Just in case you don’t know, let me give you a quick history lesson…Batman is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire who witnessed his parents being murdered by a mugger when he was a child. Doing the logical thing he spends the early part of his adult years travelling the world training his mind and body before he returns to Gotham City and becomes the “Batman”. A man that works alongside law enforcement and helps to bring the super criminals that Gotham has in abundance to justice.
Batman Arkham Asylum takes place on an island facility, but Arkham City takes place in a walled in part of Gotham City slums and Arkham Knight takes things a step further by giving the player access to the whole of Gotham City.
I am going to be reviewing each game in the trilogy plus the DLC for some of them too.
For your convenience I have done the following reviews:
Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham City: Harley Quinn's Revenge
Batman Arkham Knight
Batman Arkham Knight - All DLC
There were a number of DLCs for Batman Arkham Knight so instead of looking at them individually they are all looked at in one go.
So without further ado let’s crack on with the first game…Arkham Asylum
Originally released for the PS3 in 2009 Batman Arkham Asylum has been rereleased for the PS4 under the title Return to Arkham: Arkham Asylum and Return to Arkham: Arkham City. I am going to be taking a look at all three games in the Arkham Trilogy, two of which, namely Asylum and City I have already played on the PS3, however the most recent, Arkham Knight is completely new to me. I downloaded a package of Asylum and City so after playing those through from beginning to end I’ll take a look at the more recent game.
Naturally this game is a few years old now (or the original version is) but it is entirely possible that the storyline is unfamiliar so naturally I am going to give you a quick run through on the set-up.
So the game starts with Batman driving the Joker back to Arkham Asylum after capturing the Clown Prince of Crime before the game begins. Suspecting that his capture was too easy Batman escorts the Clown through the first part of the asylum and deeper into the Intensive Care Facility. The Joker is handed over to the orderlies but quickly breaks away from them, he stands behind a laser barrier and welcomes Batman to [the] “Mad House” before running off into the corridors.
Batman takes off in pursuit but it quickly becomes clear that Harley Quinn, Joker’s second in command and lover, has taken over the security controls of Arkham Island’s Asylum and is now running the place.
After dealing with Victor Zsasz who had taken a guard hostage Batman corners the Joker right before he unleashes a humanoid figure that seems to have similar powers to the powerhouse known as Bane. Batman defeats the henchman but is unable to stop the Joker who disappears further into the facility.
It quickly becomes apparent that the inmates are running the asylum with prisoners that had once been held at Blackgate Prison now on the island after an attack on Blackgate being freed from their jail cells by the Joker.
Unfortunately, it isn’t only the thugs that work for the Joker that Batman must contend with, along the way he encounters some of his greatest foes like Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and naturally the Joker. He has to also do battle with massive Titan-enhanced criminals that are easily as strong as Bane.
Right, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first, the game is really, really good.
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise the voices of Batman and the Joker respectively and bring their A-Game to their voice acting. It was such a treat to hear the voices from the Animated Series coming from the mouths of their video game counterparts. The other voice actors are also great and the game captures the essence of the characters portrayed.
Naturally as you are playing as Batman there are a variety of tools that are in your arsenal, with more being unlocked throughout the game. Probably the most significant of these is the Detective Mode which you can use to look for clues (or track clues), see enemies through walls and floors, and it highlights objectives. The only real problem with it, is that it is a little too good, there is no limit to its usage so there are times when there is very little point in switching it off. The game is very colourful in places and dark and dank in others but both affects look the same in Detective Mode. In my first play through on the PS3 I used this mode a lot, but on the PS4 I tried to limit its use as I didn’t want to see the whole game through the filter of the mode.
Other gadgets include exploding gel that can knock enemies unconscious, Batarangs, lines that allow you to cross long distances, and devices to hack security panels. Each one of these can be upgraded to make them more effective or increase their range or whatever. These gadgets make you feel like Batman, initially the thugs are unarmed but later ones have knives, stun-batons and then guns. Batman’s suit will hold up for a short time under direct fire but stealth is key to progressing through the game and the tools you have will help to get you though the levels unscathed.
The combat is relatively straightforward, Square is punch, Circle does a stun move that you need to break the guard of thugs with knives before you can attack them, and Triangle which you can use to Counter an enemy when they get this lightening type symbol above their head…[shrug]…it looks like this…
See…kind-of like Spider-Man’s spider sense isn’t it??
Batman’s martial arts ability allows him to read a thug’s body language so when they are about to attack he sees lightening appear above their head…well that’s what I assume that lightening thing is. Anyway the best method to succeeding in the combat is not to just button mash (which I did when I played the PS3 version) but to tap the Square button watching for the times when you can counter, but also hitting the Circle button will case Batman to swing in a wide arc that can stun several enemies at once. Personally the biggest issue I had with the combat system was that if a thug managed to hit me, it did seem to throw off the rest of the fight, a thug might connect with a punch but then another will hit you too. If you tap X you can jump out of the way allowing you to put some distance between you and your foes but they will chase after you, so if you escape then you only have a second or two of rest before they are on you again. Plus be warned, you have no health kits so there is no healing during a fight, your health bar will recover once the fight is over and you are rewarded xp but if you get overwhelmed there is no running off to munch down a power bar or use a health kit so be aware of your surroundings.
Being aware of your surroundings leads me on to one of my criticisms of the game, as the game progresses it throws more and more, and more thugs your way. Some of which may be armed with knives which require you to stun before you can attack, some are armed with taser-batons so you must jump over them as attacking them head on results in you getting stunned, and others might have guns (or get guns from lockers during the fight). As a result you have to keep moving constantly, because like I said above, if you get out of your rhythm then it is very easy to get overwhelmed, have your health sliced away by a knife, get stunned or shot. What starts to cross over from challenging to annoying is when the titan-enhanced henchmen start popping up.
Basically the gist of the game is that Joker has been working behind the scenes manipulating an Arkham doctor who has been creating a more potent form of the Venom that gives Bane his formidable strength, which she calls Titan. Joker wants it so he can create an army of titan-enhanced henchmen in order to terrorise Gotham City, in fact he returned to the asylum when the doctor working on the serum realised Joker was behind it and attempted to shut the project down.
Initially you encounter these hulk-like creatures individually or in pairs, but later on they appear when accompanied by regular henchman. In order to defeat a Titan henchman you need to throw a batarang at it when it charges which…(and I’m not kidding here)…causes them to run into a wall. At which time they are stunned and will stagger about allowing Batman to attack them, wear down their health and sometimes jump on their back and use them to attack other henchmen before being thrown off. What gets really, really irritating is when you have got a dozen or so men trying to attack you, and a Titan at the same time. It is incredibly difficult to focus on the Titan when your combos are interrupted by the lesser thugs getting in cheap shots, alternatively, the Titan will continue charging or throwing unconscious henchmen at you so trying to deal with the lesser henchman before the titan is also very tricky.
That is probably the biggest flaw with the game, it ramps up the challenge by throwing more and more enemies at you. Doing that is such a lazy tactic, Batman has some of the best villains there are and yet the majority of the time he is pitted against lesser thugs and Titan-henchmen as boss fights. Having stealthy gadgets is fine but if you aren’t great at the combat (which I wasn’t then I played it on the PS3) then during these sequences you are going to get killed time and time again.
