Tag Archive: batmobile


Knightfall

Editor’s Note: Because of the issues I had with the story, I will be referencing several major reveals from the game, as well as the prior game’s ending. If you wish to remain spoiler free, consider yourself warned. 

Whenever a modern, story-driven action game transforms into a successful series, particularly a trilogy, it starts to suffer from Star Wars syndrome. The middle game is always the best, and all the prequels aren’t nearly as good as the originals. We’ve seen this with Gears of War, God of War, and even Uncharted. Well, we can now add one more trilogy to that list: the Batman: Arkham games.

That’s not to say that Batman: Arkham Knight is an awful game. It’s just inferior to its predecessors (except for prequel Arkham Origins). Instead of bringing everything to a natural conclusion and tying up all the loose ends it left open from previous games, it tries to cram too many new conflicts into this final title in an attempt to needlessly raise the stakes—which were plenty high enough as they were. The results feel like a narrative mess, and I think a large part of this is the result of developer Rocksteady writing the script in-house instead of having it done by a veteran Batman scribe like Paul Dini, who also happened to pen both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

Taking elements from some of the more epic Batman stories over the past three decades from various forms of media—including Death of the Family, Death in the Family, Under the Red Hood, and Batman Beyond: Return of the JokerBatman: Arkham Knight sees the Scarecrow filling the criminal void left by the Joker nearly a year after his demise in Arkham City. With his most potent Fear Toxin formula yet, Scarecrow threatens to detonate a bomb that would blanket the entire Eastern Seaboard in the stuff, sending every man, woman, and child into a state or perpetual terror.

This, in and of itself, would’ve been a fine conclusion for the Arkham series, revolving around Batman having to constantly overcome his fears. Also along for the ride, however, is the Arkham Knight—a “new” character whose identity Batman fans should easily be able to deduce based on his taunting dialogue and how well he knows the Dark Knight. But even those who don’t immediately uncover the Arkham Knight’s identity will surely notice the cavalcade of clues, because Rocksteady wanted to make sure they really spelled it out before the big reveal.

Easily the worst narrative decision stems from the fact that Rocksteady and/or Warner Bros. wasn’t brave enough to make a Batman game that didn’t feature the Joker as a major player, though. For some reason, the Joker’s spirit lives on inside of Batman and several other of Gotham’s less fortunate citizens through his contaminated blood (I guess that cure in Arkham City wasn’t good enough), and Joker’s personality is trying to assert itself over those bodies in an attempt to cheat death. As time goes on and they become weaker, the Joker’s personality emerges more and more.

At that point, even as a comic book fan, it was too much. To have three major villains vying for attention in your main story—one in an incorporeal form—left a bad taste in my mouth. At the very least, the game’s ending felt like a fitting conclusion to the series, but I just wish it weren’t such a mess of an adventure getting to that point.

Instead of trying to shoehorn so many foes into the main story, maybe Rocksteady could’ve just added more side villains to allow the primary plot a chance to breathe. Those that are included—referred to as “Gotham’s Most Wanted” in-game, since you have to actually drag them back to GCPD after defeating them—provide a nice respite from the muck that is the main narrative. I could’ve easily done with more, especially Hush, Man-Bat, and Deacon Blackfire—or at least some longer missions involving them. The game does feature more than a dozen side missions in total built around a double-digit amount of classic Batman rivals, which helps to take some of the focus off of Scarecrow, Joker, and Arkham Knight. It’s a testament to the size of the world that it never felt like any of Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery encroached on each other’s turf, and I still had to search long and hard at times to uncover my next set of clues.

That’s definitely one of Rocksteady’s most impressive achievements with Arkham Knight. Gotham City is absolutely massive and comes alive like never before. Whether it’s ACE Chemicals, Port Adams, the GCPD, or Wayne Tower, the game includes every building and street that Bat-fans want to see, and you can seamlessly explore them all with no loading times while you hunt down your enemies as Batman.

