Many were waiting for Gotham Knights Review as the game was about to come out. The game was in a weird place; on the one hand, we let the studio behind Arkham Origins work on it, but on the other hand, players kept their expectations low. Many fell in the middle of it and hoped it wasn’t so bad. But one thing that has become clear since the game’s release is that Arkham games have reinvented the superhero game genre, and any good entry would lead to them being compared against each other.
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The best example of this is Insomniac’s Spider-Man, which was compared to the series for the combat it offered. One of the biggest games in its year of release, and its release on PC was celebrated by every PC gamer. And the reason for that was simple, and it had a good story and added value and uniqueness to the game. The traversal in Insomniac Spider-Man is some of the best in the business, and no Arkham game comes close. And it has an original story and an ending that has moved many to tears.
This is why this article is titled Gotham Knights: Downgraded Superhero Game, because everything good that was made in these games has been undone in this one. From clunky gameplay, lack of player skill, combat variety and a dead open world that makes Arkham Knight look fuller than this game. Anyone who likes Batman would buy this game. But with the price this game is being offered at, it’s better to wait for a sale than to buy it at full price, because this game is nothing you’d expect from a game Arkham Origins made.
A disappointing sequel to the Arkham franchise
2022 was not a good year for AAA gaming; many of the expected games turned out to be disappointing. And the ones that came out well were not from the AAA industry, but from small or AA companies. Take Elden Ring for example; the game was a hit at the time of its release and it became the best game released this year.
It wasn’t even on many people’s radar, but it stormed the market and blew expectations out of the water. And one of the biggest reasons for that was that the game wasn’t as hyped as other games this year. So what is the reason for the success? Not doing what the AAA games have been doing and delivering a great game to the public.
Gotham Knights is a game that was announced before Arkham Knight was announced and has been in development since its announcement. And what we get after eight years of anticipation is a copy-paste AAA game that has nothing new to offer as it follows the old formula to boot.
The game mechanics
It would be cruel to do Gotham Knights Review and keep comparing it to Arkham Knight. The problem is that the gameplay isn’t even good by the basic game standard. The user interface is cluttered, with a jumble of icons and colors, if you may. The traversal is okay, but is stuck behind tasks, which makes it annoying to unlock it four times (more on that later); the character upgrades are good, but don’t make sense from a story perspective (the Arkham series and Insomniac Spider-Man are good at this). The skill tree is more or less meaningless, you get flashy moves after getting certain upgrades, but you can do without it if you have good equipment. And finally, the progression of character development (such as how they become stronger in the game) is randomized due to the loot system. Let’s talk about this in detail below:
Battles: First, the fight; where to start with this? The best way to describe combat is that it’s non-intuitive. Take another brawler and you’ll have moves and combos set up that require you to get good, but at the same time they’re not locked behind number layers to do their thing. The Gotham Knights have different moves, but the way they’re assigned makes the gameplay a bit awkward.
The attacks are divided into weak and strong attacks, and then there are pierce attacks. The button for weak and strong attacks (pressing the weak button does a strong one) is the same, which occasionally interrupts the flow of battle. Despite the lack of free fights, there is variation between the four characters, with those three attacks as the basis.
But the difference is small and far between, especially if you start at the beginning of the game. They play the same way until you collect enough skill points or get some other gear. While it’s true that random gear gives them the sense of individuality, the grind of getting better gear for your characters is a long one, and this led to combat becoming repetitive in turn.
Traversal and Batcycle vs. Batmobile: As we said before, you need to unlock traversal upgrades four times in the game. What we mean is that each character has to start from scratch when it comes to the skills or gadgets that will help them in the game. This is one place where they should have applied a shared skill tree or progression for characters. While it feels good to have traversal abilities unlocked after sticking with grapples for a while, doing it over and over becomes a chore. One more thing to add to the list of grinds in this game.
While many players like the grind aspect, it’s overdone here as if it were an online MMORPG. It’s nothing if we say this, Arkham Knight was a Batmobile simulator with Riddler as your instructor. But despite its shortcomings, Rocksteady developers put details and nuances into it that made the car’s convertible tank a memory among players. Batcycle, on the other hand, is just a locomotive that takes you from point A to point B, nothing more. Plus, the driving mechanics are hardly average, as the physics seem clunky at times, like driving Batcyle into a car. As for bat gadgets, it is one of the easy to forget gadgets.
open world: Almost all open worlds have the same problem: emptiness. Interestingly, it sometimes forces things to go that way instead of being a living, breathing world. Something that WB Montreal promised the game would be just the story and in-game experience. Let’s make a comparison to Spider-Man (Insomniac) for this one; the streets were filled and bustling with activity. There weren’t even two buildings on the inside, making this Spider-Man’s NY full and character in the story, something only written fiction successfully accomplished for this game.
For that matter, Gotham Knights is nowhere near crowded with people or walking the streets. The argument that comes up is that the streets are not filled at night, but for a large city with a large infrastructure, this makes no sense. The Gotham Knights plot involves a pandemic that forces people to stay indoors. We don’t know if this was made up later in the game’s development cycle or is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the game doesn’t even go into that in detail. Another important thing to note is how the frame rate is locked for the open world; reducing NPCs could be their way of eliminating lag from the game.
Failure to capture the Cape
For all the glory the Arkham series had, it had one glaring flaw, its over-reliance on Joker. Batman has a wide range of villains, but the game developers kept using the Joker throughout no matter what. This was one of the main reasons why Paul Dini (the main writer for Arkham Asylum and City) left the franchise and did not return from Arkham City and Knight.
And while Arkham City was better in terms of story compared to Knight, Arkham Knight has the best gameplay in the entire series. Now Gotham Knights has neither excellent Arkham Asylum and City writing nor Arkham Knight’s gameplay marvel. If anything, was this game released ten years ago? No one would doubt that the game is from the future. And then there’s the irony of the game, the failure to pick up the mantle after Arkham Games’ legacy, and the characters failing to pick up the mantle after Batman’s death.
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