Bosses in general are pretty shit in Asylum, you do the Titan and henchmen fight numerous times and the final fight consists of Joker injecting himself with the serum and becoming a massive titan-version of himself. You have a fight on a roof, he swipes his claws at you, if he lands a hit he jumps onto a roof leaving you to fight his henchmen, when they are beaten you pull him off the roof punch him in the face and…[I haven’t said this for a while]…rinse, lather, repeat…
Even a fight with Poison Ivy just results in Batman simply throwing Batarangs at her whilst dodging plant spores being fired at him…it is not creative or especially challenging, just keep moving and you’ll be fine.
Finally, the worst of the game’s bosses is an encounter with Killer Croc in a sewer, basically he runs at you, you throw a batarang at him which knocks him back into the water, he is more irritating than anything else. If he gets you it is an instant kill but a couple of times he got me because he popped up almost on top of me before I could arm my batarang or came from somewhere behind so by the time I’d swung the camera around he was on me.
However, the Scarecrow sections are very well done with Batman being dosed on Scarecrow’s fear gas and suffering hallucinations before being dragged into a nightmare world in which a huge Scarecrow tries to hunt him down. Enemies encountered in this mode also exist in the real world and each time one of these trippy sequences begins it is both fun and creepy. There is even a moment or two when Scarecrow breaks the fourth wall and even makes it seem as though the game itself is crashing.
Throughout Arkham Island there are numerous Riddles, set by, well the Riddler. The thing is that in the early stages of the game there are not many that you can actually get, some are hidden behind destructible walls, others on the far side of rooms that you cannot reach, and so on. When you are on your way back to the Botanical Gardens to confront Ivy is the point in the game when you have unlocked all the gadgets necessary to get all the trophies. Game play wise the only reason to get them all is because whilst they do unlock extras like character bios and combat challenges, they also grant xp allowing you to level up quicker. If you get them all before fighting Ivy then you should have everything you can unlock in your arsenal before you head off to face the Joker.
Like I said before this is a really, really good game and my issues are really just irritants than anything which is a deal breaker. Sadly though there is no +game mode. At the end of the main game you can stay on the Island and solve the rest of the Riddles if you want, or one of the extras unlocked when solving riddles is the combat and predator challenges. Basically you either have to take down armed enemies in as quick a time as possible in certain ways or you fight your way through four waves of enemies that grow stronger and/or numerous in each round. Obviously the leader boards of both modes have been hacked because the top level players have somehow managed to take out all the thugs in an area, in the variety of ways the game asks, in less than 30 seconds or accumulated a hundred billion points through combat…so yeah, basically only do these if you are Trophy hunting. One of the trophies is defeat a Titan-henchman without using batarangs, if you’ve completed the game then you can do the botanical gardens combat challenge and have a chance to fight a Titan. Just beat the thugs and then put some explosive gel on the floor, when it blows up, if the Titan is close enough, it will stun them allowing you to take them down.
When you have finished the main game you unlock an armoured batsuit which is pretty useful when doing the combat challenges as it is far more bullet resistant than the standard suit but how cool would it have been to redo the game in +mode using the armoured suit?? I remember being disappointed that the game didn’t have a +mode back in 2009 but when Arkham City was released it did have a +mode. So now that the game has been rereleased for the PS4 why couldn’t it have included a +game mode?? It would have been so good and would have encouraged me to go through it again on a harder difficulty, hell, the game could do what Arkham City did and set the difficulty to Hard if you are doing a +game. If it had, I would definitely play it again, as it is, I finished it a few days ago and am only picking it up now to get trophies not so I can play the main game again.
Ultimately the game is very well done in some respects like the graphics, the voice acting, the story and so on but the boss fights are lame, and the trick of throwing a limitless supply of henchmen at you along with a Titan or two gets really annoying really fast. When it is being stealthy, when you are solving puzzles or riddles, that is when you feel like Batman, and any game which makes me feel like Batman gets a sold Thumbs Up.
9/10 – The game is a real achievement but the lack of a +game mode is a shame, but by far the biggest drawbacks are the crappy boss fights. The Scarecrow sections showed flashes of such creativity but obviously the guy who worked on the Scarecrow bits did not also do the rest of the game’s boss fights because not one of them is as memorable or especially fun.
First released for the PS3 in 2011 Batman Arkham City is the sequel to the excellent Batman Arkham Asylum which was released in 2009. As I said above I have played both of these on the PS3 already but I have replayed them on the PS4 for the purpose of this review. I have naturally drawn upon my knowledge of the PS3 version and honestly there is not a lot that I noticed which is different between the previous version and the Return to Arkham games. It has taken me a little longer to get through the game than I thought it would, which is why this review has taken more time to write. Anyway, let’s not get bogged down at this stage, let me just say that both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return to reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker respectively. This time they are joined by a host of other enemies and allies of the Dark Knight in the massive sprawling prison facility called…well…Arkham City.
Similarly to my Infamous Second Son review I took some notes whilst I was playing the game so that I would not miss anything that I would want to talk about. Before me on my console is a bullet point list with some thirteen items on it (naturally that list will be deleted as I tick off the things I wish to discuss) but if I do talk about all of them then this is going to be one really long review.
Okay, well there is a lot to get through so let’s get cracking…
It has been six months since the events of Arkham Asylum and Qunicy Sharpe (the warden of the asylum) used that event to get himself elected to the office of Mayor of Gotham. He approved a plan by a man named Hugo Strange to build a huge wall around an area of Gotham’s slums and incarcerate all of the city’s most dangerous criminals along with any other criminal (petty or otherwise) within its walls. The likes of Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin and a host of others have been imprisoned and basically been set lose to fight for control of Arkham City amongst themselves.
The facility has come under attack from various critics, one of them being none other than Bruce Wayne who feels that imprisoning all the inmates in such a fashion is not a good idea and Arkham City needs to be shut down. As Wayne is making his speech to an entourage of assembled media people, he is apprehended by Tyger Guards who answer to Hugo Strange, and is unceremoniously thrown into Arkham City. It soon becomes clear that Strange knows that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same (it becomes clear because he tells you that he knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman) and if Wayne tries to interfere with his plans then Strange will share his secret with the world.
After being brought before Penguin, Wayne either beats him and his thugs, or can simply flee, either way he calls for his equipment to be dropped onto the Ace Chemical building, and Alfred sends the Batwing to drop him a Batsuit. Donning the cape and cowl Wayne becomes Batman and sets about trying to uncover what is happening within the walls of Arkham City.
Meanwhile the Joker, still suffering the effects of the Titan he injected himself with back on the Asylum, is slowly dying of blood poisoning caused by the Titan. He captures Batman and injects his blood into the Dark Knight, if Batman can’t get a cure then they are both dead, Batman is prepared to die but then the Joker informs him that he has been shipping samples of his infected blood to hospitals all over the city, so soon hundreds will need the cure or they are going to die too.
With time ticking down and his own health fading, the Dark Knight sets about trying to find the cure whilst Hugo Strange’s voice over the loud-speaker system periodically counts down to something called “Protocol Ten”…
It has to be said that Arkham Asylum was a very solid game and so it was going to be hard to follow up a game as good as the first one. The scale of Arkham City is much bigger and whilst it was possible to roam a lot of Arkham Island that game was a more linier experience. Arkham City has gone full sand box, you can go pretty much anywhere right from the beginning, naturally for story reasons some structures are locked, but there are a host of side missions that open up almost immediately.
