Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)



I'm so very glad I didn't buy Batman: Arkham Knight on launch: it gained a bad reception mainly due to poorly done optimization and despite it's not the smoothest game around even now, it does run on +30 frames on my current rig. Given that my rig isn't the most powerful thing in the world, I'd suspect the game would not have run at all on the initial release. So now, after some time and patches, it runs well enough for me at least. Not perfectly, especially the Batmobile seems to make the game skip and jump a bit, but other than that, it's running pretty nicely now, especially if you don't play it with all the bells and whistles turned on. As a note, I played with full HD resolution and most other settings turned to medium. With lower resolutions and low texture settings I got all the way to +60 FPS and even then Batman looks pretty good.

And that's the technical stuff out of the way. As I said, I never did play Batman on launch, so I can only assume that while still not perfect, its performance has been improved greatly. So how's the game itself then? All in all, pretty decent. Not the best game in the series, but enjoyable action game none the less. This time around the playground is a good portion of Gotham city itself or three islands of Gotham at least, and you can go almost anywhere from the get-go. I say almost, as you do need your batmobile from time to time and that one travels only on roads, so you do need to open up an obstacle or two before you can take full advantage of Batman's fabulous urban tank.

Bat-tank in nice 1970's colours. I really do prefer this skin over what the car looks in vanilla.
This time around it's the Scarecrow, who's menacing good people of Gotham. He's hell-bent on bringing Batman down and has recruited a man called Gotham Knight to help him. And Arkham Knight seems to know a thing or two about Batman. If you know things about Batman mythos, it's not a difficult thing to figure out who Gotham Knight is long before the dramatic reveal. There's also the other usual suspects pillaging Gotham as well, so Bats gets to pummel Two-Face, Penguin and again  Riddler among other familiar villains. The Riddler has, again, planted his not so clever riddles all around the city, so if you want to see the 100% finale of the game, you'll need to locate 248 trophies and what not before you can beat that annoying twerp.

If you are familiar with the previous Batman Arkham games, the gameplay should be pretty familiar. You'll beat up thugs and villains, get upgrade points to upgrade the Bat equipment and pummel thugs some more. There's also crime scene investigations and some environmental puzzles as well, so all in all, standard stuff for a Batman game. The biggest addition this time around is the Batmobile, or Bat-tank really, as that's what it really is with its cannon and machine gun, of which both fire non-lethal slugs towards humans, but pretty damned lethal stuff towards inanimate objects. The tank itself also works as a thug zapper, knocking down anyone who's unfortunate enough to get on its way.

I guess this is what you call "fan service"
As I said, Arkham Knight is not the best game in the series, mostly because of the technical glitches that still haunt it. It has gotten better, but it's still far from optimal, especially when you're driving the tank. Also, the plot isn't anything really special and it does get pretty ridiculous relatively quickly, especially when you accidentally start thinking how expensive the Scarecrow operation must have been with all the drones and militia members. Batman alone destroys enough tanks to cover military budgets for most of the countries in the world. Not that the previous games are grounded to reality, mind you, but this time around the main scenario just felt more than a bit silly to me.

But yeah. In the end, it is a fun game. It has some tedious stuff in it and in places it definitely feels like an overly ambitious effort that never really does manage to stay together in a coherent manner, but despite that, it still is a good addition to the Arkham series.

Bats over Gotham
As Arkham Knight has been out for a good while now, it has a standard and Premium Edition available. The difference is, that Premium includes all the DLC, so that's the one to get. Besides some more story missions, it also provides more skins for playable characters, including Batman, Catwoman and Robin, making it possible to play with Batman from Tim Burton's movies or the Dark Knight Returns for an example as well as you can change the Bat-tank to Burton movies car or the spiffy mobile from 1966 campy Adam West series. I don't usually care for cosmetic DLC's, but as far those go, these are pretty damned good and offer a good view of the history of Bat suits and all, including the very first appearance suit from the comic books.

The DLC packs also have story content and provide a way to get more playable characters to the mix, including Batgirl and Harley. While these stories aren't very long as such, they're pretty fun and uniformly well made and offer some nice little tricks, like an in-game view on how Harley's insanity works for her benefit. Another interesting little twist is the Red Hood story, which allows you to do something Batman would never do: shoot enemies dead in the middle of the brawl.

Playing with Batgirl is pretty much like playing with Batman, she just has less armour and her punches don't pack as much weight. But other than that, I'd call her Batman-lite.
Batman: Arkham Knight can be bought through Steam. If you're a fan of the series and Batman, you can't really go wrong with this one. Make sure that you'll have good enough of a rig though, as this is a demanding game. What I've heard the console versions should be much better, so in this case, if you have a console capable of running this one, I guess that might be the best way to go. In any case, if you've liked the previous installations in this Batman series, I don't see why you wouldn't like Arkham Knight as well.




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