"Be The Batman" so say the tag line for Batman Arkham Knight, the third and last instalment in the Batman series from Rocksteady, who are arguably the father of the superhero game. How does this epic conclusion stack up to the high bar set by its predecessors? Will it swoop to new found heights, or slump under the weight of expectation? Let's find out!
If you are new to the franchise or even a returning cowl toting veteran the same thrill of the chase will meet you the first time you open up your cape and feel the wind and the city beneath you. The prelude to this opening of the caped crusaders wings is a sorry one. Gotham citizens have been plunged into a frenzied panic as the main antagonist of this game, Scarecrow, threatens to release his fear toxin on the city. The ensuing campaign of terror from Scarecrow will test Batmans mental and physical skills to the limit and beyond! From the start of the game you know that Scarecrow has a very exact plan of how to bring Batman to his knees, and the thrill filled ride that constitutes this journey will stay with me for years to come.
It is clear that Rocksteady have learn the fine work of their craft even more since that last Batman instalment; Arkham City. This time around the game is filled with a wider array of challenges to overcome, and an arsenal that has suitable increased in size to meet this new found danger. Where Arkham City was filled with roles that were barely larger than cameos from many familiar faces from the Criminal Row that makes up the Batman Cannon. In Arkham Knight this has been refined, to the campaign which features several familiar faces, but doesn't hit you over the head with the thought that all of Gothams villains are against you. Fear not though, for these villains still make an appearance, this time confined to side quests through out the massive hulking shape of the Gotham Skyline.
The Batmobile is the most notable contribution to the series making an appearance in Arkham Knight for the first time as a fully drivable vehicle. I always liked the idea of the Batmobile being drivable around the streets of Gotham, and I trusted Rocksteady to pull this new found transportation off with aplomb. One thing I was not expecting to see released under the hood of the suitably menacing exterior of the Batmobile, was what can quite effectively be called a tank. When I took to the streets to fight drone tanks I was still a little spectacle as to whether it would work. This feeling was sadly not blown out of my head the first time I completed a tank battle, however my opinion of the new addition to combat, has slowly evolved over the course of the game. In the end I loved every second I spent in the tank iteration of the Batmobile.
However one of the only things that I think Rocksteady has done wrong with this game are the stealth sections with the Batmobile. Fights taking place against much stronger tanks feel irritating to start with, and this feeling sadly is never shaken. These segments of the game, have you in the Batmobile having to sneak up behind these armoured tanks, aptly named Cobra Tanks, and waiting a few second for your weapons to lock onto the conveniently placed weak spot on the rear of the tank and exploiting this at the expense of the tanks integrity. To start with you are only faced with a small number of Cobra Tanks, one or two to start with, but rather than introducing a new mechanic to these fights, you are instead faced with a growing number of these enemies to best before you can carry on. It is at a discord with the whole game which feels immensely polished and thought though, however these fights feel like a very cheap way of wasting the players time. However it is a mild annoyance compared to the game at large, so I shall speak no more off it.
There are two main themes throughout the medium length campaign which has you taking up the mantle of the Dark Knight one last time. They are Scarecrow, who I mentioned earlier, and the titles name sake the Arkham Knight. Both of these formidable foes are the backbone of the story, and keep the pacing and intrigue at the perfect levels. From the start of the game the Arkham Knight clearly has a very strong vendetta against Batman, though the man under the mask never shows his face. I was totally enraptured by theories of who was under the mask, and though I obviously won't spoil the identity, rest assured I think the reveal is one of the best moments of the game. I say one of the best moments because the Arkham Knight is littered with these amazing, stand out moments that you will remember for years to come! There is a specific mission in the second half of the game, which really throws out the rule book for third person games, and is certainly a segment that I can't wait to play again in the New Game + option given to you after you have completed to game.
Dual Play, is another feature that is making a franchise entry with the Arkham Knight, letting you play either as Batman or three of his companions at specific points in the campaign and side quests. Simply by pressing R1 you take control of the other vigilante and continue to rack up your combo multiplayer. I was sceptical about this addition when it was first announced, thinking that it would get in the way of me progressing at my own pace. However I am very happy to say that it has been implemented perfectly. These occurrences are only on the rarest of occasions, with only two or three such segments appearing in the campaign. This co-operation is never implemented in predator sections, so you can be as slow and stealthy as you like in those encounters. When you rack up a high enough multiplier with either or both characters you can unleash a lethal take down on one unwitting adversary. I enjoy these titbits of co-operation far more than I thought I would, and even wish there were more encounters that utilised dual play, my ultimate goal would be for dual play to be usable during free roam in the main city. Sadly this option is not given to us, maybe for good reason, as traversal might be difficult whilst playing as another character!
