Batman: Arkham Knight: An "At 40% Completion" Mid-Game Review


     As I continue to plod through the newest Batman game, I can't get enough time to tear through Gotham as fast I intended.  So instead of the final video review, I'm posting a mid-game review as I'm sitting at about the halfway mark now, and have enough hours in to judge the game currently and put up a final video review in a week or so.  This is probably going to get ramble-y.


     Rocksteady's latest Batman Game, Arkham Knight, sees Batman once again going up against vast array of criminals with a few notable names like Scarecrow heading up the bunch.  Oddly enough the big tagline was that we were supposed to "Be the Bat," but since we've already played as him in the 3 previous games, the only real difference here is the addition of the Batmobile.  Or, rather, the newest forced requirement to fulfill half the game missions, and one that has some serious handling issues at that.  It's truly more like a S***mobile.
     Having the Batmobile could've been a great thing, but when hitting one wall after a loose drift sends you careening, rebounding off every other wall around and losing valuable chase time it gets old real fast.  To make this problem worse is the fact that a ludicrous amount of the game feels tailored specifically to include the Batmobile- as a result it becomes a chore to play through these missions and tasks.
     Rocksteady shoehorned in an absurd amount of reasons to need the Batmobile instead of leaving it as an optional feature.  I've spent almost half my time using the Batmobile to accomplish menial tasks and I would prefer not having it all than having an overabundance of it forced into the game.
     Personally, I would've been happy for a couple decent chases and a simple vehicle instead of the unwieldy Bat-tank we are forced to use constantly.  Even for the Riddler challenges.  I remember the good ole days when the Riddler's challenges used puzzle solving skills as opposed to driving skills.  Now it's all driving and using Batmobile winch features.  It makes it feel like an anchor tethered to Batman and becomes a burden to constantly need to drag the damn thing around.  I want to "Be the Bat," not "Be a sidekick to your own vehicle."


     This complaint is a little odd when I say it out loud.  I enjoy how massive the city of Gotham is and the promise of exploitative opportunity, but I have yet to find that awe that the promise should hold.  I heard Gotham is roughly 5 times larger than Arkham City was, but it feels so much emptier.
     Arkham City had a staggering amount of stuff crammed into it.  Every nook and cranny had a little treat- Easter Eggs, missions, and Riddler trophies- there was a genius to its design.  The only other game I can compare Arkham City to is the perfection that Dark Souls had in the game's layout.  Every single thing was put in place for a good reason, and it all tied together nicely.  A near-perfect system of locations.  It all felt connected and necessary.  Arkham Knight's Gotham feels like it is simply huge because it could be.  Sure it is full of common thugs, but it still feels uninhabited.  There is a ton of space and not enough people to populate it adequately enough to make the scale seem worth it.


     On The good side of things, the combat is still as amazing as ever.  Stealth options feel a little lacking still, where the game rewards and pushes many encounters into forced open combat with groups.  The graphics are tremendous and everything looks amazing.

After seeing this Joker, I knew I had to take a hilarious screencap.
     Of course the acting is once again at peak- particularly from Mark Hamill who is totally not reprising his role as the Joker here.  He's technically only giving voice to an imaginary Joker, which is so much better.  His role in Arkham Knight starts the game, making players burn the Joker's body to begin playing.  Once he's on the scene, so to say, he steals every single moment.  Randomly showing up and commenting and discussing things with Batman.
     It's true comedic gold.

     Scarecrow has a ton of great lines and scenes.  At the point in the game I've reached his fear toxin scenes are only average, but I haven't started the Nightmare Missions and hope they hold some of the creepy vibes and uneasy feeling that his scenes in Arkham Asylum had.  I also think they did a great job of tying together the story from the secret ending in Asylum- and the conversing goons from Arkham City to Arkham Knight.  Even the line I continously hear about his face, about how it's rumored Killer Croc messed him up.
     The same cannot be said of the Arkham Knight.  He's designed to look amazing, and I really like that aspect, but his character is ultra bland.  All he is is hateful of Batman and "knows how he thinks"- which he says roughly a hundred times.  Honestly, with all the lead ups, I'd guess he was a former protege or sidekick of Batman's.  This story also feels awfully reminiscent of Under the Red Hood, and there is a DLC Pack with Red Hood- so maybe Jason Todd is connected to the Knight as well?

     I must say my favorite surprises so far were running into Man-Bat and getting to play, albeit for only like a minute, as Azrael.  Some of the characters hinted or suspected have finally arrived, but then others feel completely underutilized.  Catwoman, for example, is Riddler's hostage and I think it would've made a much better arc for her to escape and save herself and later meet Batman.  Having Batman show up only for her to have saved herself would be hilarious- even better if she fully captured the Riddler.  Granted, maybe she does, I've only gotten the first couple parts of that story completed.

     I also would've liked that same old feel of all the villains factions fighting each other again.  Or have a bunch of people that stayed behind regardless of Scarecrow's warning.  Where'd all the other big name villains go anyway?  Only a few of them are out and about and it feels like a waste to not have more cameos for the story.
     Where's Mr. Freeze? Batman helped him retrieve Nora, so he could now return the favor and help Batman with tech.  What became of Killer Croc after the sewer cameo of in Arkham City?  How about the return of Ra's al Ghul.  We know he has been using the Lazarus Pits and his body vanished.
     I'm mostly wondering where all the loose ends will get tied up.  Although, since Rocksteady had claimed this was their last Batman game, I wonder if they'll segue into a larger DC Universe.  I've spotter Lex Corp stuff, as well as a building and Lex Luthor himself left a message on Bruce Wayne's answering machine for those that actually listened to all the messages in the Wayne tower room with Lucius Fox.  A tiny Easter Egg and possible hint to the future.  Maybe even a JLA game to coincide with the coming DC films.


     I'll have to finish the game before really deciding.  Currently Arkham City is a superior game in storytelling and play.  In fact, I think the Batmobile ate up resources that should've been allocated to other places, like story and filler.  Arkham Knight currently feels like it is missing the heart and drive that City had.  It is still better than Asylum and moderately better than Origins, which I don't think gets the credit it deserves.

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