Have You Played… Batman: Arkham Knight?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Maybe it’s the E3 scent in the air or maybe it’s just that I’m craving some big budget biffing, but I’m missing my favourite Multiple-A franchises right now. The Arkham games in particular. Oh, to be the bat-like man once more.

The Arkham games might have been a case of diminishing returns, though I prefer Knight to City, but even when they became bloated, they didn’t lose track of their combat flow. It’s not a particularly complex system, though if you really want to rack up the experience points variety in takedowns is a necessity, but the crunchy violence is beautifully presented and leaves enough room for grandstanding. Stand motionless in the centre of a circle of goons and wait for them to make the first move before countering and then taking down the entire crew. All it’s missing is a taunt button, or perhaps even a key press that makes Batman tap unsuspecting mobsters on the shoulder before administering nocturnal justice.

Arkham Asylum is still my favourite and the later games feel like big comic book arcs that are changing the state of the DC Universe forever rather than the one long, bad night. That’s my preferred form of Batman storytelling and Asylum nails it. Within the confines of the titular building it manages to be an expansive look at the DC world that reminds me why I enjoyed the comics in the first place.

I was lucky enough to play Knight with few technical hitches though and despite the bloat, I think it’d be a shame for people to skip it entirely. Not as tight and controlled as Asylum, sure, but it adds plenty to the formula that does work and despite hitting too many predictable beats, the story is good blockbuster fodder.

So, yes, I miss my big silly blockbuster game and I would very much like to see it return (with the Mordor Nemesis system please thanks).

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38 Comments

  1. Dominic Tarason says:

    Once it was properly patched up, most of the performance horror stories regarding Arkham Knight were due to a single, specific bottleneck: VRAM

    Simply put, at the time of release, most common video cards didn’t have the RAM to handle the game at 1080p/60fps. Nowadays, a relatively cheap mid-spec card like the 1060 can without breaking a sweat, assuming you turn off the Nvidia-exclusive physically-modelled smoke effects. That one setting is the sole domain of exceptionally beefy machines. 1070s and higher only apply. Literally every other setting? Feel free to crank it all up.

    It looks chuffin’ lovely when all (nearly) maxed out, and you don’t need god’s own PC for it.

    As for the much-maligned Batmobile, after you’re done with the tutorial missions for it, go into the options menu and flip ‘Battle Mode Toggle’ in Game Options to On. This gives you a whole new control layout for the Batmobile that makes VASTLY more sense if you’ve ever played a driving game before.

    Oh, and if you can get it cheap (it’s frequently just a couple quid in sales), the season pass offers a whole mess of little side-stories and missions, and a HUGE upgrade to the arcade mode side of things. So many new characters and maps to play.

    I still hear the game being called one of the worst PC ports ever made, but coming to it a little late, it looks and runs just about perfect on my relatively cheap machine. Digitalfoundry even did a video on running it at 30fps but 4k resolution on an even weaker system.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Oh yeah, one more Bat Tip for good performance:
      Unless you’ve got a ton of system overhead, you probably don’t need to switch to High texture detail. It just forces it to use uncompressed textures which are functionally identical to what you see on Normal mode, but it uses up more VRAM and GPU power.

    • Premium User Badge

      AutonomyLost says:

      Your response may have changed my mind regarding revisiting this game. Thanks!

    • Asurmen says:

      I had 8GB of ram on a special edition of a 290X. It still ran not brilliant.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    “big comic book arcs that are changing the state of the DC Universe forever”

    Those are what made me stop reading DC universe forever. Every day was some big huge deal that was going to change everything, and ended up changing nothing.

    But yeah, Arkham was a good, self-contained story that fit the hero and fit the setting. I thought it was pretty grand.

  3. Premium User Badge

    DuncUK says:

    Like I said on the last Batman post, I did enjoy the story arc of Batman AK… not so much the specifics of how it reaches its conclusion, more that the whole game telegraphs that this is the Batman’s last hurrah, that it’s not going to end especially well and that Batman wants desperately to retire on a high. It’s very apocalyptic with a constant feeling that Batman cannot possibly win, I personally found the ‘true’ ending to be a nice payoff that tied the scarecrow story off nicely.