These side-quests include working with Bane to destroy Titan containers that were smuggled off Arkham Island, finding a serial killer that is cutting off people’s faces, tracking down the assassin Deadshot as he takes out various people in the facility and naturally there are also various Riddler based activities…I’ll get onto those in a bit more detail in a bit. The side missions are all pretty interesting and you can switch from your main Objective to pursue one of these wherever you want to. Some, like the augmented reality training will unlock a grapple boost that is pretty useful for getting around in a hurry. The game is based around the fact that Batman is now dying of the same blood disease that is affecting the Joker but that doesn’t stop him heading off to catch the Payphone Killer or spending his time solving Riddler puzzles or under taking one of a dozen other missions. It is a pretty weak criticism but perhaps there is a little bit too much going on because the game is not as focussed as the previous one was and allows you to spend hours zipping about the city doing other than what you should be doing if you want.
The map is considerably larger than Arkham Asylum, fortunately, Batman’s gliding ability from the previous game has been improved upon so that he can fire a grapple mid-flight, and if you have unlocked the grapple upgrade then you can be propelled from vantage point to vantage point which gets you from one side of the map to the other in no time flat. Plus it doesn’t stop being a fun way to get around no matter how many times you do it, in addition Batman isn’t just able to glide, he can dive towards the floor and swoop up allowing him to cover large distances without using the grapple. Plus he can race towards the floor and unleash various gadgets to knock unsuspecting thugs on their asses. The problem with this method of getting around is that naturally Batman spreads his cape when gliding so it can be difficult to avoid getting caught up on terrain because you can’t see Batman’s feet. Precise aiming is also a little awkward, but by far the biggest issue is the camera as it often has trouble keep up with what you are trying to do. This is especially problematic when precision gliding is required during the Augmented Reality Training Missions so you may find yourself sighing with irritation as you watch the Caped Crusader smack into the side of an archway that you were trying to fly through for the hundredth time.
As I said above there are a tonne of side missions to do, with the Riddler taking a more active role in the game this time around. He takes hostages and he will only give you clues on how to find them after you have solved a number of his riddles, disabled security cameras, and destroyed certain items relevant to certain characters (like ceramic penguins in one instance or balloons in another). There are also Riddler trophies around the map. There are dozens and dozens of them and whilst some are pretty easy to get, others take a considerable amount of time, skill and a lot of patience. I have managed to get all the trophies now but I had to try, try and try again before I finally managed to do it…there is a very, very fine line between something that is challenging and something that is irritating. Riddler has set trophies for Batman to collect but there are also ones for Catwoman to pick up, and a lot of these are pretty elaborate. Batman can only pick up the trophies for him and will get a shock if he tries to collect the ones intended for Catwoman but she can pick up Batman’s or her own. From a game point of view it makes you wonder exactly how the Riddler was able to put so many trophies about the place. It doesn’t matter where in the map you are, you can guarantee that there will be trophies to find and often the mechanism through which you access them would require the Riddler to have intimate knowledge on how each and every one of Batman’s gadgets work. Hell, one of them involved setting off explosive gel in a specific order, I didn’t know the explosive gel could be selectively detonated, but the Riddler obviously does. Also, how did the Riddler managed to persuade the Joker or Penguin or the League of Assassins to let him wander around their base of operations hiding trophies?? Personally I have no idea…like I said this time there is a point to doing the riddles because the more you collect, solve or destroy respectively the more of Riddler’s hostages you can free. The rooms they are contained in are generally elaborately designed death-traps but you generally need all of the gadgets to get them all so like before it is best to wait quite a ways into the game before going after them.
The Detective Mode from the first game is also back but it has been tweaked to make it a little less effective than it was in Asylum. Remember me saying in that review that you could have effectively just left it on all the time?? Well this time it will show armed thugs but if they are more than a few metres away then they show up as blobs on the map, you have to get closer for them to come into detail. Plus the mode cannot be used when grappling so thankfully you aren’t seeing Arkham City through the blue-screen filter of the Detective Mode the whole time. Personally I think the downgrade works better because it makes the Detective Mode a tool to use as and when you need it rather than something that you can freely keep on all the time.
Unfortunately, the game has so much going on that it is hard for it to focus on any one villain in particular, obviously any decent Batman story has the Joker at its heart, but in Arkham City the Joker is not as prominent as he was in the first game. Two-Face appears for a bit and then disappears, the Penguin becomes the threat for a while then is dealt with, sadly there is nothing in the game as brilliantly creepy as the Scarecrow bits from Asylum. Basically anyone and everyone from Batman’s past seems to have somehow ended up in Arkham City, Mr Freeze, Deadshot, the Mad Hatter, Hush, Killer Croc (although he only cameos), Poison Ivy, and even Robin (Tim Drake’s Robin) pops up during the story mode. Again there is a bit of an overload because it make you wonder if there is anyone who is not in Arkham City. It would have been nice if there had been a few less characters so the story could have focussed on a key couple as Asylum did.
When the game first came out for the PS3 the Catwoman missions were additional content that were not necessarily included with the game (I had a Game of the Year Edition so had the Catwoman missions) but they are part of the Return to Arkham package. Initially these seem to be fun little distractions from the main game but they can very quickly turn into exercises in anger and frustration…permit me to explain…so as before you can unlock various upgrades for health, and gadgets. The thing is that there are upgrades for both Batman and Catwoman, personally I spent most of my time concentrating on Batman, he was the one I was playing the majority of the game as so wasting xp to upgrade Catwoman seemed pointless. Unfortunately there are four Catwoman missions in the game in which you may have to take on numerous heavily armoured and/or armed guards so if Catwoman has no upgrades then these are going to be extremely difficult. It turns what should be a fun little side missions into a complete pain in the arse which you’ll be cursing the game for not letting you skip. After the main game is completed you need to take down Two-Face as Catwoman whilst he is holed up in the museum with a half-dozen guards with him. I died a bunch of times because the guards kept respawning. I thought I’d take them out so I could deal with Two-Face one on one but every time I tried to take a guard out another would appear, and if I tried to take on Two-Face I was shot to death either by him or one of his thugs. I was trapped in this mode and unable to get back to the sandbox map as Batman to continue the side quests until I had done the mission as Catwoman…needless to say it was pretty aggravating
The combat system has also evolved from the previous game but it has gotten a little bit more complicated, and I don’t really like it. Before you could punch, counter, stun and that was pretty much it. Here once your combo gets up to x5 (with upgrades) you can execute other moves to take thugs down but the amount of times that my combo has been broken through me trying to do these moves has become too many to count. Plus just like before all it seems to take is one guy getting a punch in and it throws the rest of the fight out, whether it disrupts my concentration I don’t know. What I do know was that three guys in a sewer almost took me apart whilst a group of twenty somewhere else didn’t give me so much as a scratch. Batman has tonnes of moves available to him but Catwoman is limited to only a couple, plus her health cannot be upgraded as much as his, so she is already starting off on the back foot in her missions.
As the game progresses the thugs that you encounter in the game start to be armed with guns more often which means you need to employ your gadgets creatively to deal with them. The thing is that if you disarm thugs they will always be armed again the next time you head through that area, yes I get it is to give you a challenge, but there are crates of weapons just out on the rooftops so why doesn’t Batman, the world’s greatest detective, destroy them or push them off the roof or do something other than just leaving creates of weapons out on a rooftop where anyone can pick them up?? I tried using exploding gel to destroy one of the crates but it did nothing. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Snake could destroy armouries which resulted in the enemies having less ammo in their weapons, why couldn’t Arkham City have done that?? If the crates were destroyed then the thugs might have had fewer weapons between them which would have made more sense than just leaving weapons where anyone could get hold of them.
