Batman Arkham Knight review

So a couple of weeks ago we had a look at Arkham Knight being pulled from the PC shelves due to a number of issues with the port from the next gen consoles. At that point we didn't think that we would get the chance to review the final installment in the Arkham trilogy, however fate intervened and we got the chance to play the game in the format it was clearly designed for.

Once we finally got the game started up we were plunged straight into the gritty world that we would be calling home for the next few gaming hours. As the credits roll you take on the role of one of Gotham's finest but all is not as it seems. Scarecrow strikes fear into the heart of Gotham by turning a diner into a scene from every zombie apocalypse movie since time began. If you take a closer look around the diner, before everything goes to hell, you will spot a couple of items that hint at what is to follow, such as a missing poster next to the waitress taking your order.

The other thing you will notice is just how far the graphics have come on with this series and the move onto the new PlayStation 4 console. The experience really benefits from the new graphics as the world of Gotham sinks to new depths of depravity and these are fully realised on the new system. Let's face it, Scarecrow would not look quite so terrifying if his mask wasn't quite so freeflowing and realistic.

On the topic of Scarecrow, all of your old favourites make an appearance in this game. Yes ALL of them! I won't ruin any of the surprises the game manages to spring on you but it is great to see all of the best characters from the Batman comics make an appearance in the game, giving it the final send off it deserves. On this note the developers have also managed to pay homage to a lot of the rich tapestry that is the Batman comics. Whether that is a poster for the "Flying Graysons" or a flashback to the quintessential scene of The Killing Joke. It's all there.

Unfortunately, while the big villains are fully realised in the game I did find myself getting bored as I mashed the square and triangle buttons plowing my way through hordes of thugs and soldiers. Yes there is some scaling and some of the generic neighbourhood thugs develop a bit more of a backbone, but all this means is that you have to hit the circle button before you start mashing square again. At times I felt that Arkham Knight could have benefited from the concept that less really can be more.

Detective mode is back again and you do get the feeling that you are becoming the Batman as you use all the cool tech provided to you by Lucius Fox. Reconstructing crime scenes, investigating the evidence in detail with the scanner, it all reminds you that Batman is involved in investigating crime as a means of stopping it rather than just beating his way to a guy with answers.

One of the big additions to this game comes in the tech department as well. The Batmobile, although I quickly found myself wanting to have access to the Batwing when it shows up. I mean really, who wants to drive around Gotham when you could be flying? A number of outlets have mentioned the fact that at times it feels like the Batmobile is shoehorned into more of the game than it needs to be just so that it can be shown off. Maybe at times they are right but I did love racing around the city in that car and using battle mode to take on some of the big nasties. The Batmobile itself is sleek and cool, and it feels like something you would see Batman racing about in during a Christopher Nolan film, not the cheesy old Tim Burton Batmobile. It packs a punch and can also be upgraded like any other part of Batman's equipment.

Perhaps it is tech like this that makes Batman feel he can take on everyone in Gotham on his own, but this does sideline a number of cool sidekicks. It also meant that, as a player, you miss out on a lot of cool fights where you would love to have Nightwing, Robin or Catwoman alongside you. It's always Batman vs The World, and I did find this a bit grating. Yes, he doesn't want to be responsible for anyone dying but there is only so much you can do on your own and the whole point of characters like Nightwing and Robin is that you have someone there to help you along.

And it is on the side quests that you run into most of these characters. There are two sides of the coin when it comes to side quests. On one side they are great for those gamers who love to 100% a game. There are lots of side quests and lots of rewards if you are willing to dedicate the time to completing them. But this is also the downside to them, because you have to dedicate time to them they can pull you out of the story that the game is trying to weave.

For a gamer like me, who loves the narrative side of games, this completely pulls you out of the game and shatters the experience it is trying to create. While I can appreciate all the bonuses you receive for completing these quests the main story has a sense of urgency about it and if you are off solving a puzzle set by the Riddler, where you have to balance the Batmobile on a ledge to activate the puzzle end game, that sense of urgency disappears. You don't care about stopping Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight because you are too preoccupied with the fact that despite your best efforts the Batmobile won't balance on the button and for whatever reason you just can't reach that final ledge, and you end up dying in some stupid attempt at reaching that ledge just so that you can shut the Riddler up.

But dying isn't always a bad thing, and after one character shows up pointing a gun at your head some of the clips played after you die are simply hilarious. I honestly found myself laughing out loud at some of them as they were sharp, sarcastic and over so quickly you were left wanting more. Although if you end up dying and the Arkham Knight shows up to taunt you I would recommend pressing the mute button. Seriously the guy just likes to whine and whine and whine, even Scarecrow sounds like he is getting tired of him before the game really gets going.

All in all Arkham Knight is a great way to wrap up the series. Sure it isn't perfect and some gamers will have had their experience completely ruined by the fact that the PC version of the game was so below par even Tiger Woods was getting a better score than it, but it is a good game. You have a fully realised Gotham to explore, I know there are whole areas I am yet to discover. The side quests also unlock a lot of background information and trivia that any long time fans of Batman will love to read up on, but completing them all does take you away from the storyline and this is a bit of a drawback. A bit less fighting with the lackies would have been welcomed by me but you do need to have something going one while you make your way around Gotham.

The Batmobile makes a welcome appearance to the series and you are left wondering why it took so long for Lucius to send it out and almost as soon as you do have it you are left wondering why he isn't letting you take the Batwing out for a spin. Some people may feel that there is too much of the batmobile in the game but you won't count me among them, it's a great addition and it isn't really overused. I don't want to be gliding from point A to point B when I can drive around and blast petty criminals with an immobiliser (yes Batman still sticks to his rule of not killing anyone, they even manage to survive being hit by the Batmobile with the afterburners on!).


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