Game Reviews

We Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

You all know by now that the bat-PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight is so bat-ly gimped that it had to be forcefully, vengefully even, pulled from the online batstores. Thankfully, I’m playing one of the decent versions. I become the terror that flaps in the night. No, wait…wrong series. I become the dark detective in the night, and prowl through Gotham’s streets to bring you this batreview of Batman: Arkham batKnight.

The game’s bat-story opens with Scarecrow threatening to gas the entire city, and so everyone who’s a decent person buggers off for fairer pastures where some kooked-out villain of the week isn’t trying to kill you every other day (Ed: sooo…Metropolis?) Of course, this leaves Batman, the Gotham police department, and about forty-thousand thugs with the run-free of the place. Sorry, thugs and supervillains. And unmanned drone tanks. Frankly, it’s hard to see where all the regular citizens lived, given the thug-per-square-meter density. Still, it being Batman’s role to get rid of villains, he sets about it with the kind of brooding bat-gusto he’s famous for. That, and his gadgets. And his bat-axe Batmobile. And gloriously, you get to drive the Batmobile around Gotham with the destructive abandon of a young child on an ant-hill. Somewhere in this mess is another villain, the titular Arkham Knight, who seems to know more about the Bat than he lets on.

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If you’re familiar with Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, you’ll be almost immediately at home playing Batman: Arkham Knight, since it’s more of the same, just more so, and with wheels. There’s the old favourite Predator mode, where you get to pick off opponents one by one (or more, if you’re smart about it), and the freeflow fighting system is back, too. There are also a small metric butt-load of Riddler trophies to collect. As usual, you also have gradual access to Batman’s batgadgets, from the batarang to the batclaw to the bat-visor and back again. There are a few new ones too, such as an audio lure that draws thugs away from where they’re lurking.

In addition to Batman, you also have Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin faffing about the city, helping Batman out here and there. These sections of the game, while small, were wonderfully satisfying to play. There’s something about tag-team battles that makes the fun more rowdy than the usual fist-slinging in the rest of the game. Actually, what I was surprised about was the fact that you can use the Batmobile to tag-team in a fight. It’s actually glorious to behold. Picture it: Batman throws a couple of quick rabbit punches, followed by a solid roundhouse kick, sending the foe flying. He tags the Batmobile, which aims a projectile at the airborne ruffian. What with forces and vectors and newtonian motion, the foe is sent flying in another direction, hits a wall at concussive speeds, and slumps to the ground. It’s awesome.

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Not all sections of the game featuring the Batmobile are as satisfying. While blazing around Gotham is great fun, there will be sections where you’ll have to stand your ground and fight the heavily armed and armoured drone cars that seem to be on the streets like facepaint on the Joker. The Batmobile can instantly transform into a sort of tank, firing missiles and blank rounds of ammunition off, but these sections feel so out of place with the rest of the game that it’s almost jarring how weird they are. Then there are the timed obstacle courses you need to run for the Riddler; painful to do, but necessary to obtain the trophies. The car also seems much use as a way to solve puzzles in the game. Sometimes the car IS the puzzle, for example early in the game, you need to manoeuvre a platform in place with a crane so that you can park the Batmobile on it, and then get the platform into position higher up so you can drive the car to a place where you need to use the winch so that…. You get the idea.

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Like its predecessors, Arkham Knight also features standalone challenges in both combat and predator, with a leaderboard attached to the challenges. Your friends’ scores immediately show up on the boards, inviting you to outdo them. Honestly, if you’ve played the challenges in the prior games, there will be little to surprise you here, but it does make for a bit of a break from the story. Not that you need it. The main campaign has plenty of diversions for you already, from solving murders to saving personnel to stopping robberies. As you proceed through the side missions, you’ll find the regular gamut of familiar villains behind things. What I liked is that you can switch very quickly between mission objectives, and provided you’re not in the middle of a fight or an investigation, you can flit back and forth as much as your attention-deficit heart desires.

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Batman: Arkham Knight is one of those must-play games on current-gen consoles. The story isn’t perfect (heck, it’s not even anywhere as good as Arkham Asylum’s), but it’s still something fun that drives Batman’s activities around Gotham. Gotham itself is huge, covering three islands, and at no point do you touch the Batcave, thank goodness. There’s plenty of action, tons of puzzles, and more easter eggs than you can throw a fanboy at. In fact, the game seems to be made with the Batman fan firmly in mind, given the amount of nods and winks hidden around. If you have a PS4 or Xbox One, there’s no good reason right now to NOT pick up this game. Especially given the dearth of other decent titles right now. Go…go get it. Gotham needs a saviour.

Final Score: 8.5 Dark and Story Prawns out of 10

Detailed Information:
Developer: Rocksteady
Publisher: WB Games
Distributor: Ster-Kinekor
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Age Rating: 18

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