shroudofsorrow's forum posts

#1 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

@jayc1324 said:

Jason isn't the same Jason from the comics. This version wasn't killed by Joker and didn't want revenge on batman for keeping Joker alive. This version was brain washed by joker and his torture for over a year into hating batman and then released. So it makes sense his goals are different.

Eh, maybe. But that doesn't do a thing to undo my criticisms regarding the Arkham Knight identity being unnecessary. They could have had the exact same story, just with the Red Hood identity being used from the get-go. And it would have been almost identical to what we got. The big difference is, the audience wouldn't have been needlessly led along.

@jayc1324 said:

I though the Knightfall Protocol was decent. I took it as Bruce faked his death and is Batman full time now, using Fear Gas to help. Hopefully the DLC we get will be longer than the Harley Quinn and red hood ones.

I thought it was a disappointment overall, but to each his own.

@jayc1324: A year of torture and brainwashing to hate and kill Batman. It only took one apology to beat the Arkham Knight. Wth?

Actually, it took a physical beatdown plus an apology. And to be fair, it's clear that he and Batman didn't fully reconcile.

@_mongul said:

Yeah, I see now why they said this Jason is a new character.

TBH I prefer this version of him.

I disagree. I like the Judd Winick version more. This version's okay, but ultimately not as good.

#2 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

On the whole, I had some problems with it, but the good outweighed the bad, especially since the good parts of Arkham Knight are better than virtually anything to come before in the series. I'd say Arkham City is the best game on the whole, but the good stuff in Arkham Knight is better than anything in Arkham City. It's just it's got some bad stuff in it that drags down it's overall grade for me.

If you're interested, I did post a very, very, long, spoiler-heavy review on this forum. You can check it out if you're interested to see my full thoughts on it...and if you don't mind spoilers.

#3 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn, that's hard. I consider the main four to each have very well-put together stories on the whole, but if I had to say which one came out the strongest, I'd probably say it's a toss-up between Arkham City and Arkham Knight. I had some major problems with a few bits of the Arkham Knight story, but on the flip-side, the stuff I liked was frankly more well done than anything in Arkham City, so it's kind of half-and-half for me.

#4 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

@claymore1998: Thank you. I think you deserve a medal for having the patience to read it all XD

What can I say? I wanted to be thorough. Very, very, very through.

#5 Edited by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, with my having finally gotten and beaten a video game I’ve been waiting over a year for and have been anxiously awaiting every step of the way, (as my many Arkham Knight-centric blogs up to this point show clearly), it’s only right that I give a detailed review of everything the game includes and everything I like about it (along with everything I didn’t like). So, here goes nothing. As was the case with my Mortal Kombat X review, this one will be divided into the following sub-categories: Story, Characters, Setting, Graphics, and Gameplay, in that order. And also like with MKX, there will absolutely be spoilers here (moreso than in that game, actually), and also a LOT of writing period, so read at your own risk. Seriously, this review is really, really long. If you prefer concise reviews, go elsewhere. You’ve been warned.

Story:

Warning: FULL SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THIS PART OF THE REVIEW AND THE NEXT ONE. If you don’t want spoilers, SKIP THIS PART OF THE REVIEW AND THE ONE AFTER and just go right to the “Setting”, “Graphics”, and “Gameplay” parts of the review. I ought to mention though that those parts of the review do contain some mild spoilers as well, but not as many.

Opening with the Joker’s cremation and also a playing of the classic song “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, Arkham Knight’s main story picks up 9 months after that opening, with a Gotham that swiftly becomes overrun by goons, Scarecrow, and the titular villain and his army of cocky mercenaries. Gotham’s innocent civilians are evacuated (and a good thing too, considering me in the Batmobile would probably end up killing more people than Scarecrow ever could), and the three islands of Gotham become one massive playground for criminals. The seeming similarity to Arkham City with that last one (which some of the thugs themselves lampshade) is quickly deflected with a story that features good variety in it’s tasks for Batman and also becomes very much psychological horror as things progress (a no-brainer for a Scarecrow story). And of course, side-quests galore to give Batman other stuff to do in-between trying to best the twin menaces of Scarecrow and Arkahm Knight.

