AUTHOR’S NOTE: Full disclosure – I didn’t platinum this because the game now refuses to run on my PS4. I considered not writing this because I obviously haven’t finished, and even the final story mode trophies still remain untouched, but what is a gaming column without a couple of failures? More frustrating details to come. (There will be no major spoilers here, because I don’t have any actual knowledge to spoil upon you)
CAN I PLATINUM THIS: Well, I can’t. You might be able to. According to the internet it would take roughly 40-75 hours to platinum, but I am fairly confident it would take longer than that if you weren’t using online guides for the Riddler trophies and all that.
TL;DR: gg then nvm
INITIAL SELECTION: For good or ill, I was always a huge fan of the Arkham games. I even struggled through Arkham: Origins, despite all of the warnings from the internet and my subconscious. I was excited, but excited like a dog going for a ride in the car who didn’t know he was going to get neutered. That kind of excited.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Batman is back, chronologically after Arkham City, and like a good modern franchise the game mostly ignores the lamest series entry. The game kept giving me ominous foreshadowing and pieces of dialogue, like, “This is the night that Batman dies” and even has mini-missions where Batman is testing out his potential replacement. They really did a good job with this one, because the actual death of Batman was so real and so permanent that I definitely did not see it coming.
I was finishing a particularly difficult fight to rescue one of the last remaining firefighters (of seventeen) and I was extremely satisfied to have successfully defeated the challenge. Upon picking up my controller to continue playing, I knocked the empty game case down onto the PS4 power cables and the PS4 turned off. “Oh no!” I lamented, “I hope I don’t have to replay that part again, that was quite difficult.” And with that, Batman was dead. My game now refuses to even get to the title screen without shutting down. I don’t know how the developers did it, but they really made sure this game hammered home the perma-death of Batman angle. I thought only the character of Batman was going to die, not the entire game itself. I’ve never played a game before which killed the game when the main character died. Quite impressive.
GAMEPLAY REVIEW: Up until the Bat-death of my console, everything was quite swell. The fight mechanics felt good, a little clunky, but smoother than previous installments. The addition of the Batmobile I was initially of two minds about, but it isn’t too bad if you dump all of your upgrade- points into souping it up. For some reason, gliding and divebombing in this game was really the highlight for me, potentially because of the expanded scope of the city environment. In many ways this is a rehash of what we have seen before, but I feel like the developers tweaked enough of it to make it feel like a worthwhile experience, like concepts touched on in previous installments were followed through to their logical conclusion. This could be in the form of drop-in open world predator, ‘Occupy Gotham’ watchtowers, Batmobile races, and sexual tension with Catwoman to the point where I was worried that Batman might feel a little lightheaded since all of his blood was rushing to other parts of his body. Plus that whole ‘game shutdown’ mechanic, I still cannot get over how successfully that was utilized.
BEST PARTS: I know the plot is a little cheesy, but I am a sucker for these Batman stories. The scope and the integrations of villains and allies really gets my Bat-engines revving. Paul Dini’s franchise influence in all of these games is definitely a big part of it, and it certainly does not hurt to keep the Batman: The Animated Series vibe going by having Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return for their trademark excellent performances. The ‘random thug’ dialogue and voice-acting was also rock solid this time around. Where were they for Batman & Robin, we could’ve used some clever writing back then.
As mentioned previously, this game does not feel like a waste of time, but rather a necessary update and expansion on the franchise for current-gen consoles. It was nice to get immersed in the world again. There were also a surprizing number of effective jump-scares in the game, which I do not normally appreciate, but I was feeling it in a big way. Scarecrow would have been proud. And, this might sound a little weird, but… I am glad that the character designs are now… smaller? In the other games it really felt like everyone was modelled on some ‘90s pornstars. All of the male characters were either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jack Skellington, and all of the women were Pamela Anderson and that is it. I am probably one of the only gamers writing positively about breast reduction, but it really was messing with my engagement when it always looked like the characters were one tense line away from a softcore porno.
WORST PARTS: The worst part of this game was definitely when it stopped working. Really terrible. Although I do not mind longer games, sometimes I do appreciate games which are short, because life is short. This is not one of those games. Check out the ‘collectables’ heading for more info about this.
Lastly, someone else should voice the Penguin too, because, come on. Terrible. Nolan North, come on. What are you doing. Just, terrible.
BIGGEST SURPRIZE: Photo Mode was a lovely addition I was playing around with initially and planning to play around with more before the game went the way of Jason Todd. Photo mode allows you to manipulate camera angles in game, as well as adding filters and all kinds of stuff, to make your screencaps look good. To be honest though, I mostly defaulted to the stock standard screencaps because the others looked too busy, but it was a nice, thoughtful addition by the developer.
The other big surprize for me was when the game turned off and then refused to turn back on again. Still really surprized about that.
