Batman: Arkham Knight Review: Not The Hero that Gotham Deserves

Rocksteady’s latest bout in the Batman series is a final farewell to the caped crusader. Is Batman the hero that Gotham Deserves? Or does the newest Dark Knight adventure fall short? Our review.

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The Arkham series has become rightly renowned for capturing the essence of Batman. It pulls you into his persona, shows off of his superb detective skills, and fills its world with Easter eggs and dozens of familiar faces from the iconic character's gallery of foes and allies. Most importantly for me, it captured the way that Batman’s fists and boots connect with the faces and chests of the criminal thugs trying to overrun him. It just has a way of getting the blood pumping. Arkham Knight had a heavy legacy to live up to, and while it is mostly successful at this, I can’t help feeling that the series could have ended on a much higher note.

Picking up on the storyline from Arkham City, the game sees a return of several iconic characters in the Batman universe. Characters like Penguin, Two-face, Poison Ivy, and Scarecrow make reappearances, alongside trusted Batman allies like Robin, Nightwing, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon. This game does a fairly decent job of weaving such a large cast naturally into the plot. However, the dialogue occasionally feels like forced exposition, and the voice acting from supporting characters like Gordon and Oracle was hit-or-miss.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Arkham Knight, however, is the overuse of the Caped Crusaders handy car, the Batmobile. Introduced for the first time in the series, players can now take to the streets of Gotham in the trusty, black-painted tank that we’re pretty sure isn’t road-legal in any state. Of course there are some perks to using the Batmobile, like a Battle Mode that allows the car to turn into a side-strafing war machine, the ability to use the Power Wench for puzzle solving, as well as the remote-controlled function which managed to save my life many times.

At first the Batmobile feels empowering and useful. It controls well, and overall it’s a nice addition to the series. However, there are several points throughout the game where it feels forced, like segments were added specifically to make it a necessary tool rather than allowing you to discover creative solutions. If you love vehicles and the combat options they offer, you probably won’t mind this so much. But for those of us who love the Arkham series because of how well it puts you into the mind of Batman, there are many times you lose the option to move in the shadows, and the game becomes more of a linear shoot-em-up due to the Batmobile being required to take down any enemy drones and turrets.

When outside the cockpit, Arkham Knight still holds true to the amazing feeling of beating up thugs that the Arkham series is so popular for, as well as offering up a plethora of fantastic gadgets to play around with. Things like the Batarang make a reappearance, as well as weapons like the Disruptor, which allows you to disarm enemy weapons, and booby trap resupply boxes. The Predator Mode gets a welcome addition with a Fear Multi-Takedown option, which lets you take out clustered thugs in quick succession with dramatic flair. I personally leaned more toward a stealthy approach, but the option to be a little flashier was nice.

I’d also be remiss not to mention the issues plaguing the PC release. The massive amount of stuttering, low framerate, and complete freezing of the game during intense moments is not a good sign for PC players looking to pick up the game close to release. Though WB has stated it is working hard on a patch to fix these issues, it is still something that users should be aware of when picking up the game on PC. Due to the limited effect one platform's performance has on a game, it will not affect the score, but buyers should be aware.

Overall Batman: Arkham Knight is a welcome finale to Batman's story. The combat that has made the series such a favorite is still very much alive, and I still can’t get over the happiness it gives me to leap down from the skies and kick a thug in the face. Though the Batmobile seems excessive to the point of tiresome, the combat within its special Battle Mode is both smooth, and mostly enjoyable. However, every positive–the twisting storyline, the iconic villains, and the superb combat–are undermined by other factors. Mediocre acting, rough dialogue, and overuse of the Batmobile, leave Batman: Arkham Knight that much less cohesive than its predecessors.