Not really sure where to stick this next point so I’ll just bung it in here, you have a choice of different Batsuits to wear during the game (in the key cut scenes he is wearing the default and increasingly battle damaged suit) but you can chose to dress as the 1970s Batman or the Year One Batman if you so desire. Personally I favoured the Batman Beyond suit because it doesn’t have a cape (and only small wings appear when gliding) because it was easier to see where I was gliding when I needed to do precision drops rather than having a suit with a cape that filled the majority of the screen.
One of the key factors that wasn’t in Asylum’s favour were the boss fights, which were pretty shit, and generally involved the same fight happening over and over again. Thankfully the boss fights have been improved considerably, instead of going against the same Titan henchman and group of goons over and over, now the bosses are a little more interesting. In particular in one boss fight (I’m not going to say with whom) the boss actually learns your tactics so you can only attack in the same way once, you need to do a variety of different things to win the fight. You’ll need to exercise all your creativity and ingenuity to win (or failing that the Bat-computer deciphers the opponent and gives you the means to attack them) honestly though, it is more fun to figure it out for yourself, but no harm in checking the Bat-computer if you run out of ideas. It is without a doubt one of the best boss fights in any game ever and is such an improvement on the lacklustre battles in Asylum. However, in my opinion it has to be said that this particular fight didn’t really need to happen in the first place…without spoiling let me see if I can explain…the boss wants Batman to do something and uses the cure as leverage to get what they want, when all they really needed to do was say “Batman, give me your word you’ll do what I ask and you can have the cure”. Pretty sure Batman isn’t known for being a liar so the fight could have been avoided and Batman does what the other person wanted him to anyway. Obviously it was just to keep the game going, but that does not take away anything from the creativity of the fight itself.
Also guess what Arkham City has???
Yes, a +game mode (I may have mentioned that once or twice in the past), so you can restart the game with everything you have unlocked, but it is not just everything you have at that point. If you resume the main game and continue unlocking stuff it will transfer over to the +game in progress. However, know that it is going to be difficult because yes the game lets you start over with all your gadgets but this time around there is not that lightening thing above enemies heads when they are about to attack (there is in the normal mode). In addition enemies will have shields and knives (plus other stabbing weapons) from the get-go so the challenge does get ramped up. The Catwoman missions again seem to be something of a thorn in my side as considering everything I said about her above (and this is after she is now fully upgraded) I still took 20 minutes to do her opening mission because I kept getting overwhelmed by the enemies because I was trying to be fancy with the combat.
As you have no doubt realised there was a lot to talk about with this game and whilst I liked it, I don’t think it was better than Arkham Asylum because that game had a tighter focus than Arkham City does. However, having said that I am definitely going to play Arkham City again in the +game mode whereas I haven’t returned to Asylum since finishing the game a couple of weeks ago, and I doubt I will.
I am happy to give Arkham City a Thumbs Up, it had the problem of following after Asylum and that was a tough act to follow. Will Arkham Knight be better than this or worse?? I have no idea but I look forward to finding out.
8/10 – Arkham City had the problem of following on from Arkham Asylum and whilst it does have some good points it does suffer from trying to do a bit too much. It is still a good game and is worth playing, however, just be aware that there are times when it is going to be frustrating and if you want all the Riddler trophies then you’ll need a lot of patience.
Originally a DLC that was released in 2011 Harley Quinn’s Revenge takes place not long after the events of Batman Arkham City. Like the main game I have played this DLC before because I bought the Game of the Year Edition of Arkham City which also included the Catwoman levels. It was also included in the Return to Arkham package that I recently downloaded. Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong reprise their roles from the main game as Batman and Harley Quinn respectively with Troy Baker also returning to voice Tim Drake’s Robin
My review of Batman Arkham Knight is on the way, however, recently I have been busy, and so haven’t gotten the time to pay it, or indeed do many reviews in general. Still, this is a relatively short DLC that happens a couple of weeks following the events of Batman Arkham City and sees not only Batman returning to the prison complex of Arkham City but also allows players to take control of Robin.
Before I get too far ahead of myself let me give you the low down on what is going on…oh by the way, this DLC contains spoilers from the main game so as a courtesy I’ll drop this…
Ready to crack on??
Right then, so Robin is on the trail of Batman who disappeared after returning to Arkham City when a dozen Gotham City Police Officers were kidnapped by Harley Quinn. Since the events of Arkham City Batman has become withdrawn from his friends and allies. Despite his best efforts to save them he is dealing with the death of the woman he loved, Talia, and the death of the Joker, whom Batman would have saved if the Joker hadn’t accidently knocked the cure out of Batman’s hand.
Infiltrating the Shipping Yards (which was sealed off during Arkham City) Robin learns that Quinn is still holding the officers, and not only that, she blames Batman for not preventing the death of the Joker. Robin fights his way deeper into the building, taking on numerous thugs loyal to Quinn, then discovers Batman’s utility belt.
The game then flashes back to two days before when you play as Batman again, and must first gain entrance to the Steel Mill as you attempt to try and rescue the officers. The guilt of losing both Talia and the Joker is weighing heavily upon him, and it quickly becomes obvious that her grief has consumed Quinn and she is more than prepared to go to war with anyone who tried to interfere with her plans for revenge against the Dark Knight.
The game is essentially split into four sections, you play as Robin, switch to Batman, then Robin again before finally returning to the Dark Knight. The game mechanics do vary a little as you switch between the two (much like they did when swapping between Batman and Catwoman). Fortunately Robin has several gadgets that Batman himself has, such as the exploding gel and a remote control batarang. Plus whilst he wears more of a hoodie, he is still capable of gliding short distances. One of the things that Robin utilises is a baton which can fold out into a bullet shield that will not hold up indefinitely to weapon’s fire but can take a few hits before it fails. It made me wonder why Batman didn’t possess something similar, especially considering the amount of times that he gets shot at, and considering that his Bat-suit cannot take more than a shot or two before he is killed.
Now unlike playing as Catwoman I never felt ill-equipped when playing as Robin, having played this game on the back of playing the much more difficult +game mode, it was a welcome change to play as someone who could actually hold their own against the enemies (unlike Catwoman even when she’s upgraded). The DLC was quite good fun, and I wasn’t playing with gritted teeth waiting to return to play as the far superior Dark Knight. Similarly to the main game the majority of the time you are simply up against thugs that can be taken out loudly or using stealth, more often than not stealth is the best method, but there are a couple of curve balls in the DLC where you go up against slightly different opponents.
Quinn is seeking revenge against Batman for the death of the Joker and despite overhearing thugs who implied that they might rape her if the Joker dies in the main game, she does have a number of former Joker-gang members loyal to her. The majority of these thugs are armed, and there are several occasions when you must stealth takeout a bunch of them in order to rescue one of the kidnapped officers. Quinn is naturally nothing like the Joker, Bane, Two-Face or any number of Batman villains but the story is more scaled down and simply focuses on her trying to get revenge for the death of the man she loved. Both Robin and Batman do take her down during the game but she manages to come back and never seems to be a pathetic villain that seems out of place leading a small gang of her own.
The player is limited to the Steel Mill (for one of Batman’s sections) and a bit of the Industrial District but you cannot go running around the whole of Arkham City. Still this works, and similarly with Infamous’ DLC Festival of Blood the game doesn’t suffer by only giving you access to a smaller area of the original sandbox. However, it is good to see a bit of Arkham City that we didn’t see in Arkham City, there is a skylight (which wasn’t in the main game) that leads into the Shipping Yard which is where the majority of the DLC takes place.
