The Batman Arkham series has fluctuated like a roller coaster in terms of Quality for me.
I thought the first game was an amazing Metroid-vania style adventure with beat em up elements and well implemented stealth mechanics. The second game Arkham City improved upon the formula but took away the Metroid-vania elements in favor of a more open world approach. As far as open world games go it was great but it lacked direction. I’d normally try to beat the main campaign first and then do the side missions in an open world game however 1 of the side missions in Arkham City was only available before you beat the main story.
Thankfully its shortcomings could be overlooked thanks to its beautiful core design and epic sense of scale.
That is where Arkham Knight falls short. It doesn’t lead to any epic finale it just ends abruptly. What I mean is that in Arkham City it starts off one way and by the end so much has happened that you can only wonder how the developers will build upon it. Arkham Knight starts out one way and ends in the way you would expect.
The core mechanics all function like they should however nothing ever feels to out of control, and you always feel like you can handle what is thrown at you. The sense of danger of being alone as if the fate of something big relies on your shoulders is gone. The New tank mechanic which allows you to turn the Batmobile into a tank makes you feel like an over powered baddass. Which would be fine for any other game but Batman is a character who we want to see reach his goals through sheer will power not through force.
When the game gives you a tank at the very beginning it kind if takes away the sense of dread that was in the previous 2 arkham games not counting the disappointing Batman Arkham Origins. Just like in Arkham Origins you have an overpowered weapon that you can use anytime you want. Whenever you are near an enemy and your tank is near all you have to do is press two buttons and the tank will knock them out for you. I know you don’t have to do this but just the fact that it’s an option breaks the game like the shock gloves in Arkham Origins.
The game also does a very poor job of teaching you the mechanics. One of my favorite moves to perform in Arkham city was the slide kick. You press and hold down on the R2 button while running and then you will sweep the ground knocking out any enemies next to you. In Arkham Knight you do have the slide mechanic however in order to use it this time you gently tap the R2 button while running. If you hold it down for more than a second nothing happens.
I didn’t even figure this out until I completed the main story. The environments are also nothing special to look at. The game’s opening cutscene looked promising my mom was even impressed by how it looked stating “They finally brightened it up a bit.” Which is a good thing because the previous games have all been incredibly dark not just in theme.
However after the opening cutscene it looks like a completely average game. There are no civilians in the game they have all been evacuated from the city because of reasons I won’t go into. I was kind of Disappointed this is the fourth game in the main series if you count Arkham Origins and the developers still feel like they have to come up with some excuse as to why there are no Civilians. Arkham Asylum took place on a prison island so It made sense that there would be no civilians Arkham City took place in a prison city where criminals where thrown into and was blocked off from the rest of the city with giant walls. It was a goofy reason but still exceptable. Arkham Origins expected us to believe that every single Citizen of Gotham city followed a curfew and stayed indoors past a certain hour, and now Arkham knight yet again comes up with a reason for why we can’t interact with more people. I would have loved an open world Batman game where you can do quests for strangers like in Spiderman 2.
The story and voice acting are good. Mark Hamill reprises his role for a posthumous Joker, Kevin Conroy will always make the best Batman in my opinion, and Jonathan Banks does a great job as the Police Commissioner Gordon.
One of the new mechanics that I actually liked was being able to perform buddy takedowns by teaming up with either Knightwing, Robin, or Catwomen throughout the story. By hitting a button while one of your sidekicks is fighting both you and them will tackle the same enemy and you will be switched to controlling the other character. It’s seamless and fast paced action like this that makes the Arkham games memorable. I also loved the fear takedown, the ability to quickly disarm and incapacitate up to 5 armed enemies in just a few seconds.
The biggest drawback in the game is the Arkham Knight and I think I should warn you I’m going into spoiler territory now.
Everyone knew it was going be Jason Todd. He is the only person it could have been. Rocksteady even said in an interview that the Arkham Knight was going to be an original character. So what the hell happened? I stayed off of Facebook and twitter for two weeks after Arkham Knight came out because I didn’t want there to be the slightest chance of it being spoiled for me. Not only is the identity of the Arkham Knight a disappointment but the reveal as well. Instead of fighting him and knocking his mask off he just takes it off out because the story has reached its climax. Some could argue that the Arkham Knight took his mask off in anger but what made this time any different than all the other times he was angry. The only difference is that the writers couldn’t think of a smart way to reveal Jason Todd. I think it would have been best if you fought him first then at the end of the fight he shoots you and while you’re on the ground he goes up to you, taunts you, and then takes off his helmet.
However after you defeat the Arkham Knight Death Stroke shows up and reveals that he was the one who was running the operation. I thought to myself “Oh boy what a great twist I can’t wait to go up against Death Stroke. Then you finally get to him and you fight him in a tank. You fight like 90 million fucking tanks in this game and DeathStroke an opponent who is known for his fighting skills you fight in a tank like he’s just some random thug.
For those of you who don’t know in the realm of DC comics Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke is a martial arts grandmaster. He’s mastered 127 styles of martial arts, has a super brain capable of processing information at 9 times the speed of a normal human, has regenerating powers, and with enough prep time managed to defeat the entire Justice League. This is a guy who you want to fight hand to hand. I mean as much as I didn’t like Arkham Origins the battle against Deathstroke in that game was one of its high points.
That’s another problem the game has very few boss battles. Most of them are just normal enemies that can take more damage. The only boss battle that felt like a real boss battle was the fight against the fucking riddler. A poindexter who has no martial arts background. He’s in a mech suit protected by an energy shield, you and Catwomen defeat his robots this somehow deactivates his shield you then hit a couple of times repeat this process three times and you win.
When all is said and done I can recommend this game to diehard Batman fans or fans of 3d beatemups. I sold my copy a few days ago and will probably pick up the game of the year edition with all the DLC on it when it's 30 bucks.
By the way don’t get this game on pc from what I heard it’s an absolute Disaster on PC. I played it on PlayStation 4. Overall 7/10 read