    Admittedly the Arkham Knight story arc and reveal are not particularly well handled being a barely concealed cut/paste/rename from the comic books of a different character. It also relies on a lot of backstory that doesn’t actually occur during any of the preceding games and so has to go out of it’s way to explain it, whilst not being able to explain why its there. It’s hard to care about the historical fates of characters you’re not familiar with.

    That said, the gameplay was mostly excellent, the game was very polished if it worked for you (no bugs for me at all) and it was a satisfying conclusion to the series. I can’t wait for the much-rumoured Superman game!

  4. Phantom_Renegade says:

    1. Fix your damn log-in system. This cannot be said enough.

    2. I didn’t really care for Asylum, but I understood what they were going for, and they nailed it. I loved City and even Origins, though that was far more buggy for me then Knight, with the added insult that they announced they weren’t even going to try and fix it.

    As for Knight… I tried. I really did. But the story was ugh, the controls felt somehow wonky and that fucking car was pushed constantly despite it handling like a wet blanket. I hated that damn car. Everyone who puts vehicle sections in a game that isn’t a vehicle game deserves to stub their toes several times a day.

    Steam informs me I played Knight for 6 hours before giving up, which is a lot more I usually give games. I didn’t quit the game because of bugs, I quit because I didn’t like it, didn’t like what they’d made of it. I didn’t like the weird story. I didn’t like the way they gated mission progress, letting you do bits and then making you stop. I didn’t like the bat-vision blockers, as bat-vision is the whole damn point of the predator encounters. I didn’t like that there were even fewer predator encounters.

    I got what they were going for with Asylum, City and even Origins. But I have no idea what they were going for with Knight. The game was an incoherent mess.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      “fix the login”
      Been broken for years. I just login-> fail, then go back and refresh the page usually it logged me in then.

      • gi_ty says:

        Whats the problem with the login system? I have seen this for years but don’t understand what you all mean.

        • Frank says:

          After logging in, we get redirected to some weird wordpress backstage with no obvious link to the page we started on.

          Oh, and it logs us out aggressively. Amazon and Google do just fine not logging me out for a month, but somehow RPS cares more about my login’s security or summat.

          At least that’s my experience. Maybe it’s awful in a different way for each of us complainers.

  5. TrentTech says:

    I liked Arkham Knight, but I would have liked it a hell of a lot more if they didn’t force you into that bloody battank for half the game. The chase missions were okay, but the tank combat was just awful, so mediocre and veered so far off the Arkham gameplay formula into generic shooter 101 territory it was just frustrating to have to do because there were so many and they were all identical. It’s not like they were particularly intense action sections either, just boring aim-shoot-dodge-the-targeting-lines-repeat. A couple of exceptions with the tanks you needed to sneak up behind, which were less challenging and more just annoying, and the boss tanks, but generally there was no difficulty or challenge to it, just a grind. The Riddler car puzzles and races were passable, but not a touch the proper Riddler puzzles in the previous games.

    Worst of all is they took Deathstroke, previously one of my favourite boss fights of the series (and the best thing about Origins), got you all hyped up for a big show down with him and turned him into a stupid tank boss, which also happened to be a nearly identical, but slightly toned down, version of the tank boss which the Arkham Knight drove in an earlier fight.

    The game would have been infinitely better if they just focused on what made the Arkham games great. The batmobile should have just been batmobile, not a tank.

    • Premium User Badge

      DuncUK says:

      I agree, the bat tank was rubbish and made up some of the worst sections of the game. It’s a shame, they clearly really wanted the Batmobile in the game but couldn’t find enough of a reason to include it without adding the tank conversion. In batmobile mode it’s not really any faster as a mode of transport than grapple-gliding (which is mostly more fun). Also Deathstroke (for me) was a bizarre late game addition to make up for you having defeated the Knight as someone needed to be in charge of the Knight’s troops. It was oddly tacked on though, I’m not really familiar with the comic Bat-universe but the game doesn’t do much with him.

  6. JaguarWong says:

    The game’s insistence that you use the hideously handling Batmobile for the first 2 hours caused me to uninstall.

    It’s the game’s job to keep me interested, not my job to stay interested in the face of terrible design.

