Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight

Rating: 9.4

Happy Price: 59.99


Gadgets, hard hitting fists, and the Batmobile are the elements that make up the core mechanics of this iteration of Batman. The shift has gone from stealth in Arkham Asylum to the use of the Batmobile in this version. Most of your time will be spent driving around and in action packed battles


Different enemy types pose different problems for Batman, and force the player to make strategic decisions before going into battle. Most of the time you will be perched from above so you can make calculated decisions on who to attack, such as the bat would do in his world. Two men might be armed, one may have electric batons, and there may be a brute. Who to attack first, and what gadgets to be used will make the battle successful or a failure. Combat stays the same for the most part using the FreeFlow engine, but is definitely more difficult than previous games. The variety of ways to take down enemies and the use of the environment makes each encounter different and interesting. The pacing is great as well, as the fights become harder and harder as your skills also grow as a character and player of the game.


Gotham is plagued by an occupation that forces the evacuation of the city. There are tanks all over the streets and this must be countered by the batmobile which is equipped with a machine gun and a 60mm cannon. The car has a "battle mode" feature which allows guns to be shot and the vehicle can strafe allowing for evasive maneuvers while firing shots. Against enemies outside of vehicles, the batmobile shoots stun bullets due to Batman's policy of not killing. The transition between battle mode and car mode is smooth and its really fun to go full speed in car mode then quickly switch to battle mode, then switch back and take off. The controls are not tight so it does take some getting used to, but this isn't a racing sim. However you spend ample amounts of time in the batmobile and I wish they spent more time on the design of the city making driving around a little more fun. At times you move so fast in a compact, dark environment it forces you to always feel a step behind when turning around corners.


The story is one of the best I've played in a video game. The two main villains in this game are the new character "Arkham Knight" and Scarecrow. There is a struggle between the two villains as Scarecrow wants Batman to suffer, while Arkham Knight is hellbent on revenge and wants Batman's head ASAP. Scarecrow seems like a disappointing character at first, but as the plot unfolds you begin to respect him and his abilities much more. The Joker definitely makes his presence, but not in a way you'd think. As the story progresses the Arkham Knight impresses with his knowledge of Batman and both you as a player and Batman become highly curious as to who this person is. The reveal is perfect when it happens.

Open world games struggle with integrating side quests into the narrative, but this game does it very well. As you are hunting down Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, and others, the player is consistently reminded of what is going on in Gotham. Everyone is taking advantage of Scarecrow's new plan, and as you take down the villains one by one the player can feel the difference in the world. Side missions and quests gain significant amounts of XP so it becomes very fulfilling to do them.


Don't be fooled when the game begins, the animation seems really quick and its difficult to see what is going on during combat. It's as if the animation was done at 30fps but the game is running 60fps and its 2x as fast as it should be. Before you know it, Batman gets a new suit that allows you to hit harder and take more damage. After that, the animation settles down and looks normal. Since there is such a high focus on the story, the acting is very important. Rocksteady knew this, and did a great job with facial expressions and body language during cutscenes that drive the story. Many times in games animation can hurt the story, but in this instance it's pivotal in making it better. 


 There are many open world games out there right now. I would not say this is a must buy, but it is definitely worth 60 bucks. If you like Batman, you will enjoy this game. I think the Witcher 3 or GTAV offer more than this game, but don't provide the novelty of playing as Batman or such a good story. 

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