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September 28, 2015 / Jett

Batman: Arkham Knight Impressions

Nine months after the events of Arkham City, the Batman’s rogue gallery hit the streets of Gotham for their most heinous act of terrorism yet. Backed by an army of soldiers, vehicles, a mysterious new adversary, and enough chemicals to corrupt the entire eastern seaboard, Bruce Wayne really has his hands full this time. With the stakes being higher than ever, Rocksteady and Warner Bros. are hoping that Batman: Arkham Knight is the biggest and best Batman game to-date.

Having established a great thing with the previous entries of the series, much of the core formula remains intact. As mostly Batman (more on that in a second), you’re dropped into an open world that’s filled with missions to complete and bad guys to punch in the face. Certain combat encounters are loose enough that you’ll be able to dive right in, while others require a more stealthy approach. In either case, every interaction with the game is designed with making you feel like the Caped Crusader doing what he does best.

One aspect of the game that is immediately different is the graphics. Holy next gen Batman! Making a conscious decision to exclude this game from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 appears to have been a good one, as Arkham Knight looks awesome. Building off of the framework from the first games, the level of fidelity in the characters and the world is incredible.

The game has gotten to a point where the gameplay graphics are better than the cinematics from last gen. Even when the game switches between cinematics and gameplay, you can’t really tell the difference. The game even plays up this fact at times where a cutscene will seemingly stall because it’s actually waiting for you to make an input. With this console cycle being so young, there will be more graphical powerhouses on the way. With that said, this game looks fantastic.

I can imagine that one of the most requested features is the inclusion of the Batmobile. Finally, it arrives in tumbler form. While its inclusion crosses it off the most wanted list, this is a classic case of being careful for what you wish for. Like so many other fantastical open world games like Crackdown, it’s more fun to explore the world on foot than it is in a vehicle. Not even the Batmobile can escape this fate.

Furthermore, the gameplay systems in place to make the Batmobile worthwhile can be goofy and not really in the spirit of the source material. By holding the left trigger, the Batmobile basically transforms into a tank. Moving much slower, you gain the benefit of strafing, plus the ability to shoot rockets or bullets. Conveniently, the enemy is stocked with a ton of weaponized sports cars to do battle with, but did we really want to partake in Batman-themed tank battles? More damning is the fact that it’s just not fun to drive and fight like this.

Even goofier are the sort of platforming challenges that the Batmobile faces. Yes, there are parts of levels that require you to hit ramps at full speed or deftly swerve through narrow rooftop paths to get to point B. I’ve seen the car do a few crazy things a few times, but to the extent that it’s pushed here is a glaring conceit just for the game that also isn’t that entertaining. Maybe we would have yearned for a Batmobile if it wasn’t included, though I think the game would have been stronger without it, at least in this form.

I’m just over half way through this game and admittedly, haven’t played it in quite some time. Actually won’t be playing any more of it for the time being, as I just traded it in. It fell out of my rotation for reasons related and unrelated to the game itself and my motivation to finish it has dried up. From my time with it, everything that Batman did before in the other games is still great, while the new Batmobile stuff isn’t as hot. That said, it does say a lot when I plowed through the first two games as fast as I could, yet couldn’t find it in me to finish this game that probably isn’t that long.

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