  7. Stense says:

    I happened to replay this last month, so it’s relatively fresh in my mind. I enjoyed the game, despite it being far too bloated and full of itself. It’s certainly the weakest of the Arkham games in my view, but I still enjoyed batting around in it’s ginormous city. I still have issues with how Rocksteady portray women in their games (they are truly awful it at, but I think City was worse in that regard), and the batmobile sections were at best rather dull, however the core mechanics of the game are just as good as the rest.

    I didn’t play the game until after it had been patched up – and even then I did a lot of tweaking to things like texture streaming and rendering in the .ini files – so I didn’t have to suffer through the notoriously bad state it launched in. I probably wouldn’t have been as forgiving of the games flaws if I’d been running the botched original release version.

  8. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    I’m one of the weirdos who actually likes Knight the best. The Arkham franchise is interesting in that it shifts pretty dramatically in scope with each installment (except for Origins, which is more of a spin-off anyway), and I guess I’ll take that kind of ambition over a sequel that plays it safe any day.

    I also think Knight has one of the most successful open worlds I’ve ever experienced, in terms of having a wide variety of stuff to do and creating a nice sense of flow as you just roamed around doing activities. Integrating predator encounters into the free-roam areas was a nice touch, as was having [REDACTED] appear at random points in the environment to snark at you.

    The story was…not entirely successful (I’m still a little mad about the way certain characters are treated), but the presentation was so damn cool and unique at certain points that I can’t fault it too much. Definitely excited to see what Rocksteady is doing next.

    • sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

      >having [REDACTED] appear at random points in the environment to snark at you.

      I found this one of the greatest thing *ever* in video games. Loved it.

      Highlight was when he sings a song to Batman, whilst you as Robin sneaks behind defusing bombs. (Ok, the mechanics of playing that bit sucked)

      After you complete the main story and he disappears, I really did miss him.

  9. mcwizardry says:

    Arkham Asylum was probably the most well-rounded one in hindsight. Origins lacked character and City/Knight were great sequels.

  10. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    Bought it and promptly refunded it due to the abhorrent performance. Looked like fun though.

  11. Mana_Garmr says:

    Finished this for the first time last week. Given that I started back in January or so I think it’s fair to say I found it a bit of a slog.

    I did quite enjoy playing for the most part, especially some of the small side mission for the villains who didn’t really have a part in the main story. But inevitably I’d run into something frustrating, whether mechanical or plot related, that would put me off and I had to work up the enthusiasm to jump back in.

    I was using M&KB rather than a controller, though I did have to switch to one in order to finish the Mad Hatter bomb sequence, and while the controls were fine for the most part there were clearly some elements that didn’t get tested properly, the hacking device being the main offender for me.

    The story was…decent at most I think. I jumped to the correct conclusion about who the Knight would be the first time he got involved and spent most of the rest of the story trying to convince myself I had to be wrong because it was too predictable. The car, as has been said above, can **** right off. Whatever group of people decided it needed to be used so much are insane. Hell the “shocking reveal” of the Knight’s identity comes second on my list of disappointing moments, firmly behind the part where the backup Batmobile showed up. I was so damn happy for a little while when that car got crushed.

    Still, all told I don’t regret making it through to the end. While I can’t imagine bothering with the New Game+ option I’ll probably give some of the side-story episodes a go.

  12. haldolium says:

    I quite enjoyed it. Could’ve done without the vehicle combat, but otherwise it was a worthy successor to Arkham City.

    Could do with another Batman as well, especially with a Nemesis System but also with more focus on the Detective Minigame, a bit fleshed out and less easy. I loved its introduction in Arkham Origins, if not much else from that game.

  13. kud13 says:

    Bat-hummer was exasperating to use, the story was “meh” (foreshadowing too heavy-handed”, the main plot going super-dark before doing a face heel turn); the bloody checkpoints were annoying as hell.

    But there were also plenty of good bits, and the game sure did look pretty on my shiny new 1060 with the rain effects on.

    Post-fixes, I’d say 7.5/10

  14. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    All I’ll say is that the Arkham Knight is one of the lamest villains in the history of video gaming. Even the D-listers in the embarrassing Arkham Origins look like badasses compared to that weenie.

    • dethtoll says:

      That’s kind of the point, though if you don’t know the character’s history and personality I can see why you’d miss it.

  15. poliovaccine says:

    Personally, I have a hard time playing as any character whose calf muscles are broader than my own head. It’s a hangup of mine, what can I say.

