Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight is the finale of the Arkham Series. 

There's dropping the ball, and then there's DROPPING THE BALL, and then, there's this. So let's get started.

First, the good. 

Visually, this game is Batman. Just like it's predecessors, the atmosphere, the look of the city and the characters are all spot-on. Each game in the series has expanded into a larger and larger area, and this one is no exception, dropping you into a good chunk of Gotham City. 

For the first time in the series, to take advantage of the huge map you get to roam, you also get the Batmobile. Well, Bat-Tank is more like it, but it comes to the same thing. You get to drive around as Batman.

And, of course, you get to BE Batman. Just like in the other games, you're beating up thugs, solving Riddler's puzzles, and you're tracking down Penguin and Two-Face. 

And...that's really all I have to say about it that's good. Sad to say.

I'll start with the newest addition, the Batmobile. Yes, this game is the end of the Arkham series. Still, it would be better to leave us wanting more than it would be to ram something down our throats as full and hard as possible. I expected the Batmobile to be like the gadgets. If you wanted to drive around town, you can drive around town. There might be a few side quests that use it heavily, and a few missions in the main story that you have to use it for, but it's not going to be the focus of the game. I was wrong.

The Batmobile is as much the focus of this game as the story itself is. An enemy in a side quest is fleeing? You HAVE to use the Batmobile. Riddler's puzzles? Race tracks. EVERY. OTHER. TASK. In the main storyline, you're jumping in and speeding through the streets either chasing something, or blowing up remote-control tanks. If I wanted a racing game, I would have bought a racing game. Or Grand Theft Auto. 

Control-wise, the game feels rather sloppy compared to the previous versions. The Batmobile slides all over the place, combat is more difficult as you try to direct yourself to the next henchmen out of a group of 10 and find yourself punching air more often than not, and there really isn't much in the way of tips or instructions when you first start out about what buttons do what. Granted this is the fourth game of a series, but the controls are NOT exactly the same.


Then there's the story. 

Arkham Asylum, City, and even Origins had pretty original storylines to them. While Arkham Knight does take a few loose ends from the previous games, almost anybody familiar with the basics of the Batman mythos will recognize the Jason Todd/Red Hood storyline. So the mystery of who is the Arkham Knight is pretty obvious almost as soon as it's brought up. Once that reveal is done, we're back to chasing Scarecrow, who Batman just surrenders to, unmasks for, and then defeats. After four games, countless puzzles and battles, and gadgets up the yin-yang, Batman just shrugs and goes, "Okay, you got me, guess I have no choice but to give up my secret identity." Really? We're supposed to buy that Batman had no other way to win? I mean...THIS IS BATMAN! 

There is one thing that actually saves this game from being just plain bad. In one of the loose ends from Asylum and City, we find that Joker is actually a virus. (A prion, actually, but I really don't know how many people are going to know what that is. If you don't, go look it up, and then you will have learned something new today!) A virus for which there is no cure and that Batman was infected with. So from about a third of the game on, you are regularly greeted with hallucinations of the (deceased) Joker, chatting away like you're his best friend, and giving his twisted and hilarious input on just about every situation. 

There are other villains in the game as well. Providing fodder for side quests and little else. Two-Face is robbing banks. Penguin is smuggling guns. Ho-hum. And even though apparently every super-villain in Gotham was in on Scarecrow's plans, they have no bearing at all on the main storyline. 

Oh, unless you want to count the fact that the game requires you to complete a certain number of side missions before it actually lets you finish the game. 

I'm not even going to talk about the butchered PC version, that was so horribly done it was pulled from sale days after release and STILL isn't back up. 

The ball was dropped. Honestly, enough said. 

I'm only giving this 2-stars because it is still Batman, and the hard work the Joker put in to try and save it.