COLLECTABLES?: This is an Arkham game, so of course. It really felt like they outdid themselves this time to the point where you have to stop and have a moment to consider what kind of life you’re living right now. Collectables in numbers where you are pushed into existential shame is pretty impressive. You have the 315 Riddler collectables, 9 Militia APC chase missions, the 14 ‘Campaign for Disarmament’ Batmobile horde-mode challenges, ‘Creature of the Night’ side-mission, ‘Friend in Need’ side-mission, ‘Gotham on Fire’ race-based side-mission, ‘Gunrunner’ side-mission, ‘Heir to the Cowl’ side-mission, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ side-mission, 17 firefighters to rescue in the ‘Line of Duty’ side-missions, 21 ‘Occupy Gotham’ watchtowers, 20 ‘Own the Roads’ side-missions, ‘The Perfect Crime’ side-mission, the ‘Two-Faced Bandit’ side-mission, plus you eventually have to actually fight the Riddler. There are more side-mission campaigns in this game than most games have in total collectables. Pizza is delicious, but if you eat too much of it, you will die. That is how I feel about these collectables, and I am usually Captain Collectable.
WOULD I BUY THE DLC OF THIS GAME?: I totally would, and have, but I can’t really play it because of some weird region issue. Why would you have region-free discs, but regioned DLC? You’d think that of all things in the world that wouldn’t be concerned with location, it would be things downloaded from the internet. Frustrating and lame, like the numb arm you slept on.
FIRST TROPHY: Journey into Knight (Bronze) 2015/08/23 10:15AM
The description of this trophy is ‘Even The Odds,’ which admittedly does not explain much. Since this is the first trophy and it happens basically within the first five minutes of gameplay, I do not think it is a spoiler to reveal that you get this trophy when you first call the Batmobile. The cut-scene is very satisfying.
PLATINUM: I AM the Batman! (NOT ATTAINED)
I wish it was attained. I really, really do.
MOST DIFFICULT TROPHY: Master of Fear (NOT ATTAINED)
The description of this trophy is ‘Wayne vs Crane,’ which is attained when completing the main story. Usually it is the story-mission trophies which are the easiest to accomplish, but with this Playstation shutdown tech that Rocksteady have implemented, they have made this trophy extremely difficult. Even if your Playstation does not die a hero’s death, the story is hella long, so it might even be quite taxing for the hardened platformer players.
‘SO EASY THAT IT IS KINDOF POINTLESS’ TROPHY: Scar of the Bat 2015/09/05 2:00AM
The description of this trophy is ‘Cure the doctor,’ which is attained during the completion of the ‘Manbat’ storyline. Even though I thought it was really cool that they shoehorned Manbat into the the Arkham series, his quests do seem quite underwhelming. Considering how well they integrated Killer Croc into Arkham Asylum, they could have done something a little more involved than ‘fly into him, punch him in the face.’ It was surprisingly disappointing when the trophy popped because I would have thought they would have done more. Why not a predator mode where Batman is being hunted by Manbat, to turn that idea on its head? ‘Manbat’ here stands for ‘mostly another nothing but attack thing.’
MOST ENTERTAINING TROPHY: Touch of Death 2015/09/06 1:30PM
The description of this trophy is ‘Apprehend the weapons dealer and lock him up in GCPD,’ which is attained upon completion of the ‘Gunrunner’ side missions. I went out of my way to do these missions because the new dual-fighting mechanic with Nightwing was popping all of my Bat-cherries. Not just the final takedown combos, but just switching between the characters was amazing, as it does this Matrix slowdown thing whenever you did it. I was switch-spamming the entire fight. Plus you get to blow up Penguin’s stuff, which is nice, because his accent is terrible and it drives you to remove him from the situation as quickly as possible.
MOST GRIND-HEAVY TROPHY: Riddle Me That (NOT ATTAINED)
The description of this trophy is ‘Lock up the Riddler in GCPD,’ which is attained upon the collection of all 243 Riddler trophies. This may sound crazy but I am going to say it: I think 243 collectables is too much. If my game wasn’t Bat-broken I still would have done it, but we all need to relax with the collectables already. Sheesh.
HAPPY ACCIDENT TROPHY: Savage Metal 2015/09/02 11:56PM
The description of this trophy is ‘Smash 10 militia transport vehicles off the road without using the immobilizer.’ Considering how much Batman doesn’t like to kill people, he sure tries his hardest to do so in this game. They make a point to have all of the badguys limply crawl out of car crashes so they can have a Bat-tussle, but surely at least once or twice during the course of all this one of them sustained a broken neck or Batman permanently ‘immobilizes’ someone. Anyway, this trophy sounds pretty hard but later in the APC chases it is pretty easy to get smash-happy.
ONLINE TROPHY HIGHLIGHT(S): Thankfully, there are no online trophies to this game. The online trophies of the previous instalments were rough and unattainable for me, so it hardens my Batsuit nipples to know that they did not bring them back.
TROPHY COLLECTION PRO-TIP: Don’t touch your Playstation at all, at any point during your playthrough. Playing through in one sitting is most likely the only way to keep the Rocksteady Gods happy.
FINAL THOUGHT: I often watch gaming fandoms with a certain amount of schadenfreude, sitting on the outside with my safe and reliable technology. When I saw that the PC version of Arkham Knight had been pulled, I could not help but feel like the Master Race would be weeping into their Rei Ayanami-shaped pillows and shaking their fat fists comically at those dirty casuals who still got to play the game, but now here we all are, sweating from our collective body heat, in Batman-less purgatory. I have danced with the devil in the pale moonlight and the devil was Rocksteady.