Concerning the main story, there is a mystery at the heart of it (Arkham Knight’s identity and reason for his hatred of Batman) but also other developments that carry with them questions, such as the Joker-ized individuals who are kept in quarantine by Batman after being transformed by Joker’s infected blood (a rather nice story thread/twist that ties the game closely to the Joker and Titan-centric events of the previous games). I should probably mention that I did suspect Batman was the last Joker, but the reveal still worked even though I could sort of see it coming.

There’s also a very big development concerning the Joker himself, who is definitely dead (as that opening scene drives home), but nevertheless reemerges after Batman is gassed with Fear Toxin as the physical manifestation of all of Batman’s insecurities, fears, and shames. I actually found this to be a good idea, because it allowed them to use the Joker while still keeping him dead, and it also contributes to the aforementioned psychological horror in the story in a way that makes perfect sense. It also happens to echo the plot for an abandoned Batman movie, namely “Batman Triumphant”, a sequel to Batman and Robin that was never made due to that film’s being so terrible, but having a premise pretty much identical to the one here: Scarecrow is the main villain and Batman after getting doused by his Fear Gas sees the taunting image of the late Joker. Difference is, where Schumaker would have inevitably botched a good story like that, Arkham Knight nails it and does it very well.

Besides Batman’s pursuit of the Scarecrow and Arkham Knight and the Joker hallucination taunting him every step of the way, there’s a lot of other highlights in the main story, which is again, commendably varied in the things Batman has to do and the places he has to go, ranging from ACE Chemicals to the tunnels beneath Gotham to (one of my personal favorites) Airships. Some of the better narrative developments include the tragic falling out between Batman and James Gordon and their subsequent reconciliation (complete with Gordon revealing that he knows who Batman is), Batman teaming up with Poison Ivy against the common enemies of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight (which ends in a very tragic and emotionally satisfying manner), and Harley Quinn’s attempt to let the Joker wannabes loose in the name of her ongoing obsession with him, followed by the rather violent turn that last one takes.

The main story itself feels longer than the story of previous entries, but maybe that’s just my imagination. Regardless, the main story still moves along pretty nicely despite the length, with things steadily escalating as events progress. It’s also kind of sad to see Batman’s alliances start to break down one by one, first with James Gordon turning against him, then the loss of Oracle, and then his willingness to lie to Robin concerning Oracle’s apparent death. Catwoman and Nightwing, while both willing to work with Batman, also both profess a desire to keep their distance from him, and even Azrael’s earnest desire to succeed Batman proves to be all for nought. Between it all, it seems almost like a running theme in the main story that Batman is doomed to end up alone in his efforts.

Except for Alfred. Good old Alfred’s always on his side. And Lucius Fox too.

Sadly, as excellent as the main story is overall, it is ultimately left crippled by the big reveal regarding Arkham Knight’s identity, which is nothing short of a total letdown. Now, I will admit, it was a pretty cool visual, seeing Red Hood’s helmet on Arkham Knight’s body, but that’s ultimately the only good thing I can say about this. Jason Todd is the Arkahm Knight. Really? What was the point in concealing this character’s identity? What was the point in having the Arkham Knight identity in the first place? This would be like having a Spider-Man story featuring a resourceful, intellectually brilliant, and devious figure conspiring against our wallcrawling hero, only to end with the reveal that it’s Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, or to have the same with Daredevil and it ends with the reveal that it’s Kingpin. I mean really? Again, what was the point in having the mystery, if the culprit turns out to be the obvious candidate? What makes the whole thing worse is that 1) this means Rocksteady lied to us when they said Arkham Knight was an original character, and 2) it’s also complete mischaracterization where Jason Todd is concerned.

Jason Todd, in both the comics and the animated movie, doesn’t want to destroy Gotham. Quite the contrary, he sees himself as the person who will save Gotham in a way that Batman never could or would by killing the criminals in it. But he doesn’t want Gotham destroyed or it’s innocent inhabitants hurt. That’s not who he is. So having Jason as a lunatic who’s thrown his lot in with the Scarecrow and is helping him in his mad plan to destroy Gotham via Fear Gas misses the whole point of the character. And finally, it makes the whole mystery of the game feel like one big waste of time. Really, if they’d wanted to use Jason Todd, they should have just had him be Red Hood from the get-go and not even bother with the Arkham Knight identity. Sure, all of the fans know who Red Hood is, but Batman wouldn’t. You could still have the same story, without needlessly leading the players along. So yeah, this is a major, major problem with the game’s story, and where it not for the rest of the main story and the sidequests being so well-done, I’d have given the Story portion of this game an F just for that. There really is no excuse for this massive disappointment, especially when the mystery of Arkham Knight’s identity was not just a major part of the main story, it was also heavily talked about in the months leading up to the game’s release. What a disappointment.

