Community Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

It's been a good long while, so I had forgotten how goddamn slick these Rocksteady Batman games could be. It's a little bit miraculous when you think about it.

You take the scope of, say, an Assassin's Creed II. You combine it with the pace and fluidity of the Uncharted games. You add a dash of the best 3D combat system in any video game ever. You add functional, creative stealth.

And that's not even the real reason why the Arkham series is so good.

The real reason is this: Rocksteady takes all of the above -- all that meat and potatoes -- and puts it together into a broth that somehow feels authentically 'Batman'. The attention to detail. Damn.

Man, I wish all video games had this level of detail. In every aspect of its being.

Yes: I am loving Batman: Arkham Knight. It's an easy thing to enjoy. In a lot of ways its a perfectly fluid video game that is close-to-flawless.

If you're playing on PlayStation 4.

In that sense, it's almost a shame that the borked PC launch of this game has detracted from what really is a spectacular achievement in large-scale video game development. This is a game that takes the solid foundation built over the past two Rocksteady Batman games, bravely adds a brand new kettle of fish with the Batmobile and somehow manages to make it work as perfectly as every other part of the game.

Man, I really, really like Batman: Arkham Knight. That word: fluidity. That's the key. It just moves so seamlessly from combat, to traversal, to driving, to investigation, to every single aspect of what it is to feel like Batman -- and does it with such a brazen confidence. Urgh. It's almost sickening.

It does the little things right, it does the grand, overarching things right. It does everything right.

Stop Batman. Just stop.

Goddamn. I wasn't expecting to like this game so much.

I guess if the game has one flaw it's this: the weird feeling that you never really leave the 'tutorial' section. It's a feeling I've always had with the Batman series: that you're constantly being introduced with new ways to solve problems instead of being left alone with your existing set of tools -- ala Metroid Prime -- and given the freedom to experiment.

I'm nitpicking.

This game man. This game.


Comments

    Yeah. I agree. So far I am loving it. It is a very slick production. It's a bit weird because I bounced off the last two games even though I liked what I saw (and briefly played). For some reason, this one I really want to play. I think it is because it seems like a pinnacle for a genre, in the same way GTA V is.

    My only real gripe with it is how unnaturally the Batmobile is shoehorned in at times. There's moments where it is literally the worst tool for the job but they come up with a bunch of convoluted reasoning and handwaving as to why the Batmobile is the best way to explore the interior of a building.

    Besides that I'm loving everything else. Still no Asylum but liking it more than City and exponentially more than Origins.

      Im curious to know what you disliked so much about Origins? For me it beats City hands down and I have great trouble deciding whether or not it beats Asylum so I'm going with a tie. I heard Origins had a rocky start much like Knight is having now, but when I finally got to it, all those bugs had been resolved.

      "I have to get down under that fan... I have explosives and could use them to take out the central turbine there..........or I could really, really awkwardly get the Batmobile in here to shoot through walls and stuff!!!!!"

      Yep, pretty much. lol

      The flimsy justifications for the Batmobile are easily the weakest part of this game, it gets kind of annoying. Also whoever decided they should do platforming with a car needs to be on the receiving end of all 5 stages of a fully unlocked fear takedown.

    As a big Batman fan, I'm loving it as well - slick game, great voice acting and a very interesting way to include you-know-who without it feeling lame or forced.

    Still not TOTALLY sold on the Batmobile, but after changing the controls to toggle mode (which I recommend everyone does!) I'm feeling a little more confident with it and my finger doesn't cramp now that I don't need to hold down L2 to fight 30 drones).

    Maybe I just suck with it, but I don't feel like Batman driving it - smashing into walls, running over people, not exactly nailing the drift mechanic, etc...

      It's one of my gripes too Serif. But still we have a Batmobile! Even if its a bit too Chris Nolan Bats for my tastes

    Great game, and I'm thankful to my other half for spoiling me this weekend and buying me a Bats PS4 bundle on Friday night for my birthday.
    What I like - It's Batman, classic Batman. The story is enjoyable, the gadgets are great, finally having a Batmobile in game is a joy I can't put into words. It just looks purely amazing on PS4 (and when the GOTY edition is eventually released on PC, hopefully no bugs by that stage)
    What I don't like - The PC version launch. These days that shouldn't be an after thought for most publishers/developers. If you're going to do a PC version, do it right and if need be delay it!
    And there's one spoiler in the story that I'm pissed off with Rocksteady for doing but its their game, and it does what it needs to for the story.

