is a Rocksteady game, and it wouldn’t be a Rocksteady game without some utterly abysmal design decisions that make you wonder how certain people within the studio both keep a job and make it home each day without gamers, deranged by the frustration Rocksteady’s titles have generated, brutally murdering them.
In Arkham Asylum
it was the terrible boss fights, particularly the Ivy one.
In Arkham City
it was the Riddler death traps that you continuously encountered before you had the right equipment to deal with them. A problem if, like me, you actually wanted to PLAY the game and you have the hints turned off, because you’re never informed that what you’re trying to achieve is impossible. You’re running on the assumption that the game is actually well-designed and that you wouldn’t be duped into thinking you can accomplish something that you cannot.
In Arkham Knight
, it’s the presence of the Batmobile.
Now, there are certain types of game that I am flat out bad at. Racing games, for example. I’m terrible at them, which means I don’t enjoy playing them. I just get angrier and angrier if I try. So, what do I do? I don’t play them. I play things I AM good at, things that I DO enjoy…..like stealth/action games. Things like the Arkham
What are we forced to do in Arkham Knight
F**k you, Rocksteady. F**k you right in the f**king f**k.
I knew those lazy bastards would do that as soon as the Batmobile was mentioned. As soon as you introduce a vehicle, a hack designer will shoehorn in a race. It’s guaranteed.
Here’s a little tip for any studio head: from this point on, should one of your designers put down on paper “Get from point A to point B as fast as possible” within the design document of any project that is NOT overtly a racing game; fire them. You’re paying them to be creative and they’re not.Arkham Asylum
is, without a doubt, the best of the series, and the best Batman
game out there, but Arkham City
and Arkham Knight
prove Rocksteady didn’t actually know why
: it was small, it was focused and it felt complete.
I could, and have, played Arkham Asylum
again and again, because it feels like an episode from the animated series (probably because of Paul Dini’s contribution). It’s a great ride, with a fantastic opening, a great setting and a sense of closure in completing it (even if you did have to wade through a badly designed boss-battle to reach it). It feels very “Batman”.
Everything starts to go down hill with Arkham City
: it started making things too big, too flabby and key elements of the plot required you know more about Batman
lore than you should. There’s a difference between adding something for the fans, as they did in Arkham Asylum
, and what we see in Arkham City
, and later in Arkham Knight
. Who are these suddenly prominent characters who have had no introduction? Why is their reveal supposed to be shocking? Didn’t read the comics? Then you’ll never know.
Terrible world building.
Had they set Arkham City
across a couple of blocks of Gotham and just focused on Batman dealing with a turf war between 2 Face and The Penguin: that would have been ace. But instead we get Ra’s Al Ghul randomly showing up, Lazarus pits, Frankengrundy and a weird plan to kill everyone in the super-jail using missiles (If the inmates rely on food from the guards, why not just poison it? If everyone had to go through processing before being dumped in there, why not inject them with something THEN? Why missiles?! Who planned that protocol? Michael Bay?!).
After THAT nonsense, Arkham Knight
off the map by flat-out bringing the apocalypse to Gotham. Batman is just a guy in a cape! He tracks bad guys down and punches them in the face. That’s what he does, that’s why we like him. Dealing with crap of this magnitude is Superman’s shtick, and that f**ker doesn’t even show up in Arkham Knight
, despite being mentioned!
Gotham gets covered in a toxic cloud. What do you want Batman to do? Punch it?
As soon as hero duties start being delegated to more capable parties, it stops being a Batman
If you want to make a Batman
game, come up with a scenario that Batman can believably deal with!
DLC is the final nail in the coffin. Initials seem to raise red flags these days. Games with QTEs don’t actually contain gameplay, and games with DLC generally feel incomplete or unfinished. Arkham Knight’s
conclusion, even if you went to the trouble of activating Knightfall in full, doesn’t bring any kind of satisfaction. Arkham Asylum
may have ended with Batman flying off to deal with a 2 Face bank robbery, but that felt like a conclusion to the story! Arkham Asylum
was over. Done. Dusted. You had turned the last page.Arkham Knight
doesn’t feel like it has
a last page. It feels like the last page has been torn out and Rocksteady is holding it hostage until you pay them more money, further poisoning the experience.
series has gone from shining example of how to do a licensed game right to a fine demonstration of a corporate money-grab.