Fortunately, where the Main Story has that major flaw to it, the sidequests on the whole are significantly better, having the same level of variety as the main story and not just because each one involves different villains. Whether it’s steadily dismantling the Arkham Knight force’s various deployments, towers, and checkpoints (something that for me is always satisfying), or tracking down Man-Bat through the skies of Gotham, or racing after Firefly, or performing Forensic analysis of murder victims to identify them, or working with Catwoman (and the Batmobile) to solve the Riddler’s demented puzzles and mind games, the side-quests each feel fairly distinct and fun. In addition, the fact that here you actually get to deliver captured and defeated supervillains to the GCPD where they then get locked up in cells really adds to the Comic Book feel of the game. It also just adds to the sense of accomplishment, knowing you’re locking these guys up one by one. If I had any one problem with the sidequests, it’s that some of them feel a bit on the short side, but overall, I think the sidequests were very well done, and really give Batman a lot more to do aside from his lengthy pursuit of Scarecrow and Arkham Knight.

The main story on the whole can really only be described by me as a very, very dark roller coaster ride of ever-messed up twists and turns, and it’s a story that more than earns it’s M rating. It is in the climax at Arkham Asylum (yep, we end where we began) that the dark tone reaches a crescendo, delving deep into Batman’s tormented mind still haunted by the Joker for a truly twisted experience. However, because the theme at the heart of Batman is turning tragedy into triumph, Batman manages to turn the tables on both Joker’s ghost and Scarecrow in a way that is so unbelievably satisfying it manages to redeem the letdown concerning Arkham Knight’s reveal and get the grade back up to the A- it deserves..right before other stuff lowers the grade again. But still. It was epic.

And then we come to the real ending, which entails "The Knightfall Protocol". Because of it’s being restricted to those who got 100% completion (more on that later), I fled to Youtube to get the full ending, and will give my thoughts on it here:

To be honest, the follow-up didn't do it for me as much. The very end scene comes off as too ambiguous, too out of the blue, and too “WTF?” for my tastes. I’d have much preferred an ending that tied up the loose ends that are left, well, loose. Really, the only thing I liked about the Knightfall Protocol bit was seeing Gordon as mayor and that’s it. I’d have definitely done it differently myself. But, Gotham City Stories will be covering what happens to Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing afterwards, so I suppose I will get some closure we’re they’re concerned. I’ll just have to wait for it.

In all, Arkham Knight’s main story is fantastic, and it’s sidequests on the whole more of the same. The Arkham Knight reveal being a letdown and Knightfall Protocol doing nothing for me at the end both knock some of the wind out of the story's sails, but not enough to sink it outright. The story is still phenomenally dark, emotional, and more satisfying than not. And for me, that’s deserving of a good grade.

FINAL GRADE: B+ for Main Story, A- for Side-Quests

Characters:

Oh man, there’s a lot to go through here. So let’s get started:

First and foremost, everyone’s well-rendered, and everyone’s well-voiced. Saying Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are the definitive Batman and Joker is at this point a lot like saying the sky’s blue and grass is green, so I think I’ll spend more time talking about the other voice actors: Gordon’s voice actor here is a marked improvement over Gordon’s voice-actors in previous Arkhamverse materials, having a very grizzled sounding voice that makes sense for the character, especially as he’s coming along in years. Grey DeLisle once again impresses as a sultry, funny, and here amusingly testy Catwoman, and it’s worth mentioning that Poison Ivy’s voice actress strikes many of the same chords, with a tone that’s the right balance of alluring and deadpan. The replacing of Kimberly Brooks (who’s voicing the horrendous Ashley Williams character from Mass Effect has made me despise her voice) with a new actress was an unambiguous improvement. Ashley Greene does a great job voicing an Oracle who does a much better job of showing off a greater range of emotions and just coming off as more likable and warm, which itself is also a nice contrast to Batman’s more cold, driven, and often-times angry baritone. Alfred and Lucius Fox’s voice actors also do bang-up jobs, both supplying some amusing and enjoyable lines here and there, and also just coming off as very pleasant-sounding and friendly in general. Perfect for allies of the Bat.