Honestly it is quite difficult to find anything wrong with the game, Robin is a decent character to play as, and you won’t be cursing the screen for making you play as him as I found myself doing when struggling through Catwoman’s missions. I guess my only real issue was that there were no real boss fights, the DLC has picked up the bad habit of Arkham Asylum and generally resorts to throwing huge numbers of thugs at you in one go with a Titan henchman dropped in at one point too. Now I don’t know if Robin is more agile than Batman but it seemed to be easier dodging around the thugs letting the Titan charge and throw thugs about knocking out his comrades and taking him down last than it was to use the same tactic when controlling Batman in Arkham City. There was a section in which Quinn wanders around a room shooting off different catwalks with several armed guards patrolling with her, now similarly to one of the Catwoman levels, you cannot take out all the guards then go after Quinn because another henchman will always spawn in. It isn’t as bad as trying to take on Two-Face with FIVE armed thugs patrolling the room whilst playing as Catwoman, a person with the defensive capabilities of a hamster in a cage with a pack of velociraptors, however be warned when doing this bit that you’ll need to sweep in, attack Quinn, retreat, disable the spawned in thug then…guess what…that’s right, rinse, lather, repeat until you have taken her down.
Unlike the main game there is no +game mode with the DLC and there are 30 balloons scattered throughout the game for you to find and pop. Once the DLC is complete it doesn’t unlock the Shipping Yard in the main game or if you select the DLC again from the main menu so there is no just loading it back up so you can free-roam, then find and burst all the balloons without having to play the whole thing again.
Like I said, Harley Quinn’s Revenge is relatively short and will probably only take a couple of hours to complete, but it as long as it needs to be, and gives us a chance of continuing in Arkham City with a story that has been set after the end of the main game.
As you know I have played some good and some bad DLC in my time and thankfully Harley Quinn’s Revenge falls into the good category, it is a nice self-enclosed story and starts to show how Batman is coping with the events of Arkham City, how will this relate to the events of Arkham Knight?? Well, as of the moment I have no idea because unlike Asylum and City I had not played Arkham Knight before downloading the Return to Arkham package.
Rest assured that I will be playing Arkham Knight (as I have downloaded it onto my PS4 already) at some point in the near future, but it might fall behind Resident Evil VII as I really want to play that, still I also want to finish this trilogy and my reviews of the games. As far as Harley Quinn’s Revenge goes it gets a solid Thumbs Up, it is a great little game, and doesn’t make you play as a crappy Boy-Wonder when all you want to play as Batman again. This Robin is a worthy ally to the Dark Knight and it does make you wonder why Batman doesn’t have a bullet-proof shield hidden in his cape or something.
8.5/10 – A short and punchy DLC that continues the story of the events of Arkham City and allows the player to not only return to control the Dark Knight himself but also allows them to take control of Tim Drake’s Robin.
First released in 2015 Batman Arkham Knight for the PS4, Xbox One and also had a terrible PC port which was so bad it was eventually pulled from sale. The game was naturally the sequel to Batman Arkham City which in itself was a sequel to Batman Arkham Asylum and sees Batman taking on a city full of villains whilst trying to maintain his own sanity. Kevin Conroy returns to voice Batman/Bruce Wayne, joining him are familiars from the Arkham-verse as well as a couple of new faces that we haven’t seen yet.
This game is the final part of the Arkham trilogy (apparently Arkham Origins was not by the same developer, Rocksteady, so is not considered part of their trilogy but it is still canon to the series) and sees the player being able to roam throughout the whole of Gotham City unlike the island of Arkham Asylum or the prison facility of Arkham City. The titular Arkham Knight appears to have some connection with Batman, and knows all his moves, seems to know all his secrets and wants him dead by the end of the game’s night…but before I crack on with talking about the game’s features, controls and so on, let me give you the gist on what is going on…
The game opens with Gotham City seemingly having a peaceful break after the death of the Joker a year previously. Without the Clown Prince of Crime, the citizens felt safer and crime declined. Suddenly a café is attacked by Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow who warns Gotham that he has made a bomb that will cover the entire city in the same gas he used at the café that made everyone go insane and kill one another. The citizens all panic and in the space of a couple of days the entire city is abandoned leaving only Scarecrow’s thugs plus the usual assortment of villains, including Penguin and Two-Face, who have apparently all teamed up to destroy the Batman.
Batman himself, a number of his allies, and the GCPD officers remain in the hopes of finding Scarecrow and stopping him before the bomb goes off. The Scarecrow has not just managed to unite every villain in Gotham, he has also joined forces with a figure known only as the Arkham Knight who has intimate knowledge of Batman’s skills, tactics and manages to capture one of his closest allies.
We also learn that after the events of Arkham City not everyone was cured after Joker sent his Titan-infected blood to dozens of hospitals all over the country. Five people were affected and bizarrely seem to becoming new versions of the Joker, each one taking on a different aspect of his personality. Batman shows four of these to Commissioner Gordon, three of which have already started to resemble the Clown Prince of Crime, the forth doesn’t seem to show any symptoms at all and may hold the key to a cure. When Gordon asks where the fifth person is, Batman simply shows him an empty cell with his own face reflected back at him (Batman is the fifth in case that wasn’t obvious).
During the game Batman is exposed to Scarecrow’s fear gas and starts to see hallucinations of none other than the Joker (once against voiced by Mark Hamill) who encourages the Dark Knight to just give in and allow his persona to take over, turning Batman into the ultimate version of the Joker.
It isn’t just the plans of the Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight that Batman must contend with, Penguin, Two-Face, Firefly and a host of others are using the empty city to their advantage by robbing banks, starting fires and causing all kinds of mayhem. If Batman doesn’t stop them then the city will be lost by dawn but with his own sanity failing and Joker’s persona threatening to consume him, the Dark Knight might have to make the ultimate sacrifice…
The scale of this game has also stepped up in exactly the same way Arkham City gave players a much bigger sandbox to play in than Asylum and Arkham Knight has taken things a step further allowing players to explore the entirety of Gotham City. Just as I did in Arkham City I made a few notes as I played the game so I wouldn’t miss anything I wanted to talk about so with a lot to get through, let’s get started.
The city itself and the graphics are very impressive, the design of Gotham makes it look like an actual city that people live in rather than an uninteresting sandbox for the player to disinterestedly roam around in. There are numerous references to other elements within the DC Universe with several buildings bearing Lex Luthor’s name plus there are even a couple of mentions of the Man of Steel himself, Superman, although he doesn’t physically appear in the game. Apparently the same level of graphical detail used to create a single character model in Arkham Knight was used to render the entire game in Asylum, which is why this game looks so beautiful.
Batman naturally has numerous gadgets in his arsenal and one of the most fun to use was the evidence reconstruction tool. Using this Batman is able to reconstruct crime scenes and play things out in real time, slow them down and rewind to search for evidence. It is such a cool mechanic to use, and links in with using security camera footage to examine evidence whilst looking for clues. The Detective Mode is also present and correct, but it has been downgraded a little again, so once again it serves as a tool rather than something that needs to be used all the time. Although for some reason you can’t use detective mode whilst you are in the Batmobile, no idea why, you just can’t. Now all of Batman’s other gadgets are at your disposal and all of them can be upgraded to make them more useful. Similarly with Arkham City there are loads of people in the game with guns so planning a method of attack is necessary if you are going to survive and not get shot to crap.
