The Batmobile: the vehicle we need or the one we deserve?

The inclusion of the Batmobile in the latest instalment of the Batman: Arkham series was something Ben was really looking forward to. But has it met his expectations?

Title overview

Name: Batman: Arkham Knight
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release date: June 2015
PEGI rating: 18
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
More information: Official website

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Ben says…

One of the much-vaunted additions to Batman: Arkham Knight was the inclusion of the Batmobile for the first time in the series. After all, to really be the Batman one has to be able to motor through Gotham City in what is one of entertainment’s most iconic vehicles.

Rocksteady Studios’ interpretation of the vehicle is an exercise in extremes. On the one hand it is everything the Batmobile should be: a fast, imposing tank of a vehicle which Batman can use as yet another gadget from his utility belt with the two working in harmony to clear up Gotham. And yet on the other hand the way it has been implemented into the game, with frustrating oversteer, tedious puzzles and irritating tank battles, spoils what could have been a much more subtle and effective integration into the world.

Gotham City has been redesigned to incorporate the Batmobile and for the most part it works, with wider roads, alleys and tunnels for the player to explore. Navigation is clear through on-road GPS markers and when you ‘accidentally’ plough through scenery en-route, there is only ever one winner. The idea of transforming the vehicle into a slower but more mobile tank also works well, with the variety of gadgets and enhancements suiting the mode.

The fault, therefore, does not lie in the realisation of the vehicle but the design of the title around it.

A seemingly never-ending supply of enemy drone tanks does not an enjoyable experience make, mainly because their inclusion feels so forced – this is both in terms of plot and gameplay. They have to be drones (because Batman doesn’t kill – very contrived) and some even require the Batmobile of all things to sneak up on them. It all culminates at a point towards the end of the game in a battle that almost single-handedly destroys all the goodwill towards the series in a single sequence.

The puzzles aren’t much better and manoeuvring the vehicle to just the right spot to fire, boost or other skill feels very clumsy and lacks the finesse of the rest of the brain-benders in the game.

There are moments, however when you are required to chase vehicles through the streets of Gotham and at times these can be exhilarating. City streets whiz by as you try to bring down the opposing vehicle. It’s here that you feel the Batmobile does best, what you expect it to do. Until, that is, you oversteer into a wall, come to an immediate stop, the chase is over and the mission resets. It’s monumentally frustrating.

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It’s the same with some of the Riddler challenges, where he demands you drive laps of his various death trap race courses. Driver skill doesn’t feel like the reason for failure here – just poor handling and design. Again, these puzzles are too frequent and too overused.

It all feels forced and that when it came to the Batmobile there was a lack of quality control. The end product comes off as a team that is immensely proud of the vehicle they have designed – and they should be – but have over-used their prized asset to the point of annoyance. It’s such a shame. A Batmobile that was more subtly integrated into the Bat-arsenal and more sparingly used would have been a much more effective tool in the war for Gotham.

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8 thoughts on “The Batmobile: the vehicle we need or the one we deserve?”

  1. I always feared this’d be Batmobile: The Game when I saw it at last years E3, and judging by reviews and the overall consensus that’s exactly what it is, I’ll probably get it on sale or something. I am however excited to see what Rocksteady can do next, now that they’re done with the Batman licence (for now).


    1. It’s only when its forced on you that it’s bad. The rest of the time you’re free to grapple and glide to your heart’s content (which is just as awesome as ever!).


  2. The handling is painfully bad.

    If you’re going in a straight line, you feel like Batman…until you make a turn. Or you run over and electrocute people. But it’s not a problem, because the Batmobile doesn’t kill them…right…

    And yeah, not only is it contrived, but it makes the villains look like idiots! “Let’s send drones so he has no qualms about wrecking them?”

    They just had to tape a random soldier, and I mean so literally with duct-tape, to a drone and Batman was done for! 😛

    I liked the first Riddler circuit, but mostly because of the toggling walls and bridges. It was very fun. But they also highlight another problem with the Batmobile: it has wonky physics. I once CAREFULLY drove on a wall. I was pretty much crawling on it, and still the car stuck to it.


  3. Absolutely spot on. I’ve only been onto Arkham Knight for an hour or so and the Batmobile is already in danger of letting down my entire view of a long-awaited new entry in the series. Grappling and gliding is just THE BEST – why spoil things by having some massive clunky vehicle?

    Oh god, I’m getting Mako flashbacks from the first Mass Effect game…


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