Plus, Detective Mode has been expanded to help you on those hunts. With new elements like deep-tissue analysis on murder victims, security camera footage reviews, and fingerprint reconstruction, along with the addition of crime scene reconstruction from Arkham Origins, prowling Gotham for clues is as rewarding as ever.

Combat remains the high point of the Arkham series here, though. The smooth, free-flowing battles return, meaning that you’ll pull off 50-hit combos with regularity, but the game also adds new throw counters that help with crowd control, and instant environmental takedowns that can immediately remove the toughest thugs from a fight. Arkham Knight even offers special missions where you’ll team up with Robin, Nightwing, or Catwoman and can take control of them mid-fight instead of Batman as seamlessly as you do a counter, or perform team-up moves for some truly epic action. With these added nuances to combat, no encounter ever plays out the same way twice.

Predator Room combat has also seen a drastic improvement. The new Fear Takedowns allow you to remove as many as five enemies from the field at once when you’re fully upgraded. This will have you planning out your knockouts well in advance in an attempt to get enemies to bunch up together so you can swoop in and wipe them out in a single flourish. New devices like the Disruptor also lend a hand in planning strategy before jumping into the fray, since its special bolts will jam any gun—and, when upgraded, it can even short out enemy drones.

I wish that every element of Arkham Knight’s gameplay were so stellar. On the whole, all of these additions and improvements almost make you forget about the muddled plot. Then you get in the Batmobile. This was one of Rocksteady’s most touted features leading up to the game’s launch, and at times, the Batmobile is everything it was supposed to be: a dual threat fast enough to chase down fleeing enemies that still packs enough firepower in combat mode to take on dozens of Arkham Knight drones. The Batmobile even helps with ground combat by unleashing rubber bullets that incapacitate enemies in the streets.

But Arkham Knight relies on Batman’s ride far too often—and in far too many missions. The car’s deficiencies easily become evident, and it’s revealed to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of the game. I get that it’s supposed to be this monstrous vehicle, but trying to control the Batmobile in pursuit mode is a chore; it pinballs all over the road. Even after putting 30 hours into the game, with more than half of them in that damn car, I still never felt like I was in complete control.

And the Batmobile’s tank mode is even worse. While it features a strafe ability, I still felt like I was a sitting duck most of the time during an enemy missile lock-on, since the strafe only moves you a short distance in a particular direction. Then you have to try to dance between the two Batmobile forms to sneak up on certain tanks. They wanted me to be stealthy? In the Batmobile?! I just wanted to hang up the cape and cowl at that point.

The problems don’t stop with the Batmobile gameplay, though: Arkham Knight includes its fair share of bugs. I played on Xbox One and didn’t experience all the glitches that make the PC version unplayable, but the Batmobile still fell through the world in several instances where I had to drive up walls. And the bugs weren’t limited to the car, either. Several times I had to restart checkpoints when necessary button prompts wouldn’t appear, and I couldn’t advance unless I reloaded.

As much as I loved Arkham City and Arkham Asylum, Arkham Knight is nothing short of a disappointment. Two things are clear: Sefton Hill and his team of writers pale in comparison to Paul Dini, and Rocksteady should stay as far away from car combat as possible in the future. The excellent gameplay foundations, however, still shine. The fighting, side content, and stealth are as polished as ever, and considering the massive world fans have to explore here, they should still find something to enjoy with Arkham Knight, even if it’s not the conclusion we all hoped for.

Developer: Rocksteady Studio • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 06.23.15
6.5
The main story is a convoluted mess, and the Batmobile gameplay is a serious detractor on the fun factor—especially since the Dark Knight is forced to use this clunky vehicle far too often. The combat outside of the car is better than ever, though, so exploring the game’s bountiful side content remains a bright spot in an overall disappointing conclusion to the Arkham franchise.
The Good The combat might be better than ever, the world is absolutely massive, and the story provides a fitting end to the Batman of the Arkhamverse.
The Bad There’s too much reliance on the Batmobile, the Joker aspects are unnecessary, and the game has a fair amount of glitches.
The Ugly Every Batman fan will be able to guess the identity of the Arkham Knight from his dialogue long before the big reveal.
Batman: Arkham Knight is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the benefit of this review.