Similarly to Arkham City because this game exists in its own universe there are some truly shocking moments, Rocksteady isn’t afraid to kill off characters and there are times when things are pretty brutal. Batman isn’t the only character on the side of good here, Nightwing, Robin and Oracle are also in Gotham trying to help the Dark Knight capture Scarecrow and bring the city back under control. However, the bigger roster just puts more characters in the firing line and some of them don’t make it to game’s end
The main story isn’t the only thing that Batman has to do during the game, like Arkham City there are almost a dozen side missions which involve tracking down the fearsome Man-Bat, chasing down a serial killer mutilating corpses, capturing Firefly (that mission is a bit of rinse, lather and repeat though) and several others. Now whilst you do earn xp during fights and so on, the best way to earn Upgrade points is by doing these side missions, and other characters will mention that there are other things that Batman needs to do, so whilst they aren’t forced on you there would be little to no chance in getting all the Upgrades without doing them.
Any upgrade you apply to one character also is applied to the others, so unlike Arkham City where you had to sink upgrade points into Catwoman for the handful of missions you play as her so she doesn’t get her well-toned ass handed to her, here, upgrade one and upgrade them all.
The Controls are much the same as they were in the previous games but I’m pretty sure that L1 activated Detective Mode in the previous games, now pushing Up on the D-Pad switches that on with L1 calling in the Batmobile. Now because I have spent two games doing it, I keep hitting L1 when I want to investigate a crime scene and instead the Batmobile races over. I’ll be talking about the Batmobile in a bit more detail in a few paragraphs but suffice it to say if you’ve played the previous games you’ll be familiar with what most of the buttons do.
I do miss the quick weapon interface, in both Arkham Asylum and City just select a direction on the D-pad and you’re armed with whatever weapons you wanted, here there is a separate weapons selection screen. It is a bit of a pain that you have to effectively pause the game, select what you want, then use it. If you want to use multiple tools then you have to go through this process every time you reselect a different tool, which does interrupt the game flow somewhat.
By the way, if you want the Remote Electrical Charge it is in the GCPD building in the criminal lock-up. There are several cases containing various tools of the trade from super-villains. Inside a case labelled "Batman" is the only item ever recovered from him, the Remote Electrical Charge, simply smash the case to get it back. Plus if you want the Freeze Blast then once you enter the Panessa Studios walk into the main room, on the left as you enter by the empty cell is a table with the Freeze Blast grenade sitting on top.
Another improvement from Arkham City is that you can now sabotage weapons crates so if people try to rearm themselves they get shocked, so one of my main criticisms from Arkham City has been addressed. There are also medics this time around that can reawaken unconscious henchmen so you’re always advised to take them out first, however, later on you can sabotage their health packs so when they try to awaken a fallen comrade they get incapacitated. The problem is it doesn’t matter how much you plan, how stealthy you try to be, in the end you are going to get gunned down time, and time…[sigh]…and time again.
Whilst several voice actors from previous games reprise their roles, some have been changed, the most notable of these for me was replacing Arkham Asylum's Scarecrow voice actor with John Nobel. I have nothing against Nobel, far from it, however what I found distracting was the fact that he sounded very similar to Corey Burton, the man who voiced the insane Doctor Hugo Strange in Arkham City. Hell, until I did a quick Google search I thought Nobel was the man who voiced Hugo Strange. In Arkham Asylum the Scarecrow had a creepy voice and insane laugh courtesy of Dino Andrade which suited the character, unfortunately, the steady and commanding voice of John Nobel doesn’t fit with who the Scarecrow is supposed to be. His monologues and PA announcements make him sound more like Hugo Strange from Arkham City rather than the insane doctor who is obsessed with terrifying his victims.
As I said above, the Joker is in the game and once again voiced by Mark Hamill. His attempts to plunge Batman into insanity and surrender his mind and body allowing the Joker to fully take over is a definite highlight. There are several times during the game when Joker pops up and so many of them are scarier than any of the Scarecrow sections. Joker generally seems harmless but he has the capability of becoming far more sinister and as the game goes on he becomes more dangerous to the Dark Knight…still considering Harley Quinn is desperate to have the Joker back (someone I’ll remind you she was perfectly happy to have sex with), if the Batman does become him, then there would be a couple of perks…
Yeah she just wants her Joker back…if it were me I’d give it, er him, to her…
The sandbox this time around is much larger than Arkham City the grapple boost move has been upgraded to give you a double, triple and later quadruple boost so you can still get around nice a quickly. The swooping and diving around the city doesn’t get any less fun during the game so you don’t mind souring over large distances, unfortunately, there is another way of getting around…the Batmobile.
Now you’d think that getting to drive the insanely cool and iconic Batmobile would be an absolute joy, sadly driving it is like trying to steer a startled horse around an ice skating rink. Plus whilst R2 is accelerate (like in most driving games I have played) when you hit L2 which is generally brake/reverse you instead engage the Batmobile’s “Battle Mode” so there you are mid-pursuit of a bad guy when you suddenly hit L2 to go round a corner and suddenly you are in Battle Mode. You then have to resume the chase once the vehicle has returned to pursuit mode. In this game Square gives you the ability to power-slide but considering how hard it is to keep the damn thing going in the right direction the car is a pain. As I mentioned a second ago there is a Battle-Mode which you go into when you engage other vehicles, however this mode can also be used to manoeuvre more precisely, and again this is used numerous times to get the car into position so you can use its winch to power stuff up. Once again the controls are wonky and to watch the Dark Knight’s car inching across a rooftop or slipping off a ledge time and time again forcing you to go back and try again is not just time consuming it is majority irritating. Still, you might be thinking to yourself if I can still grapple around then I’ll just leave the car wherever and not use it much, sadly you have to use it. There are various (and numerous) unmanned drones around the city which you will be unable to take on unless you are in the Batmobile, so you have to use it and if you don’t want it turned into scrap metal then you need to put upgrade points into it. Once it is upgraded I will admit that it packs a punch but there are a couple of times when you have to face off against ridiculously overpowered vehicles which can outpace the Batmobile easily and will blast it to bits in a couple of shots even when it is fully upgraded. Plus it is a bit of a dick move to force you into using it when, as the Batman you’d much rather be sneaking around in the shadows instead of fighting the same unmanned drones, doing time trails around the city as side missions or various races…
Which leads me to the Riddler…right so in Arkham City there were a couple hundred riddles, which involved getting trophies, breaking objects, combat challenges and straight up solving riddles. They got more than a little tedious, but unfortunately they haven’t been scaled back for Arkham Knight, not even a little bit. There are over two hundred and forty of the fucking things and not only that, the Riddler has taken it upon himself to build huge underground race tracks and puzzle rooms that you need to use the Batmobile for, the reason for this is to test Batman’s ability to…[frown]…drive...[another frown]…manoeuvre precisely??? Yeah these tracks are huge and do make you wonder how the hell he managed to not just build them without anyone noticing bearing in mind that until recently the city was populated by six million odd people but also how he was able to afford the necessary construction equipment needed to make them. Sorry, they do address how he was able to do it, he has built himself an army of robots that did the work for him…
…and how did he get the necessary equipment, and finances to build a robot army Arkham Knight??…you’re not going to tell me are you…okay, well moving on.