And of course, how can I talk about the voice acting, without mentioning John Noble as Scarecrow and Troy Baker as, well…a bunch of different characters? Concerning the former, John Noble of course does excellent as a sadistic and eloquent Scarecrow who delivers his lines in a delightfully eerie monotone, and Troy Baker deserves some kind of medal for successfully voicing no less than four characters in Robin, Nightwing, Two-Face, and of course, the Arkham Knight himself. The latter’s voice may be synthesized, but that doesn’t keep Troy from doing a good job as the angry and hate-filled villain who can never pass up an opportunity to taunt Batman, show off his incredible arrogance, or both. The only main voice actors who I didn’t quite love where Harley Quinn, who’s high-pitched voice was a little too overdone here (where’s Arleen Sorkin when you need her?), and Firefly, who’s voice quickly grated on my nerves, though maybe that was deliberate.

Anyway, now that I’ve gone over my thoughts on the voice-acting, it’s time to talk about other things pertaining to the characters. Firstly, to reiterate some stuff mentioned above, the inclusion of Joker in a posthumous and hallucinatory role was a pretty good move, as Joker may be an evil monster, but you have to admit, he’s a funny evil monster, with his thoughts on the Joker wannabes in particular being a hilarious line ("Now I know how Elvis felt! *Beat* After he died"). Seeing him as embodying Batman’s guilty conscience at points was also a rather twisted turn of events, though he also plays the Devil on Batman's shoulder as a kind of twisted counterpart to Alfred and Oracle's angels.

Speaking of which, Alfred is as always well portrayed as Batman’s moral anchor, and Oracle (again) comes off as a lot warmer here, like Alfred trying to keep Batman from getting too insensitive in his crusade. Again, the angels on his shoulder to Joker's devil. In respects to Batman’s other allies, I found Robin being romantically involved with Oracle to be…weird. Especially considering that Nightwing’s in the very same game. But, that being said, if I had nothing bad to say about Bruce Banner and Black Widow in Age of Ultron, I suppose I can’t complain about this, especially when it’s probably got more of a leg to stand on. I still think it’s a bit odd though.

I’ve mentioned before that Arkham City was my favorite non-comic portrayal of Catwoman, and I’m pleased to say that overall I found her portrayal here to be just as good, as pretty much everything I loved from before is retained: her incredible hotness and sexiness enhanced by the pitch-perfect rendering of her catsuit, the fighting prowess and badassery nearing Batman’s own, and the aforementioned excellence of Grey DeLisle’s voice acting. It’s all there. And, her interactions with Batman are also pretty funny. I’d call it banter, but it’s more Catwoman’s snarking and Batman’s replying in a very understated and matter-of-fact way that is honestly just as funny as any one-liner he could have given instead. I particularly love this little bit:

Catwoman: You know, half the crooks in Gotham think I feed you intel

Batman: …you do.

Catwoman: Well, yeah, but only when there’s something in it for me! They think I’m doing it on principle!

So yeah. Arkham Catwoman’s as great as ever, which makes her having her role be pretty much totally isolated to the Riddler’s demented games extremely disappointing, especially since it means the Character Development that began in Arkham City is pretty much forgotten, and Catwoman remains in pretty much the same gray frenemy position she was in for most of Arkham City. The one exception to that being that she once again comes to Batman’s rescue, and frankly this time it’s more satisfying. And I have to say, it was pretty heartbreaking seeing her being willing to love him and him having to push her away due to his problems with Joker’s tainted blood in him and also Scarecrow’s Fear Gas (and also the big reveal near the end of the game, of course). Still, they got a kiss at the end, and I think it’s clear that he does love her, but tragically can’t return it in full. The kind of bitter-sweetness we expect from a Batman/Catwoman love story. So that’s good.

Azrael’s attempt to succeed Batman ending in failure was predictable, but I do like how you were given the choice to have Azrael end his story as a hero in spite of his failure, or as a villain behind bars. Obviously, I chose the former. Catwoman may have gotten cheated out of full Character Development, but that doesn’t mean Azrael has to be too.