Batman goes by many names through out the comics, games and films, and people calling him a detective are not lying. There are more elements to make you feel involved with the investigations than ever before. With truly memorable tasks that are both fun to work out, and rewarding once you have! I must also mention the second of two problems I have with the game. The first as mentioned above is to do with Cobra Tanks, but my second is the boss fights in this game, Rocksteady have never been able to concoct a good boss fight. I obviously won't detail any of these encounters, but let's just say that they live up to the expectation of Rocksteady boss fights. This is a shame because all other elements have been refined by the team over the last few years since Arkham City was released, so it would have been nice to see an improvement in the boss fights.
Batman Arkham Knight is a game that I shall neither forget nor stop playing any time soon. It has raised the bar for both superhero games and third person games in general. I would be sad that this is the last Batman game bursting its way out of Rocksteadys doors(and I believe it is), but I'm okay with this. They have put to bed one of my favourite gaming series of all time, and simultaneously left me wanting what ever game to be released from Rocksteady.
Truly a game for the history books, combining all of my thoughts onto the game, I give you my final score!
Thank you very much for reading,
I'm sure that many of you are aware that developers are constantly fighting the good to try to get the best combination, the right balance, between the graphical quality of a game, and the number of frames per second it can output. Now I'm no technical wizard by any means, so don't expect detailed analysis of game engines, frame drops and more jargon that nearly only developers would understand. I'm more going to be talking about what I think the right balance is, why a trend is appearing, and which games have done it right, compared to what upcoming games look like they will do.
So to get the obvious question out of the way first, I would prefer 60 frames per second(FPS) with lower graphical quality compared to a very good looking game, which runs at 30(or lower) FPS. Let me cast your minds back to when the PlayStation 4 was first released, the first game I ever played on this amazing new console was Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4 runs on average, at 60 FPS, even in multiplayer(taking aside some glitches present in the release version of the game for some people) and I never thought I would be able to see much of a difference between the 30 and 60 FPS, but I was blown away as soon as I spawned in for the first time and it all ran super smooth! The main reason I wanted to bring this issue to the fore of my site, is because of The Witcher 3, which is a game I adore don't get me wrong. However if there was one thing which constantly annoys me whilst playing, and that is the frame rate, which is 30 FPS at best. There have also been reports that this is new even lower in places since the latest patch 1.07, which to all intents and purposes is a very good patch with some awesome additions. However having a game playing out at less than 30FPS, is simply unacceptable to me. I would rather the world be broken down into smaller chunks that need individually loading, and ever a lower graphical quality to get a good frame rate.
I believe that the gaming community has grown to obsessed with how pretty a game looks, and this has forced developers to make rather serious cuts to the frame rate of their games. Look at the upcoming release of Uncharted 4, it goes with out saying that this game looks stunning, but especially for a game as action oriented at the Uncharted series only 30fps may be problematic. To compare this to The Uncharted Collection which will run at 1080p(HD) and 60fps, now this is obviously because they are all PS3 games running on the significantly faster operating PS4. I believe that it is only when a game drops below 30fps that we can see problems emerging, but if a game targets 30fps there is a chance that a lower frame rate will be noticed by the gamer.
It is possible that I am on my own with these ideas, but there is nothing that can squash my enjoyment for a game than a low frame rate, maybe I am over accustomed to high frame rate games, but when I am riding around on my horse in The Witcher 3 and there is very noticeable jerking from the character, I am disappointed. There is a correct balance between graphical prowess and frame rate, but I think that balance has yet to be perfected on the new generation of hardware. Which is okay, we are at the beginning of a new age of consoles, developers were working on games that are being released now well before the consoles were released, and in some cases even announced!
Well that is my fill of your time for today, check back soon for more coverage of Batman Arkham Knight(including a review and Riddler Diaries!) and The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt! Also let me know what you think about the balance between frame rate and graphical prowess!
I will leave you with some statistics for some of the well played games currently, and their frame rates, note that 1080p is also known as HD! Also(and I'm not trying to start a console war here) these figures are for the PS4 versions of the games, some of these stats are lower on the Xbox One, some also are upscaled on the Xbox One(which is something I don't really understand!)
Batman Arkham Knight, 1080p with 30fps
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, 1080p with 30fps
Uncharted Collection, 1080p 60fps(NOTE: This is a remastered version of PS3 Games!)
