Batman: Arkham Knight Review
|CHEATfactor Game Review by: Joe Sinicki||Reviewed on: PC|
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Batman: Arkham Knight. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Note: The PC version of Arkham Knight has had some well known post lunch issues that have caused the game to get pulled from services like Steam. This review is based on a combination of the PC game and an Xbox One review copy we received. Also fair note, I try to be as spoiler free as possible but it's kind of hard to talk about what works in Arkham Knight and what doesn't without diving into some pretty heavy spoilers. Read with caution!
There's a scene in Christopher Nolan's 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises where Catwoman tries to convince Batman that he's given the citizens of Gotham everything and that he should just worry about saving himself and he answers "Not everything, not yet." It's an iconic line but one that I don't think applies anymore. Batman: Arkham Knight is the definitive Batman adventure. It may stick to the formula of previous games quite closely but it's the best use of the formula to date and a fantastic adventure game that send the series off to a (mostly) satisfying conclusion. If you've got any interest in The Dark Knight and his adventures you need to play Arkham Knight.
|...the most remarkable use of the formula to date.|
If you've played either Arkham Asylum or Arkham City you'll feel right at home here as Arkham Knight brings the series to the newer consoles with much of the same mechanics that made it successful the last few times (except you know, Arkham Origins). Your goal is simple, Be the Batman. Perch on rooftops, glide down and sneak up on thugs. It may stick pretty close to the formula it established for itself in the previous generation of consoles but it's definitely the most remarkable use of the formula to date. The greatest thing about the Arkham series is that they make you feel you are Batman and it's never been more satisfying than it is here with the caped crusader's new gadgets and combat techniques. It's still fun as hell to stalk a group of enemies and pick them off one by one, watching the others panic as they can't find you, or even just swooping down and taking out an entire room of bad guys with ease.
Story wise, Arkham Knight is mostly stellar as well (Fair warning, this section of the review is likely to be heaviest on spoilers). As per usual, Batman is having a pretty rough night. Scarecrow is threatening to release a bomb filled with his fear toxin over Gotham and now there's an armored Batman lookalike who commands his own militia and tanks and is looking to take Batman out for good. Throw in the fact that Barbra Gordon has been kidnapped and Batman still has to deal with key members of his rouges gallery like Riddler, Two-Face and The Penguin and you're in for a long night. The good news is that it's mostly all satisfying and paced remarkably well. I didn't feel like there was quite as much to do in between missions but that's largely because the game does such a great job at putting these side missions into the context of the main game itself. Having to multi-task between dealing with the Riddler's games and getting closer to the Arkham Knight never felt like a task, I just wish that the map was better at showing locations of some of the side missions.
So let's talk about The Arkham Knight. He's a character that represents a fantastic idea but falls apart when his true identity is revealed. To be fair, his identity would be a cool reveal if the developers didn't go out of their way to tell everyone that the character was a completely new addition to the Batman mythos. He's not. He's former Robin Jason Todd. Yes, that Jason Todd, the Jason Todd that the Joker killed in one of Batman's most prolific stories. That in itself isn't a bad thing, Jason Todd has come back before, but it's more of the way that it's handled here. When Jason Todd came back before it was explained that Ra's Al Ghul brought him back from the dead using the Lazarus Pit but here we're told that Joker never really killed him and just brainwashed him. I'm usually not one to bitch when creators don't stick to continuity, especially if it makes for a better story but to completely ignore one of Batman's most important moments is borderline insulting to long-time fans.
|...more importantly it's just plain fun.|
Contrast to that the game's most impressive moments which are interestingly enough, some of it's most simple. If you played through Arkham City you remember that the Joker was killed at the end of it but that doesn't stop him from showing up to torment Batman a bit here in the final chapter. Early on Bats is hit with Scarecrow's fear toxin and is haunted by visions of the clown prince of crime that may or may not be all in his head. It's a beat that questions Batman's sanity and more importantly it's just plain fun. Mark Hamill returns for his role as the Joker and is outstanding as normal and thankfully after being absent for Arkham Origins, Kevin Conroy returns as the caped crusader. The combination of the two is always fun but here they're at their best. They're having conversations that are incredibly fun to sit through, and waxing philosophical about their past together. It was honestly my favorite part of a game that does so much right.
The biggest addition that Arkham Knight makes to the series is unquestionably that of the Batmobile. The thought of a fully functional Batmobile is an exciting one but it's also one that isn't put into practice quite as well as it should and to be fair it was more of a love/hate relationship. During some scenes, especially those early in the game I loved The Batmobile and thought it was a completely badass addition but after while it became clear that it was being used as a crutch to get the story out of situations it otherwise couldn't. There was a portion in the game where nearly everything was seemingly solved by "let's get the bat mobile!." Need to get up an elevator? There's a Batmobile for that. Need to track a criminal? Why not take the Batmobile? There was a point when Batman used it remotely that I started thinking of it more as it's own unique character than a vehicle (I kept picturing Woody's horse from Toy Story). It's a great idea and handy in some situations but just way too overdone.
If this truly is the end of Rocksteady's time with the Caped Crusader then Arkham Knight is more than a fitting send off. It's one of the most complete action games I've ever played and one of the standout pieces of software that's available for the new consoles. If you've got even a passing interest in Batman, superhero games or just being a badass in general, you're going to want to play this game. Now if you'll excuse me I've got some more Riddler trophies to hunt down.
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