“Wait’ll they get a load of me…”

Comic book fans are easily some of the most rabid fans out there. Maybe it’s because of the history, maybe it’s the appeal of the characters, maybe it’s because of a lack of social skills developed in their mom’s basement, but whatever the reason, whenever something features comic book characters, the fans tear it apart. Well, good luck finding fault with this one. And trust me, being a fan myself, I tried.

Batman: Arkham City is easily the greatest fan service a comic book game could ever possibly be. Fans who had concerns over how the story line tied together or whether too many villains might be featured, need not concern themselves anymore. The way the story flows and introduces you to Hugo Strange, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Deadshot, Zsasz, and all the other villains in Arkham City, could only be described as water it flows so smooth. The game has such a natural plot progression that your biggest problem may be just finding the time to finish it because if you do even a portion of the side quests like where you team up with Bane or simply wish to hunt for a few Riddler trophies then you’re going to be looking at a 40-50 hour experience. That’s almost unheard of for an action/adventure game, but somehow Batman: Arkham City finds a way to keep surprising you to the point where you might just start sitting on the floor so that when you keep dropping your controller it won’t fall as far. The guys at Rocksteady should be applauded for this new Batman universe they have created while also making it still feel like Batman.

Really though the biggest reason why the game is so great comes down to the variety and execution in the game play. There are a plethora of problems for Batman to solve using all of his different gadgets and abilities and unlike in Arkham Asylum where some gadgets were favored more than others, every gadget will get a workout here. Whether expertly trying to pilot your remote-controlled batarang through air ducts too small for Batman to fit through to hit a switch on the other side of a locked gate, to using your grappling hook to pull together platforms to solve tricky Penguin puzzles, every gadget will be pushed to the limit, and not to spoil anything, but there are a lot more gadgets this time around.

The gadgets are also a huge part of combat now, which is another feature that has seen a facelift. Now, via some hot key combos, Batman can whip out his grappling hook, batarangs, and other goodies on the fly and throw them in the face of unsuspecting foes to pull off some really stunning combos like using the grappling hook to pull distant thugs in for a devastating clothesline. Also, aside from the standard punches and counters and these new gadget moves, Batman has new special moves that can take foes out of the fight instantly when his combo gets high enough, catch items thrown at him and throw them back with a well-timed counter, capitalize on the tremendous environment physics to put walls and railings more to his advantage, and even unlock special crowd control moves that can even up the odds on those 30 on 1 fights that you’ll occasionally run into. Basically, if we’ve seen Batman do it in a movie or comic book before, he can do it in the game and few things feel as good as quick grappling an enemy over a banister and hearing him scream for his mommy before being knocked out.

Another aspect of the first game that has been tweaked is the leveling up, RPG elements. You start the game off with a good amount of gadgets and moves, but like in the first game, the further you progress and more stuff you do, the more gadgets and combos you unlock as it goes with the story and then upgrade as you see fit. In the end, most people should have many, if not all of the upgrades, but it does give you some options in just how you would play as Batman in order to help craft a more personal experience.

Now, for many people, the only real negatives from the first game were the linearity and Detective Mode being used as a crutch. I’m happy to say that both problems have been solved. In order to counter people wanting to stay in Detective Mode, things away from where your focus should be have become more blurred, forcing players to only use it when examining a crime scene, following a blood trail, or when scoping out a room full of thugs. The bright neon lights of Gotham also wreak havoc with Detective Mode really making sure that when you’re outdoors, you take in Gotham in all it’s downtrodden glory. The linearity has also been fixed with the bevy of previously mentioned side missions and having several objectives open at once so that you can solve cases at your own leisure, go explore for Riddler trophies, or just do what I did for the first half-hour I played the game, glide around on my cape and just take in Gotham staples like the Monarch Theater, Ace Chemicals, and Park Row.