Destiny, 1080p with 30fps
Uncharted 4, Single Player: 1080p with 30fps; Multiplayer: 1080p with 60fps(NOTE: Frame rate for multiplayer is still a target and not confirmed)
Fallout 4, 1080p with 30fps
Evolve, 1080p with 30fps
The Order 1886, 1080p with 30fps
Bloodborne, 1080p with 30fps
There are more games I have missed, but I will leave that with you!
Thanks as always for reading,
Today I want to talk about something that I have been thing about the last couple of days. Is there such a thing as a game that is too big? Now, there is a difference between big games, for example Destiny is quite a small game in terms of content, but has immense replayability. Comparing Destiny to a game such as The Witcher 3 or Dragon Age Inquisition, both of the latter games are immense in scale and story. The thing is, for someone like me, who doesn't give over whole weekends to gaming, instead playing a little everyday, going into a game such as The Witcher 3 or Inquisition, I consciously think that I will not finish the campaign for this game. I will do side quests, level up, explore and acquire new gear, but I fear that I am not a committed to the campaign of the game because I know I won't finish it.
Take The Witcher 3, the story of the game takes most people around the 100 hour mark to complete, that would take me at least two months of only playing that game. In that time there will be new games released that I want to play, and also older games that still have appeal for me. I have played countless number of games, but only three games have ever taken more than 100 hour from me, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 and just recently Destiny. Now maybe that says more about me as a gamer than it does about the games, I'm a stickler for a good multiplayer game, where I'm "grinding" for the next rank up or piece of loot. They are also the most fun for me, as I can zone into the game, and just play. Where as a game such as Inquisition firstly takes an emotional toll on me, but also I always make massive decisions that will affect the rest of the game. Because of this I feel that it needs my full attention, why I don't think I can always give to a game!
A similar point could be made for The Last of Us, I highly doubt there are many players of that game that weren't emotionally affected by it in some way. However because I knew it was a medium length game(around 20-25 hours for completion) I "pushed" on with it and it is now one of my most cherished games. The problem, then, with games as large as The Witcher 3 or Inquisition is that they last around 4-5 times longer than a game like TLoU. I thus feel less of a drive to finish it, because I know that some other game will drag me away from it before I reach it's conclusion.
Casting our gaze back to the last generation, I played Mass Effect 2 and 3 to their conclusion(both Bioware games like Inquisition) because they were closer to the short end of the spectrum, at least when compared to Inquisition. Bringing yet another game into this debate, Batman Arkham Knight, has a large open world which is incredibly fun to explore; but Arkham Knight apparently lasts around the 15 hour margin to complete. Because I know that the story won't take me too long, I can focus my attention on that, suppressing my Destiny urges in the process.
Maybe there is no happy medium, though I know this, only AAA games have this problem. Unfinished Swan is a very short indie game, and knowing this, despite the fact that my interest in it was definitely present, but not burning. I set aside a few days in which to complete it; and did. This was because I knew that I could see the game from 0-100% in a few days. It is only when AAA games such as Inquisition The Witcher 3 enter the scene that I lose my focus on the story(despite both of them being superb), because I know myself as a gamer, and I know that completion of such a game is beyond me.
I know I haven't drawn and conclusion from this, and I apologise for that, maybe it is dependant on the gamer, how much time they can spend in a game, and what kind of game they like. I'd be very intrigued to hear your thoughts on this issue, you can either let me know in the comments below(which is open to everyone) or let me know on Twitter!
Thanks for reading,
Batman Arkham Asylum caught everyone's attention by creating arguably the best hand to hand combat in any game before it, and made the most believable portrayal of Batman we had ever seen in a game. Arkham City built on this framework and created a massive open world, filled with things to do, places to visit, and villains to take down. Combine this with a new playable character, Catwoman, and a plot line that you will not forget, and you have a sequel that was even better than the original. Was Rocksteady able to make it a hat trick, and finish their world famous series off with a bang, or is it closer to a fizzle? Let's find out!
Arkham Knight starts off on a very sombre tone, with the whole of Gotham being evacuated following a threat of a terrorist strike from the famed villain, Scarecrow. All citizens leave the city, leaving only the low and high level villains to reek havoc on Gotham. Only the Batman and GCPD stand in their way, but Batman has a new tool of crime suppression at his disposal. The Batmobile has made its inaugural debut into the series, and it does so with a bang. With Batman being let loose in an even bigger section of Gotham than ever before, the Batmobile is an incredibly fun way of getting around Gotham. If you have been paying attention to this game, and specifically it's reviews, then you will know that most people don't particularly like the "Tank Mode" of the Batmobile. I am currently torn on the issue, part of me likes the principle of it, though there are a few things getting in the way of my enjoyment. Firstly I don't feel like a proper Batman when I'm effectively in a tank destroying other heavily armoured vehicles. I know the other tanks are remote controlled, but it still jars with me somewhat. The other thing is there is no aim assistance for the main weapon. I have found it rather hard to actually hit the enemy tanks as my cross hairs glide over them like there is nothing there, just a slight stick would be quite nice.
