Riddle me this, riddle me that, who likes driving the big, black bat(mobile)? Not me!
Arkham Knight picks up a year after the events of Arkham City. With the Joker out of the way, a void is left, only to be filled by the likes of Two-Face, Scarecrow, Penguin and Harvey Quinn. In the interest of being spoiler free, I won’t discuss the story, however it was personally one of the best Batman stories I’ve experiences in any media format. Returning to this game are many of the great voice actors including Mr North, Mr Baker, as well as John Noble as the Scarecrow, really bringing life back to this Batman universe.
So lets take down the elephant in the room, and then we can get back to telling you why this is such a bloody good game. The batmobile, should have been nothing more than an optional extra. I remember seeing the trailers, the screenshots and thinking “OMG! They’re including the Batmobile, how awesome is that going to be”. I have to admit, occasionally, the Batmobile was quite fun, but most of the time it sucked. It handled like a shopping trolly, and even with a number of upgrades, the car sections weren’t really fun. I think my main gripe was, the car was forced on you. Mechanics that were previous used throughout the previous three Arkham games (yes, I’m including Origins) where simply thrown away, and the batmobile was forced on you. As an example, previously you would simply use our grappling hook to pull something off a wall allowing you to access an area, however in Arkham Knight you would be forced to drive the batmobile through an obstacle course, get line of sight of the object to then pull it out of the way. If I’m honest, I tried my best to not use the batmobile, as it felt a ‘lot less batman’ than the previous games, however I would eventually hit a section that stated ‘get in batmobile to open door’. My final gripe with the car was, the combat…maaan, this sucked! Early on, there were some fairly enjoyable sections, ones where you had to use a little bit of stealth strategy to not be seen, then shoot a cobra tank in the exhaust port, and then leg it before you’re detected by the others. However later sections of the game just felt like a button masher. There was a particular section where you had to protect a building, I seem to remember the count of enemy vehicles was sixty! This ten minutes worth of combat was nothing more than, strafe to the left, shoot, strafe to the right, shoot, rinse, repeat. On occasions I may have strafed a little too far left or right, got stuck behind the environment, and got blown up, only to have to start the section again…..very frustrating. This is all a great pity, as I loved the idea of the batmobile, I just through it was badly executed.
Ok, so that’s the bits I didn’t like out of the way, now lets get on with the good stuff. This game looked amazing!…the amount of detail put into Gotham was really breathtaking, from the landscape views from high up on a building, to the reflections way down on the street, absolutely amazing! I would love to see any of the previous three games get the HD button pressed on them and re-rendered in the new engine. As with all the games, Batman starts the evening with a fresh suite, and by the end of the game, it’s been through the wars a bit, rips, scuffs and a few holes are added, making you feel like you’ve really been through it. Additionally, the same effects are given to the batmobile, scrapes, bullet holes, and even mud splatter down the sides, helping you believe, you’ve truly been though hell. There were also some really interesting nerdy bits. Your main base of operations was GCPD, and within this, you could take a look around, visit the evidence lockers, chat to all the cops, and even see all the guys locked up in the cells. Within the evidence lockers, you were presented the key items of the villains they’d been taken from, and a little recorded message to describe the items. Additionally, on a number of boards around the police department there was a capacity list, letting you know how many thugs of a particular villain you had captured, giving you an idea of how much work you had left to do. I think I finished the game with 21% capacity, meaning I barely scratched the surface.
Unfortunately I can’t talk about the story, as this game had some of the most interest story telling mechanics I’ve seen in a while. Instead of the previous game where the majority of the story was told through conversations via your communicator, in this, you had….shall we say, ‘Batmans inner voice’ pretty much narrating the story. At random points in the game, your ‘inner voice’ would be seen sat at a table, leaning over a balcony, or one of the many other locations he’d just ‘be there’, narrating what was going on, it was a really good touch.
Then there’s the Batman universe, if you weren’t flying around in the car and missing everything, there were some nice details. I saw a Lex Corp building, and even a Queen Industries building, both of which made me smile. I guess what I really did like, was how much Batman canon was running through this. If/when you met a key person from the DC universe, this would unlock a card. The card would tell you who the person was, a brief description, and which comic they were first introduced. I though this was a nice touch, as I’m always looking to expand my comic book knowledge, and reading up on the origin storied of characters I find interesting.
Finally, the combat, although familiar, there were a few additional mechanics thrown in. These included a voice recorder (that allowed you to call thugs to a particular area), and occasions you could do a ‘duel team takedown’, however these felt too few and far between. I would have like to have had the inclusion power gloves from Arkham Origins, as some of the electric enemies became a bit of a pain in the arse toward the latter end of the the game, but were eventually beaten down with combos.
All in all, an enjoyable send off the the Arkham series, I still have the game on my drive for when I want a Batman fix, and hope than now I’ve completed the game, I can enjoy the remainder of my time in Gotham, without being forced to used the Batmobile.