Now, one knock might be that there is no co-op multiplayer since if you squint really tightly you might see potential for it, but the character really isn’t built for that, especially in this story. You can already play as other characters to mix things up, which the Catwoman levels are just as fun as the main game and give you a whole new look to Arkham City for the short sections you play as her by the way. But, honestly, Batman is at his best when he is the center of attention and Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, and the rest of the Bat-family are just on the sides providing occasional support from the wings. And Batman and his rogues are the biggest reason why anyone plays this game. Would anyone really play a Nightwing game with him taking on Professor Pyg? The challenge maps return, of course, and trying to work your way up the leaderboards and build the best combo is still fun and choosing different characters there works, but Batman is a loner and so the main vein of this game, which is the campaign, is in all its glory with you just focusing in and playing as Batman.

When all is said and done, throw in the amazing voice acting from Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Maurice LaMarche, Tara Strong, and the rest of the cast, and without giving away the brilliantly written plot (thank you Paul Dini), all I can say is that this is the single greatest comic book game I’ve ever played. It plays so well that I can easily recommend this to anyone without even thinking about it.

SUMMARY: Batman: Arkham City is easily the greatest fan service a comic book game could ever possibly be.

  • THE GOOD: The most comprehensive comic book game I’ve ever played
  • THE BAD: So many “Oh my God!” moments you keep dropping your controller
  • THE UGLY: The seedy underbelly of Gotham all in one spot

SCORE: 10

Originally Published: March 15, 2011, on Comicvine.com

With there being an absolute whirlwind of activity around recent announcements for Batman: Arkham City, it made me start to think that maybe our current Dark Knight is overshadowing the future one, who is just trying to grab his little corner of the limelight after nearly a decade of flying under the radar. And so I thought that maybe Terry McGinnis needs his own video game after he just got his own monthly comic again to solidify his spot in the eyes of fans of the DC Universe. It seems there is enough of an interest in The Tomorrow Knight that I’m sure we could figure out a better representation in the digital realm for him than the awful 2000 side-scrolling beat ‘em up for the N64/PS1 game based on Return of the Joker. So how would a Batman Beyond video game work?

One of the key focuses of a Batman Beyond game would be differentiating it from the more recent Batman games. Although it should still be true to the character and be dark overall, the atmosphere of this game might need to take a page out of the book of the 2099 Spider-Man levels from Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Bright lights set against a dark background with Terry (voiced again by Will Friedle) constantly quipping at his foes or answering to Bruce (voiced again by Kevin Conroy) who is always talking about “the old days” and how he did things while he was Batman. All the while utilizing the Batsuit’s flying abilities to both get around and to complete missions. Terry’s Gotham should also be a sandbox that could allow for a lot of exploration of some of the seedier sections of town and so this doesn’t become just a button mashing brawler and allow for some mission variety.

Terry’s Batsuit has a lot of awesome features to it though beyond the flying. The camouflage feature on the suit could allow Terry to walk right up to a villain without him knowing and he could knock him out without having to worry about going all Sam Fisher in a level and sticking to the shadows. The camouflage could also be used to infiltrate certain areas to listen in on villain conversations or even hack a terminal without interference. This feature would need an overheat meter of some kind though, otherwise the game would be too easy as you could just turn invisible and walk through most of the game, similar to many people’s complaint about feeling a need to always have Detective Mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum on. You could also set up mini-games with the frequency monitors and lock picks that are featured in the gloves of Terry’s Batsuit.

To get the most out of these features you would need to put a bit more of an emphasis on information gathering and item collection though and that brings us to our plot of the game. It would need to have several layers to it that could put Terry and Bruce’s detective skills to the test. Maybe have Terry go back to the Batcave after finding new clues or defeating each villain and have it so that Terry could interact with a lot of the items in the cave, giving all Batman fans a bit of a cheap thrill as Terry explores the cave or uses the Batcomputer.

