Selasa, 07 Juni 2016

Want To Battle The Arkham Knight

As a huge DC and Batman fan, I've religiously 100%ed the previous Arkham games with the exception of Batman: Arkham Origins (I gave up on the Predator Paragon achievement). It seems Batman: Arkham Knight will be another exception but for different reasons. I actually loved Origins despite its flaws but the more I think about this title... the more I realize it was a chore to play. Keep in mind I got the premium edition (base game + all DLC) for ~$24 USD off of Bundlestars when they were having a sale too.

I've got 149 hours and while I can say I've definitely got my money's worth, I can't say this is a good game. Before I cover the issues that annoyed me, I'd like to go over the positives first.

For starters, this game looks amazing -- there's no doubt about it. I've never seen an Unreal Engine 3 game that looks like this and I'm not just talking about the facial animations and expressions, I'm talking about everything. Another area the game excelled in was voice acting. Most characters were well cast and Kevin Conroy as Batman and a certain someone definitely were at the top of their game here. Also worth mentioning is the good twists and "gotcha!" moments that totally caught me off guard. The soundtrack was similarly great and hit most of the right notes, making me almost cry in one scene. Building off what Arkham City gave us, we get even more combat moves and ways to initiate a silent takedown. Not only that, we finally get to drive around in the batmobile and tear down the streets in it. I can't downplay how exciting it is to hop into this awesome vehicle the first time and then find out it's a tank! Yes, the batmobile can transform in a matter of seconds into a tank which the game calls "Battle mode". There's tons of stuff you can do while in this mode and it's all really exciting stuff.

Batmobile aside, there's no shortage of side missions and other little diversions happening while you fly around the map such as: thugs driving around in cars like hooligans or riots happening on the streets. If you've got the season pass there's also a ton of different batmobiles that you can test drive with authentic sounds and multiple characters you can play as in the AR challenges. My fondest memories are of playing the Adam West race tracks while hearing the TV show's theme song and playing as characters like Harley Quinn and Red Hood because of how unique they are. The best part of this game would have to be Photo Mode though. This wasn't even part of the base game upon launch but it was later added as a free update. A good 1/4 of my screenshots for this game were done in photo mode and what makes it great to use is that you can pause the game at any time, choose "Photo Mode" from the pause menu, manipulate the camera angles, slap on a filter, zoom in or zoom out, choose a border, and do it all in a way that's really easy to use. You end up getting some great looking screenshots like the one below. But unfortunately... all of this isn’t enough.

Even though I’d say this is the best Arkham game for role-playing as Batman... there's such a thing as less is more. And damn does this apply to Arkham Knight. The batmobile's undoubtedly great but because the story mode over relies on it, the fun factor disappears. Tank battle after tank battle and the game doesn't give up. Maybe I'm exaggerating but I reckon a good half of this game is spent in the batmobile. Winch this, dodge these tanks and blow them up (it feels like an arcade game at times honestly), drive around and use this feature from the batmobile… and repeat. I really think the batmobile should've been optional and not forced in the way that it is. The batmobile just feels a bit too destructive at times as well. I laughed as I mowed over people and slammed into buildings leaving nothing but debris. In addition to all of what I've said, the batmobile reduces the rather cool boss fights that we had in previous games to... yep, you guessed it... tank battles.

Want to battle Deathstroke? Tank battle. Want to battle the Arkham Knight? Tank battle. Want to battle Firefly? Batmobile pursuit (okay it's a bit different but still not much fun). It just shows a lack of creativity. Other side missions? Disabling bombs safely and destroying APC military vehicles. How? I won't even go there. Even some of The Riddler missions - one of my favourite Batman villains - are almost crippled because of this. I won't spoil anything but The Riddler has basically set up race tracks for your batmobile and you have to get to the finish line in time. Yay? Writing this just makes me upset at all the lost potential here (even a lot of the non-batmobile missions and sidemissions lack fun for some reason). I get Rocksteady wanted to spoil us with the batmobile as well as a large cast of villains but it came at the cost of quality and most of the game just feels extremely repetitive.

Next is the story. The writing here is noticeably weaker than any of the other Arkham games (might be because Paul Dini left) and the story has too many plot holes for my liking. Not to mention the identity of one of the villains in this game is incredibly easy to guess. There's a ridiculous amount of foreshadowing and what could've been a powerful reveal is mostly uneventful. Besides that, to get the “True Ending” players are forced to beat every side mission and get 243/243 riddles. The true ending doesn’t even answer a lot of questions or provide much closure but locking something like this behind riddles is a very silly move. Thankfully there’s a 242/243 savegame on PCGamingWiki if you don’t feel up to the task. On the port side of things, the game runs mostly decent but I had some issues that need to be addressed. The first: unlocking certain Steam achievements will actually make the game freeze for a second or two every time you satisfy the criteria once more for that achievement. I’m not joking. It’s all to do with the PCEngine.ini file. The second: I had around 13 crashes total across my playtime but 8 of those were in the same part of the story (analysing the crash site of a vehicle for someone that was kidnapped). You might not experience it, but it too has been another reported issue that remains unfixed.

Other negatives include the "Arkham episodes". 6 characters have a DLC mission made for them but 5 of them can be finished in less than 10 minutes. I could probably forgive this but these missions are divided into 3 sections with 3 short cutscenes usually. Combat room, predator room, combat room or the other way around, but I don't think that's worth applauding. Batgirl's DLC is fortunately 1 hour and man is it a good piece of DLC in the way that Cold, Cold Heart was for Batman: Arkham Origins. Season of Infamy is also good but not worth the $10. Moving onto AR challenges… most of them aren't tailored for every character. You'll notice this with someone like Harley Quinn where there's a lack of things for her to climb or jump up to. When it comes to combat, a lot of characters share a ridiculous amount of moves. Lastly, thug voiceovers are reused for most of the characters and maybe one line for some is changed. A good example would be "Batman's not going to save you now Robin!". For Nightwing? "Batman's not going to save you now Nightwing!". It's especially bad when these lines repeat over and over more than they ever did in Arkham City. Certain AR challenges have bugs where thugs stand still and do nothing. Other maps are just unfair and weren't made in mind with the current combat system (Iceberg Lounge and Catwoman's Revenge). I’ll stop here….

I've written an essay but all I’ll say is this: the PC port's better now but this game is easily the weakest in this series. If I wasn't a person with a lot of patience and/or a hardcore achievement collector, I don't think I would've made it far into this game. 4.5/10.

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