It has been a long and bumpy road but we have finally reached the end of Batman. After some delay the train has finally entered the Batman station though and what a sight to behold it is. Finishing the trilogy, no I don’t count the third game, in a rap up ending I would say rivals the Bioshock trilogy, if you count DLC. I don’t want to spoil anything and will do as little as possible but be warned it is a possibility before anyone jumps up my ass about it. Batman Arkham Knight really set a new standard for video games (except on PC). While it does tend to lack in certain areas the game is still one of the best things to come out since Arkham City. While I have not completed the final ending yet, no thanks to the Riddler, I hear it is quite the show. Frankly I am disappointed, disappointed because this is the end of one of the greatest franchises left. In retrospect though it is probably better to wrap up on a positive note than to become stale and pander to the masses in general.
The thing I liked the most about Arkham City was the wide array of villains you had to deal with. Unlike in Origins they are villains most people would actually know without a near encyclopedic knowledge of the Batman world. Most of the main super villains are present to some minor degree. I can’t help but feel that leaving out Bane, Freeze and Killer Croc was a mistake instead of shoe horning in more militia challenges. Freeze was probably one of the best boss fights in the entire series because it really tested a player on how well they can use all of Batman’s gadgets. Some of the Origins villains made it as well though. Firefly being the first you encounter, the thing is he is not really difficult to beat, he’s just really annoying and handling the Batmobile around tight corners is a hassle at best. Deathstroke made it in as well but for the life of me I don’t know why. While I don’t have an issue going another round with him you still have to question why he was shoved in when the game is 90% over already.
Some newer villains to the game brought new life to it though. Dr. Pyg and Man-Bat were both extremely interesting cases to do, albeit a little short. I can honestly say the introduction for Man-Bat was probably the first jump scare to affect me in years and then the Joker pulled that shit on me later and I was pissed. We finally get to finish with Hush what we started in Arkham City. Although I was a little confused who Deacon Blackfire was but he was gone again so fast it didn’t really matter. Unlike Electrocutioner in Origin who kept getting dragged back in even though he is the most meaningless Batman villain ever. Not only was there a lot of characters both good and bad but the voice acting for most of them was phenomenal. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Pyg and Scarecrow who both brought their characters to life and really brought me deeper into the game.
Gameplay was a lot of the same this time around with the Batman style of combat being copied by every other major game like it’s going out of style now. It did feel a bit more fluid this time around. They also added a new dual combat mode in which Batman and whoever he is partnered with at the time can double team enemies. While a fun experience watching Nightwing and Batman smash a juggernauts face in I wish it happened more than a few freaking times in the entire game. Like in Origin there were really no new gadgets, except for the voice thrower which was gratifying on many levels to use. One of the greatest moments was later in the game when I tricked a henchman into opening a door just to get mowed down by the Batmobile. There are new ways to use the hacking gadgets though, mainly to hack drones. Mostly it just disables them though; it would have been far more interesting if we could actually take full control of the drones.
Then of course there is the Batmobile, probably the most profound new mechanic to go into the Batman series since Asylum. While the functionality of the car and the fact that Arkham Knight could fund an entire army of super drone tanks is entirely infeasible it is so awesome it doesn’t even register. While driving, especially in high speed chases can become difficult because the Batmobile turns like an armored car normally would the combat mode makes up for it with mostly seamless fighting. Although tank combat does become extremely overwhelming later in the game if you don’t have a majority of the upgrades yet.
I also have an issue with the fact that the Arkham Knights tank and earth driller are both faster than the Batmobile. How does that make any sense at all? A tank carrying that much crap cannot be so fast and maneuverable it can overtake the Batmobile from a distance in a second. The earth driller was entirely ridiculous not even a suspension of disbelief could save it. It is entertaining to watch enemies flee at the sight of the Batmobile though and makes traveling the giant map a lot faster for the most part. The ability to launch out of the Batmobile with enough force to fly for long distances is also an entertaining mechanic. The general design of the game is a lot of the same as well and becomes boring real fast. I swear every area could be broken down into the same three set pieces, sewer, ruined building and possibly evil lab. The holy trinity of generic game design. During the cloud burst section of the game however it becomes slightly more interesting, like playing the floor is lava across multiple cities and a huge cloud of fear toxin instead of lava.
