|MORE LIKE BATMOBILE: ARKHAM KNIGHT AMIRITE|
SPOILER ALERT: I'm not holding back. I will dive deep into story spoilers for Batman Arkham Knight.
I liked Arkham knight, but I didn't like Arkham Knight.
In Arkham Knight, the final entry in the Batman Arkham series created by Rocksteady, Batman faces his biggest challenge yet. No, it's not Scarecrow. No it's not the eponymous Arkham Knight, or 200 Riddler trophies. Instead, Batman's biggest challenge is the realization that he is just not enough to keep Gotham safe anymore.
It's an interesting angle, one I'm not too familiar with in Batman comics. Usually Batman goes up against incredible odds but comes out on the other side stronger, usually with a few scars along the way. The idea of Batman is an always prepared defender of justice. Someone who is ready and willing to put his mind and body on the line to protect the people of Gotham.
And in Arkham Knight, it's all put on the line as the biggest villains of the other games all commit to bringing down the bat by joining forces and going all out on the city on one Halloween night.
The problem that I have is it just doesn't feel big. The stakes are supposed to be high but it never really makes the leap of believability for me. After all, Gotham is completely abandoned of civilians and is entirely inhabited by thugs and bad guys. All of the villains work together to bring Batman down and yet they are mostly done away with rather easily, and quickly. The only reason it really takes a long time to bring them down is because the side missions are gated by story progress.
Take the Two Face missions for example. In the midst of an abandoned Gotham City, Two Face and his thugs take to robbing empty banks. This is all well and good, this seems like something a villain would do. The thing that bothered me about these missions early on was the dramatic misuse of Two Face as a villain. He's intelligent and brutal, with capacity for kindness and compassion. A man with a split psyche who decides on which action to take based on the flip of a coin. And yet, you see none of this.
Instead, these bank robbing missions turn into predator missions in which you have to take down his thugs before they steal all of the money. Honestly, I like the concept, but there was no risk. What will happen, you die and then have to restart? In other Arkham games you would have had hostages or some sort of risk for not being silent and careful. Here, Arkham Knight wants you to be loud and reckless. No, I mean it. It really does tell you "The alarms going off will cover any noise I make, so I can be as loud as I want", allowing you to go HAM against these thugs and get it over with as soon as possible.
And during the final Two Face bank mission, the big bad man himself joins the mission... but because of where the game places you, and because of where the game places Two Face, you could literally take him out in about 5 seconds. That's it, you've done a silent take down to Two Face, so he's done. No boss battle, no epic QTE fight, nothing. It's just over.
You get none of that classic Two Face personality in this game. In fact, he plays himself as more of a One Face as he's entirely brutal and menacing with his speeches and demeanor. And yet, you can remove him from play in about 5 seconds. It's a little embarrassing. It feels like just another thug than one of Batman's big bads.
Same thing with most of the side missions, unfortunately. The Firefly and Man-Bat missions are literally the exact same thing every single time you do them. With Firefly, you have to chase his jet-packing ass through the city with the Batmobile and wait for him to run out of fuel(Or that's what I think is happening, but maybe the Batmobile uploads a virus to him to get him to land sooner or something). Once he runs out of fuel, you eject out of the Batmobile and tackle his ass, but ohhh noooooooooo he gets away and you have to do it again, and again, and again. And it's the exact same thing each time. No variations, no diversity in the mission.
Same thing with Man-Bat. You get the shit scared out of you when you come across the rooftop he's hiding out in and then you chase him, and tackle him. That's it. During the cutscene, Batman takes out his injector and forcibly takes a blood sample to figure out what this thing is. The next time you see him, it's the exact same cutscene except you're injecting a cure. And the next time, the exact same cutscene, except you are injecting more of a cure. I'm not familiar enough with the Man-Bat to know how it should have went, but I know it shouldn't have gone as easy as 3 rinse-repeat cutscenes where you deliver him to GCPD.
The lack of side mission diversity was a little shocking, actually. I figured what was supposed to be the biggest and best and most finalist Batman game would have been, you know... bigger.
In fact, one of the biggest embarrassments to the game is the mission where you single handedly take down Hush by throwing him into a table like a fucking Duddley Boy or something. I was so hyped for Hush because of Arkham City, and I know he's one of Batman's most dangerous foes in what I think was one of the coolest Batman stories. But in Arkham Knight, he's a one-off mission that you complete in roughly 3 minutes. A complete waste of a character and a joke at that.
Honestly, the reaction I get out of this game is that Rocksteady just wanted to be done with it. There are no more challenge maps, instead replaced with "VR Simulations" like from Arkham Origins, but you can't play as anyone but Batman so it doesn't make any sense. Why have(With the respective DLC, of course) Robin, Catwoman, Harley Quin, The Red Hood, Nightwing, Batgirl and presumably more characters to play as if you can't even play as them in the challenge maps? I was excited to see Catwoman open up in my showcase, as if I could actually play as her, but nope. You're limited to Batman and at least Nightwing from one dual-play VR map.