This review is based on a PC version of the game. Batman: Arkham Knight is now available in retail and digital stores for $59.99. The game is rated M.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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Pros
  • Characters and Setting Look Great
  • More Superb Combat
  • Twisting Storyline
  • Return of Iconic Characters
Cons
  • Mediocre Acting
  • Forced Dialogue
  • Overuse of the Batmobile
  • Performance Issues on PC
From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 24, 2015 3:00 PM

    Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Batman: Arkham Knight Review: Not The Hero that Gotham Deserves

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 3:26 PM

      I read somewhere that Kevin Conroy did the whole script VO in one day at the far end of production. Makes sense that it effects the Voice Acting in the film.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 4:48 PM

        1 day for the whole game seems way too short, wth

        • reply
          June 24, 2015 5:07 PM

          based on all the negative press on this game, its not surprising they scrimped on the vo. just be glad they even bothered to hire conroy.

          • reply
            June 24, 2015 5:13 PM

            The negative press is basically exclusively about PC performance. Many publications have ranked the console versions in the 9/10 - 10/10 range.

        • reply
          June 24, 2015 7:33 PM

          Kanye wrote an album's worth of lyrics in just 2 hours. But then, he's a genius.

          • reply
            June 24, 2015 9:05 PM

            a musical genius. which he would always declare if he could spell it.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 6:57 PM

        Batman's dialog has bothered me a bit int he game. Mainly because there is too much of it. I feel like he was a lot more brooding and quiet in the previous games.

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          June 25, 2015 8:49 AM

          There is way too much dialog in general. It's kinda cool how the entire game world reacts to major events in the game with unique dialog but they kinda went overboard. Every fire fighter you rescue has long dialog and every character wants to tell Batman their life story. He's got a city to save! Also there are constant reminder for side missions. I wish you could just switch off the radio chatter entirely. You never go full-Nolan.

          Also Riddler's taunts get really fucking annoying.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 4:23 PM

      I agree with the review and appreciate the critical approach given to the bat-tank and also the warning (without ridiculous hyperbole) about the graphics issues. Too many sites are enthusiastically viewing every single change as an improvement or completely condemning the game for the PC port.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 4:32 PM

      This game does a fairly decent job of weaving such a large case naturally into the plot. 

      *cast

      Though WB have stated it are working hard


      Some singular/plural indecision going in there.

      Nice review. I guess I should get around to playing City, eh? Right after Fallout: New Vegas, and X-COM, and Valkyria Chronicles, and Shadow Warrior, and--

    • Zek legacy 10 years
      reply
      June 24, 2015 4:37 PM

      The game would be so much better if they just cut the Batmobile. It doesn't belong there, it sticks out like a sore thumb and it shows up literally EVERYWHERE. You think that indoor section is finally a no-tank zone? Nope, there's a recurring series of puzzles involving opening the way for the Batmobile so you can drive it inside. Why??

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 4:47 PM

        Rocksteady's answer = Because Batmobile.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 5:01 PM

        Batmobile is awesome.

        • reply
          June 24, 2015 6:53 PM

          • reply
            June 24, 2015 7:09 PM

            The Batmobile is a total nerdgasm, if anything they should have included the Batwing even for just a little bit. That would have been awesome^2.

            Also, woops.. phone asploded. :(

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 5:28 PM

        I don't mind it that much, but it's goofy as hell. I love running it off bridges diving into water. It's kind of funny since the game takes itself so seriously.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 5:32 PM

        How bout no. The batmobile is awesome.

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          June 24, 2015 6:25 PM

          I love the Batmobile. It just feels forced at times. Like I said in the review, some people may not mind that, but to me it seems overused, like they were trying to justify having it.

          I wish they would have tried harder to justify having that batwing. I wanna drive it!

          • reply
            June 24, 2015 6:58 PM

            This is the problem. Where they force you to use it in ways that don't make sense. Sure for a car chase, to battle a tank, etc. but to jump around rooftops and through areas to pull things with its grapple? No, that feels too forced. It would be way cooler if it was more optional.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 6:59 PM

        The Batmbole by itself is awesome. I like driving around for travel purposes. It was pretty bad ass when I put the tire up on the guys head to threaten him for information. But the hover tank battle mode can go fuck right off. The Riddler puzzles that require the Batmobile can also DIAFF

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 8:11 PM

        Wrong, the Batmobile is awesome.