    Overall its a great finale to the Arkham series (assuming WB Games lets it be the final Arkham entry!) and I can't wait to see what IP Rocksteady are going to tackle next

      I'm thinking that giving Origins to another developer was a test scenario so they can milk the franchise for all it's worth once Rocksteady are done with it.

      Assuming that Arkham Knight will finish off the series story wise, they still have the massive timeline gap between Origins and Asylum where they can fit in a bunch of stories.

    I loved the batmobile at first, and then I hated it, and now later in the game I love it again. It was shoehorned into every possible aspect in the beginning to get you 'used' to it I suppose. After that it's less frequently used and honestly fun to zip around in.

      Yeah I just finished the game (not 100% yet) and love the batmobile. I really like how it's not really needed for exploring Gotham, they gave Batman some new upgrades to make moving about quite speedy and made gliding fast enough that you're not constantly having to grapple onto buildings.

    > You add a dash of the best 3D combat system in any video game ever.

    What about Souls combat though?

      Batman is basketball, Souls is soccer. You can argue the merits of both and come to conclusion that either is the best without being wrong.

    Loving it on the 'Bone. When Batman is talking on his communicator I just stare at the rain effects on his mask.

    Batmobile bits are a little iffy, but I suck at driving in games.

    The best is when you take out a bunch of enemies without being spotted. Really makes you feel like Batman and you're left with a massive stupid grin on your face.

    Honestly I've fallen love with this game. Loved arkham asylum, such a fantastic game, minus that stupid final boss fight. Arkham city I played very little of, loved playing as cat woman but rest of the game was to grey and bleak for me.

    This game erhmagawd so far my game of the year. Loving every minute of it specially the fact I have no idea who the Arkham knight is. Love the originality of this guy who knows a tonne about batman and we have no idea who he is really brings the story along nicely. And as for including the man we love most eeeee squeal of delight and the story for me has so many holy shit moments.

    5 star would play again

    Well I'm playing on PC so it feels like I'm playing it on the N64, but I am keeping at it!

    I am liking the game, hated the Batmobile at first but now I am getting used to it. There does seem to be a lack of interior areas though, I loved exploring the buildings in Asylum and City and finding all the hidden areas but they seem to have focused on the outdoor areas in this game.

    Almost finished the story mode, then I'll have to finish off those dastardly Riddler challenges and the rest of the side missions.

    It's good enough at it's core that i'm still playing it on PC, though trying to just do as much side stuff as possible while the fixes trickle in. That being said I did a chunk of the story yesterday and well, it goes places I wasn't expecting.

      The problems I'm facing on the PC are unforgivable. Constant pausing regardless of settings is rubbish, not to mention the crashes. I so want to play the game because I can see how good it is, but how could they release a game in such a woeful state? The last time I say a game that buggy, it was the original Daggerfall. The developers should hang their heads in shame.

        It's no Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, nothing is that bad.

          Actually that last patch seems to have fixed most of the hitching. Lets see how it goes now. :-)

    I love the game, I really do.

    My gripes with the game come down to a duality I think:

    Combat:
    Positive: It FLOWS... it's truly gorgeous to behold. It's like a ballet.
    Negative: It's the easiest out of all 4 games now (Including the Non-Rocksteady one). You literally just mash Square to Win with the very very slight use of another button. Not that the others had you doing much else, but this one, this one is definitely easier. To compare, I booted up all 3 on the PC to check (Played Knight on ps4) and yes, I stand by this.

    Map design:
    Positive: Easily the best map. Easily. Gorgeous and fantastic. Has a wonderful identity to itself that Arkham City lacked.
    Negative: Could have used a few civilians scattered here and there that failed to get out in time I guess. It was great, but felt a bit 'empty'. I wanted more 'danger'.

    Villains:
    Positive: Scarecrow was fantastically used and John Noble *damn*, Walter from Fringe has never been more threatening. Arkham Knight himself was well utilised for the most part, not giving his identity way, but the standout performance for the whole piece, well, that would be giving that character away... but we know who I'm talkin' about.
    Negative: I'm going into slightly spoiler territory here so be warned if you click this, there be spoilers ok? Scroll past if you're afraid.
    Spoilers:
    They play it a little too safe. Just when the plot does something AWESOME, and DARING (heyoooo CAPS!) they reel right back into 'safe batman' territory and we get a fairly cliche resolve with a happy ending. We had a buildup for a great resolve with a lot of gut wrenching situations and genuine heartache that didn't pay off. But that 100% ending was fantastically done. That final image... damn.
    End Spoilers

    Overall it's a great game with plenty of ups and downs, probably not as dark as I was hoping it to go for a finale, but damn well done. If this is Rocksteadys finale, they definitely did well.