Anyway, like I said you don’t just have races to do, there are precision courses you have to navigate, eject and gliding challenges but why the Riddler has such a hard-on for the Batmobile I have no idea. In addition for a villain called the Riddler I fail to see how making Batman drive around completing courses or precision driving challenges are actual riddles, maybe a villain that specialised in fast-cars or something but why the fuck is the Riddler doing this?? He does have a side mission of his own in which he has kidnapped Catwoman and so Batman must do various puzzles to help rescue her (yeah gone is the independent and super-sexy incarnation of her from Arkham City) all she does in the game is wait for Batman to rescue her because an explosive collar the Riddler put round her neck will kill her if she tries to leave the room she’s confined in. I think perhaps though the most annoying thing about the Riddler is that he contacts you constantly when he has a new challenge for you to do if you want to rescue Catwoman, so unlike Arkham City in which you collected Riddles to find the various hostages he had taken in this game he nags you frequently if you don’t do his challenges and solve his numerous riddles. There are hundreds of these puzzles, and you must find every one of them if you want to confront the Riddler in a boss fight. Plus it is not always clear exactly what you are supposed to do, how is switching on generators in a particular order a riddle?? How is picking up a trophy only to be contained in a cage then squashed by a moving wall of spikes a riddle?? Honestly he is like an annoying child and I found myself doing his challenges and riddles just to shut the annoying fucker up because he is sooooo annoying…no annoying isn’t a strong enough word…I’d go so far as to say the Riddler is the worst part of the game.
One final point about the Riddler before I move on, if you want to see him in jail then you have to solve all of his riddlers, and I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE. You can't do the majority of them then confront him like you could in Arkham City, no you need to have found them all. My advice on doing them is this, do the ones you can, and the ones you can't look up a walkthrough which will give you the solutions to the ones you're struggling with. His boss fight is basically Batman and Catwoman Vs his robots, use the right character to destroy the right coloured robots, then jump up and keep punching him until his robots reactivate then...rinse, lather, repeat...his boss fight is quite apt because it is a lame boss fight for a lame villain.
The story is that Scarecrow is planning on detonating a bomb that will cover the entire city (and later discovered the entire Eastern Seaboard) with his potent fear gas and yet Superman doesn’t do anything to help. We know that the Man of Steel exists in this universe but he is content to let Batman do everything himself. Arkham Asylum took place on, well, an island, Arkham City took place in a prison facility so there was no reason for Superman to get involved. But with the stakes this high why didn’t Superman pop by to help out, yes we know Batman would insist on doing things himself. However, Superman could x-ray the city, find the bomb, and deactivate it before Scarecrow was done making his opening threatening PA announcement.
This time around Batman doesn’t just communicate to his allies via an ear-piece, here when he speaks to people he uses a video-link which bizarrely shows the face of whoever Batman is talking to…which doesn’t strike me as being very cautious as it will not keep the secret of their identity. If someone spotted Alfred Pennyworth, I’ll remind you, Bruce Wayne’s butler helping out the Dark Knight, coupled with the equipment that Batman has at his disposal then people might just twig that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same.
There are so many times in the game when I wasn’t sure what exactly I was supposed to do…be that a Riddler puzzle or during the story mode. I’d be put in a scenario time and again to be killed over and over before the game would drop some kind of hint because it clearly felt sorry for me indicating what exactly I was supposed to be doing. But how exactly I was supposed to just know is beyond even my mighty alien brain so how you humans fared I have no idea.
The tone of the game is also pretty all over the place, in some missions you have Batman working with Nightwing, and they are taking on Penguin who is shipping arms around the city. More than once Nightwing comments that Batman is enjoying himself, but at this point of the game Batman has witnessed one of his closest allies die before his eyes. So why is Nightwing saying he’s having fun, when surely he shouldn’t be doing anything other than trying to bring the perpetrator to justice.
Quick question: Why are the militia tanks not manned?? Seriously Batman destroys them without a second thought because they are just machines but if they were manned then surely he would either have to kill the occupants to destroy them or refuse to engage for fear of killing the driver. Perhaps if the Arkham Knight hadn’t wanted so many of them turned into scrap metal he should have stuck a few bodies (or maybe hostages) in them to prevent Batman from blowing them up with no crisis of conscience holding him back.
Similarly to Arkham City, Arkham Knight has a +game mode, but unfortunately unlike Arkham City (and every game that has this option) where I wanted to jump straight into a +game, here I don’t. The repetitive nature of the missions aside for a moment, I ended up getting killed a bunch of times especially in the Batmobile when I got overwhelmed by enemy numbers, and this would only get worse if I played in the +game mode which is harder than the original mode I played it on and not something I want to put myself through because it wouldn’t be fun. Maybe I will play it on that mode at some point but as I sit here and write this review I don’t want to dive into the game again.
Honestly I could go on and on talking about the game because there is so much to talk about, and there-in lies the problem. There is so much to this game and so it is difficult to form a final opinion as there is a lot to like but there is also a far amount of tedium, grind and the Batmobile isn’t the highlight that it easily could and should have been.
The overall problem with the game for me is that there is too much grinding and not enough fun.
There are numerous missions in which you have to sneak around cobra tanks shooting them from behind, it is tedious and repetitive. There are numerous militia checkpoints which you have to go in and destroy, it is tedious and repetitive. One of the confrontations with the Arkham Knight in a big fuck-off tank, with you sneaking round him in the Batmobile taking pots shots at him, it is tedious and repetitive. There are dozens and dozens of Riddler trophies and puzzles to do and solve, it is tedious and repetitive…are you seeing the pattern??
By the way if you want to get the true ending then you need to have done all of the side missions and captured every super-villain Gotham has to offer.
There is some really cool stuff in here but unfortunately so much of it is, yep you’ve guessed it, tedious and repetitive that Arkham Knight forces my Thumb from Up to…I’m sad to say Down. So much in the game is a grind and whilst there are highlights it is just too tedious and repetitive for me to have actively enjoyed. I spent most of the game with a grim look on my face as I sat there clearing out one militia strong hold after another or scouring the city for the side missions to pop up, there wasn’t the smile plastered to my face the whole time, like there was when I played Arkham Asylum.
6/10 – Yes there is a lot of good stuff here, but for me the meat of the game is forcing you to drive around in a Batmobile that handles terribly, and makes you go through boring militia missions or solve crappy Riddles over and over and over again. I think this series really should have begun and ended with Arkham Asylum because both City and Knight have just been trying to up the scale and scope of the story which leads to Arkham Knight being made up of nothing more than tedious, boring and repetitive missions.
So despite my rather negative review of Batman Arkham Knight I did go on to play it again in a +game mode, and honestly whilst some of the missions where you take on legions of armed men were massively aggravating and resulted in me having to do them over and over again, I pushed through it until I finally completed the game once again. I have to admit that over all having foreknowledge of the game and not having to find all the riddles again, plus working through the militia checkpoints as soon as they appeared rather than slogging through them when they’d built up, did help to eliminate some of the grind that I so heavily criticised in my review.
Naturally there was a large amount of DLC released after the game, and as I sat looking through it all I realised that to purchase all of it individually it would cost around £50, alternatively, there was a Season Pass available for £15.99 which would give me access to everything that has been added since the game released. In a first for me, I got the Season Pass and proceeded to download everything that was on offer. Admittedly some of these things, like the challenge maps I have no real intention of doing, but as I could get them free after buying the Pass it seemed foolish not to get them too.
There are a tonne of additional skins for Batman, Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman, as well as new looks for the Batmobile. Some of the designs for the car only work if you are playing certain challenge modes so whilst you can download the iconic Batmobile from the 1989 film, you can’t actually drive it in game which is a shame. You can wear the Batman skin from that film which looks insanely cool and instantly became my favourite skin to put Batman in. Honestly getting the Season Pass was almost worth it just to get that outfit.
The DLC included the Arkham Episodes which are shorter missions featuring characters from the main game like Harley Quinn and Red Hood during events that happen both before and after the events of Arkham Knight. In addition the Season of Infamy pack adds content to the main game, so unlike the Arkham Episodes in which you don’t play as Batman, in this DLC you do.
