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Batman: Arkham Knight

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Batman: Arkham Knight.

TranscriptEdit

In case you’ve been spending the last century sitting at the bottom of the Challenger Deep with a really, really interesting book, Batman is a popular superhero with the power of infinite money, with which he bought a suit of armor for punching people who don’t have suits of armor. He’s also an incredibly boring asshole with no hobbies, who compensates for this fact by ensuring that no one other than himself gets to do anything interesting. “No really, fully equipped police force, it’s too dangerous for you out there! Just leave it to me, my ridiculous car and my death wish.” If Batman’s pointy ears represented his martyr complex, they would get caught in power lines.

In Batman: Arkham Knight, our hero must face his deadliest foe yet: a 30fps frame rate cap. The PC master race started sharpening their carbon fiber knives after a PC port that has been most charitably described as a face full of piss on a hot summer’s day limped through the castle gates. I wouldn’t know about that - I played the console version, because I recall the Arkham Origins PC port being dodgy as well, and I too possess a superpower: the power to remember things! Such as the fact that my new game Hatfall is out and you can play it now, hip-hip hooray, it’s great!

Arkham Knight is the final installment of the Batman Arkham Trilogy (and it does refer to itself as a trilogy, so I guess Arkham Origins is officially the red-headed stepchild.) A welcome final installment indeed! Not that it’s been a bad series, it’s just done all it can do now, and the story of Arkham Knight is as worn out and held together with pins as the bones of most of Gotham City’s thugs at this point.

The problem with superhero movies is that they only have three plots:

  • Villain endangers hero's loved one,
  • Hero faces villain who is dark reflection of themselves,
  • Villain threatens to cover a city in gas that will make everyone as petty as they are.

Arkham Knight goes through all three multiple times with varying degrees of disconnect and all messily layering over each other like an orgy in a poorly made lasagna.

Scarecrow is doing the gas-spreading thing, but he weirdly obligingly gives everyone a few weeks’ notice, so all the normal people evacuate Gotham before the game starts, leaving him to prepare a gas attack upon a mostly deserted city whose remaining population consists largely of his own men. Christ knows how the henchman temp agency meets demand in Gotham city!

But Batman is pledged to defend Gotham and he’s not gonna stop just ‘cause there’s no one in it except enemy thugs, for even they deserve a second chance (as well as a shattered vertebrae or two).

"Batman’s pledge to defend the helpless innocents who have all already fucked off" is an unavoidable plot hole, since a sequel demands a bigger sandbox and a bigger sandbox demands better transportation, hence Batmobile! And we couldn’t have had a Batmobile while the streets were littered with clueless window shoppers hoping to get through the day without having their pelvic bones shattered by an ill-judged power-slide.

The Batmobile is the new gameplay mechanic demanded by innovation. Now all we need is for the word ‘Zok’ to appear when we punch someone and we'll finally have the truly complete Batman experience. The problem is that the old hookshot/hang-glider combo was, and still is, perfectly adequate for getting around, and is handy for surveying the city for maliciously unbroken spines. So the game ends up having to force us to use the Batmobile and that’s largely the titular Arkham Knight’s job.

The Arkham Knight, besides being a classic case of coming up with the name before the concept, is a militia leader who fills the streets with unmanned tanks for you to blow up. He’s secretly a figure from Batman’s past who knows all his tricks, but can’t be that smart, 'cause if he was, he’d sellotape a single live person to one of the seventy million drones Batman blows up without a second thought, after which he’d have to run off and cry on a gargoyle for the rest of his fucking life.

Even before release I thought it was weird that a series about being sneaky and clever and unexpectedly jumping on people should introduce demolition derbies as a central mechanic, and having to smash up a load of Tonka toys every now and again feels more like an interlude than a natural addition to the sneaky punchy gameplay; which remains perfectly fine. Bordering on slightly overloaded with gadgets that I largely forget about as long as the hookshot still works. The only major thing added to that aspect is the ability to instantly take down up to five lads at once, which is an innovative addition to gameplay if holding down the fast-forward button is an innovative way to watch films. Certainly not as innovative as - Hatfall! The new Zero Punctuation game for browser and tablets by me, pluggo pluggo etc.

So, Scarecrow and Arkham Knight have joined forces to destroy Batman, and it seems that the method they have chosen to do so is to bore him to death! What the fuck happened to the Scarecrow who was the highlight of the first game, that cackling energetic genuinely scary motherfucker, who’d secretly slip you fear gas so you only knew he was around 'cause all the chandeliers started looking like your father’s willy. He was a guy who acted! The Scarecrow in this game is a guy who just talks in a droning monotone, so whenever it’s his turn to have to go on the citywide PA system, I think for a moment it accidentally got tuned to the shipping forecast. They turned him into Jerry Generic, the standard super villain, and he looks like exactly like Skeletor from the Masters of the Universe film.

Meanwhile, the Arkham Knight does his bit by flooding the game with interminable tedious side-missions, taking down militia strongholds which usually entails beating up yet another group of identical toss-buckets. The other side mission paths with colourful villains are more fun, but mostly have about three to six missions in total, whereas there are fucking forty-odd militia strongholds of varying types! I wouldn’t mind, but you need to do a minimum of all this bollocks to get the final ending! It’s like withholding the last few pages of a book until the reader has eaten all of the previous ones. There is, however, a surprise third main villain, who I won’t spoil but at least puts the colour back in the game's cheeks, so Arkham Knight does have its moments. Certainly better than Origins and is at worst still fun enough. It should definitely be the last one, because it’s about 40% using up the last of the series’ good ideas and 60% pissing about.

And on a final note, what is it with this game and female characters? Now, I know that the number of games that don’t piss off some gender activist or another can be counted on the fingers of a retired bomb disposal expert, but even I felt something was off. Catwoman spends the whole game locked in a basement wearing a slave collar waiting for Batman to come take her for walkies. And without wishing to spoil, all the major ladies have a particularly nasty time of it. Then again, it’s nasty all over; the men aren’t exactly having a jolly locker room towel-flicking contest. You know what, forget I said anything. I ain’t tea-bagging this beehive any further - I’m gonna go play Hatfall instead, check it out!

AddendaEdit

Just too nice a guy: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

So if Batman has to name all his shit the bat-something then what does he call his batteries

To the commentmobile

Post creditsEdit

Hey, have you ever wanted to be me? (No obviously not.) Well, have you ever wanted to be me without the massive personality defects and only capable of moving from side to side like a brain-damaged crab?

Well then play Hatfall, the official Zero Punctuation game for browsers and tablets designed by me and without a doubt the greatest interactive hat putting-on simulator called Hatfall ever devised by man!

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5

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