There have been many good games that have been held back from achieving greatness. Some aspect of their design leaves a stain on the experience, forcing the player to question what in the world were they thinking. Fatal Flaws examines these scars that are left on games, whether they are just mildly out of place or come close to ruining an otherwise quality game.
Despite being around long enough where if he was a real person he would likely be dead by now, it took decades for Batman to get a game that was of a high enough quality to be a proper tribute to the Dark Knight. In 2009 when Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, comic book fans and gamers alike rejoiced that there was now an exceptional game where we could don the iconic cowl of the caped crusader. Knowing the folly of messing with a winning formula, the follow ups Arkham City and Arkham Origins did not deviate from what made Asylum great.
Then came the grand finale, Arkham Knight, and here is where the adage of if it ain’t broke don’t fix failed because they decided to fix it. In many regards Arkham Knight is the best game in franchise and a fitting end to the whole Arkham story line. Almost everything about this game shows that Rocksteady wanted to send Batman out with a bang. The writing, graphics, music, voice overs, character, and just about everything else about it was stellar. Except for one thing. The previous games were great and one of the unifying things that made them great was Batman left his car in his cave.
To play devil’s advocate, it makes sense to have the Batmobile make an appearance in these games. And in fairness, there were some parts of the game where his hot rodded tank of questionable street legality actually worked. Having a stylish car to zip around Gotham instead of gliding and grappling everywhere is a nice travel alternative. The problem comes in with how big of role the car was given and what that role was. There were numerous sections in the game where the Batmobile was nothing but a forced gimmick.
I always liked Catwoman. I enjoy the ambiguous relationship she has with Batman where depending on the situation she is his enemy or ally. With a such a tiny inner circle, Batman needs as many friends as he can get so keeping Catwoman in the picture is a smart business decision for him, at least some times. In this game I chose to let her die at the hands of the Riddler because of his blasted contraption. In these games Edward Nigma relentlessly tries to best the Bat with various puzzles proving that he is the intellectually superior one despite thinking that green is an appropriate color for a suit. For some reason he became a bit of a gearhead in this game and all his “riddles” are Batmobile challenges. These range from doing time trial laps in a track rigged with traps to launching yourself out of the car to land on a perch the grapple gun cannot reach. These weren’t so much riddles as they were car challenges that needed some context to be shoehorned into the game. They were not fun and they seemed out of place with the rest of this game and the previous installments. As a result, the world will mourn the loss of Selena Kyle since saving her was not worth trying to complete every one of the Riddler’s challenges.
While those were technically optional challenges, there were a few boss battles that had to be done in the Batmobile. Minor spoiler alert for a game nearing its first birthday, a battle with the Arkham Knight himself is not a climatic showcase of hand to hand combat, but Batman speeding through tunnels while his rival chases him in a much larger and meaner looking vehicle. This showdown was only challenging due to the Batmobile not having the tightest controls at its top speed. Some other battles involve Cobra Tanks, which are especially annoying. I will give credit that turning a tank battle into a stealth section where the drone tank needs to be essentially back stabbed is an interesting idea, but the is better than practice.
The Batmobile is not only required for some other boss battles, but also for some puzzles in order to progress through the main story. These can boarder on being cool when it involves a high speed ramp jump, but more often they are on the ridiculous side and require some use of the power winge, whether it be acting as a pulley or sending electrical current to something.
In order to unlock the true ending, every challenge of the game needs to be completed. Normally in these games the only real headache is trying to find every single Riddler trophy, but there are numerous challenges that require the Batmobile. In Arkham Origins Firefly was taken down without the car, but that is not the case in this game. Perhaps in the ten year gap between the games’ stories his anger at being defeated festered and wanted to make bringing him to justice as unenjoyable as possible, sadistic bastard.
There are numerous bombs hidden throughout Gotham that need to be disarmed with the Batmobile, and all of those involve an additional battle against several drone tanks. There are numerous armored vehicles up to no good throughout Gotham that need to be blown up during a high speed chase. And those Riddler challenges that involve the Batmobile need to be done as well. Sorry Selena, seeing the true ending and saving your life are simply not worth trying to complete all those challenges.
The Arkham series is a great collection of games and they truly deserve the praise they have gotten throughout the years. The final game built on everything that made the earlier games great and created a fitting end. Unfortunately, they brought in the unnecessary addition of the Batmobile and made it too play too large of a role. Its inclusion does not ruin the game by any means, in fact I would say this game is still phenomenal in spite of it. It does, however, interrupt the flow of the game and when I did have to relinquish controlling the Bat to the car, I just wanted to get past that obstacle in order to resume enjoying the game.