One of the things I love with the Batmobile are the puzzle sections using both the Batman and the Batmobile, I feel these puzzles make more use of a second party from Batman, and they are rather enjoyable! The other thing that the Batmobile does which so far, is one of my favourite things to do, and they are the Riddler tracks. I have only finished a few as of writing these impressions, but they are incredibly fun. With the Riddler putting obstacles in your path that will need both quick reflexes and good control of the car.
During the time I have currently spent with the game, I have progressed about 30% through the main campaign(which appears to be shorter than I would like). I have also picked up a fairly large number of side quests, all of which revolve around villains of Gotham! I mentioned the Riddler race tracks a moment ago, but there are also scores(over 200) actual Riddler Trophies to collect! These are both incredibly fun to collect, but also unlock extra content to play! Though I am yet to unlock many of these!
The graphics shown off in this game are stunning, with no cap on the render distance you can see the whole of Gotham, assuming you can get high enough to see it all! There are some amazing environmental affects occurring in the sky box of the game, with rain constantly pattering down on Batmans head, and also occasional lightning seen in the distance!
All in all this game is amazing, and one that I can't wait to complete to it's fullest! Don't forget that haven't touched much today on the actual story of the game, which has had both surprises that I am loving, but the whole thing has me encapsulated! The only thing that doesn't make me sad that this is the last Batman game from Rocksteady, is that they are creative geniuses and will doubtlessly produce amazing games in the future(hopefully still based on DC characters!)
Thanks for reading,
Today I wanted to talk to you all about my feelings towards Downloadable Content, or DLC. There has been a lot of controversy this year surrounding DLC, with Batman Arkham Knight announcing an incredibly small amount of information, that they were then expecting people to buy a £32.00($39.99). Bungie has had people up in arms talking about the different versions of their upcoming expansion, The Taken King. Every year without fail, the big shooting franchises such as Call of Duty or Battlefield(not quite yearly but the point stands) release a season pass. In the case of the latest CoD, Advanced Warfare people had to shell out £34.99($49.99) in order to continue to get new content after the game has been released.
Looking at the other side of the spectrum, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is in the process of releasing two small pieces of DLC every week until a total of 16 pieces have been released. They have released these bits of content for free to all gamers, to matter what console or version of the game they bought. This is because they think they owe gamers for buying their game! Now on top of this there is a season pass you can buy for The Witcher 3, which will "only" set you back £19.99($24.99) which includes between them 30 hours of gameplay.
The cost of season passes, specifically surrounding multiplayer games is very hard to quantify, some people will play these DLCs for countless number of hours. Where as someone like me who bought the Advanced Warfare season pass, but I no longer enjoy the game, thus barely play the DLCs! Looking at the single player game DLCs which are slightly easier to lock down in terms of the amount of time they will take to complete. As I said above The Witcher 3 season pass is claiming that the two DLCs that will be included in the season pass will add up to 30 hours of total gaming content. Looking in terms of content then, rather than the amount the gamer will play said content. It is impossible to say how long it takes to produce say the Advanced Warfare DLCs in comparison to The Witcher 3 DLCs. However I would take an educated guess that two of the Advanced Warfare DLCs don't take more time to create than both Witcher 3 DLCs.(I reached that comparison loosely basing the price of the 2 Advanced Warfare DLCs £17.50 or $24.99 and The Witcher 3 DLCs being £19.99 or $24.99)
Now I would like to stress that I have no game development knowledge, however I do reckon I know enough about games in general to know the difference is literal content in the above, compared DLCs.
To bring this discussion to a conclusion, maybe DLCs are a good or bad thing, I feel that I am not qualified enough to answer that question. However I feel that the prices of these pieces of Downloadable Content are far more expensive than the content supplied warrants. It has nearly reached the stage where Year 1 content is costing the gamer nearly as much as the original game, when arguable the additional content doesn't supply nearly as many things to do, as the base game.
I'm sure many of you have opinions on the issue of DLCs and the price tags attached to said DLCs, you can let me know what you think in the comments below, or you can Tweet me!
Thank you very much for reading,
I would like to say at the end of this article that the prices(and their Sterling to Dollar differences) have in no way been made up by me, I have used a combination of Amazon.co.uk and comparing those prices to Amazon.com.
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!