There are four missions in Season of Infamy in which you get to tangle with the Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, Mr Freeze and the League of Assassins…none of these are especially challenging but of them the one involving Mr Freeze is probably my favourite. The Mad Hatter mission is basically just fighting henchmen, and the most difficult part of it was not accidently knocking out a police officer that the Hatter has hypnotised. I actually failed the mission for “killing” the officer when I sparked him out during a combo. So thugs you can beat to a pulp, blow up with explosive gel, shoot or electrocute with the Batmobile and the Detective Mode in your cowl assures you that they are alive simply unconscious, but swing a punch at a police officer and suddenly he is dead…yeah, no wonder the Police in Gotham need Batman as he is the only one it seems that can take a punch. I won’t say anything more about these missions but basically they are good fun and give you another reason to be messing around in Gotham if you have finished all the side missions. Plus it is nice to see Batman getting to have a proper fight with Killer Croc unlike the lame game of whack-a-mole we played with him in Arkham Asylum.
Season of Infamy adds maybe an hour or so to the game so are not substantial, however, the final showcase that comes with the game can only be unlocked after you get 240%. You may be asking yourself how you get 240%, well you need to not just complete the game twice, once in a normal game and again in a +game doing all of the side missions to completion, you must download this story pack and complete all four of its missions in both your original game and your +game. If you do that then you’ll get a save file of 240% and you unlock the final showcase outfit and no longer have to one missing from your collection. Why the game has an inbuilt feature which means you cannot unlock all the outfits unless you download the extra story pack is a massive dick move because I am someone who likes to unlock everything a game has to offer. The thing is the final suit is nowhere near as cool as the 1989 film costume which as I said above is easily my favourite costume to put Batman in.
In the Arkham Episodes you play shorter self-enclosed missions as Harley Quinn, Red Hood, Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman. With the exception of the Batgirl A Matter of Family story these Episodes are also pretty short, I completed the Harley Quinn and Red Hood ones in less than half an hour a piece, the Robin and Nightwing missions were also not ones that took me long to complete.
Catwoman’s DLC called creatively Catwoman’s Revenge pits Catwoman against the most tedious, boring, and repetitive aspect of the main game, the Riddler, and not surprisingly it is easily the worst of all of the DLC packages.
You play as Catwoman the night after the events of Arkham Knight seeking to steal Riddler’s money and destroy his robot lab whilst he is still in prison. There is a brief stealth section in which you need to pick the pockets of three guards to gain access to his vault or workshop or whatever, then you need to take down a dozen or so of his henchmen. That is not too tricky in itself, BUT, then you enter his robot factory…and guess what…yep you are just pitched against seemingly endless robots that just keep coming, and coming, and coming, and coming. Now in the main game you are playing (well I was) as a fully upgraded Batman, and his upgrades carried over to the other characters so all of them had more armour and health than they started with. Sadly in the DLC you only get your basic health bar. That didn’t bother me too much in the others but in this one, it is just robots after robots after robots that just pick away at your health, it is like being pecked to death by ducks . Plus the floor beneath your feet becomes slowly more and more electrified meaning if the robots don’t kill you, the floor will, oh and just to add the cherry on the cake there are two lasers that cut down between the steadily electrifying panels that will cause you damage if they touch you. So just to summarise you have a army of robots attacking you, a floor that will kill you as you try to do your combos to take down the robots, and lasers that will cut you to shreds if you cross the panel lines…tell me does any of that sound like fun to you?? Then when you die, and you will die, you will die a fuck-tonne you have to endure that smug fuck-wit bragging about how smart he is to have beaten you.
I almost quit the mission but I refused to let that green twat beat me…so do you want to know the secret of how to beat his army of robots??
Just keep hitting the attack button, don’t worry about counters, or elaborate takedowns, keep moving and smash that attack button until your finger is sore. Trust me this is really the only way to take down enough robots fast enough before you’re trapped on four squares and unable to move…basically Riddler’s side mission is just like the Riddler’s character…uninspired, and extremely irritating.
As I said above the A Matter of Family mission featuring Batgirl and Robin is the most substantial and sees Mark Hamill reprising his roles as the voice of the Joker once again. In the mission Batgirl and Robin must get onboard an offshore oilrig that some billionaire was turning into a theme park for his terminally ill daughter but has become a Joker hideout. Joker has kidnapped some police officers as well as Commissioner Gordon and will kill them if Batman himself attempts to rescue them, but not if Batgirl or Robin make an attempt. Not sure why but whatever. It was good fun getting to play as Barbra Gordon’s Batgirl because in the Arkham canon she has already been crippled by the Joker and has the role of Oracle so the Batgirl outfit that we see in Arkham Knight we get to see her wearing as she kicks ass as a costumed crime fighter. I did encounter the only bug I have come across in the Arkham games during this mission, the game crashed, fortunately the auto-save happens so frequently that I didn’t need to start over when I reloaded the game. There are collectables in this DLC, you pop a number of balloons, break Joker teeth (like you did in Arkham Asylum) and find Harley Quinn’s Jack-in-the-Boxes. But unlike the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC from Arkham City in which you have to repeat the mission again if you missed any of the balloons you needed to pop, in A Matter of Family you have the option of resuming or restarting the mission. So if you’re just looking for the collectables then you can just return to the oilrig to find them without needing to start all over again. Oh, and by the way, all of the collectables are on the rig itself rather than in the tunnels underneath or the cable cars you use to get there and they show up in Detective Vision so it is not too difficult to find them all. It is a self enclosed story and is a really good edition to the game, plus you get to have a boss fight with the Joker, Harley Quinn and their henchmen which is a definite highlight.
The Robin mission Flip a Coin which takes place after the events of Arkham Knight wasn’t bad, although the final fight with a bunch of henchmen took me a while because of those annoying as hell stun baton guys that you cannot hit from the front. As a result I was mid-combo numerous times when my Boy-Wonder went shooting across the arena to attack one of them, gets stunned, stands around for a second or two in a daze allowing every other enemy to pile in and slice his health bar down to nothing in seconds. I got really angry doing this bit, but unlike Catwoman’s fight against the robots, it was my own mistakes that lead to me getting killed rather than the poor design of the mission itself.
In all honesty whilst the majority of the Arkham Missions and the Season of Infamy pack were short and didn’t add more than maybe three or four hours of game play they were overall really good fun. The skins you unlock are naturally just cosmetic but they do look really cool and allow you to play as you personal favourite Batman.
The question that I am pondering now is…was buying the Season Pass worth it in order to play all of the DLC…honestly yes. I enjoyed playing through them, and whilst Catwoman’s Revenge I might not have bothered to download if I’d known what was involved A Matter of Family was probably one of my favourite DLCs ever.
Over all I am giving all of the DLC for Arkham Knight a Thumbs Up, if you have the Season Pass or Game of the Year Edition then definitely play through the DLC too. If you were a fan of Arkham Knight and want an excuse to play as Batman again or even take control of some of the other characters then there is something in the DLC for everyone.
7/10 – Generally the missions are bite sized chunks of self-enclosed little stories (or episodes if you will) and whilst Catwoman’s Revenge almost made me want to rage-quit, the rest of the content holds up that badly designed mission. Seriously the Riddler is shit, let's hope he doesn't appear in another Batman game. A Matter of Family is well made and if there rest of the DLC doesn’t interest you, then just download that one and leave it at that because you will not regret it.