Lucien’s Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman Arkham KnightTwo things to clear up before we get too far into this.  First, I got this game on console, so all that stuff with the bullshit on PC, I didn’t have to deal with that.  I am judging this game based on what I have seen and played.  Take that for whatever you will.  Second, I am a story-seeker with games.  A good story is the thing that hooks me.  It can make or break a game for me.  I want you to keep that in mind when I talk about this game, because it will help you understand the score I have given it.

When I first played Arkham Asylum, I was enraptured.  So many cool characters!  Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising their iconic roles!  Everything was so perfect!  Well, okay, there were some hiccups along the way.  Gameplay elements that didn’t work so great.  Oh, and some of the boss fights were a touch predictable.  But if you can handle that, then you were set.  It was the first game of its kind.  A stealth superhero game that wasn’t crap.  In a league all its own.  Then came Arkham City.  If the first game was good, this game was SO much better!  It set the standard for any and all superhero games that I will EVER see.  Ever!  And you know what, I actually liked Arkham Origins too.  It wasn’t as great as the game before it, but it was still a solid experience.  A lot of that was thanks to Troy Baker taking the reigns as the Joker.  He owned that role in a way that only he could.  Was it a lot like the last game?  Yes, but it was still solid.

My expectations for the final game in the franchise were beyond sky-high.  I wanted this game to be the grand finale!  I wanted it to have the whole cast returning to cause trouble, along with some new people.  I wanted to see some of my favorites, like Anarky.  Maybe they could FINALLY give Harley Quinn a role in the game where she isn’t played like a joke.  Where her role isn’t something pathetically stupid.  The trailers came out, and they have this character – the Arkham Knight!  He looks cool.  He kicks Batman’s ass.  My expectations were through the roof!  And…this game disappointed in a lot of ways.  It’s a good game, don’t get me wrong, but this is NOT the game I wanted.  Not even close.

But let’s talk about what this game gets right.  The visuals are a cut above the rest.  It truly looks next-gen, in places.  There were some set-piece moments that had my jaw on the floor.  It’s not Bloodborne levels of beauty, but it’s impressive all the same.  This game will get you, on visual fidelity alone.

Then there’s the voice acting.  This game brought some A-list cast, even if SO many of them are under-utilized.  They didn’t get Arleen Sorkin to reprise her role as Harley Quinn, but you know what, I’m cool with that.  The person they got wasn’t quite as annoying as in Arkham City.  They even brought back a cast member who I thought was gone, and had said that he was out of the series.  That was a bit of a shock.  At first, I thought it was a reveal too soon.  But it grew on me after a while.  That game has a great cast, and it is fun to hear them doing their iconic roles.

The stuff controlling the Batmobile is…pretty cool, for the most part.  But then there is this one area, close to the end of this game, where that car is the biggest pain in the fucking ass that has ever been.  No joke, I lost my shit with that vehicle more than once.  It gets very frustrating.  However, when it is out in the open, and they give you the ability to travel freely, it is cool.

Now, on to what you all are probably waiting for, if you like reading negative material.  The problems.  This is gonna get a little long.  If you are expecting me to rip into this game, don’t hold your breath.  I will say that I am very disappointed.  But it is still a fun game.  This game makes me think back to Arkham Origins.  It’s fun, but fun to a point..  In fact, so much of this game reminds me of that one.  Did the people who made it come on board this team?

I was expecting this game to be so much bigger and better than the last!  The explorable area in this game was less than Origins!  I shit you not!  Or maybe it just seemed that way, with the break-neck speeds of the Batmobile.  Still, I expected to have all of Gotham as my playground.  For this game taking up over 50 gigs on my PS4, I figured that I was going to have the city as my toybox to play with.  A smaller area wouldn’t be so bad, if there was more to do there.  But there wasn’t  There just wasn’t!  It is so annoying how little there was to do here.  Which brings me to my second problem…

This game was so lacking in characters! When Poison Ivy said that Scarecrow had a meeting and everyone was there, I expected this game’s cast to be fucking epic!  But it’s not!  That’s so frustrating, to me.  I was hoping that maybe we could see some new characters.  Like Babydoll or Ventriloquist. Or Great White Shark.  Part of me was really hoping that the Arkham Knight was Anarky.  A little older, and more seasoned.  He learned from his beating and then came back, more determined than ever.  There were so many places that this game could have shined in every way, but it just plain didn’t.  Every piece of great opportunity was wasted.  Or hell, maybe it will be in that stupid fucking Season Pass.  I hate that crap.  You have to pay more money to get the whole game.  That’s bullshit.

Oh, and get this – no more Challenge Mode!  What the fuck?!  You bring in Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Harley Quinn and even Red Hood into this game!  Why is there no Challenge Mode to play with them?!  That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.  One of my biggest fun points in Arkham City was the Challenge Mode, and seeing how well I could do.  Believe it or not, Robin was my favorite character to play in those.  Nightwing was a close second.  With the cool bits with Harley and Red Hood, they made combat with them feel cool!  Why on Earth am I not seeing more of them?!  Why make their parts in the game so miniscule?!  Why does this game feel half done?!

Speaking of half done, I won’t spoil who the Arkham Knight is, but the reveal of that character was so awful!  I saw it coming from a mile away!  The game even goes out of it’s way to pretty much have a cutscene where you might as well have a giant light saying, “he’s the villain!”  This was so uninspired!  They had some moments of good build-up for this character.  There is this great cutscene where the Knight and the Bat are going mono-a-mono, seeming to be evenly matched, and when Batman thinks he is getting the upper hand, he asks in a way that seems both furious and desperate, “who are you?!”  But this reveal was terrible.  I won’t spoil it, for the people who do want to know, but if you pay attention to the plot, it literally has a spotlight when it wants you to know who this guy is.  Just another chance for something creative, where it totally goes to shit.  What’s more, it feels like riffing on something else.  A DC animated film that I think is pretty awesome.  I wonder if they got the same guy to reprise his role.  Huh.

What was I hoping for with this character?  I was hoping that they would have something like in Metal Gear Solid 4, where you return to Shadow Moses.  After he’s beaten Scarecrow, and he’s got almost nothing left, he gets a last message from the Arkham Knight, telling him to go to the Asylum, and that’s where they finish it.  Both of them are beaten and broken.  They kick the shit out of each other, and that’s when Batman finally finds out who this guy is.  You have the Bat coming to terms with just how awful it all is, and having to face of who he has become.  Maybe give Harley a chance for some cruel revenge.  Like after everything is sorted, she shows up and puts a bullet through Batman’s chest.  Doesn’t that sound intense?!

In fact, this game goes so far out of its way to not have any legitimate darkness!  They hint at dark things, but it all works out in the end.  Oh boy!  That’s so wonderful!  Isn’t that just great?!  Because dark elements that work out in bittersweet ways might make the story more engaging.  Can’t have that!  This is a superhero power fantasy!  And we all know that in those, the hero always wins and nothing ever truly happens to cause him to maybe grow as a person.  Oh, sure, in the previous game, the city was falling apart, your girl was dead and the closest thing you had to a friend was in your arms as you left the theater.  But that’s was just a fluke!  Now we’re back to formula!

Let me say again – do not take this as me thinking that this is a terrible game.  All things considered, it’s not.  But it isn’t the game I was hoping for.  Not even close.  After how dark and serious the previous game got, with all the elements in it, and even a great twist at the end, I was hoping that more would come from it.  Instead, this game was a step backwards.  And now the franchise is done.  What a pity.  But for the best, I guess.  They could only make it worst from here.  Maybe their next game will be better

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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