  16. skyturnedred says:

    I’m saving the game for when I have a kid, so I can force him to play the tank sections.

  17. Vandelay says:

    I didn’t mind the tank sections too much. I certainly didn’t find them to fill the game as others portray it to. My main disappointment was the lack of predator sections. Those are the main highlight from the early games and they should have made them larger scale with more options, but instead they became side lined.

    I did really enjoy the game though and, overall, I think it is probably the best of the open city games. I’ve not played Asylum for quite some time, but it doesn’t compare to my memories of that game. To be honest though, they are pretty much different franchises by this point. I still have lots of side quests and the Harley Quinn DLC I got for free to go back to, which I have been meaning to do for sometime.

  18. Det. Bullock says:

    No, because it’s a vram hog and I still have a 1gb video card, I should really get a new card.

  19. death_au says:

    One thing I keep coming back to is that I really want to see an alt-universe comic series of the fallout from this game if Batman lost.
    I’m getting into spoiler territory here, so I won’t say much more (no such things as spoiler tags here?)

  20. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    Just finished playing this two days ago! Did everything in the main campaign, and all dlc, except about 50% of the riddler challenges, because, come on, enough already.

    Hidden amongst Asylum, City and Knight is probably the perfect game. But they all have faults and it’s a shame, but still enjoy them more then almost any other game.

    Also, with an Nvidia 1080 and 24Gb mem and an i7 running at 4.3Ghz I’m still only getting about 60fps, which is just about ok.

  21. Marclev says:

    I didn’t like it. In fact I refunded it on the two hour mark.

    Performance was fine for me, but I found the constant push to use the Batmobile annoying, and combat with it was a chore rather than fun. Felt like “hey, we’ve got this great new game-play feature that we’re going to ram down your throat at every opportunity until you’re sick of it, make sure to admire how cool it is”.

    It was like they just completely misunderstood what made the other games so good by doing that.

  22. Asurmen says:

    Performance was terrible and didn’t really improve tbh.

    Unlike everyone else, I enjoyed the Bstmobile and didn’t feel like it was forced on you to any great extent.

  23. PsychoWedge says:

    Well, if a developer forces the players to constantly use one single new feature of their game and even go so far as to make every single boss fight except one with this feature, they should really better make fucking sure that this feature is a blast and works flawlessly. But they didn’t and this is Arkham Knights downfall.

    Apart from the insufferable Batmobile sections and the fact that, like in the Mass Effect series, my last actual boss fight as Batman (you know, a good ol round of fisticuffs) of the entire series was against some stupid prick I can’t even remember, I actually quite enjoyed this last outing. Throughout the story there was this mood of finality present and Batman looked so old and tired. Really great. If only the game around it were better…

  24. CartonofMilk says:

    Copying from my comment on the joy of Asylum’s broken batman article:

    one thing that bugs me with the last 3 arkham games is theyre supposed to happen over one night but it takes like over 20 hours to do everything…

    Normally fiction stretches time. 5 minutes in real time might be an hour in an open world game. Here it’s the opposite. Apparently 24 hours in real time is 6 or 7 in the game.Of course that’s a minor quibble…

    I’ve said to people Arkham Knight IS the best Arkham game IF you haven’t played the other ones before. What i mean by that is it is the best but because at this point the series was starting to feel a bit too rehashed, it’s hard to see it as the best one because most of what it does that’s cool you’ve done before in the other games. But i’m pretty certain if i’d played the series in reverse order i’d think Knight was the best. I thought the bat-tank battles were fun as hell. They managed to make it so that in the worst of it you felt overwhelmed by all the enemies on screen and having to avoid their hits and shoot their missiles but at the same time the controls are good enough that you can still pull it off. Also, finally they made the riddler challenges completely reasonable. I mean i finished them all in the previous games but some of them required me to look online and a small handful i only cleared through endless repetition and a bit of luck. In Arkham knight the challenges are not annoying. They’re well balanced.

    Lastly, but that stands for all Arkham games, that art design…..

    Oh and it has the best Joker in all arkham games if only because now that he’s dead and just in Batman’s head commenting on everything he does or thinks or says, well it’s the perfect interaction, the perfect dynamic.

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