Hush returning was a relief, as his not being mentioned even once in previews and interviews leading up to the game did carry with it the fear that Rocksteady had forgotten about him. But, fortunately, Rocksteady didn’t forget him, and he gets his own little sidequest to finish up his story. It’s a brief one to be sure, but it serves it’s purpose well enough. And the twist of Batman revealing his identity to Hush was unexpected (for me at least). So yeah. Glad they remembered to include Hush.

One character though who I do think the game mishandled was Deathstroke, who appears as the “boss” following the completion of three separate sidequests involving the Arkham Knight’s cronies. To put it simply, Deathstroke feels just a tad miscast. While him leading the Arkham Knight’s forces does make a certain kind of sense (they’re all mercenaries after all, and the writing does a good job of justifying it), having him attack Batman in a tank that Batman must fend off with the Batmobile doesn't feel like him at all. Yes, a super-soldier like him would probably know how to operate a tank, but come on. When I see Deathstroke, I don’t want to see him in a tank. I want to see him engaging Batman in a martial arts throwdown. Say what you will about Arkham Origins, but at least it had a good boss battle with Deathstroke. Here, we’re cheated out of one. And to think, Professor Pyg of all people gets a dedicated boss battle, but not Deathstroke. Oy.

Minor quibbles like that aside though, I think that Arkham Knight portrays it's many characters beautifully, and I do have to admit to having developed a fondness and attachment for this take on Batman and his friends, hence why things like that Batman/Catwoman scene struck an emotional nerve. Call me a sap if you want, but it's the honest truth of how I feel.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Setting:

I do touch on this a bit in the “Graphics” part of the review detailed below, but I will still take some time to mention how well Gotham City is rendered in this final chapter of the Arkhamverse Saga:

Arkham City was big. Arkham Origin’s take on Gotham City was big. Gotham in Arkham Knight? It’s bigger, but actually not unreasonably so. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found Gotham being divided into three islands to be manageable overall, and given Batman’s gliding and grapple hook both (and also the Batmobile), navigating wasn’t much of a problem for me.

Concerning Gotham’s aesthetic, the city is mostly tall buildings and bright lights, but sprinkled throughout are a few bits and pieces of scenery that stand out, such as some of the buildings in Chinatown or an old Gothic Church that no take on Gotham City would be complete without. And even among the buildings that are all big and bright, there is still variety, as well as plenty of Easter Eggs. From the Black Canary Club (sadly without it’s owner, who’d be a perfect fit for an Arkham game), to the posters featuring everything from the Gray Ghost of Batman the Animated Series fame to the Flying Graysons to even an advertisement for Metropolis that has Superman on it (though off in the distance as a red streak shooting upwards), it’s clear just how much time, love, and thought went into designing this version of Gotham. Oracle’s Clock-Tower (making it’s debut here from it’s original appearance in the comics) is also very well rendered, and has a few more visual treats (including a copy of that aforementioned Gray Ghost poster), and is along with the Airships owned by Simon Stagg one of my favorite locations in the game.

Other well-portrayed locales include the inside of Wayne Tower, the Riddler’s commandeered tunnels and abandoned orphanage both, and of course, ACE Chemicals, which SPOILER WARNING, comes to a dramatic (and explosive) end fairly early into the game’s main story.

Overall, the various settings in Arkham Knight are fantastic, and combined with the exemplary graphics, lead to a visual presentation that cannot be beaten.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Graphics:

No surprises here, the graphics are excellent. As a game that’s debuting on Next-Gen consoles, it’s pretty clear from just the gameplay footage that was released months before the game itself that it is in fact a game meant for next-gen consoles. The graphics are so beautifully cinematic and visually striking that they manage to easily be in a class all their own and set the bar so much higher then it’s ever been before, being at least as good as other Xbox One titles I’ve seen (all of which do indeed look top notch) but for my money actually managing to look a little better still (the only exception to that being probably the re-mastered Halo 2 that’s in the Master Chief collection).

