Gamers and fans of the series can finally sink their teeth into the long awaited Batman release, Arkham Knight. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City I was both anxious and nervous about whether or not the new title would deliver. After sinking over 12 hours into the game on my stream I can confidently say this game just might be a 10/10 on my scale. I played for almost 8 hours before I died or encountered anything buggy/poorly designed. The scale and scope of the game has been expanded in ways that are consistently positive, but the gritty and fun Batman experience is still at the core. This is the first next-gen game I have played that actually feels and looks next-gen.
I’m an honest XBOX One owner, so I know certain games just aren’t going to look at strong or pretty on my console of choice. During the E3 demo I remarked to my stream that the leather texture on Batman’s cape and the realistic looking rain drops would probably be noticeably absent or toned down on the XBOX One. I am happily eating crow on that claim as the first thing I noticed when blissfully gliding over Gotham was that both the cape texture and the rain looked exactly as they did in the demo footage. Batman’s armor visibly changes when upgraded and it looks smooth, clunky, and yet intricate when closely examined. There is so much graphical depth in this game that I myself and some of my viewers constantly remark at just how amazing the game looks. I did notice a few parts while driving at full speed with lots of explosions and rain effects that the frame rate does drop a little bit, but it was hardly game breaking or overly noticeable. I honestly noticed the framerate drop because someone in the stream told me to watch for it. Unfortunately the port to PC was poorly handled so those gamers are going to have to wait for a patch to fix some of the framerate lock issues that are causing crashes.
Top Shelf Voice Acting and Story (spoilers contained)
The previous games, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, both feature wonderful characters, voice acting, and immersive stories. Many were rightly concerned about the shift in focus to having just one main villain when early press and information was shown about the Arkham Knight. I have been pleasantly and happily thrilled and impressed with how fantastic Scarecrow looks graphically and is acted vocally. There have been a view cut scenes where I can’t look away from his face, which is a subversive way to make the player interact with a villain who is supposed to be terrifying. But fear not, fans of Batman, many of your favorite villains get plenty of face time. And the inclusion of the Joker is done so well that I get giddy whenever he shows up. This game delivers everything a fan of the previous Batman games would want, and does it in a way that is both creative and darkly courageous.
Combat and Driving
A potential danger with a game like this is to dial in the combat and change very little. To a point, they have left much of the combat firmly intact, which is a good decision given that it works so well and that fans will want that familiarity in place. But they’ve add new features like fear takedowns that can be upgraded and chained together as well as new gadgets and toys to take on the baddies. In classic Batman fashion, if you master some of the basics and choices you can feel very empowered as a gamer when playing this. There is also a host of fun takedowns that can done while gliding, hiding, and perched above which adds to the host of welcome options to a game many want to play their own way.
Now I have had some people come into my stream and say they heard people complaining about how often the Batmobile is used. This is something I can’t wrap my head around as the addition of the Batmobile has opened this game up in a way that places it in its own category when compared to the others in the franchise. Everything about the vehicle movement, mission use, and combat is brilliant. The first time I used the remote control Batmobile option to assist me with my mission I was grinning ear to ear and thinking, “This is how Batman would do it!” And as a self-professed non-racing gamer, the Riddler challenges that I’ve played have been an absolute blast, even when they aren’t racing, but simply puzzles you must solve with the Batmobile.
A must have
This game is an absolute must have for anyone who enjoyed Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. Even if you haven’t played those titles this game offers very helpful tutorials that don’t feel like tutorials, and the beginning challenges and missions are accessible and fun. You quickly pick up how to handle a crowd of thugs, effectively use the Batmobile, and glide through Gotham like a veteran crime fighter. Pick this game up, now!
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