I thought the first game was amazing. Metroidvania 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 Metroidvania 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, one 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’s where Arkham Knight falls short. It doesn’t lead to an epic finale it just ends abruptly. What I mean is, in Arkham City, it starts off one way. By the end so much has happened that you can only wonder how the developers will build upon it. Batman: 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 too out of control. 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 over-powered. Which would be fine for any other game. But Batman is a character who we want to see reach his goals through sheer willpower, not through force.
When the game gives you a tank at the very beginning it kind of takes away the sense of dread. Which was in the previous 2 Arkham games. Not counting the disappointing Batman Arkham Origins. Just like in Arkham Origins, you have an overpowered weapon 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 it. But 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 Batman: 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. I was thinking to myself, “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.
After the opening cutscene, the game looks completely average. 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. Batman: Arkham Knight is the fourth game in the main series if you count Arkham Origins. The developers still feel like they have to come up with the excuse as to why there are no civilians. The Batman: Arkham Asylum took place on a prison island. It made sense there would be no civilians. Yet, Batman: Arkham City took place in a prison city where criminals were thrown into and was blocked off from the rest of the city with giant walls. It was a goofy reason but still acceptable.
Batman: 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, in Batman: Arkham Knight 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 (game based on movie).
The story and voice acting are good. Mark Hamill reprises his role as 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, 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 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 Batman: Arkham Knight. I think I should warn you I’m going into spoiler territory now (Don’t take it too seriously).
Everyone knew it was going be Jason Todd. He is the only person it could have been. Rocksteady Studios even said in an interview: “The Batman: Arkham Knight was going to be an original character”. So what happened? I stayed off of Facebook and Twitter for two weeks after Arkham Knight came out. I didn’t want there to be the slightest chance of it being spoiled for me. Not only is the identity of the Batman: 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 Batman: 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, the writers couldn’t think of a smart way to reveal Jason Todd. I think it would’ve been best if you fought him first. Then, at the end, of the fight, he shoots you. While you’re on the ground, he goes up to you, taunts you, and then takes off his helmet.
After you defeat the Arkham Knight, Deathstroke shows up and reveals he was the one who was running the operation. Finally, you get to him and you fight him in a tank. You fight like 80 million tanks in this game. The Deathstroke as the opponent, who is known for his martial arts skills, you fight in a tank.
For all of those who don’t know in the realm of DC comics, Slade Wilson a.k.a. 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. He’s 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. To add insult to injury, when you capture Deathstroke he taunts you and dares him to fish the battle hand to hand.
The Joker pretty much summarizes the boss fight after you catch him. So at what point does world’s greatest assassin become false advertising? I’ll tell you when. It becomes false advertisement when you fight him in a generic tank battle.
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 Riddler. A poindexter who has no martial arts background. The Riddler’s in a mech suit protected by an energy shield. You and Catwomen defeat his robots and somehow deactivates his shield. Then hit a couple of times and repeat the process three times until you win.
When all is said and done, I can recommend this game. The Batman Arkham series has fluctuated like a roller coaster in terms of quality. The die-hard Batman fans or fans of 3D beat’em ups would be more than thrilled. 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$.
P.S. Don’t get this game on PC. From what I heard it’s an absolute disaster. I played Batman: Arkham Knight on PlayStation 4.