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[Video Game Review] Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

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Game Summary: Arkham Knight is a sequel to 2011's Batman: Arkham City. While Scarecrow returns for revenge against Batman and plans to unleash his fear toxin all over Gotham City, a new antagonist, the mysterious Arkham Knight, confronts Batman and challenges his supremacy over the streets of the city.

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Review: by The Superior Spider-Sam

The latest in Rocksteady Batman video game releases!

 

What I Liked

Free flow combat: No surprise here. This has been the highlight of the series since the first game Arkham Asylum debuted in 2009. The combat in this game is superb – ABSOLUTELY. SUPERB. You still do your main attacks with one button and counter attacks with another. This game, however, smoothly incorporates combination takedowns where you and another (Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing, or even the Batmobile!) team up for a sweet cinematic takedown of enemies. There is also the new concept of “Fear Multi Takedown” in which (once you’ve made your enemies terrified enough) you can jump into a crowd and enact a scene that takes out multiple foes with little effort. Add to that the batarangs, voice manipulators, electricity gun, bat claw, and a host of other gadgets, and you get an experience that actually made me exclaim, “Don’t you know who I am?! I’m Batman!”

The Story: This was a bit of surprise for me. After 3 games in the series only one had a story that truly captivated me in “Arkham Origins” (though that also happened to be the worst in gameplay mechanics)- not that “Arkham “ and “Arkham City” were bad stories, but I was much more interested in punching bad guys than I was in knowing why. So to enjoy the tales of Gotham City as I did was much welcome. In addition to the main conflict with the scarecrow, there are several side missions that grabbed my interest from a story perspective. These included Two-Face and his bank robbing plots, Penguin and his gun running schemes, Firefly trying to burn the city down, and the mystery murderer who leaves bodies hanging off of buildings with ominous opera music playing nearby. Ironically, the weakest point of my time in Gotham dealt with the villain calling himself the Arkham Knight.

Graphics: Hopefully, if you purchased this on PC the patch released let you enjoy the glory of this game in full HD resolution. This game is beautiful. As usual, Batman is a gorgeous character and as you get further into his journey you see the toll it takes in the form of scrapes, bruises, torn capes, and broken armor. Character designs for the villains and allies are also top notch- I can understand their popularity at comic book conventions as the detail in each character is phenomenal. Also, the city itself is a wonderfully designed playground. Using the power of Next Gen consoles you can stand atop a skyscraper and truly marvel at the beautiful sandbox you get to play in and explore. Now, there are that many people- a complaint from previous games- but in the frame of this story it actually makes sense and I can appreciate that.

What I Did Not Like

The Arkham Knight: Yes, one of my dislikes is a character. The game’s namesake is supposedly this total bad@$$ out of Venezuela, of whom I (as Batman) should be weary. He looked cool, and that about all that was redeeming about him. This guy pops up in the story multiple times and when he’s not hurling kindergarten insults at me, he’s whining about how much I don’t deserve the praise I get a Batman. They make a big deal about unmasking him and there are many (MANY) conversations regarding the true identity of the “fearsome” Arkham Knight. However, this is seriously irritating because the game literally gives away the identity of the Knight in not so subtle terms- you’d have to turn off your brain not to get it. So, he has no air of mystery about him, the dialogue they gave him is borderline “I need to mute the TV,” his missions are some of the most irritating because he shoehorns his way into more interesting narratives, and he’s overall not threatening to me as Batman. They failed this character more than people on “Arrow”

Batmobile: This should be under a section all its own on “What I HATE.” The Batmobile is not good. Period. It drives like crap, it maneuvers like crap, it fights like crap and its missions are crap. Literally, the only cool thing about the Batmobile is watching Batman dive-bomb into it from the top of a building. Dear lord, I have so much to hate on but I will stick with the bigger issues. First, the driving – you control everything with one joystick. That would be okay if all you had to do was drive through the city, but when you are FORCED to do missions that require precise driving having one stick control every direction is more than bothersome.

Now, speaking of missions, there are WAY too many mandatory Batmobile missions. I cannot say how times I just moaned “Come on” when I forced to take a detour from my main mission because I HAD to use the Batmobile to fight off enemies first. Not to mention the stalking missions- in which you had to sneak up behind another vehicle (sneak up- IN THE FREAKING BATMOBILE!) and try your hardest to take it out with your ONE weapon. To call these missions tedious is an understatement; to have them THIS many in the game should not have made it past the alpha build, someone on the game development team had to of thought “wow this sucks.” That brings me to my major overall point- the Batmobile is not a fun vehicle. This is the main vehicle of the Batman-n it should be decked out with gadgets. Instead, we have one cannon which is used to shoot other vehicles before you dodge that vehicle’s shot and rinse and repeat until all enemy vehicle are gone. They make a point to give me an EMP which is useless in combat, a secondary machine gun which can only shoot projectiles but not people or other vehicles, and a super move that takes so long to charge you won’t even need it- oh, and this super move can’t be used at all against bosses. They reduced the Batmobile missions to you shooting a vehicle, then getting out of sight, and popping out to shoot another vehicle- as complicated as a game of Frogger. The fact that I had to do this pop-in, shoot, pop-out routine about 80 times each mission made me so happy when the Batmobile seemingly was destroyed. It was a bad idea to include this Batmobile in this game.

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Images Courtesy of IGN

 

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