Arkham Knight: Session 1

I am doing a playthrough journal of Arkham Knight so I can more easily familiarise myself with information when I come to do a mega review. This is my first session so it’s more an accumulation of first impressions than anything else. I’ve clocked in around 7 hours (Xbox One Smartglass gives it in seconds?) and I’ve focused on main story and side quests equally.

This is mainly notes for myself but you might find the information useful. So, my first impressions:

  • Straight off the bat, the first one or two hours I found quite underwhelming, because I have seen all of this as pre-release gameplay footage before. It feels off somehow, it’s a very good opening sequence but the feeling is diminished, as you can never experience something for the first time twice.
  • The rain effects in this game are beautiful, especially looking at a rippling rooftop puddle under neon lights
  • Still not digging batman’s placid facial expression when talking to people
  • The lighting effects and lens glare effects look fantastic in the midnight setting
  • This game has a certain temerity as the story dives into batman’s methods, impeaches his, upon closer inspection, genuinely harmful practices. What I dislike about most superhero films or games is the ubiquity of sheer coincidence. In Man of Steel, superman destroyed entire buildings but nobody was inside at the time, in broad daylight? Ain’t that a coincidence! But in Arkham Knight it’s not like that. You know… maybe keeping a wheelchair bound probably-like-18 year old girl inside a dangerous city full of criminals unguarded maybe wasn’t the best idea… (I don’t even know what’s happened to her so it’s not really a spoiler)
  • It takes a lot of time getting used to the fact that in order to access the weapon wheel you hold down on the d-pad
  • The batmobile drives very well, and it’s fun to smash through everyone and everything imaginable
  • The batmobile’s battle mode feels like a very well made mobile game. It’s pretty much asteroids except the Asteroids can fire back at you. Very enjoyable, and differently buffed enemies allow for variety and challenge
  • Unfortunately (and this may be because I downloaded the game (I didn’t want to, I pre-ordered the statue edition but there’s been a widespread packaging problem (you’d think they had to time to sort that out by now) so they gave me code instead (lovely little 20 hour download))), the game has a massive framerate problem at least with the batmobile. There is discernible framerate drops when driving, to the point of stuttery lag-like feedback, which is a shame
  • I have seen the odd flickering SLI texture
  • Very large render distance, which is good
  • The use of a surprising return of a character (if you’ve played the game, you’ll know) is very well composed and intriguing to watch
  • Gotham is scrupulously rendered with love, yet again. looks like a city that was previously alive and prosperous
  • Scarecrow is quite underwhelming. He is very well voice acted but lacks a motive. It feels very archetypal for him to want to destroy Gotham on a whim. Sure, batman left him to rot in Arkham Asylum but about 100 others suffered the same fate. Besides, it was Killer Croc who foiled his plans in Asylum. He is not appropriately vindicated to have this vendetta. As well as this, he isn’t a compelling villain in general. If he is so sure of his plan then why is he breathing down my neck, hiding proxy behind a speaker saying ‘JUST YOU WAIT, I’M GONNA GET YA!’? I’m not scared because of this. The ‘puppetmaster’ villain approach can be done well, but he should be scary even to his subordinates, a la the Crooked man from The Wolf Among Us
  • It is so painfully obvious that the Arkham Knight is Jason Todd. That’s not a spoiler, I don’t know that, but from his boyish, rebellious demeanour, his inside knowledge of WayneTech and batman himself, and his insistence that batman has wronged him, I genuinely cannot think of anyone else. No one has any subtle foreshadowing these days
  • The side mission are very well made, at least the ones I’ve begun so far. Finding man-bat scared me so bad
  • Crime scene investigations are identical to Origins’ but I’m not complaining
  • The riddler’s batmobile challenges are actually quite difficult
  • My my are there a lot of riddler trophies, something like 230?
  • While the batmobile is still fun, gliding is a faster and more aesthetically pleasing mode of transport
  • The dialogue is actually witty at points, and a certain character (looks like him, don’t he?) resembles Pagan Min in that regard, just done better in my opinion
  • Jim Gordon is very well voice acted, particularly in a notable scene where he lashes out against batman
  • Can I just reiterate that this game is absolutely gorgeous
  • The character models, especially Poison Ivy and Catwoman are photorealistic to the point I had to do a double take
  • The Azrael challenge missions, where it runs as a usual challenge map but if you take a single hit you fail, are very difficult but very fun
  • When interrogating criminals, their models can sometimes slip through the ground which does take you out of the experience
  • Dual play works seamlessly and the integration of character-specific enemies adds a fun element of challenge

Overall I am confident that this will grow to be my favourite game of all time yet again. I am huge batman fan, and because of my knowledge of the lore this heightens my experience (except now I’m fairly certain I know who Arkham Knight is). So far, the story, despite its weak points, has already had enough twists and turns to keep me entertained. This experience outdoes its predecessor in every way, and I am fully looking forward to my next session.

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