    Just hope they get that pc version fixed quickly.

    Last edited 29/06/15 12:13 pm

    Man, I just do not ‘get’ the Batman games. I really wish I did. The ads for City – that stark black-and-white aesthetic plus a ‘beaten’ Batman – hinted at the kind of experience and themes I REALLY wanted to soak in, but which failed to deliver.

    Knight looks really, really cool – visually – and everyone’s been raving about it for some reason. Unfathomably (to me), I saw some game sites rated it higher than Witcher 3, which to me is the best game of the year and possibly the best game of several years.

    I fired up Asylum over the weekend, accepting that I really hadn’t given it a fair shake the last time I tried it, giving up out of boredom before even reaching the batmobile. This time I sat down for several hours, played it fresh and got up to Scarecrow.

    Nope. I still don’t get it. I’m not sure at which point it’s meant to start being ‘fun’. One thing’s for sure, weekends are too short to waste struggling to find some appreciation for this thing. I had more fun trying out a dozen indie demos on Steam. (I highly recommend doing that, btw – there’s some surprise gems on there.)

    The Batman games seem to do what little they set out to do with competence, but nothing to impress enough to earn an ‘A’. Is that really so rare as to warrant the slavish adoration, or is there some sort of undeclared +3 points being added “Because BATMAN?” Should these come with some sort of disclaimer noting that you actually have to be a Batman fanboy to enjoy these games beyond a 7?

      The big reason is the story, I think. The gameplay's pretty fun, the atmosphere and music are really well-designed and the amount of detail is ridiculous, but the first three games all have some of the best (if not THE best) stories in all the games I've played. Even if Origins didn't quite nail the gameplay, the story was excellent.

      I'd recommend you play Asylum, or at least City, first. Knight doesn't quite have the same impact. Good closure, though.

      But I am a bit of a batman fanboy, so take what I've said as biased.

      I know I'm going to convince you to like them but I may as well explain why they work for me.

      First and foremost, the major thing these games do with more than just competence is letting the player experience Batman. So it's not an undeclared +3 points because Batman, it's +3 points for getting Batman right. That's a tricky thing and it's clearly what they've set out to achieve first and foremost.

      Then there's the combat, the stealth and the balance between the two. There's a certain rhythm to the combat. Once you find it, there's a satisfaction that comes from working your way through a fight that's not unlike hitting all of the notes of a difficult song in Rock Band. The stealth sections let you come at the game from a different angle, setting up traps, picking off enemies and sewing confusion. There's a good amount of both but it never feels like you're stuck focusing on one at the expense of the other. Most importantly, they tie back to my first point: they make you feel like Batman.

      Oh and the level design is pretty rad too. Asylum has a tight-knit Metroid-like layout that evolves as the game goes on. City has a wide-open playground to zip around. The other games probably do things too, I'll let you know once I play them.

      I'm not a fanboy. I just think they're really good games. Not 10/10s but easily an 8.

      Sounds to me like it's just not for you. There's nothing wrong with that.

      And yet I took The Witcher 3 back thinking it was one of the most boring games ice played in a long long time.

      Love Batman though

    I loved the hell out of this game, I'm glad I couldn't find out how many hours I put into this game, because I have completely finished the game to 200%.

    I was constantly impressed by the graphical quality in this game, constantly paying attention to all the detail in batman's suit and eyes (holy shit the eyes had some great detail). I think everyone at some point had a little gripe with the batmobile, I found it a little jarring to drive in tight areas, but before the end (of my first play through) I was quite proficient with it. I'm one of those people that really enjoyed the riddler trophies in the first two Arkham games, but a lot of the puzzles here were rehashed from previous games. I did however thoroughly enjoy the Batmobile puzzles and the duets with Catwoman. I'm also glad that I didn't have to go through them again for New Game +.

    Despite the Batmobile being shoehorned in at times, because I was having so much fun with it, it didn't bother me. Yeah, at times it seemed a little to brutal and not really Batman-esque but it was easy to forgive because of how much fun I had with it.

    During my first playthrough I had no glitches/bugs/crashes which was lucky, but my New Game + run had it's share of problems. There were the usual forgivable laughable glitches, like how it rained indoors, to a moment at the end where I was running through the dream sequence as "Not Batman" and I could only hear the background music, all of the dialogue wouldn't load. When I tried to quit out so that I could load the game up again it hard-locked my console.

