“Batman: Arkham Knight” review

Batman-Arkham-Knight-e3-6

Okay so, this is going to be hard.

I’m a huge fan of the “Arkham” games and all that Rocksteady has done with them. I even tried to enjoy “Arkham Origins,” but due to some serious bugs and anger-inducing segments I had to step away from reviewing it because I didn’t think I could do it objectively enough to give it a fair and educated shake.

“Arkham Knight” takes place months after the events of “Arkham City” as Scarecrow enacts a plan to flood Gotham with fear toxin in an effort to show the world the “real” Batman. Alongside him is a new foe calling himself the “Arkham Knight.”

So, what’s good about this game? Well, it continues the series’ legacy of being one of the best super-hero adaptations in gaming to date. The fighting hasn’t changed much since “City,” which means that if you know what you were doing there, then you’re golden in “Knight.” What they added this time around was the ability to switch between Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman during some large fights to create some truly breathtaking moments of battle. Honestly, if there were more instances of all of that I’d overlook a lot more faults because they were just so dang fun and cool looking.

Batman’s gadgets haven’t evolved since “City” either, so many of the plot puzzles and Riddler puzzles will be easy to figure out. Instead of giving you new gear, Rocksteady has decided the Batmobile will suffice.

Let’s get real about the Batmobile for a second. We all said that we wanted it, but what we really wanted was a large enough map to warrant driving around in Batman’s jet-powered wagon to alleviate the monotony of grapple-gliding. The problem is, the map just isn’t large enough to warrant a car, especially since you can complete pretty much all of the time trials by gliding unless they go underground. So, if you can travel around the city at alarming speeds with the normal mode of transportation, why give me a new one?

I’ll tell you why. Tanks.

batman-arkham-knight-gamescom-2-jpg

I will agree that the Batmobile-assisted takedowns are fun.

Because the Arkham Knight utilizes drone tanks and helicopters, Batman needed something to fight them. Thus, the Batmobile. What evolves out of this necessity is a mechanic that becomes wholly unoriginal and tired after the first four or five times you do a wave-clearing mission. Let’s not even talk about the fact that Batman, the world’s greatest detective and martial artist, is forced behind the wheel of a tank to fight these unmanned monstrosities. When I think of Batman games, I think of the bosses I’ve fought: Solomon Grundy, Titan-toxin Joker, Bane, Killer Croc, Ivy in the giant plant monster in “Asylum.” Never did I feel that I needed something other than Batman’s prowess to fight these gargantuan foes. In fact, it felt rewarding to do these battles without some large machine.

Now we’re looking at tank fights that happen in tunnels and the streets of Gotham. Why? Because the game couldn’t evolve anymore and the only thing Rocksteady had left to give us was the Batmobile. Is that a reason to give it to us? No. We could have done without it and the streets wouldn’t have needed drones. That might have paved the way to more interesting story points or missions for other characters. Lord knows that would have been welcome after the horribly foreshadowed reveals and lackluster climax at the end of this game.

What would I have liked instead of a tank? A living Gotham. Let me stop bank robberies in progress. Let me save people being mugged in the alleys. I want to be the vengeance and the night. I want to be Batman. Not Tankman.

Let’s also talk for a minute about the Riddler puzzles. Now, I’m all for these little tidbits of fan service and brain teasery. Sometimes they’re fun, and other times they’re downright frustrating, but all in all they’re expected to be in the “Arkham” games. What’s interesting about “Knight” in particular is that for some reason, not all of the gadgets are given to you in the course of the plot, like in all of the previous games. That wouldn’t be a problem if the Riddler storyline didn’t hinge on these incredibly important items.

The way I know they’re important is because one of the areas in the Catwoman storyline that involves Riddler is blocked until you get an item that Batman needs. Riddler even tells you that you need the item. So, that’s all fine and dandy but the item is not given to you during the course of playing through the main plot. You have to find it in its location which would only be obvious unless you’ve scoured a specific zone into boredom. Still, okay, I’ll let that slide.

What I’m pissed about is that there is another puzzle in the city that requires a different gadget to complete which is again not given to you during the main plot. Instead, this time Riddler doesn’t tell you you’re missing anything. So, why is this aggravating? Because it breaks the rules. If there is an item that I need, and you tell me that I need it to complete things, then I will assume you will tell me to get an item if I do not have it. When you don’t, and I continue to do a puzzle thinking I’m doing it right, I get angrier and angrier and am then forced to look it up on the internet. A player should not have to look up how to get a puzzle-relevant item on the internet after completing literally every other storyline in the game and not finding the item in question.

Is “Arkham Knight” worth the cash? Not really. After playing the Red Hood missions and the Harley Quinn ones as well, I can honestly say that this game, currently, is not worth the money. Also, let it be noted that I purchased the game for PlayStation 4, so the only thing I’ll say on the PC porting issue is that you don’t release something unless you know it’s ready. As a QA tester, this is all I do for a living and I know it’s not an easy task and can hold production back, but you do it because otherwise you get what happened with “Arkham Knight.”

Is “Arkham Knight” an okay game? Sure. It’s more Batman and it’s the continuation of the story, but I will say that “City” was and is still a better game than this. Save your cash and wait for a drop in price.