Having helped the caped crusader complete a whole load of missions, our resident gamer Kate McCabe explains why you should spend a lot of time with Batman: Arkham Knight.
Lately, I’ve been playing Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham Knight. A lot. Like, a lot lot. I like the Batman games. A lot. A lot lot. As a Batman fan, there’s a lot to like: everything from character design to the smooth but brutal flow of the martial arts, to the way the grappling gun can send you soaring around a beautifully rendered and weather-beaten Gotham is wonderful.
So, this isn’t a review as such. A review would have been timelier as Arkham Knight dropped in June. Also, I’ve just told you: I like it. I could never be a proper video game reviewer. It takes me too long to complete a game. I like to do everything I can in a game’s world before I put it aside. I’ll even do the busy-work of side-missions. Batman needs to save Gotham’s firemen? Sure! Batman needs to vaccinate ManBat? Can do! Batman needs to iron a crease into his jeans? Yes, please! Secondly, though I am an eager gamer, I’m not an especially gifted gamer. I’m only OK. I’m never going to have the highest leader board scores among my peers on PS4. That award goes to Darryl. Shut up, Darryl.
So if this isn’t a review, what is it? This is a monologue for people who want to know what I, Kate McCabe, a very important gay American nerd, thinks about Arkham Knight.
Let’s talk visuals. The character design strikes a perfect balance between realism and fantasy. The bat-suit is like a human-shaped tank: armoured, muscular, and inclusive of a tactical command centre. (My only real complaints about ANY of the character designs in this game: don’t like the shaved head version of Robin. Nightwing’s face looks like he had some bad plastic surgery.)
Per usual, Catwoman looks the business. Her styling is taken from the Volume 3 Ed Brubaker run of Catwoman comics. Poison Ivy looks like an utter sexpot. As a female gamer and comic reader, that’s never bothered me. The eco-terrorist has always been hyper-sexualised – in fact, her sexuality is more of a red herring and just one of the many tools in her arsenal.
The main storyline has perhaps the most dramatic turn of events of any previously featured in an Arkham game. That horrible hessian-sacked Scarecrow is threatening to poison the city with the assistance of mysterious new Bat-baddie on the block, Arkham Knight. Ooh, Arkham Knight. Who’s he? All you know at the outset is that he’s armed to the teeth and seems to know everything about Batman. The Knight quickly became a personal fave because for such a macho alpha male he’s also a total ‘mean girl’. Check out his ‘death scene’ animation here – look at 4:08 on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE3oWEDNgXI. What a diva. “It’s OVER HERO! GOODBYE!” is how I’m exiting rooms from this moment forward.
“I purchased several of the extra DLCs for the game, including the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman costume and it’s brilliant. Batman is a total rubber daddy in it.”
One of my favourite side-missions involves a villain introduced in the comics a few years ago and a spate of murders around the city. I love this mission because the forensic details that Batman uses to narrow down the victims’ identities is Bat-larious. You’re able to scan the dermal, muscular, and skeletal levels of the victims. By the time you find the FIRST (suuuuuper specific) clue on each victim, you should have it nailed. Batman finds such ridiculously distinguishing features as: the victim has a glass eye of which only two were ever manufactured. And a shark bite from a very rare breed of shark that only exists on the moon. And two butt-holes. Yet there’s still like… 10,000 matching candidates in his database. Haha.
Now. The driving. One of the biggest additions to this particular chapter in the Arkham series was that of the Batmobile. Unlike many of my gamer pals, having to schlep around in the Bat-Grocery-Getter wasn’t something I was jazzed about. Much rather be swooping around the rooftops with my grapple gun and my fabulous swooshy cape. But, happily, it’s fairly easy to get used to, as far as video game cars go, and its oh-so-necessary for several of the story missions.
The only time I really HATED the car was on one particular track. But boy, what an asshole of a track. It’s the final Riddler racetrack (side-mission) with a particular turn on the last lap that’s nigh impossible. If you don’t cut it just right, you wind up in the drink and have to make your way back to the start. I finally finished it, but it was less skilful execution and more to do with a law of averages. One hundred monkeys with one hundred typewriters will eventually mash out Hamlet, right? Honestly, it took me two excruciating hours. My emotional state while playing the board can best be captured by this gif of Cleveland Brown.
I purchased several of the extra DLCs (downloadable content) for the game, including the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman costume and it’s brilliant. Batman is a total rubber daddy in it. It’s raining all night long in the game, so the suit constantly looks dripping wet. He’s practically bouncing out of Gotham’s premiere fetish gay bar, which I’m assuming is called Schumacher’s.
“Unlike many of my gamer pals, having to schlep around in the Bat-Grocery-Getter wasn’t something I was jazzed about. Much rather be swooping around the rooftops with my grapple gun and my fabulous swooshy cape.”
All the top-shelf vocal talent is back for this chapter INCLUDING the magnificently gleeful Mark Hamill as Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman, and the perfectly daft Tara Strong as Harley Quinn. In fact, the ladies of Gotham get a fairly good showing this time around – especially if you purchase the DLC for Harley and the one for Batgirl (both worth playing).
This game, sadly, serves as a conclusion to the Arkham series of Bat-Games. My only complaint is that, as a serious Batman and Catwoman ‘shipper’, I never got a side mission that was about Bruce and Selina settling in to domestic bliss. Maybe a DLC where Catwoman drives her U-Haul over to Wayne Manor to move in, guys? Anyone?
At any rate, with this being the final chapter, my partner will be happy to know that I can finally put down the paddle for a minute and get to work on those household chores I’ve been promising to tend to. Yes indeed. I’m happy to announce that the Simpsons‘ Lego house is finally under construction.4724 Views
Kate McCabe is an American comic living in Manchester. When not gigging as a standup, she improvises with ComedySportz Manchester, and contributes to local TV and radio including The Gay Agenda on Fab Radio.