The general advancement of video game graphics is something that (for me at least) continues to impress, considering how more and more it seems like games are always managing to make the graphical wonders of yesteryear look at least a little bit crude or “old” by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics in say, Arkham City are good, but Arkham Knight’s just manage to be on a whole other level. The level of detail that went into Gotham City and even things like Batman’s more overtly armored batsuit and his new Batmobile is astonishing. And, a little thing this may seem, but I love how this is a game where it rains and the characters actually look like they’re soaking wet for a change. You just don’t see that in too many older games. There’s also so much rain outside that certain areas actually become puddles that splash when you slosh through them. Again, this may seem like a little thing not worth mentioning, but the fact is, it’s an attention to detail that many older games just did not have, and so for me it’s noteworthy. And the fact that Gotham City is so big makes the ability to render it this well even more awe-inspiring.

All of this is saying absolutely nothing for how the characters look when they’re doing more then just standing or walking around. The excellent visuals are maintained when the action gets going, and even though in some ways the gameplay is the same as it’s been in the previous games (more on that later), the visuals being what they are makes the experience feel fresh again all on it’s own, or perhaps instead, like watching an older movie remastered and with better color. It’s a good experience.

Overall, from the way Gotham City becomes total eye candy (or scenery porn if you wanna call it that) to the highly (almost eerily) detailed character models, the graphics are top-notch, and along with the setting itself get a perfect grade out of me.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Gameplay:

So much to go through here, it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps with the elephant in the room, or car as it were.

Looking at the majority of the reviews for the game, it seems that most critics cited the Batmobile’s over-usage as their only real problem with Arkham Knight. More specifically, the Batmobile being frequently called into play as a tank. Myself, I disagree. I actually rather enjoyed both the aesthetics of the Batmobile’s Tank Mode and also getting to obliterate automated tanks with it’s cannon. And having to constantly move to avoid the little bugger’s targeting lasers added tension to the proceedings, forcing me to stay on my toes while still taking careful aim at the tanks with my cannon. It was good, tense fun, and while some of the Batmobile combat felt overly-challenging, I could just as easily say the same thing about some of the Combat sequences. Overall, I actually didn’t mind the Batmobile-tank stuff.

What was far less fun, and the part of the Batmobile that I didn’t like, was anything that involved having to drive around a lot, and especially anything that involved either keeping up with fleeing foes or worse, the Riddler’s race-tracks, which each took me quite a few tries to complete. The first one especially was one of the absolute worst parts of the game for me, and the third, well...I'll get to that.

However, very little of my beef with these portions of the game actually reflect badly on the game itself. I mention these things because they were a part of my experience and thus should be a part of my review. However, I also recognize that my poor performance with those portions is more my own fault, because I just really, really suck at video games involving car driving (hence why I almost never play such games). So, yes, the Batmobile racing and chasing drove me crazy, but it’s (mostly) through no fault of the game’s. The Riddler Race tracks were actually rather well-designed and very over-the-top, but in a good way. It was just my own ineptness with racecar driving that made these portions feel more like work than play. The worst example of this, and the one Batmobile portion that I do hold against the game, was the absolutely, disproportionately, insanely challenging final lap of the third Riddler race track. Suffice to say, it’s a very, very, very, good thing that I don’t know the person at Rocksteady who designed that last racetrack, because otherwise things might not end well for either of us. As it stands, it took me roughly two and a half fucking hours to beat it, and over five dozen attempts on my part. And that’s not hyperbole, because I recorded it. It is the worst part of any video game I’ve ever played, the worst thing in any Batman-related product I’ve ever seen (managing to trump anything in Batman and Robin), and being so cheap and so worthy of expletives sufficient to give a priest a heart attack that I’m now nostalgic for Superman 64. When I become a parent, I will punish my kids by making them play the third Riddler race track. It sucked that hard. It sucks so hard, but is such an aberration and anomaly in the game, that I’m just going to pretend it doesn’t exist for a moment and move on to the rest of my review.

And while I’m on the subject of the Riddler, I thought I’d take the time to confess that I have never been able to complete all of the Riddler-related stuff in any Arkham game. Not one. And this game was no exception. However, there’s a difference here, and that’s that unlocking the full ending to the game mandates that you get 100% completion, and to do that, you need to collect all of the Riddler’s trophies and solve all of his riddles. Call me a wuss if you want, but I don’t like that. To me, it feels like it’s expecting too much out of the average player and thus robbing the average player of their chance to see the full ending in any way except on Youtube. Of course, that’s not too much of a loss I guess, but even so. It is kind of annoying to me.