    Overall though, I was really impressed with this game from start to finish and my only main gripe is that after finishing the game I still can't unlock one character skin in the showcase. I can only assume that it is a placeholder for Batgirl when the DLC goes live.

    My only gripe is with the Batmobile controls. Storytelling, sidequest integration, combat - all top-notch. Using the GCPD's lockup capacity as a guide to overall game completion - brilliant. It took me about ten hours, but I'm getting used to using the batmobile to do things that could be better accomplished by other methods. I like the concept of being cornered by overwhelming firepower, and remote controlling the batmobile behind them and taking them out... but still not a fan of having to do vehicular acrobatics to do so. And while the transformation is pretty cool as a concept, the controls are just too non-standard to get used to. 17+ hours in, I still end up transforming and strafing into a wall when I meant to brake around a corner.

      You can change the tank controls - "Toggle Batmobile controls" or something in the options menu.
      L2 becomes brake and square becomes transform.

    ... and I'm just sitting here waiting for them to fix the PC version before I pick it up.

    I'm about half way through, but loving this game so far, and agree with everything Serrels has said. Its definitely a contender for GOTY along with Witcher 3 for me atm, which I am also yet to finish.

    I just wanted to say that I love the Batmobile! It adds an extra layer of variety to proceedings and It's been something I've always wanted in the series since Arkham City. For me it does not disappoint. It does evoke Nolan's Tumbler Batmobile (which is my favourite), combined with the look of the one from the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie. I just feel so menacing when driving around Gotham in it. I don't get the hate about it not feeling like Batman. I think it does, there will always be collateral damage with these criminals running around.

    The only minor negative I have about the game is the whole Riddler trophy thing, they can be placed anywhere including mid-mission, which kind of breaks the immersion for me when I try to get them. "I must get Scarecrow!", "No wait, let me try to get this riddler trophy first".

    I'm loving it but...

    the tank battles. Hate them. Playing it on hardest setting and they're pretty much the only thing I'm having trouble with. I want to punch people really hard, not jockey around in a tank.

    Riddler stuff. Always hated him. It's just 'make work' for my OCDishness.

    The visual design. It's really busy. I find my eyes get tired just driving because there's so much going on.

    And whilst minor, yes the gfx are great but I can't help thinking that if they didn't have all the rain effects, they could've gotten a higher framerate? Sometimes in a fight you have almost no idea what's happening because there's so much going on. I played all the other batman games on PC so I've been spoiled in this regard.

    Great game though. Very happy with it.

    Either there's something wrong with my controller or I suck but this game controls terribly. All the Riddler racing and Batmobile tricks takes me way too many tries. Same with a certain Riddler gliding puzzle which took over 100 attempts for me to get right. There's just too many puzzles hat requires precise controls.

    Loving the detective mode and the story is interesting me to have me marathon most of it over the weekend but the entire city and side quests just feel like a grind especially coming off the Witcher 3 where everything felt natural and integrated.

    I'll play to the end but it's no where near as polished as Asylum when it comes to an overall experience.

    I don't know why I'm here writing this, I should be playing Arkham Knight instead.

    Two big thumbs up from me, so far.

    I like the Batmobile, but I feel like it's in the wrong game. I'd love to see Rocksteady go on to make a sci-fi tank war game. It'd probably be a lot of fun with online multiplayer.

    Hopefully I'll get this soon along with a new hand-me-down card from a friend.. My current card is only 2GB and while I could play Witcher 3 with high settings, and a couple on Ultra, apparently Knight needs a bit more beef..

      I played it just fine on a 2Gb 760. Had to turn down some options but it was still all looking pretty great.

        Forgot to mention, my card is AMD and it needs 3GB apparently. 2GB for nVidia.

    There are a few major story beats that I am not down with. (big spoilers guys!)


    Catwoman and Poison Ivy start off as pre-captured fridged women and Barbara Gordon committing suicide and Poison Ivy later dying is something I am not down with.

    Having a woman suffer (and that be the only thing they do in regards to Catwoman and Barbara) to advance a man's story is a tired trope. And Poison Ivy's death is just strange and inconsistent with Batman in general. He holds her as she crumbles away as if they are best friends forever)

    I could forgive one ingress to an extent but this is three out of four women in the game which is ridiculous and rocksteady needs to improve their treatment of women in their games.

    I'm so impressed about how detailed the world is they've build. It's like more a portrait of a city than your typical copy-paste open world. It stands nothing short to a GTA V in that aspect but is even more condensed to a smaller sized world. You should be walking the city and look at every corner and allyway instead of racing and flying through it - it will blow your mind!

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