And with talk of characters, let's dig into the Arkham Knight. Or as I call him, The Most Obvious Character Reveal In The World, Like Seriously, I Bet People Who Didn't Even Read Under The Hood Would Know Who This Guy Is Because You Make It So Painfully Obvious. Or, alternatively, TMOCRITWLSIBPWDERUTHWKWTGIBYMISPO. Which is a bit of a mouthful.
I didn't follow Arkham Knight before released. I saw maybe one trailer and one gameplay video and said, yep, that's cool. I knew I would be getting the game, so I didn't want to spoil myself on plot details. After all, this is the big finale of a game series I absolutely adore. So better be safe than sorry! But when they showed the image of the Arkham Knight, I said two things: Jason. Todd. And as much as they protested and pleaded that the Arkham Knight was a new character, I saw straight through their ruse... I mean, after all, Arkham Origins was like totally about Black Mask, right? Right guys?
It was disappointing to say the least. I'm not the most well read Batman fan. In fact there are several major arcs I haven't even read. I'd say that I'm more of a casual Batman fan. I don't hold any particular love for the character, though I do like him and his related characters. Instead, I'd say that I hold more love for the Batman Arkham games. They are truly something fun to play around with.
But, as you play through Arkham Knight, the game actually spoils the big reveal all by itself. Later on in the game, Batman begins having visions of Jason Todd being captured, tortured and murdered by The Joker. But the kicker is: Jason Todd is voiced by Troy Baker. Who else is being voiced by Troy Baker? Two Face... oh and also this "Arkham Knight" guy. So it's tooooootally not going to end up being Jason Todd. In fact, this same twist happened in Arkham Origins where Troy Baker voiced Black Mask and The Joker... except The Joker was disguised as Black Mask. So I'm over here thinking "Oh hey! That's Troy Baker too? HMMMM I WONDER..."
And it ends up being Jason Todd. But once that twist is out of the way... he is gone. In fact, weirdly enough, a lot of characters in this game just end up being gone for a while. Gordon leaves for like half the game. Oracle is gone for 89% of the game. Robin sidelined for the entire game. Catwoman disappears after you save her. And the Arkham Knight leaves once he reveals his identity and that's it, he's gone. Well, he does show up at the very end of the game for a second, but he doesn't say anything. In fact, there's really no repercussions for him or his character. He shows up, does a lot of bad things, reveals himself, and is gone. There's no closure at all. You don't even fight him or anything.
In fact, there's not even really that many boss battles in the game. A majority of them are stealth based Batmobile boss battles that are so boring after like the first one that I just didn't care anymore.
It's disappointing to see so much emphasis placed on the Batmobile in a game about Batman's last hurrah. To see that even Deathstroke's surprise cameo appearance is relegated to a stupid tank boss battle instead of an actual fight can put a lot of things in perspective for where they were going with this game.
There are positives, however.
The game runs incredibly well on PS4. The framerate holds up well even during some insane sequences, and has only dropped really badly that one time I ran over 25 people in the Batmobile. That was about it.
The game LOOKS incredible on PS4 as well. I was honestly surprised to see such a nice looking game being accompanied by such a nice lighting engine. The lighting I was definitely the most impressed by, especially on Founders Island where there are a lot of modern building designs and neon lights. Incredible to look at, even more fun to play around in.
The combat is as tight as ever. Giving you some new options, while also taking others away. I was at first annoyed that you couldn't do a double silent takedown, but realized that it was probably for the better to make sure you aren't insanely overpowered. I respect Rocksteady's restraint to not just go ahead and give Batman all kinds of insane multi-takedown options.
The voice cast is pretty good. Aside from a few weird lines here and there, it's mostly solid. John Noble is the stand out with his performance as Scarecrow. Johnathan Banks also does a pretty good job as Jim Gordon. Mark Hammil's Joker is probably one of my favorite parts of the game because he really goes all out.
The soundtrack. Not gonna lie, I had to put Spotify on pause when going for most of the trophies because the soundtrack has a few really, really good pieces on there.
The Batmobile. I don't blame the Batmobile for all of the stupid boss battles you have to do with it. I do like the Batmobile, and I thoroughly enjoyed driving around Gotham in it. It's a big, meaty tank that looks great and, aside from being a little sluggish, is a real blast to drive. Literally, 'cuz it goes through most things.
I don't hate Batman: Arkham Knight. It has a lot of good. It has a lot of bad. It lacks a lot of the content I would have wanted, like challenge maps so I can pick up Nightwing and go to town on some fools, but hey... there's always DLC...
|THREE BUTTMANS OUT OF 5|