Batman: Arkham Knight Reviews

Titanium Dragon
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 1,343
Posted on 21 April 17 at 07:12
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Batman: Arkham Knight is (ostensibly) the final chapter in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham X series. In it, Batman faces off against Scarecrow, who is seeking revenge for Batman throwing him to Killer Croc in the first game, and the titular Arkham Knight, whose identity you can guess without even playing the game if you are familiar with the comics, and whose identity becomes obvious somewhere in the middle of the game even if you’re not.

This game continues on in the tradition of Arkham City and Arkham Origins in that you play Batman in an open-world city. The map is even bigger this time around, and you are given the Batmobile to drive around in.

The Batmobile is the big new feature of this game, and is very similar to the one seen in the Dark Knight trilogy of movies. It can turn into a tank and move around in any direction while in tank mode. This is essential for fighting the army of tank drones, autonomous vehicles which attack you and the city throughout the game.

Alas, while these sections are okay, they suffer from one major problem: it doesn’t feel very Batman-y. Given that these games are about feeling like Batman, this is something of an issue.

Alas, the rest of the game has little meaningful innovation. The fights in this game are bigger than ever, with a fight in the Batmobile against 60 drones, and fights against large numbers of goons appearing at various points in the game, as well as even more complex predator encounters, where you sneak around and pick off armed guards, including medics who can revive their allies, people who you can’t see through walls with detective vision, and huge goons with miniguns. The biggest innovation in the predator sequences is the so-called fear takedown, where you can take down a whole group of goons in sequence from hiding without them being able to shoot you while doing so.

Alas, this isn’t very innovative, and the predator sequences and the fighting with goons sequences don’t feel very fresh or new. And while that’s okay to some extent, the lack of really interesting new enemies is kind of discouraging.

Added onto this are the boss fights, or rather, the lack thereof. This game is very obsessed with the Batmobile, and unfortunately, a lot of the new boss fights are Batmobile centric. And indeed, the main boss of the game is the Arkham Knight, who you fight over and over again in various guises. This isn’t so bad – the fights are actually all unique – but they’re big on flash and not so big on substance. Cool fights – like the Doctor Freeze fight from the second game – aren’t really on the menu here, and while some of the fights are okay, and sneaking around blowing up tanks in the Batmobile is kind of neat in its own way, in the end, it feels a bit repetitive at times after a while.

The other villains are by and large much less interesting, sadly. Two-Face and Penguin make an appearance, but they’re just reskinned mooks, and are taken out in the same way. Deathstroke shows up again but is in a tank which is mostly a rehash of a previous fight in the game, Man-Bat is not really a boss at all, and while Firefly is a different take on the fight, it doesn’t feel terribly boss-like and is more of a racing sequence. Indeed, apart from the titular Arkham Knight, the only real boss-feeling enemy in the game is the Riddler, who pilots a gigantic mecha to take you out after you solve all of his riddles… again. This is actually a somewhat interesting fight, in part because it makes use of the switching mechanic which shows up in a few fights where you fight as two characters in the same fight, switching from one to another as you do team attacks, or just when you feel like it.

Unfortunately, the Scarecrow himself doesn’t show up in any meaningful capacity as an enemy – gone are the cool sequences from Arkham Asylum, replaced by and large with cut scenes. There are a couple of neat sequences, particularly towards the end of the game, but ultimately the game doesn’t do a whole lot with Scarecrow.

And indeed, this leaks over into the story as well – Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight are both pretty generic and uninteresting, and the game as a whole is a mostly bland revenge plot with one real twist which is kind of neat and involves the (deceased) Joker. Indeed, the Joker is again the highlight of this game, which is kind of sad because he’s, well, dead the whole game. On the whole, the plot isn’t terribly interesting or exciting, and it feels very much like you’re just bludgeoning your way through, rather than taking control of the situation in the way that it felt like you were doing in Arkham Asylum.

The game as a whole isn’t very tight. I 100%ed the game and took about 70 hours doing it according to my Steam play time, though I suspect it was less than that and I just left the game running for a while a few times while alt-tabbed out. And unfortunately, this game felt long, and not in a good way – the game doesn’t have a whole lot of interesting tricks to it. Instead, there’s just a lot of content, but it is all the same content – drone fights, brawls, and predator encounters, and frankly, only a few of them are really memorable. There are over a dozen bombs you need to defuse while fighting waves of drones, but these fights are all very samey. There’s a neat sequence where you need to sneak around and take out “cobra tanks”, which are only vulnerable from behind… and then you end up doing it five times or so. The fights with goons quickly wear thin and don’t offer much new, and the predator encounters basically all feel very similar, with little meaningful variation. Sure, ostensibly the later ones are more difficult, but I never felt very threatened and they basically felt pretty rote, with only the invisible to x-ray detective vision enemies really mixing things up at all.

There are tons of side quests, but they ultimately almost all feel samey, and only the DLC ones really felt like they did anything interesting. The DLC ones felt much more interesting, offering more divergent experiences, such as dealing with the Mad Hatter putting you in a pop-up book (which was, while basically a bunch of mook fights, at least visually interesting), going through a downed zeppelin prison ship, and racing through frozen waters to save Mr. Freeze. These are all much more memorable than the main-game sidequests, which were pretty repetitive and more or less followed the formula of “go to location and fight a bunch of mooks 3-15 times.” There wasn’t much in the way of interesting story to them, and they felt pretty superficial.

Likewise, the Riddler has left something like 240 trophies around the game, plus dozens of destructible objects. Most of these just feel like they’re there – just a trophy lying around somewhere for Batman to pick up. Very few felt like actual riddles, and while there were some vaguely interesting puzzles, and the Riddler was actually kind of fun in his pretentious way, there were just an enormous number of them and collecting them felt like a bit of a drag. It might have been better if there had JUST been the Riddles, or if there had been something clever about the whole thing in a problem solving kind of way… but alas.

And really, this is the case with pretty much everything in the game. There’s a huge amount to do here, but a lot of it is just the same thing, over and over. It is an open world game with a huge area, but the dungeon type areas – the places where you go inside and fight through a place – are actually pretty small and are few and far between. Why spend so much time on a huge open world when you could instead create interesting environments for Batman to navigate? Is it really fun flying around over the city, or driving through the city in the Batmobile, when there’s nothing terribly interesting to do in most of it?

This is a game which is bloated, and it forgot that one of the things that made Arkham Asylum amazing was the way in which it lead into itself. Games like Dark Souls show how tight design can make things feel so much better, and then we see all these open world games which give us huge amounts of area to explore and nothing really interesting to do with it.

All that being said, this isn’t a bad game. It follows the formulas of the previous games, but I’m sad to say, this is a series past its prime. This game lacks the neat bosses of City and Origins, and it lacks the strong story of Asylum and to a lesser degree City. I’m glad they concluded the series here, but I feel like they could have done so much more with it, and they just didn’t, instead spending their resources on the wrong thing.

Was it fun? I had fun with it at times, and I think that people who are fans of the other games will enjoy this as well. But really, it is very much a sequel which treads water – it is competent, but nothing more.
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