Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Developer: Rocksteady Studios (PS4, Xbox One), Iron Galaxy Studios (PC) Release Date: June 23, 2015 MSRP: USD $39.99 (Php. 1843.00) Steam Price
The highly anticipated final installment of Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Batman Arkham franchise came in with negative feedbacks from the PC community as the game itself had a lot of technical issues. The PC port was developed by an outsourced development team named Iron Galaxy Studios. There were a lot of frame rate drops when driving the Batmobile or gliding, no SLI and Crossfire profile support, and textures not rendering fast enough even on high-end videocards like the GTX 970 and R9 290X. These concerns, however, are being worked on by Rocksteady while Warner Bros. suspended the game’s sale through Steam and physical copy shipments until they fix the issue.
I was able to get the game since I pre-ordered a physical copy from our local store Datablitz because Warner Bros. PR didn’t provide us any press copies for us to review Batman Arkham Knight on PC. I will make sure that this PC review and score will be updated as soon as they fix the game. For some PC gamers who already bought the game and experienced the performance issues, follow these configurations as what Rocksteady suggested. Following these configurations, I was able to play the game smoothly with less stuttering on 30 frames per second.
Batman Arkham Knight is the third and final installment of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series which concludes the story of the Dark Knight. The game is still an open-world action adventure title. The narrative is set in Gotham City to stop the not-so-scary psychopath Scarecrow from spreading a highly concentrated fear toxin while introducing a new character joining the bandwagon of villains who wants to stop Batman, the Arkham Knight. The darker twist of the game’s story is simply fantastic. If you have watched the famous Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rising movie, you will know that Batman Arkham Knight’s dark-themed narrative is great. It makes the players want to re-play the whole Batman Arkham series, except Arkham Origins, and feel the emotional impact of Batman Arkham Knight’s story.
Batman Arkham Knight retains the main gameplay element and gadgets from its predecessors. There are some added elements in the game like the “Fear Takedown” which players can do the “Takedown” move to a certain amount of enemy AI in a slow-motion effect, giving the last blow that accomplished feeling to players. Combat feels more faster than what we’ve seen in Arkham City. Adding the “dual-play” gameplay, it lets the player switch from one character to another and do combined takedowns with Batman’s buddies like Catwoman, Tim Drake, and Nightwing in certain side quests. However, Dual-Play is a weak gameplay element that should have been better if it was utilized more in the game’s main story.
Now, gadgets, gadgets, and gadgets… Batman Arkham Knight still showcase some old favorite Wayne Industry technologies present from its predecessors like the Explosive Gel, Remote Controlled Batarangs, Remote Hacking Device, Batclaw, and more. Along with these classic gadgets are 2 new devices: the Voice Synthesizer where players can imitate certain villains to order them to open gates or investigate certain areas for you to take them out, and most importantly the Batmobile Remote that controls the highly anticipated Batmobile.
The Batmobile is the main attraction of the newest feature in Batman Arkham Knight. It allows players to roam around Gotham City like never before in any Batman Arkham title. The Batmobile transforms to a tank-like destroyer to take out unmanned remote controlled tanks, and shoot enemy AI with rubber bullets to instantly taking them down, not killing them. The controls of the Batmobile are pretty smooth, especially drifting. The tank-like mobile of the Dark Knight is not overpowered, there are options to upgrade the Vulcan gun, 60mm Canon, Armor, and the magnificent Afterburner. However, the visual design of the Batmobile have references from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (the Tumbler) for being a tank-ish vehicle and the canon as what we’ve seen in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. The Batmobile did live up to the hype of all Batman fans who were waiting for this and it wasn’t a disappointment.
With all the impressive elements that were shown in its gameplay, Batman Arkham Knight’s overall graphic design is spectacular. Even if the game can’t run on Normal for now because of the game’s optimization issues, running it on Low settings with Anti-Aliasing turned on in 1080p resolution already makes the PC version on par with the console versions. Gotham City looks astonishing, smokes, the splash and explosion effects from the tanks, the Batmobile, rain effects, villain’s visual designs, and as well as Batman looks great on Low settings. It’s pretty much stable on Low configuration as long as you meet the minimum specs and experience minor to no stuttering in gameplay experience. Smooth as butter.
The pretty graphical effects of Batman Arkham Knight also came with an impressive voice-acting from Kevin Conroy as Batman and the most precious voiceover of John Noble as Scarecrow. Even if Scarecrow’s plans and looks were not that scary or even intimidating to players and Batman, Noble gives out that horror atmosphere for being Dr. Crane’s voice that will overlook the character’s weaknesses. The game’s soundtrack was not that impacting and emotional at some point in the game than what Arkham Origins and Arkham City have. Composed by David Buckley and Nick Aundrel, they’ve mixed some tracks from Arkham City and Arkham Asylum to make it darker which I thought that it didn’t have that “emotional” feel than what I’ve heard from Christopher Drake’s tracks in Arkham Origins.
Just on a side note, I know this is a PC port and this should not be taken lightly. What I wrote in my previous paragraph is the mere review and experience that I had with the game. I am comfortable playing the game at 30FPS and I know most of you readers and PC gamers don’t understand why we should play at 30FPS when our beast computers can run it more than 30FPS and even more than 60FPS. For me, it’s basically on pure preferences of the players. If you guys wants to play it on 60FPS or higher, then that’s your choice. I wouldn’t force you to play it or even suggest it if you’re not comfortable playing a game on 30FPS. And I wouldn’t want to be too biased in this review because the game’s first release was horrible. I’m reviewing the game based on my experience of the game as a critic, and for me it was a great Batman experience. The graphical improvement can wait until they patch the game.
I know the game has issues with performance and stability, in short poor optimization overall. It’s worse than what Ubisoft had with Assassin’s Creed Unity and this is because the development of the game was passed to an inexperienced outsourced development company and it was a bad move from Rocksteady and Warner. They were too focus enough of having the game released on par with the console versions. Now, the game is currently unavailable on Steam and physical copies are currently suspended until the game is fixed. There was already a minor patch that fixed some bugs and added the rain effects on the PC version, Rocksteady already posted in their forums that they’re now focusing on the game’s major patch update and that’s already coming.
Overall, Batman Arkham Knight is still a great game despite its optimization issues. I already used Rocksteady’s configuration advice for graphics and it already gave me a great experience in the gameplay. The story was spectacular, graphics were great even on Low how much more if we can set it on High after Rocksteady fixes the game, and the overall experience was fantastic. Batman Arkham Knight is a game where players can now experience what a Batman game should be and the epic conclusion of the Batman Arkham franchise.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the author.