The bottom line: I started out immensely hyped for Batman: Arkham Knight, but ended up feeling burned out. The actual timeline of events below the jump.
How to buy Batman: Arkham Knight
- See the game advertised at GameStop on a routine trip. See new Harley Quinn outfit, with adorable tutu.
- Be informed that, in order to get the special episode featuring adorable tutu Harley Quinn, one must pre-order at GameStop (against one’s typically better judgement).
- Pre-order for a console (Xbox One in my case) because obviously, you were a fool if you bought this on PC.
- Get kind of hype.
- Get a phone call explaining that there will be a pre-order launch midnight event at aforementioned GameStop, and that showing up in cosplay is appropriate!
- Get Batgirl outfit out of storage.
- Stand in line outside of GameStop in 90 degree heat wearing Batgirl pleather. Score game, an action figure, and temporarily sweat off four pounds.
- Get game home along with Season Pass and two other pre-order codes.
- Put game in Xbox.
- Install patches.
- Install pre-order code for bonus Red Hood content.
- Install pre-order code for desired Harley Quinn content.
- Install pre-order code for season pass content promising later Batgirl content. Now you’re ready to play, maybe. Your exact amount of codes may differ, but for the full experience, do not skip the pleather step.
How to play Batman: Arkham Knight
- Stare at a burning Joker screen for way, way too long, until you realize that you’re supposed to hold down the button that sets Joker’s corpse on fire, not… tap it repeatedly.
- Realize this game kind of throws you into the deep end. It’s been a surprisingly long time since Batman: Arkham City came out. Since you skipped Arkham Origins, you have to relearn the combo controls and most of the Bat-gadgets. (Arkham Knight obviously assumes you played Arkham City yesterday and don’t need much of a refresher.)
- Learn to drive the Batmobile, the newest addition to Batman’s arsenal in this game.
- Learn to drive the Batmobile through increasingly convoluted Batmobile maneuverability scenarios, because, dammit, we put the Batmobile in this game and by god we are going to make you use it.
- Learn that the Batmobile has annoying specific special rules exceptions all the time, like sometimes it’s in pursuit mode and your weapons have no effect on anything on the screen even when it would be handy, and other times it’s a Bat-tank-fight and your speed will do you no good at all.
- Kill a bunch of thugs with Batmobile weapons. Oh no I’m sorry knock a bunch of guys out with the Batmobile’s totally non-lethal taser weapons, and then run over them, non-lethally.
- Get momentarily deceived into thinking this game is going to have a really satisfying core loop, then realize it’s mostly the standard sidequests around a story kind of setup.
- Get really, really impressed by the use of Scarecrow insanity effects in the graphics in this game.
- Get kind of burned out on the Scarecrow insanity effects constantly happening in the game.
- Read some thinkpieces about how the game is kind of anti-woman. Disagree at first: the game isn’t so specifically anti-woman as it is “anti-being-Batman’s friend” where the core theme of the game seems to be “You are a sucker if you are friends with Batman” regardless of what gender you happen to be.
- Actually play as a bunch of Batman’s friends, none of which feel significantly different enough from Batman to be notable.
- Start to agree women really do have it pretty bad in this game.
- Remember how good Arkham Asylum was. Man, that was a tightly focused jewel of a game. That was a game I felt good 100%ing.
- Feel all meeehhhh Joker wank wank wank. Wait, is that actually Mark Hamill again? I thought he was done doing this, but IMDB is telling me otherwise? Well he’s fantastic as always in the role I suppose but I really have taken to liking the Riddler better in these games. The Riddler is the mad spirit of a game designer run rampant, and I am just a sucker for game design metacommentary. Oh, spoilers, Joker is in fact in this game.
- Start to hit the frustration wall. Mandatory annoying stealth sections. Repetitive Batmobile target practice sequences with endless millions of “unmanned remote control drone tanks.” Ashriel sequences where you lose if you get hit even once, and there’s like six of those blade guys that are super-hard to dodge.
- Put the game aside for a couple of days.
- Which turn into a week, which turns into a month.
- End up watching the last sequences over your husband’s shoulder, only to realize that it ends with a “100% this game for the real ending!”
