Monday, August 17, 2015

Some Much-Delayed Observations on "Batman: Arkham Knight"

I've Been the Bat, for a Third Time!
I've played, "Batman: Arkham Knight,"to a good degree and have some thoughts on it. The final game in the, "Arkham," trilogy (people don't count "Origins" generally, as it wasn't developed by Rocksteady) came out in late June and I for sure played it a great deal after picking it up, then was incredibly busy in July and didn't have much of a chance to play any video-games. With the arrival of August I had the opportunity to play the game some more and delved further into the main story as well as side-missions. I am not anywhere near done, with plenty to still be accomplished, and I do hope to get most of the game completed before September arrives and I spend all my time playing, "Metal Gear Solid V," which I pray is as awesome as it looks. So, I still haven't beaten, "Arkham Knight," but as it has now been out for quite awhile I did want to share some of my opinions, with only one  spoiler mentioned that occurs just a couple hours into the game, so don't fret too much, but you've been warned.

Random Thoughts as Follows:
The "Flow" of Combat and Sneaking Still Impresses
It is startling to think that as early as the first game in the series combat and the sneaking/"Predator" mode has been as impressive as it is. Few games have come close to rivaling the "Arkham" games in terms of superb combat as well as stealth and it continues in this game to get even wilder with the addition of more unique gadgets that can be used before and during combat.

The Batmobile is the Best--Except For Those Rare Times it's the Worst
I don't care how many posts are on the internet bashing the Batmobile (just check Google), I generally love that thing. As long as you are in an area that it can be summoned to, it is merely a button-press away for you to have that giant-yet-speedy tool come to assist you. Like some kind of pet who always eagerly comes running when you call, the Batmobile operates in a manner not unlike a Swiss-Army knife, able to speedily get you somewhere, blow-up drone tanks, or help fire non-lethal rounds at enemies whilst you punch them into the air for it to take-out. It truly is a wonder.

Yes, the Batmobile is extremely useful...almost to the point it feels overpowered and like the game is forcing you to use it way too much. It gets to the point that it can almost feel like you're playing, "Batmobile: The Game (Featuring Batman)," and it does feel odd to be blowing so much stuff up even if the game takes great pains to remind you, "Don't worry, he's just using all that firepower on robotic cars, it's all good!" Still, I like the Batmobile more than not.

The Joker...Yah?
Pretty early on in the game Batman is exposed to Scarecrow's fear gas and between that and the blood of The Joker in his system, finds himself starting to hallucinate his old nemesis and fighting his psyche being taken-over. It's a clever plot-device, but considering how major a role The Joker played in the first two games it maybe almost would have been better if The Joker just sat this one out, or played a smaller role, perhaps later on. Still, Mark Hamill returning to a role he excels at so much is always welcome.

The Arkham Knight is an Awful Villain
The plot of "Arkham Knight" has been pretty solid, if not as amazing as the other games. But one thing is quite obvious, and that is how the "Arkham Knight" is just a terrible villain. I won't spoil who it is, but upon my learning his identity I felt the lack of any surprise. Before his identity is revealed he comes across as a whiny child in a grown-up body, and otherwise fails to impress. Thank God the Scarecrow also plays a sizable role in the game and helps the main story-line feel a tad more interesting thanks to how just-plain-creepy he is.

Dual Play Mode is Highly Underutilized
The moments in "Arkham Knight" where you get to control another character besides Batman in a fight are fun, but seem to be relatively few and far between. As cool as it is to have Batman fighting enemies with the assistance of Catwoman, Nightwing, etc. it comes off as more of a rare novelty than much of a selling-feature.

Beautiful Graphics
As cool as it would have been for the series to be able to finish on the consoles it began on, the amazing visuals make it evident that probably just wouldn't have been possible to run this on something older. Between the rain-slicked streets, gorgeous explosions, and otherwise impressive overall, "Look," this is one gorgeous game. It made me happy to own a PS4, for sure.

A Great Deal of Fun
With its mixture of great elements and annoying ones, "Batman: Arkham Knight," is by no means a perfect game, but still is a great deal of fun regardless of my quibbles with its plot and occasional over-reliance on the Batmobile. I would definitely recommend this game to any fans of the previous entries in the series, or even folk new to it although it may be a tad harder to follow if you haven't played the earlier games. Now I just wonder if Rocksteady is going to make another game based on a DC hero, and if so, whom it may be about!
4.5 out of 5 stars based on my experience so far.

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