Batman: Arkham Knight PS4 Review

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Batman: Arkham Knight is the Batman game that I was looking for in Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City was small and felt too dense with stuff with little to no story tie-ins. Arkham Knight finally gave us a sprawling Gotham, the Batmobile and convincing reasons for me to engage with everything. It was really close to being the definitive Batman experience.

My criticisms of Arkham City stemmed from the fact that it felt unfocused and wasn’t the intricately designed game that was Arkham Asylum. Arkham Knight didn’t recapture the tight knit   package of Arkham Asylum but I felt the Batmobile helped bridge that gap. I enjoyed using the Batmobile.

I found myself driving around the city instead of gliding because it felt satisfying to drift around corners and crash through things. I found the APC chases exciting as I was fending off henchmen with side swipes, dodging RPG shots and trying to stay on target so that I could launch my immobilizers. The obstacle races required a soft touch but were just short enough that I felt challenged but not frustrated. Generous checkpointing helped but I understand why people were frustrated with each new obstacle.

If I told you that the Batmobile could turn into a tank with a touch of button, shoot high velocity rounds and machine guns in 2013, I’m sure a lot of people would have been over the moon with that idea. The post-release reality was divisive and I am on the side that enjoyed the tank battles — it clicked with me. It was the drive to “headshot” or one hit kill every tank that kept me going. The enemy telegraphed their shots, so it felt like a turn based bullet hell where I had to navigate a maze of oncoming fire while finding a way to retaliate. I enjoyed the challenge but I recognize that there was too much of it. I think I wiped out well over 500 unmanned vehicles by the end of the game.

Last but not least, the Batmobile was also Batman’s newest gadget. Like the Batclaw, explosive gel and Batterang, the Batmobile also served as the solution to many of the game’s puzzles. Figuring out how to get the Batmobile to various places felt a little contrived in spots but I thought it was clever overall. I don’t know how a giant tank manages to stay on a roof without collapsing through, but I didn’t care. Driving on a roof was bad ass.

I caused myself several bouts of frustration with the hand-to-hand combat because I decided to play on hard difficulty but forgot about combo specials for a fair chunk of it which made the game needlessly difficult for myself. The inclusion of medics that can revive and buff their allies with electric shields caused all kinds of grief for me. So I did what Batman would do. I scoped out each situation and prepped like the Dark Knight would and balanced the odds a bit. I felt powerful but I didn’t feel like I was overpowered because the inclusion of those new enemy types like the medic forced me to use Batman’s powers with more precision.

I have nothing but the most glowing praise for Arkham Knight’s visuals and its performance. I was reminded of their debut title, Arkham Asylum and how well it ran on the PlayStation 3. It looked great and ran very well which is a lot more than I can say about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I realize the scope of the two games are completely different but the fact that Rocksteady put in the effort to stay as close as possible to 30 FPS is impressive and appreciated.

My initial source of Batman knowledge came from the animated series of the 1990s and Batman: Returns. I never bothered to go down the route of comics. The latest injection of Batman info came from therecent Nolan films and Rocksteady’s Arkham games. I pick up so much Batman knowledge through the course of the game and even more when I dive into the dossiers. The different Robins, the ongoing relationship between Batman and Joker and the power of the Scarecrow became more prominent to me because of Arkham Knight.
I liked the story of Arkham Knight but there are glaring issues with continuity that were exacerbated by the overly dramatic spin on the villains and their powers through both the story and gameplay reasons. Where did the Arkham Knight get all this money? How was he able to convince such a large force to follow him? Why wasn’t everyone affected by the neurotoxin when all hell broke loose? You had to live moment to moment with this game; don’t connect the dots or else things begin to fall apart.

And for the most part, the game’s structure allowed for that kind of hopping. After each story beat, I was able to switch away from the main objective and go hunt down other threats across Gotham. The Penguin and Two-Face were up to no good again and nobody was going to disarm those mines strewn across the three islands of Gotham.

It took three games but I finally felt compelled to finish the Riddler challenges and all the other challenges to unlock an additional story beat. I doubt it’s a huge pay off but there’s something enticing me to go back. But I want to maintain my sanity and leave that final set of loose ends for another day. I felt satisfied nonetheless and that’s how a final chapter of a trilogy should feel. I felt Rock Steady did all they could for Batman in this game. They gave me a sizeable Gotham city to live out my Batman fantasies and all that entails.

Verdict:
I Like It

Ratings Guide

Everything is in 2015?

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With Batman: Arkham Knight joining the likes of The Order: 1886, Halo 5, Quantum Break and The Witcher 3, I’m left wondering what is left for 2014.

We know Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will stay the course and I’m pretty sure Electronic Arts will ensure Battlefield: Hardline makes its autumn launch window. Then there’s Destiny which (at this moment) is the last man standing as far as I’m concerned. But I will not be shocked if it misses its launch date either.

This will leave a huge void to fill. By the end of the Xbox 360’s first year, we had the launch of Gears of War. And by the end of the PlayStation 3’s first year, there was Uncharted and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

With all these cancellations, I’m left wondering where the next big original IPs will be from both first party and third party developers.

Batman: Arkham Knight Gameplay Trailer

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Check Batman out. Check out that armor, that cape and that car. Check out all those shiny new graphics and more textures than you can shake a stick at.

That looks incredibly detailed and I hope they will show off more diverse locales like in Arkham Asylum. I want to see what a next generation Mr. Freeze lair looks like. Show me next generation icicles.

I’m ready for a new Batman: Arkham game. I skipped Arkham Origins and I want to believe that Rocksteady will wrap up their involvement with this franchise in a spectacular way. Thankfully this is a late 2014 game which hopefully means it will be available for FutureShop’s E3 2014 pre-order promotion.

FYI: New Batman game announced, 6 million PS4s sold

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Announcements

  • Rocksteady developed Batman: Arkham Knight coming 2014 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC (via Game Informer)
  • Over 6 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold since March 2nd (via PlayStation.Blog)

Media

Batman: Arkham Knight Announcement Trailer

TitanFall Launch Trailer

I’m so glad to see Rocksteady’s final Batman title coming exclusively to next generation platform. The Dark Knight can finally cast away the shackles of limited RAM and spread his wings and glide. I didn’t pick up Batman: Arkham Origins and despite my criticisms against Arkham City, I have high hopes for Rocksteady’s upcoming title. It’s just a shame that they decided to use a CG trailer along side the announcement.

That TitanFall doesn’t scream “next generation” to me. It looks like it would be a lot of fun but there’s just something about it that says to me: “This could have debuted two years ago on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3” and I would have believed you. I’ll probably pick it up on the cheap on Origin to check it out.

Sony surpassed the 6 million mark already? That’s pretty damn impressive.

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