And finally, what with games being all about rewarding violence and everything, battle damage can also be used as a badge of achievement. Shrewdly, every bit of damage your costume receives in Arkham Asylum happens during a story mission, generally from the latest named boss character getting a lucky shot off before Batman does that thing he always does, i.e., kick ass. So that means each of those rips and dents you're wearing has a story behind it, one that Bruce Wayne will one day use to bore all Robin's friends to death around the boy scout campfire.
You know, it'd be an interesting idea if you directly tied battle damage to an experience or achievement system in a multiplayer game like World of Warcraft or Team Fortress 2. Rather than getting unlockable hats and accessories, I mean. Say, your trouser cuffs get a little bit frayed and charred because you succesfully held a capture point under enemy fire. Or you have a dueling scar on your face because you beat the dreaded Lord Choppington while you were levelling your character in the Choppington estates. That way, all the hardened veterans you wouldn't want to mess with are all rocking the plays-by-his-own-rules look with grim, scarred expressions and sloppily-maintained uniforms to show how little of a shit they have left to give, and the newbies are all fresh-faced youngsters with neatly laundered tunics straight out of officer school.
Actually, thinking about it, that doesn't make tremendous amounts of sense, because we're talking about permanently scarring or damaging your player because they did something well, and not because they failed at it. Maybe it should be an opt-out thing, like you can pop home and change shirts, saving the torn-up one for when you're planning to go on the pull. But then again, failure builds character, no reason we can't scar you for that, too. Maybe if you did well you get a cool badass scar across the eye, but if you got killed a few times then you get progressively less badass scars, and if you die, say, 50 times before you succeed then you get a big scar on your forehead shaped like a cock.
Sorry, I'm drifting off topic again. The point is, Amazing Spider-Man's approach to battle damage completely misses the point by cancelling all three of the above effects. It's not recording the length of the adventure because it resets between every mission. The only achievement it marks is the fact that you're a total spazz who didn't dodge enough. And alright, maybe it does make the character seem vulnerable, but there's a point where that starts to count against their appeal.
Batman's subtle rips and scars just make him seem all the more of a badass, but when Spider-Man is down to strips of shredded fabric tucked into his spider-knickers it just makes him seem kinda incompetent. Laughable. I'm left wondering if his costume splits at the drop of a hat because he's scarfed down one too many spider-cheeseburgers since he first had it tailored. And you know, the in-game explanation given for the between-mission costume restoration is that he sews it all back up once he gets home. Leaving aside how long that would take. If his sewing's anything like mine, there's eventually going to be more thread than costume. It'd be like wearing an itchy sweater your Grandma made except skin tight. AROUND YOUR BALLS.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.