Ok, Telltale, we have to talk about your ridiculous naming conventions. I mean they’re fine. They’re not on par with what Square Enix is making of some of its properties, but look at that mess of a title. And there’s no web-efficient shorthand for it either. We need to do something about that, ok? Anyway, today we’re talking about New World Order. The third installment in the Telltale’s Batman series. Following a choice of theoretically mind-blowing consequence at the end of the previous episode, I was feeling ready to experience actual meaningful impact in a Telltale game beyond the whole “illusion of choice” thing they usually have going on. But Telltale did what Telltale does.
Batman – The Telltale Series Episode 3 New World Order: Windows PC [Reviewed], Mac OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: 25 October 2016
Price: 22,99€ [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
New World Order
As much as I liked the potential for ramifications of the choice at the end of the previous episode, New World Order was quick to crush my hopes and dreams, not only starting in a way that strongly hinted that the way this plays out is mostly set in stone, but also seemed to completely disregard the person that received the short end of the decision stick. I think this the most discrepancy between expectation and result I’ve ever seen in a Telltale episode, with my decision having had such little positive impact for the character I helped and the offended party not even commenting on the matter.
The first choice in the episode is similarly weak, the producers telling us to pick between helping someone we’ve seen develop for the better part of the series so far and a random minor character we barely have any investment in. In fact, the first half of New World Order slogs at a painful pace, taking a full half hour before the player is given control to move around the environment and breaking up the awkward pace and corny dialogue with just a few interesting moments. Lieutenant Gordon was pissed off with Batman for some reason, even though I had played the law-abiding cooperative vigilante and the Board of Directors at Wayne Enterprises makes a monumentally stupid decision in light of Bruce Wayne’s fall from grace, one that a quick Google Search would have averted. Maybe they don’t have Google in Gotham City.
However, the poorly written character motivations and corny dialogues were soon forgotten as the action ramps up when Batman finds the hideout of the upstart faction calling themselves the Children of Arkham. A climactic battle ensues and we’re reminded that this series has some genuinely intense fight sequences. I’d thought the big fight scene marked the end of the episode, but New World Order decided to put their climax smack-down into the middle of the run-time, leaving the remainder for some thoroughly pleasant character development and a smooth wind-down. There is a bit of ramp-up in intensity towards the end, as Harvey Dent takes the first step down a path most fans know too well and the installment ends with a shocking reveal of the villain’s identity before the obligatory cliffhanger.
I won’t ramble a lot about the engine this time. It still does what the Telltale Engine is known to do, but apart from the snags during scene loading and assorted issues, what I found particularly annoying was that I had the worst performance during the sequences shot inside the Batmobile, with minimal entities to render, animate or load. Aside from that, I enjoyed the return of the investigation minigame in New World Order and I genuinely love Telltale’s take on Catwoman. Overall, I’d say that the episode redeemed itself sufficiently during the second half to still have me on board for the next one.
The first half of New World Order is probably my least favourite work that Telltale has ever done. It’s awkwardly put together, clumsily written and seems to throw all your previous decisions out the window. It does, however pick up during the mid-point climax and then takes a long path towards wrapping up, showing some great chemistry between Batman/Bruce and Catwoman/Selina, as well as setting up Harvey Dent for the next episode. All thing considered, the latter half and the twist ending do make up for the slow start and did a lot to get me excited for the next installment. There are some small technical hitches, but it’s a Telltale game so what are you going to do?