- Decide that you’re basically good for now, thanks, and ready to move on to another game that’s slightly lighter. Something less bloated, less dour… more… fun. I hear there’s a new Metal Gear Solid out?
Developer: Rocksteady Studios | Publisher: Warner Bros. | Released: June 2015
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (eventually) | Time Played: 25 hours
Email the author of this post at aj@Tap-Repeatedly.com.
Oh these entitled gamers these days with their moaning about installing stuff and sweating…and stuff. 🙂 🙂
After reading this I’m confirmed in my belief that, as someone not interested in superheroes, Arkham Asylum was a great game that I enjoyed and which happened to have Batman in it, but is pretty much all the Batman I’ll ever need.
“Read some thinkpieces about how the game is kind of anti-woman.”
Aha! There was your mistake.
Wow, that sounds… terribly disappointing, especially since you could have DIED standing in pleather in 99 degree heat. Neither the New Batgirl nor Classic Batgirl uniforms are ideal in hot weather.
With all the hubbub about the PC version I hadn’t gotten a handle on whether this was actually a good game or not. Judging by your experience, Rocksteady didn’t exactly set the world on fire with Arkham Knight.
The timeline format is somehow perfect for reviewing this game. Love it! (The review. Not the game.)
Now you and hub can fully join our Phantom Pain thread! Fulton Extraction Device FTW!
Steerpike, I really really wanted to like this (obviously) and it has some bits that I thought were flat-out exceptional. The problem is really that it’s just kinda uneven and there’s too much of it. The first Arkham game was a slam dunk other than the ending, and City was also “really damn good” if not perfect. I still felt this was worth playing, but, well, it’s a really big game and I wasn’t having fun with all the different components. That’s my warning: I think that someone at some point said “well, the Scarecrow parts were obviously the BEST PARTS, so what if that’s the whole game??” and it could’ve worked but it kinda overstays its welcome in some ways. Eager to see what you think if you try it.
Re: Redjack –
In my defense here, if a game a) exists, and b) has any women in it at all, thinkpieces about how the women are treated are going to be out there. It’s just the current climate or something.
I think the game really indulges itself when it comes to tormenting Harley Quinn. I don’t want to get into a long argument as to whether she had it comin’.
It’s true that this in many ways is an underwhelming end to the Arkham saga. It feels like one of those games that got a little out of hand because the developers wanted to end their trilogy with a bang, but not all the parts of it ended up quite refined enough. The Batmobile is the most notable culprit here; there is a lot of grindy-feeling open-world gameplay of a kind that Arkham City mostly avoided, but that the introduction of the Batmobile seemed to require. You could probably pry about 1/3 of the quests and stuff out of this game and have a really really great, leaner game that would’ve been a better send-off.
It’s a pity that lean-ness isn’t often appreciated as a virtue in game design, at least in open worlds which tend to be full of “stuff” but often emptier than tightly crafted linear games.
Arkham City felt pretty mission-driven, which helped it dodge the grind problem that begins to plague even great open worlds like Shadow of Mordor. It seems developers create these huge play spaces first, and then realize how empty they feel, so that’s when someone comes up with flower gathering or car races or find-all-the-tokens to fill them up.
Of course if someone built a small, contained open world we’d probably say it wasn’t ambitious enough.
I can’t help but compare the open world of Arkham Knight to that of Metal Gear Solid V, if only because these are the two games I’ve spent the most time with this summer. The former just feels so obligatory, while the latter…I mean, there are things to gather, if you want, but it isn’t strictly necessary after the early parts of the game, and it is highly mission driven with relatively little roaming around that isn’t self-imposed. I don’t know. I think MGSV has probably ruined me for average open world games, now.
Yeah, I tend to agree with you Dix. MGSV’s mission-driven open world makes it feel far less aimless than most. By placing the all-important side ops right in there so you can kinda wander by them and do them as you see fit keeps it from feeling too much like you’re on a rail.
The only real drawback I’ve seen with MGSV’s open world so far is that you spend a lot of time in the same places, but since each is a tactical exercise — and since the enemy really does adjust itself based on your strategies — it still feels fresh and new.