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.|
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"|
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|
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.|