TGN First Impressions – Batman: Arkham Knight


Batman: Arkham Knight just launched, and boy has it made headlines. Maybe not for the greatest things *cough* terrible PC port *cough*, but if you’re playing this game on console, you’re having a blast. We’ve called in our resident Batman expert, TGN Partner Globku, to give us the details on this latest release in the Batman: Arkham series.

Check out TGN‘s new review series – “The Good, The Bad, The Better” – for Batman: Arkham Knight:

 

Feeling like you missed something from the video? Or just want to read along to Globku’s‘s voice? Follow along with the full script below:

 

The time has come to say whether or not Batman: Arkham Knight lived up to its expectations. Find out if this title is worth your time and your money on today’s video.

Heyo, this is Globku with TGN and welcome to “The Good, the Bad and The Better”, our new format aimed at quickly summing up whether a game was made for you or not. And let’s jump right into it with what’s good in Batman: Arkham Knight.

The Good
 

In my opinion, one of the best things in the Arkham Games is the number of different activities the game throws at you. A single mission could have you fighting a group of thugs, followed by some puzzle solving, into a stealth section and the occasional surprise. Arkham Knight does it even better, changing the game in ways you’re not expecting. A good example is the very first section of the game which starts as first person shooter. A very different experience from what you would expect that serves as the perfect vehicle for what the story was attempting to convey.

And speaking of which, surprises are not limited to gameplay mechanics, the story of Arkham Knight is full of surprises. Unexpected characters, plot twists, it has it all. This was the proper conclusion to the Arkham trilogy. If you’ve enjoyed the previous games, you want to see how it all ends. Towards the end of the game I feel like a couple of events weren’t particularly good, but the journey to get there was really amazing.

And it’s not just the main story that is praiseworthy. Side missions constantly surprise you as well. These feature different villains from the main story, and their significance isn’t any less important to the experience. But it’s hard to tell you how good these all are without going into spoilers. The quality is definitely in the element of surprise. I guess you’ll just have to take my word on that. But let’s move on to other good things this game has…

The game takes place in Gotham City, an environment about five times the size of Arkham City. The city itself isn’t too impressive from its size, we’ve all seen far larger worlds in gaming, but if we look at how tailored all the streets and buildings were, it stands on a level of its own. You can’t look anywhere without seeing some clever billboard, or a building with an easter egg. They are everywhere. This imagination of Gotham City was definitely something that really impressed me. And although the city size isn’t too big, there’s a lot of verticality, an underground network and tons of buildings you can get in, all without a single loading screen.

And finally, the three gameplay pillars that make the Arkham Games are back and have been improved. Combat skills, predator abilities and detective prowess have all been made better. Combat, for instance introduces a lot of new enemies that force you to use your gadgets, something the previous games never did, and also gives you new abilities, like picking up an enemy from the ground to fill his face with more punches.

Predator scenarios also introduced new enemies, like soldiers who can track you whenever you’re using detective vision and medics who can revive fallen enemies. The new gadgets at your disposal give you more options on how to survive these encounters. A remote hacking tool allows you to interact with several objects in the environment, and fear takedowns allow you to take down multiple enemies in quick succession if you catch them by surprise.

And it wouldn’t be a Batman game if you couldn’t exercise your detective skills. They’ve taken a hint from Arkham Origins and introduced some of the scene reconstructions from that game, scanning bodies can now be done on three levels: the skin, the muscles and the bones, and using the Batcomputer you can check for surveillance footage and discover what you need to progress on your case.

In short, Arkham Knight continues building the foundations they’ve established in their previous titles, and the result is wonderful. And that’s what I think was good about Arkham Knight, now let’s talk about the bad.

 

The Bad
 

I think there is a phenomenal game in Arkham Knight, but there’s one thing that kept blocking my enjoyment, and that thing is called the Batmobile. This vehicle had the potential to be the best car in all video games, but Rocksteady fumbled it. It is mainly used for three activities: Cruising the city, fighting other tanks and puzzle solving. It’s with this last one that I have a big problem with. The Batmobile has a power winch which can be used to pull highlighted objects or power up fuse boxes with electricity. On top of that it can also be controlled remotely, like a gadget in your utility belt, which makes for slightly more complex puzzles.

This kills the pace of the game, especially since the car seems to be shoehorned into every possible mission Rocksteady could. Instead of it being a tool that Batman could use to get out of a pinch, it almost feels like the Batmobile is one of the main characters, and it all makes it seem like Batman is useless without it. In fact, when you don’t have access to the Batmobile, your mission objective is often opening a door or something so you can call the Batmobile again.

All of this pertained solely to the main story, because if we go beyond that, there are side missions that revolve around Batmobile mechanics exclusively, and the puzzles to get Riddler’s trophies often have you switching back and forth between Batman and the remotely controlled Batmobile in a way that isn’t particularly fun. The puzzles themselves are still fun and rewarding to figure out, but actually acting out the solution to these feels extremely clunky.

The driving and the tank battles aren’t extremely stellar either, but we’ll talk about that later in the video. What I wanted to highlight as bad were definitely the Batmobile puzzles and the exaggerated spotlight given to it.

 

The Better
 

And now it’s time for what I think the game could’ve done better. This is where I provide some solutions to certain aspects that aren’t too impressive about the game, but are not so terrible they are beyond salvation.

We’ll begin with the whole performance discussion that kinda blew up on the internet surrounding the PC release. While I think the outrage was justified, this is something that should’ve happened with practically all big titles released these last couple of years. Yes, the game isn’t well optimized, but it is very much playable.

At this point, Arkham Knight still runs better on my machine than The Witcher 3, so don’t think that it is a complete mess because of the internet’s reaction. Warner Bros. retracting the game from the Steam Store kinda justified these people even more, but the fact that they did so with a game that was very much playable just gives me faith that they’re doing their best to fix it. Every minute the game isn’t on the store they’re losing money, and I think that’s the best motivation to fix it asap.

Owners of the console version are probably laughing at the Master Racists right now, but there’s some stuff that I also think could’ve been done better on all platforms. One of the changes made to your controller bindings were the gadgets. In previous games you could select all the gadgets with the D-Pad. Seamless, one or two button presses at most, no pausing the game. This time, they’ve assigned a bunch of other actions to the D-Pad, like radial menus for the challenges and side missions, so gadgets are restricted to a radial menu which you can access by pressing down on the D-Pad.

This severely kills the game’s pace, because every time you want to change gadget you’re essentially pausing the game. This is particularly aggravating when you have to solve a puzzle with multiple gadgets. PC users can, however, rebind each gadget to a different key, but even on PC, I prefer playing these games with a controller. I think they could easily go back to the previous system of having all the gadgets on the D-Pad and just stuffing these radial menus into the map or something.

And finally, let’s talk a bit more about the Batmobile. While I hate the puzzles and the screen time the car has in the game, I don’t think the driving and battle scenarios are terrible. The car handles okay, but it could definitely be improved. And honestly, I really liked some of the Battle Mode scenarios, especially when they introduced new enemy vehicles, but there are just so many that it gets really repetitive over time. They definitely needed a bit more variety in these encounters if they were intending on having you use the Batmobile this much.

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And those were my thoughts on Batman Arkham Knight. In short, I think it was an amazing game, but the Batmobile does get in the way of it, and hopefully all the performance issues on PC get fixed in the future.
But I wanna know what your experience has been like with Arkham Knight so far. Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Let me know in the comments below. While you’re down there click the like button and subscribe to TGN if you haven’t already. I’ve been Globku, cya next time.