So, now that most of my main gripes and annoyances have been covered, I think I’ll change gears and get to the good stuff, before finishing with both my other gripes and in particular one of my absolute biggest problems with the whole game. But for now, let’s get to the gameplay stuff that I did like:

The Combat and Predator Sequences, the bread and butter of any Arkham game, have returned in full force. And they are as awesome as ever. As with any Arkham game, every time I achieve a stylish or easy victory in combat, my reaction is usually along the lines of: “Batman is a badass”. Because that is the feeling I get every time (barring a few fights that were more challenging than fun). That’s just how well done the combat sequences are, and how beautifully successful they are at capturing Batman and his allies’ martial arts mastery. To the point that even when over 20 guys are attacking you, even when they’re carrying clubs, some of them are ninja-types with swords, and others are freakishly big brutes who require an always-satisfying rapid-fire beatdown to lay low, you can still walk away the winner, and do so in style. Even better, you can now keep punching foes who are downed, rather than perform those overly-long ground takedowns. This is a change to the proceedings that I kind of wish had been implemented a hell of a lot sooner, but better late than never, right?

Gadgets still assist in combat, and throwing batarangs at people dumb enough to charge you KOs them in one hit, which is another thing that’s always satisfying. Less pleasing though are those pests with the electrified sticks, who can really only be taken out in one way and usually make any given fight much more difficult and thus diminish the fun a bit. Fights involving multiple “Brute” type enemies plus tons of back-up are also disproportionately hard, because those Brutes are cheap as all hell when there’s more than one of them, being harder to counter, being undamaged by counters, and recovering quickly from both cape-stuns and interrupted beatdowns. In other words, Demonic Spiders.

Does make beating them satisfying though, so there is that.

Concerning Predator, grate-takedowns and double-takedowns seem to have been removed, much to my annoyance, along with other kinds of takedowns besides. On the plus side though, you can now perform Silent Takedowns in more places. And of course, there is the Fear Takedown, an utterly badass trick that lets you stylishly go from goon to goon to take them out in a very cinematic manner that really goes a long way towards capturing the unstoppable fury and skill of the Caped Crusader. That it only takes one Silent Takedown to recharge it makes it even better, because it lets you call on it more often. Pity it doesn’t work on those damnable Brutes though. But still. Of all the little renovations and changes made in Arkham Knight, this one is in running for being my all-time favorite.

While the absence of a dedicated solo play with Batman’s protégés and Catwoman is regrettable (more on that later), Dual Play is, in a word, awesome. Not only is Batman teaming up with one of his protégés or else not-girlfriend immensely satisfying and quite true to the spirit of Batman and his family, it also makes for quite the display and serves as an excuse to have more brawls against small armies. And of course, the absolute best part of it all is the team-takedowns, which see Batman and one of his allies stylishly taking down some poor sap or another, with even the dreaded Brutes mentioned above not being immune. And getting to play as Robin, Nightwing, and especially Catwoman again is always a treat, even if it is a fleeting one. In fact, it’s because of that that I spend most of my time in dual play playing as the character other than Batman.

On the subject of new enemies, not only are the Arkham Knight’s henchmen cool-looking, but they also give an excuse to introduce new enemy types; Brutes with retractable arm blades that require two-blade dodge takedowns to beat instead of the usual one, other Brutes who lumber around intimidating miniguns that prove much more scary as enemies in combat than the Riddler or Penguin or Two-Face could be on their worst day, and Medics who can both revive downed foes or else give allies an electrical aura. There’s also other chaps who can hide themselves from Detective Mode (which is as vital as ever here), and also others who can alert their comrades to Batman’s presence if he uses Detective Mode for too long, and thus usually ought to be taken out first. And of course, there’s Riddler’s Robots, who not only look cool but also finally provide the Arkham series with some good-old-fashioned robot henchmen to trash. Because what Superhero Video Game would be complete without that?

So overall, the new enemy types are fun additions and are all cool foes in their own right, and even my hatred of the Brutes usually only applies when there’s three of them or more, though I can’t claim to ever love facing two at once plus back-up either.

