P21: Side-Missions - Batman: Arkham City
In Batman: Arkham City the Side-Missions are exactly what they sound like to a certain degree - extra content that you can either do or not do optionally. In reality though, they represent a very important element in the process of story-telling, because in addition to wrapping up old relationships from the previous game, and visiting with relationships from the cannon of the Batman stories, they also provide information that is related to and flavors the story that is being played out in the game.
Side-Missions like the Enigma series are tied to the collectable items in the game, and in addition to encouraging gamers to pursue those, it represents your primary interaction with the character of The Riddler, a villain who played a very large role in Batman's world.
Each of the Side-Missions either have one or more Achievements associated with them directly, or factor into the process of unlocking optional Achievements -- some of which can be missed. There is even broad speculation that some of these -- in particular the series of four encounters with The Mysterious Watcher -- actually serve as foreshadowing for the next game in the series or perhaps for an upcoming content-expanding DLC.
We do not know for sure if that is true or not, but what we can say -- with little reservations -- is that these extracurricular activities add to the quality and the depth of the experience of being The Dark Knight, and contribute in very meaningful ways to the story line that is unfolding around us as we play the game. They are, in other words, worth doing.
Due largely to those factors these missions figure prominently in the both the guide and in the story as it is documented in the guide. Rather than being treated as completely separate entities -- which we easily could have done -- they are inter-mixed with the main story line and present as a valuable part of the process of character development in the game. Each has rather tasty chunks of XP associated with them, each may have more than one Achievement connected to them or contribute to others, and perhaps of more significance, each serves as a potentially valuable source for optional extra-XP!
As you begin to play through the game you will need to make a conscious decision about how you are going to handle them. We recommend that, as we have done so in this guide, you treat them as legitimate elements of the story as it unfolds and endeavor to complete them as convenient elements of the story. That is the approach that we chose and it worked out very well!
Having observed the above, there is only one important aspect to this that we feel must be emphasized and brought to your attention: this is a game, and it is supposed to be fun.
What that means in the most simple of terms is that like the game, all of the side-missions are intended to be FUN. As long as you approach each with that firmly in mind, you will be fine, but if you find yourself fixating upon and growing frustrated by some of these, well that just defeats the entire purpose of the game now doesn't it?
When you find yourself working towards completing the AR Training in particular there is a very significant likelihood that you will indeed discover that some of the individual challenges that make up that side-mission will become a source for frustration and even anger. It is equally likely that you will find some of the other side-missions to have that potential as well, and if that happens it is really important that you maintain your perspective here!
Arkham City is a game. It is supposed to be fun. If it stops being fun -- even for a moment -- than something is very wrong. Rather than convincing yourself that you need to address the parts that are frustrating you or that you keep failing, it is a far more sensible approach to simply walk away from them temporarily and continua to play through the other parts of the game. Seriously...
One aspect of this that we can say with 100% certainty is that even the most frustrating and difficult of these challenges will eventually grow easier for you as you develop more and better experience with the controls, and with the elements that collectively represent play strategies.
Many of these side-missions present as opportunity play, and cannot be managed in neat little bundles! In particular the Enigma missions, and the Acts of Violence missions -- in which you rescue Political Prisoners -- particularly apply in that fashion. Trying to force those will only result in your spending hours doing things that bore you when you could just as easily have accomplished them as a byproduct of your regular play, and so ended up experiencing each as part of the fun of the game instead of having them strand-out in your mind as a pain in the ass part of the game!
When we say that you should maintain your perspective, that is what we are talking about. Put another way, in the words of British-American game developer and creator Richard Garriott -- perhaps better known to you by his gaming 'nym 'Lord British' of Ultima fame -- "Play the game but don't let the game play you!"
He made that comment when he was asked about gamers spending longer than healthy play sessions in his then-new grandfather of the modern MMORPG, Ultima Online. His point was that the whole process of gaming should be fun, not work, and certainly not frustration! Considering that he leveraged his gaming to finance a trip into space, build his own personal castle, and put together one of the most awesome games-related collections on the planet, clearly he is an expert on fun. We're just saying...