The plot of the game, while exciting and far above anything most AAA games offer anymore, kind of left me so-so. Many other people who have played this game have gone on and on about the big twist but I still have no idea what they are referring to. There is the identity of Arkham Knight but if you pay attention to the story at all this becomes obvious fairly early in the game. One of the major villains dies which was unexpected but not a twist. Although at that point I was ready for anything to happen, much like the last Gears of War when the developer starts killing off important characters it usually means the end of the franchise and anything can happen. Anyone who actually believed Oracle was dead should have their head examined and I spoil that with no shame whatsoever. The main conflict between Batman, Scarecrow and Arkham Knight is intense and really had me playing non-stop until I could reach the end. Why all the super villains started working together is a bit ambiguous because they seem to be doing their own thing entirely throughout the game. Harley Quinn especially just seemed to come out of right field for little to no reason but to mess things up and was captured almost right away.
For me the main story and far more exciting part of the game was dealing with the Joker within Batman. The Joker being almost as big of a comic icon as Batman and probably one of the most iconic super villains really had me a lot more engaged than the Scarecrow story. In the first two Batman games listening to Joker rant and waiting for whatever madness he was going to pull next was the best part of the game, the end of Arkham City being a prime example and a great story twist. Now that mad giggling clown is in your head and more than a few times I found myself slightly unnerved by him saying what I was just thinking seconds before. Waiting for the Joker to come out in full force kept me on the edge of my seat often. While I won’t spoil it the first ending had me almost freaking out because I thought for sure Scarecrow was going to let the Joker out by accident.
I liked how the Joker commentary wasn’t just on the main story either but how he would appear all over the place to give his own twisted perspective on things. If there is any twist in this game I would have to say it is in the movie theatre after recapturing all of the fake Jokers, which after some surprises leaves only one Joker left. For me this is the most pivotal point of the game. My only problem with this is that it doesn’t make sense how the Jokers blood can turn people into Joker clones. In Arkham City his blood was a poison that killed people yet the few that got out turned normal people into Joker clones instead? The second ending was kind of boring and a letdown but I’m still confident that the final ending will wow me.
The side quest also ranged from fun to meh, with the good quest with actual villains being rather short and far apart and the militia quest being constant and rather repetitive. When I was able to capture actual super villains as compared to regular jackoffs I felt a lot more accomplished and enjoyed watching their interactions in jail. Not to say it wasn’t funny watching the jail and evidence room slowly fill up as I captured more people and listen to them tell me how I was just lucky. Yea, no, you’re right. The jail went from 1% to 95% full because of luck. I am still looking for all the Riddler trophies since there is an insane 200 plus of them now. Why there needs to be so many doesn’t make sense to me either. I swear almost every room I go into has a trophy. During the fight with Arkham Knight I found at least 4 of the things just sitting around in the same damn room. Again we have to suspend disbelief that the Riddler could build giant underground death traps in under a year but his actual challenges are fun and listening to him freak out was entertaining. The last track especially irritated me when Riddler took full control but his trophies are monotonous and he can’t be captured without them.
There aren’t many function bugs in the game that I have run into so far. The usual clipping and flying bugs almost every Batman games has had so far and issues with lag while in the Batmobile. I understand the PC version had to be pulled though because it suffered from a number of problems to extreme levels and that the game has already been pulled until it can be fixed. Maybe these issues were more prevalent at release but when I started there was already a patch out so I couldn’t say. I remember in previous Batman games the Riddler trophies caused issues at times but I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m still irritated that the Batmobile edition I ordered was canceled and I was never told but that’s between me and Gamestop.
All in all, great game, great series and great ending. Hope the final ending is better but apparently the developers foresaw spoilers and locked down the important parts so they couldn’t be recorded easily. If it’s anything like the comic I suspect someone will be deciding the successor to the cowl or something with Catwoman I hope. Now that the series is over though I feel a little empty inside because it will be a long time until a new franchise can fill the gap and Fallout 4 is still a good half year away. Supposedly there are a number of DLC’s planned that will add more super villains and content. Such as a Harley Quinn story and Red Hood story pack which involves Black Mask. For a season pass though it seems kind of pricy but since it is the last game I’m hoping they will go nuts with it and bring back all the other villains with their own stories. After the Elder Scrolls I was concerned the summer releases may let me down. After Batman Arkham Knight though I’m full of life again and ready to go. The next stop on the super-happy-funtime-magic-banzai train is J-stars Victory vs+ a crossover fighting which should be entertaining and is already upon us. I was also expecting OneeChanbara Z2 but apparently that has been pushed into July, which leaves me with more time to catch the Riddler.