Less pleasing though is the way Sidequests are handled. While the ability to switch from quest to quest via a “Wheel” is a brilliant idea (and another thing that I really, really wish earlier games had implemented), what is more annoying is how by and large the game entrusts you to find the needed locations on your own. What this meant for me, before I began using the maps included in the essential guide to help me get to where I needed to go was, I kid you not, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or to use another animal-cliché, a rat in a maze. Not fun. And also meaning that unless you’re as patient as a saint or as lucky as a lottery winner, you’re probably going to be like me and need the essential guide, which also of course means shelling out more cash. Yeah.

Boss battles are very, very, rare, especially in relation to the previous game Arkham Origins. This is disappointing, but not actually inconsistent with the previous games in the trilogy Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, both of which also didn’t have that many boss battles all things considered. And frankly, barring my disappointment regarding the lack of a Deathstroke fight (see above), I don’t mind this very much.

Also very scarce in relation to previous games are alternate costumes, which in fact are entirely absent if you didn’t get any DLC. This is also disappointing, though at least Batman’s default look is seriously badass, so there is that. Still, if you’re hoping to see a bunch of cool alternate batsuits in this game, be prepared to shell out more cash for DLC.

And now, we come to the single biggest strike against the gameplay, and something that keeps the game from getting an A or A+ as it’s final overall grade, and that is the complete absence of Challenge Mode.

Challenge Mode in the last two games was awesome and in fact one of my favorite parts of both games, especially since you could play as someone other than Batman. I loved getting to tackle the same environments over and over as different characters, and getting to see them all work their magic. So what do we get in Arkahm Knight instead of that? I’ll tell you what we get: Augmented Reality Training. Yep, one of my least favorite things in Arkham City returns expanded, and completely replacing Challenge Mode. In other words, my worst nightmare. I really don’t know who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to completely abandon such a great addition to previous games and replace it with something far inferior, but there it is. Maybe they didn’t have time to implement it, which seems doubtful to me considering this was a game that got delayed twice to make sure everything that needed to be included could be included. Perhaps it was because it would add too much more to the game and make it take up too much storage space, but even that doesn’t ring true because of how the game already takes up a lot of storage space. So ultimately, I’m just left totally baffled as to why getting rid of Challenge Mode was done, but I personally feel ripped off as a result, and consider this the single greatest sin of the gameplay, and one of the game’s single biggest sins period. Poor show Rocksteady, poor show.

But, much as I hate the loss of Challenge Mode, and had several other problems with the gameplay here and there, the awesomeness of both Combat and Predator sequences cannot be overstated, nor can various little additions that are mostly improvements and also really add up to bump up the game’s grade. So, all in all, I judge the gameplay to be a mixed bag, but ultimately with more good than bad, or at the very least, with the good outweighing the bad…minus that horrible, horrible, Riddler race track.

FINAL GRADE: B+ for Gameplay overall. F- times Infinity for third Riddler Race track and the Race Tracks in general.

Overall:

Considering how much I’ve already said at this point, I don’t think I want to spend too much time retreading old ground. So, I’ll sum it up: as much as I had some serious disappointments with this game and felt extremely ripped off on two very important fronts, everything else about this game is just so good. So very, very good. What do you do with a game like that? Me personally, I choose to enjoy it. Arkham Knight may have ripped me off where the title character was concerned, and I had a laundry list of other problems besides, but I also cannot praise the graphics, setting, combat, and overall character portrayals highly enough. Rocksteady wanted to end their trilogy on a high note, and overall, I’d say they were successful. Sure, I’d have done some things differently if it had been me, but in the end, Arkham Knight was still worth the 60 bucks I spent on it, and every last second of the many, many hours I pumped into it. Here’s to a flawed but great Batman game.

FINAL GRADE: A-

#6 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

I could see Chris Pine as Hal Jordan. After all, he's already established that he knows how to play swagger-filled sci-fi heroes. Why not have him do it again? Honestly, I think I'd prefer him as Hal to him as Steve Trevor, though given that I like Hal more than Steve, I may be a bit biased when I say that.

#7 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

@darthaznable: You didn't like the game? Sure, it had some minor problems, as I noted above, but on the whole it's an excellent fighting game.

#8 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio

@madeinbangladesh: Thank you. As I said, I tend to favor being thorough over being concise.

#9 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio
#10 Posted by shroudofsorrow (3838 posts) - - Show Bio