telltale game has been losing its credibility for years. Some of the games that betray this mantra donít necessarily suffer for it (The Walking Dead), while others absolutely do (Game of Thrones). Iím not of the opinion that Batman suffers for its lack of choice and consequence, but this latest episode (and arguably the series as a whole) almost goes out of its way to show me that my decisions and dialogue choices are irrelevant. For my part, the binary choices Iíve made in previous episodes are almost always referenced by one or two often-contrived, sometimes-out-of-character, always-throwaway lines of dialogue and never brought up ever again. And every time Iím told a character will remember my words or actions, I take that line with a grain of salt. Again, itís not killing the experience, but I will admit that Iím starting to fear for the future of this formula.

Persistent (and still baffling as hell) technical problems aside, and despite my qualms about the playstyle, Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 3 - New World Order is terrific interactive entertainment.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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