Can We Talk About Batman Arkham Knight
Batman Arkham Knight is one of those games were one will think it is either the greatest or will be indifferent too. I fall under the latter. To be honest with you folks, I did not thinking I would be playing Batman Arkham Knight anytime soon. Yes the game released in June of last year; however, one of the biggest video game stories of the year was how notorious broken the PC version of Arkham Knight was. It was so bad, publisher WB Games pulled it from retailers for almost four months and extended refunds to any purchasers thought the end of the year. At first, I was among the lucky one. I was running the game fine. The new rig I built was beefy enough to power through the game’s poor optimization, but after the game’s first major patch and upgrading to Windows 10, things went downhill quickly.
After some time away, a few more patches and tweaking of the game’s setting, I finally had Batman Arkham Knight running fine again. After 30 plus hours with the game, I can confidently say the game did not excite me like the previous Arkham Asylum and City. By most amounts I should have been in love with the game. Glowing reviews across the board. Many calling it the best Arkham game yet. It is easy to see why, the free-flow combat is back and more varied than before. Batman has so many options to beat up criminals with stunning brutally that is beautiful to watch. The game world is gorgeous, Rocksteady has truly crafted a Goham what makes the most out of the Unreal engine. Plus this was the end of their Batman story. A story that has received much praised. So why After 30 plus hours, did much of my time with game feel like busy work?
There is an intimacy to Arkham Asylum that each sequel has failed to recreate. Each section of Ayslum offered something new and as the game progressed, new gadgets and tools made re-exploring old places fresh again with previously inaccessible areas. With each game in the Arkham series the map has grown each time. More villains, more side quest and more Riddler trophies, after four games if of this, the Arkham team may have spread things too thin. Open world game like to have sprawling maps with plenty of activities for players to do. Arkham Knight is no different, however I found the majority of the “Most Wanted” missions, Arkham Knight’s name for side quest and optional story threads, boring, uninteresting and sometimes disappointing; mostly because of the lack of variety in those missions.
It is a shame, Batman Arkham Knight is a game in with I love the core gameplay mechanics but feel bored and unchallenged by what I’m given to do with those mechanics. Combat and stealth are still fun. The batmobile is alright, if not relied on a little much, there is a satisfaction plowing through everything with your tank. However once you recognizes the core gameplay loop, things can get stale quickly. What do I mean by this, you do the same thing, 3-6 times, as you fill a mission process bar, with little notable increase in challenge or variation of mission structure. Firefly is setting fire to fire stations around Goham. You start his mission by driving to a Fire station, Firefly pops up, you chase him in the Batmobile, jump out, punch him in the face via Q.T.E, before Firefly decides “I’m done being punched in the face” and flies off. You repeat this three times before Firefly decides to let Batman punch him face enough times to knock him out. Chasing him does not become harder, his route is not more unpredictable, he does not throw more fire bombs at you and the chase always ends in the same fashion. Chase. Eject. Q.T.E. Fly off.
Firefly’s missions may be some of the least interesting, the rinse and repeat is a core feature of all the “Most Wanted” missions. Two-face is robbing banks across the city and you, as Batman, go and stop him, but never does he change his strategy for robbing banks. Two-face’s people hit the bank with a garage truck, this sets off an alarm allowing you to take down many enemies as quickly and loudly as possible. After so many takedowns, Two-Face crew wises up, turns off the alarms and your silently pick off them few remaining guys. Penguins’ missions focus of combat. Follow a truck back to its hideout, then team up with Nightwing to beat the holy hell out of the goons unfortunately stationed there. Very little changes. Other missions featuring Hush and Azrael, story threads which have been left open since Arkham City, end disappointingly and feel like afterthoughts. That’s not even toughing on the main quest, which is the Star Trek Into Darkness of video games.
For many this would be fine, but for me, who spent 100 hour plus hours on two playthroughs of The Witcher 3 — A game were even the smallest of quest can turn into some crazy misadventure, because the world building is so good in that game, you are never doing the same two fiend contracts — Batman’s Most Wanted felt like padding instead of engaging material. Batman’s mechanics are great, I only wish the game had more opportunities to challenge players with them. 2015 was an awesome year for games. If Batman Arkham Knight had release earlier, maybe my enjoyment of the game would have been different. As it stand right now, I feel “meh” with Arkham Knight.