Technology - 85%
Presentation - 85%
Design Theory - 75%
Gameplay - 75%
Story - 65%
Value - 8%
Arkham Knight; this is a strange one to review. Depending on your format of choice results may vary, and vary wildly they will! I do not want to bring up the PC issues, as they have been documented en masse by the hooting 1% who talk about games on the Internet, and who have positively been foaming at the mouth due to their ‘PC rights’ being breached. I can only talk about my personal experience, I played the PC release from before launch, and after installing an AMD driver update, didn’t see a noticeable slowdown or issue my whole time playing. The PS4 version is the superior it seems, but it is also still £54 a week after release, whereas steam codes can be had for as little as 13 quid. From my first few hours, running on my moderate hardware, I actually thought “this game looks fantastic”, so I will not mention PC issues again.
This allows me to tackle what should be the real question- is Arkham Knight any good? And my answer is “mostly”. Heaps better than Arkham Origins, probably better than Arkham Asylum, and not as good as Arkham City. Where it suffers is that every great element comes with a caveat. Minor spoilers ahead, but nothing that wouldn’t be ruined by looking at the retail box.
The Batmobile, the single biggest addition to the Arkham franchise, has an equal share of positives and negatives. Firstly, although mostly fun to chip around, smashing into stuff and blowing shiz up, for the majority of the game is not really needed. Once you have the upgraded grapnel, which you can purchase at any time, it is far quicker and easier to glide around the fairly small map. Some puzzles need the Batmobile to complete, and this is no problem as the bog standard car has everything you need. However as some points in the main story you are forced to engage in car combat sections, and if you haven’t invested in the correct upgrades (which you have no indication to which would be pertinent to buy), get ready to see that reload screen as you are not going to be able to pass these sections without either a flawless run or a whole load of luck. However once I completed the main storyline and started having huge amounts of WayneTech points to spend, I invested in the Batmobile. Vehicular segments then became unbelievably simple. My only suggestion would be that Batman and the Batmobile have separate experience trees, to hopefully smooth what is not a so much a difficulty curve but a sine wave.
The next good/bad element is the combat. For its faults, the combat has never felt slicker, with more enemies on screen at the same time and quick-fire gadgets (something I did get a bit frustrated with in past games) chaining into combos nicely. However, the really good punch-ups seem massively spaced apart. Probably to make way for the addition of the Batmobile. There are also far more enemies with guns, combined with what I felt was a reduction in the predator aspects from Asylum and City, so rather than stalking and picking off terrified goons one by one, I got into the routine of glide kicking/takedown/grapnel away from the burst of gunfire. I suppose that’s why there are four levels of bullet absorption upgrades to buy.
Following on from the less frequent and more repetitive combat segments, there also seems to be a real lack of boss fights. In some sense this is good, as the Deathstroke sequence in Arkham origins basically stopped me playing the game. However, taking down the majority of Arkham’s infamous faces is as easy as completing a standard combat section. A nice touch is to be able to converse with them for the remainder of the game in the Gotham City lock up, but this is at the bequest of any real standout side mission. And as I think back now, was there even a final boss for the game?! I’m not sure.
Talking of side missions, there are flippin’ hundreds. You only need to do about a third of these and then you have seen everything that Arkham Knight has to offer. Taking some cues from games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, there are tons of outposts and loads of collectables. And much like Far Cry, the outposts revolve around waiting in the playthrough until you have got all the best gear, and then they are a cakewalk. And like Assassin’s Creed, collect all the Riddler trophies if that’s your thing, don’t bother if it’s not, it doesn’t affect the game either way.
The above points may seem negative towards Arkham Knight, but in honesty this is nitpicking. Arkham City left the most unbelievably big shoes to fill, and in honesty Arkham Knight surpasses it in very few areas. But it is still an extremely solid, enthralling and most importantly entertaining game, and and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Given the pretty sparse selection of properly ‘good’ games released so far on the current gen consoles, this is way up there with the best. Graphically beautiful, excellent voice work, and average to good storyline, it’s a welcome addition to the Arkham franchise.