“It handles like a rusty old shopping trolley” was one of the quotes from talking with fellow MGL Editor Subject Zero as we talked on Batman Arkham Knight. And it seemed this was the decisive factor of the game for him in his judgment of the game. It seems he’s not alone in this either.
For me, even ahead of the official review, I think Batman Arkham Knight is my personal favourite game of the year, although The Witcher 3 is damn close as is Dying Light. Sub Zero and other gamers out there, like Kevin Van Ord of Gamespot have felt really let down by the driving mechanic and in particular how often it’s used.
As someone who likes the Batmobile in general, I agree that it’s overused in some elements of the game, particularly some of the puzzle solving. And while it’s the main new gameplay mechanic, I don’t think it’s the strongest element of the experience either.
As an open world sandbox experience, you do expect some gameplay elements that you enjoy and others you don’t so much. It’s why we like them and why developers make them, so people like me can play a game like Far Cry as a stealthy game while someone else plays it as a first person shooter.
With Batman you of course get that in the most part with all the different things you can do around the city, but there is this constant requirement to use the Batmobile, and it’s the fact that it’s required is putting some gamers off.
Story missions need you to use the vehicle to solve puzzles, engage in combat with the drone army on numerous occasions, race around the city to drop off villains at the police department and more. It rolls into the side missions too with taking out military vehicles, bombs planted around the city and taking back the roads and even racing against time to get to Riddler trophies.
Now this is not such a problem to a person who quite likes the missions and the Batmobile like me, but for someone who just can’t stand it… well, you have little choice. And in removing choice you are taking away the main reason to play a sandbox game.
Personally, I think this is the biggest problem people have with the game and particularly fellow editor Sub Zero in this case.
It’s not the best gameplay element…
One thing that really stands out about this whole issue with the Batmobile from my perspective is, it’s certainly the most used mechanic in the game, but it’s actually not the best addition!
Without spoiling anything significant, the most fun missions for me were the ones that involved teaming up with a colleague such as Catwoman, Nightwing and Robin. These missions combine the free flowing combat, which makes the Arkham series so enjoyable over the years, with cool dual takedowns and a nice switch from being Batman all the time.
Catwoman is involved with you in the Riddler missions, which sees you working on puzzles and some of Nigma’s robots in combat together, with a number of enjoyable moments and some great banter between the characters. Nightwing comes into the action two as you hunt the Penguin and his gang down. With the flick of L1/LB you perform dual takedowns together and switch over to the other character and back into the combat right away.
I loved it and will certainly be going back for more.
Then there was the well-designed mission with Robin in the story mode that was great to play, involving a real sense that Batman and Robin worked well as a team and some really funny moments too.
With the announced Batgirl DLC and more to come, I hope Rocksteady realise there is more potential in this area of the game rather than adding more Batmobile elements. In fact, as for where the game could go next, this has me thinking of a few ideas but another story for another day.
Does it really spoil it THAT much?
I’m always a little sceptical with games that have very high scores and one or two bad ones. It screams to me that the reviewer simply didn’t feel the game personally. Is this an example of personal feelings getting in the way of objectivity?
Personally I think it is.
While it’s not the best part of the game, it’s certainly not BAD and I personally would not be lowering the score significantly as a result of its inclusion. Had they not built the Batmobile into the game at some point (given this is supposedly Rocksteady’s last one) people would have been unhappy, and more of them than are currently unhappy at the Batmobile.
I’m glad they did it, (although I want to take the Batwing for a spin more! ) I think it adds more than it takes away and it does make sense to the story. It’s certainly overused, no question about that but the rest of the game is so good, and in my opinion this doesn’t spoil the experience.
My advice would be, get out of the car every time you have chance. I found myself launching out of the car and swooping around the city to mission points, and that certainly made it less intrusive on my experience. It’s also worth picking your missions wisely to keep things fresh so you are not bombarded by Batmobile missions for your entire gaming session too.