        • reply
          June 24, 2015 10:00 PM

          Seconded. All these people complaining about it leave me scratching my head. It's crazy fun.

          • reply
            June 24, 2015 10:02 PM

            I also suspect that most of the complainers haven't tried it with toggle battle mode enabled. It really should be the default.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 10:07 PM

        I enjoy it, but I have to concede it simply feels out of place.

        It looks and sounds amazing, but it's just weird for Batman to be running around blowing things up with his sweet Tumbler.

        • reply
          June 25, 2015 4:31 AM

          It's ... not.. at all? It's pretty much in line with Nolan Batman. I get that the previous games weren't but I think it really fits the very dark mood of the game.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 4:48 PM

      Good stuff Josh.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 5:33 PM

      I didn't ask for this...

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 7:01 PM

      [deleted]

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 7:20 PM

        Yup. Good catch. We just reported on that. :) It's nice to see them stepping up though.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 7:03 PM

      Good solid review. When I saw so many other sights lavishing it with 9's and 10's I got excited. But then those hopes were dashed. Thanks for a more realistic take.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 7:20 PM

        No worries. It's still a great game, and one of my contenders for Game of Mid-year. I just love getting to be Batman. But aside from all my fanboying, it has some issues, and it would be wrong for me to hide that from people.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 7:24 PM

      I'm going to hold off on getting this game for a while, not just because of the PC fiasco, but because the bat mobile just does not seem like its that fun.

    • reply
      June 24, 2015 7:38 PM

      I stopped reading this review as soon as I read "it controls well",in reference to the Batmobile.

      I don't mean to sound like a total asshole,but if you actually think the Batmoblie controls well in this game,then you MUST be driving drunk in real life,where ever you drive.

      I'm liking the game,not as much as the others so far because of little quirks,but aside from the "forced" aspects of having to use the Batmobile,it just controls like pure shit. I find myself constantly in combat mode,because if I drive normally,I end up just running into everything.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 7:43 PM

        You don't have to fly through town full throttle the entire time.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 7:53 PM

        In my opinion the Batmobile does control well. It may not be the same for everyone. That's understandable. You're never going to agree with every point that a reviewer makes. That's the point of opinions.

        There's no reason to lash out at someone, and criticize them unnecessarily because they have an opinion that differs from yours.

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        June 24, 2015 8:33 PM

        It's responsive. The problem is someone actually thought mapping brake to the X button and not the Left Trigger, like it is in every other driving game since the creation of the analogue trigger, was an acceptable idea.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 11:12 PM

        It controls well.

        • reply
          June 24, 2015 11:36 PM

          I will never know who posted this comment, as I subscribe to the arbitrary cut-off as well.

      • reply
        June 25, 2015 4:33 AM

        It does play well if you drift correctly, takes some getting used to. Also if you master the switch into battle mode and back you can get around tight corners while driving slow.

        • reply
          June 25, 2015 7:24 AM

          This is what I've been doing. With a bit of afterburner and/or side thruster to keep me at speed.

      • reply
        June 25, 2015 7:08 AM

        I stopped reading this review as soon as I read...--->I don't mean to sound like a total asshole

        The first part kind of your reply pretty much solidifies the second. Claiming he must be a drunk to have his own opinion doesn't help.

        • reply
          June 25, 2015 8:18 AM

          Saying "I don’t mean to be *", allows you to be exactly that. Don’t you know that? :)

          I don’t mean to be racist...
          I don’t mean to be mean...

      • reply
        June 25, 2015 7:17 AM

        I stopped reading this comment at "i stopped reading this". Just kidding, but I wish I did.

      • reply
        June 24, 2015 10:05 PM

        If only he had some Bat Shark Repellant.

    • reply
      June 25, 2015 6:04 AM

      I gave up using a logitech ps4 knockoff controller and went keyboard and mouse. Much easier.

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