NWG Reviews: Arkham Knight with Mod Zan!

Hello, friends and fans! It’s Mod Zan, here to have a completely unbiased, calm and collected review of the semi-popular game, Arkham Knight. I played this game to completion a few years ago, around the time when it was 40 bucks and I could exchange Bloodbourne (after playing that godforsaken thing for about 20 minutes) for it at Wal-mart. Without any further ado, let’s jump into the review of this thing that some would call a game.

I am not one of them. (I may have lied about the unbiased, calm and collected thing.)

Graphics and Sound:

Arkham Knight has amazing graphics. Honestly, this is the strongest part of the game for me. It’s as pretty as a game set in an apocalyptic-ally destroyed Gotham can be after Scarecrow released his fear gas. Batman is animated wonderfully, his cape is as glorious as ever. The fighting looks fluid, makes you feel like a badass, and challenging enough to make you feel accomplished after you beat the snot out of the 80th henchman. The settings on the map are eerie and fit in nicely with the story and the respective villains that you have to defeat; if you want anything even resembling an ending! (We’ll get to that later.)

The rain looks good, the character models look good, and overall the graphics are the best in the Arkham series that I’ve seen to date. The design of the characters, with the exception of Poison Ivy, is excellent. The ambiance is sad, creepy, and anxiety inducing in the right places; especially when the situation gets more and more dire for Batman as the game goes on. The color palette is a little brown and grey for my liking, but the parts where the Joker creeps back into the story, or you get to see some neon signs around Gotham redeem it slightly.


Gameplay:

When I first started out playing this…game…I was really enjoying it. The gameplay was FUN, and I loved being able to drive the mean streets of Gotham “non-lethally” shocking henchman in my way as I barreled through buildings and blew up walls, saving firemen and cops, cleaning the streets with my armored fist. The missions for each villain had different mechanics, and I enjoyed switching from thwarting bank robberies to chasing Man-Bat through the city. It was incredibly fun, and the Batmobile works fluidly enough so that it doesn’t feel cumbersome to use it.

AT FIRST.

You see, a good mechanic is only as good as the amount of times you’re forced to do it. And this game is the KING, no, DICTATOR, of forcing you to repeat the same exact mechanic, or even the same basic mission, over and over and over and over and over again until you feel like smashing your controller against your face. The amount of blatant padding in this game was disgraceful, to be honest. I found myself feeling like I’d rather go do something productive, like cleaning my bathroom or even doing the dishes, than fight one more fucking group of henchman surrounding a control point that I had to take over, or do one more tank battle as the batmobile around a not-landmine.

The game also manipulates you into doing missions that you would have otherwise ignored, exhibit A being Riddler missions, which were the worst in the game (in my opinion). I’ll go more into the story logistics of those below, but it was a cheap tactic for them to have the only way that you can play as Catwoman be in said Riddler missions, which were glorified racetracks for the Batmobile. It was also cheap for them to lock the longer ending behind completing the game to 100%, including finding all of those damn Riddler trophies littered throughout the city. And finally, it was nothing short of lazy when they had a glitch that would never allow you to 100% the ending that they never fixed. This brings me into my final, and most important part of the game…

Storyline:

The storyline in Arkham Knight was, to put it mildly: shit. To be a little bit more detailed, and to make this whole review much more fun for ME, it was one of the worst possible characterizations of the characters in the Batman universe I’ve ever seen. I was shocked, to be honest, at how blatantly out of character some of the people were, and the treatment of the female characters in this game was fucking abysmal. I can say with certainty that this game gets a 2/10 for diversity, especially since there wasn’t a single character of color anywhere near the main cast, and only four main ladies that did anything story-significant, all of whom are white (with the dubious exception of Catwoman, who is sometimes presented as a white-passing POC and has been argued to be a POC).

And yes, I’m aware that it reflects the comic-book universe, and no, that doesn’t make it any less of an issue or more forgivable. The comic books are doing a bit better than the games in the diversity section, but amazingly: both of them still need to get their fucking shit together.

My biggest issue in the story was definitely its treatment of the ladies. Harley is a crazed widow who can’t get over Joker’s death, and you don’t even fight her. You knock her out and get to carry her viking-style and that’s the end of your interactions with her as a villain. There’s a lady infected with the Joker virus, who is unsurprisingly romantically obsessed with Batman. None of the men infected share this behavior, so we get a sprinkling of heteronormativity on top of the misogyny and racism.

Catwoman has somehow been kidnapped by The Riddler, who has the physique of a high-school nerd that’s been shoved in a locker too many times, and is only in the game as bait for Batman to complete Riddler missions. Barbara Gordon has the largest female role; she too is kidnapped and used as bait throughout the game for both Batman and Jim Gordon, and has her wheelchair used against her in at least two instances (hello ableism?).

Poison Ivy is rescued, put in jail, and then taken out to be used as a line of defense for Gotham, somehow agreeing to help Batman save the city at the cost of her own LIFE because “the toxin will kill the plants.” It’s all bullshit, frankly. I’ve never seen these ladies, and even Batman, more out of character anywhere besides in this game. It was nauseating to have to play through, and the ending was the icing on the shit cake. Batman is forced to reveal his identity, and the final cutscene, even if you unlock the extended one, is unsatisfying, inconclusive, and feels like a cop-out. The only good parts of the story were where the hallucination of Joker appeared, and Batman was forced to do battle with his own consciousness. Sadly, it was not enough to redeem this mess of a video game for me.

In conclusion, the last thing I have to say about this game is that it’s not worth purchasing unless you’re into endless tank battles and horrible storytelling. I’m tired of games skirting by on good graphics to cover up mediocre gameplay and poor storytelling.

It’s not good enough for me, and I don’t have the patience to sit through games like this that don’t deserve any of the commendations.

2/10 for Arkham Knight, and the 2 is only for the graphics and the mechanics being good at the start.  

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