Batman – Arkham Knight – Initial Thoughts

I started Arkham Knight yesterday, after having it sat on the shelf for months, making way for new games and going through the motions of getting ranks in other games, I’ve neglected it.

At release it wasn’t exactly seen as the pinnacle of the series, particularly the PC version which was plagued with issues at launch.  So I left it a while before I gave it a go.

As a fan of the other games in the series, having finished Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Origins.  Origins did it’s best to really put me off the series, with somehow worse fight mechanics and lots of dull story and slow pacing.  So I wasn’t particularly enthused to get started, expecting more of the same.

Which is pretty accurate.  However, I don’t remember being quite so invested in the story as I am here, and the new touches and of course the Batmobile, have gotten me genuinely excited to keep playing through.

What’s new?

Additions to fights, include environmental takedowns (some a really quite cool to watch!), Batmobile takedowns are a personal favourite, setting your enemy up in the air to then get shot by the cannon on your Batmobile is very satisfying!  The fluidity of the fights seems to be back to where it should be, after the misstep that was Arkham Origins.  How do you take a perfect system and make it worse?

The fear takedown mechanic is excellent, too.  Finally a means to rapidly dispatch armed guards, that feels properly “Batman” and doesn’t result in me getting shot.  Using the new Batsuit as a means to introduce new mechanics is a great touch.  Allowing for better movement, better armor etc.  I really liked how it introduced the changes as a part of the story.

The Batmobile!! Ok, so this could be a massive game-changer, right?  Well…….it is and it isn’t.  Yeah it’s cool, and it has this great tank-mode that makes it really nimble and gives you access to a cannon and some other weapons.  But I’m already a little fed up of the tank battles, and I’ve only just left the first island!  It’s a nice idea, but it’s essentially forcing the purpose of having the mode.

I love the power winch, and dragging the batmobile up a building was great.  Using it as a secure transport for victims/villains is a nice touch, too.

It doesn’t handle all that well though, and the streets don’t seem to lend themselves to driving a big-ass car/tank.  Particularly in a series where you’ve actively been encouraged to get high-up and glide around.  I’m kinda used to that at this point.

It’s a great addition, and I love the set-pieces I’ve seen so far, using it to blow holes in buildings, or to eject me out of it at high-speed/altitude.  It just feels like they’re really forcing the use of the tank, and it’s not a little bit.  I can see that I’ll get frustrated with this sooner rather than later.

The story

The story is about a a group of super-villains working together to kill Batman.  Led by the mysterious “Arkham Knight” (techno Batman) who seems to understand how Batman works, and knows intimate details about him.

With a massive army, they’re taking over Gotham City and getting ready to take Batman down for good.

I’ve so far encountered Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Arkham Knight and I’ve just been goaded by The Riddler.

One aspect of the story is the state of Bruce Wayne’s mind, and it’s done really, really well. I’ve been made to jump, twice, with the appearance of characters right behind you when you’re in a quiet room, investigating.  Also, the changing of scenery as you look around, then look back to find a whole room has changed behind you.  It’s really smooth and something that really works very well.  You feel like you’re not quite with it, even though you’re Batman and taking out thugs like normal, you’re reminded that things aren’t quite right.

How does it look?

Well, it looks just like an Arkham game.  This is no bad thing.

They have their own aesthetic, which really works for these games, and the city/thugs etc are a part of the whole “feel” of these games.

Sure cutscenes are nice, but I don’t see anything that is obviously improved over the other games.

It has a developed and purposeful look and feel, and it runs with it.  It works, and it’s good.  Does it need to be any more than that?

Controls and mechanics

This Arkham game is exactly the same as the others.  Albeit much more fluid than Arkham Origins, and undoubtedly the other predecessors, too.  It’s slick and everything just works.  It’s all a really nice system, whether fighting, stalking prey or hopping from rooftop to rooftop, it all just works and nothing feels awkward.

The additional types of takedown, and the added functionality brought by the Batmobile, make the game feel fresh, but familiar and comfortable.

It’s very good indeed.

Initial thoughts

I’m enjoying this much more than I expected I would.  I feel engaged with the story, and I feel like a badass pulling off all of these new moves, using the fluid movement systems and nice new features.  This is a good game so far.

I know for a fact that the tank battles are going to piss me off and there are going to be a lot more of them, but if that’s the biggest misstep in the game, I can deal with that.

So, let’s see how it goes!

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