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?
|Name:||Batman: Arkham Knight|
|Publisher:||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Release date:||June 2015|
|Platforms:||Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|More information:||Official website|
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.
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.