NOTE: This is not a complete review, although I did finish the game, this review is only based on the first 4-ish hours of gameplay so that I can make a recommendation. There is a brief completed game impression at the end, but it was not factored into the score.
Damn it, Rocksteady. You went too far. I have always loved the Arkham series of Batman games ever since diving into the first game in 2009. This was the Batman game I always wanted. The combat was hard hitting and the stealth and puzzle solving aspects made you really feel like Batman. Batman: Arkham City was my game of the year when it came out and I loved it. So, when Arkham Knight came out, I was salivating to get a shot at the whole of Gotham City with the gameplay I have come to know and love. I was intrigued when I saw that the Batmobile would be an option in the game, I mean, who doesn’t want to drive the Batmobile? Apparently me, but we’ll get to that later.
Batman: Arkham Knight is a gorgeous game. With the possible exception of Infamous Second Son, this was the first game I played that felt like it was pushing the PS4 hardware to its limits. There is only a short loading screen when you first start the game, but other than that there isn’t a single loading screen unless you die. This is a technological feat. The character models are amazing, framerate pretty solid and there are particle and lighting effects everywhere that are a sight to behold. My only complaint is that there was something off about Batman’s face in this one, it’s not a graphical issue or glitch, but rather a slightly different design that I can’t quite put my finger on.
There is just something off here…
The Arkham games have never been a slouch in the plot department. The first and second games were some of the finest Batman stories I have ever experienced, and this story isn’t bad either. It’s solidly told and has an amazing narrative tool that I won’t spoil here. There are a number of WTF moments in the game as well. In the end, though, the story of Arkham City was far superior to this one.
Gameplay is where Rocksteady went too far. Let’s start with the good. The stealth predator sections and the ground combat are pretty much what they were in the previous games. They added a few wrinkles to the stealth combat that I really liked such as the ability to enter grates from a higher position through ventilation shafts and the addition of enemies who can detect your “detective vision” so you can’t rely on it 100% of the time. The ground combat gained the ability for Batman to pick up and use weapons as well as environmental takedowns which are a welcome help. However, in both of these areas they went too far. In addition to what I mentioned above, now you have to deal with sentry guns, minigun carriers, medics, and so many gadgets that your hands will cramp up everytime you get into a big fight. They even added a mechanic whereby you can target people while gliding towards them and hit them with any number of gadgets before you even hit the ground. I never once used that one. It’s too much. Gone is the simplicity of Arkham Asylum only to be replaced by such ridiculous complexity that it makes your brain hurt. Eventually, I stopped trying to figure out the specific way to defeat each enemy and just beat them senseless with a baseball bat, because in this game baseball bats >>>> everything else. It’s still fun and challenging, but way more complex than it needs to be.
Now we come to the major complaint I have with the game: the Batmobile. Yes, the Batmobile (tank) is fun to drive from place to place. Yep, there are some creative ways to use it to assist you in ground combat, but rather than being another tool at Batman’s disposal, it becomes a requirement for the majority of the game. There are platforming segments in the Batmobile. Yes, you read that correctly, platforming in a car/tank. It’s exactly as fun as it sounds. I would have had no problem if the Batmobile was a smaller part of the game, but it’s not. It’s required for so much of the game that all I want to do is get through the main story as fast as I can so I don’t have to use it again.
I hate you.
Batman Arkham City is still the superior game. There, I said it. Arkham Knight is worth your time if you are a hardcore Batman fan and want to see how the story ends, but for everyone else you can wait to play it when it goes on sale. There are far better open-world games out there right now *cough* Witcher III *Cough*.
OVERALL RATING: WAIT FOR A SALE
FULL GAME COMPLETED IMPRESSIONS
The story ended up being good, not great. The identity of the Arkham Knight was painfully telegraphed throughout much of the game, so it was no surprise. Still far too much Batmobile, to include in 90% of the boss fights. No overall change in recommendations.
Batman, Arkham Knight, PS4, Xbox One, Review
Wait for a Sale