But one of the big problems that Terry has always faced is he has a rather paltry rogues gallery. So much so that he constantly has to resort to Bruce’s villains or variations thereof. The Joker and Mr. Freeze are the first two that come to mind in that category, but also Spellbinder and False-Face, although re-imagined and made much cooler than the late 1950s-60s versions Bruce fought, were originally his rogues. Even three issues into his new comic, the only villain Terry has fought was a new Matter Master, a Hawkman villain!

Well, if Terry is going to rely on some of Bruce’s villains, especially since a lot of Terry’s have been killed off it seems (Shriek, Blight, Stalker), then this new game should center around one who has never really been explored, and it would be interesting to introduce him into Terry’s universe in a video game. Clayface V or Cassius “Clay” Payne. Assuming that Basil Karlo and the other Clayfaces still age normally (although unlikely), one who would still be alive and most definitely be a threat in Terry’s time would be Cassius.

Since currently Cassius is really nothing more than a kid in current times and has never been explored very thoroughly, you could make him the diabolical mastermind that the other Clayfaces never really aspired to. With his shape-shifting ability, he could manipulate key events all around Gotham and hire other villains in various guises to throw off Bruce and Terry with it all culminating in one of the most epic boss battles ever. Hiring several of Terry’s more infamous (and still living) villains to keep him busy, Clayface could be lurking in the shadows, posing as or pulling the strings of politicians, the GCPD, and many others around Gotham as he forwards his agenda of eliminating the Batman from Gotham once and for all!

So there is your main villain and definitely a twist that a lot of Batman fans would probably appreciate. But you’d need more villains than that of course to really make a decent comic book game. Before Clayface, Terry should have to face Inque, one of his most difficult opponents ever, but really just a hired gun who will provide the final piece of the puzzle when she reveals she attacked Batman for someone who she felt was a kindred spirit, as in both Inque and Clayface are shape-shifters who are more in tune with their villainous personas than their human sides.

Before he faces Inque though, Terry would have to take down Spellbinder, who is causing trouble because Clayface threw a lot of money his way. Really he should be nothing more than a diversion for Clayface’s master scheme, but he wouldn’t be Batman if he just let Spellbinder hypnotize people and suggest them to walk off rooftops or whatnot.

It seems a lot of Terry’s villains aren’t nearly as tragic or deep as many of the original Dark Knight’s though as the villains that lead up to Spellbinder are none other than the Royal Flush Gang, again because they were promised big pay days. Having five villains at once could lend itself to a variety of tasks and levels as you could have an epic end battle against all five at once, or the more likely scenario, of separating them and taking them down one at a time culminating in a still difficult boss battle with the android Ace, who could have several “modes” to him and take new forms as the battle progresses and he takes damage.

Also, if you do face the Royal Flush Gang separately, and if the game was done in a sandbox, you could have one level where you have to chase down Jack or Ten on those hovercards they had in the cartoon and that would give a reason for something I wish you could use in more Batman games, the Batmobile. A Batman Beyond video game’s biggest difference to most other super hero video games is that Terry would have to use the Batmobile for certain levels like that one with the Royal Flush Gang, and it would be an option for him to get from point A to point B in Gotham if you didn’t want to explore on foot and with the Batsuit.

The opening of the game would be more of a tutorial mission as it’ll all start out with Terry chasing some Jokerz, who would then serve the rest of the game as your primary henchman for the other bosses due to their numbers and could even have more well known ones like Dee Dee, Woof, or J-Man serve as mini-bosses.

So there’s my take on a possible Batman Beyond video game. What would you do for a Batman Beyond video game? Would you try to add some more villains or levels? Should the game be a bit more linear and not a sandbox? Let us know by commenting below!

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: December 26, 2009, on Sportsrev.tv and Lundberg.me

This episode sees me showing off all my geeky Christmas presents.