REVIEW – Gotham Knights is not up to Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham trilogy, and the studio is lagging behind even its own, as WB Games Montréal has made Batman: Arkham Origins in 2013. It wasn’t that great either, but it was a higher quality product than Gotham Knights. Unfortunately, this game outlines the increasingly dark and expensive future of the gaming industry.
Even the description on Steam is so meaningless: “Batman is dead. It is now up to the Batman Family – Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin – to protect Gotham City.”
An open-world game with four protagonists instead of one. There are random crimes, collectibles, and a story. The four characters differ from each other in both personality and abilities. For the most part, they bring what you’d expect from the DC comics, and the developers haven’t strayed too far from the source. None of them are in a perfect mental state. Nightwing, for example, has trouble becoming a leader. Robin has lost his father figure. Batgirl has lost her father and is trying to hold together what she has left. Red Hood still hasn’t come to terms with his death. These motifs come through brilliantly in the scenes. The story doesn’t follow the Arkham titles’ sort of redundant obligation that all the bad guys HAVE to show up. They can join later via the Case Files system, which paints them as valid threats. As expected, part of law enforcement is combat. The overall picture is not positive in this respect.
You can’t lock onto a particular target, and the camera is often trash, which is most annoying when you have to attack your opponent with certain moves but can’t see what’s happening. Special attacks can be activated using the Momentum System. Successfully dodging attacks and us attacking will allow special abilities, and with side quests, we can have more of these. The problem is that, compared to the Arkham games (where stealth was a valuable option more often than not), the map design is excruciatingly basic, so we often have to take out a larger group of criminals. It’s rarely possible to take them out one by one silently, and at several points, it feels like the game was designed with multiplayer in mind, as it can be frustrating when you have to do too much at times playing solo. Not everyone has the opportunity to play with others. The city of Gotham doesn’t feel as alive either, and if WB Games Montréal had left that out, maybe they wouldn’t have had to cancel the previously announced PlayStation 4/Xbox One ports, because from the looks of it, it’s no exaggeration to say that 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight looks better, despite being developed for the previous console generation. These games don’t justify increasing the price…
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the negatives. It’s true that some of the missions can be varied (there are a few puzzle-based ones), but it gets repetitive and boring quickly. In side quests, scanning drones pops up very often, for example, and you might ask the question: what’s the point of the open world? It seems to be there. Even the Batman & Robin game on PS1 had more care… In 1998. The random equipment system felt poorly implemented. Not all missions give you fixed loot. Most of them, along with the loot, are randomized. They either make your character stronger, more resistant to certain damage, or some kind of buff. Suffice it to say that the studio probably shouldn’t have looked towards Diablo, as a skill tree might have been a better solution. Instead, you might need to grind. We talked about the graphics earlier.
There’s no 60 FPS on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series. Maybe in 4K, that’s understandable, but at 1440p, there’s no excuse for this game not to run at sixty frames per second. At launch, the Xbox Series X dropped from 30 FPS in some parts. There is no excuse for that. And on PC, the Denuvo DRM (“anti tamper”) makes it worse, which the devs took out in an update and then put back in in a day. When this time bomb explodes after SecuROM, Starforce and Tages, you can cry that the game won’t run on PC, because Warner won’t remove it Gotham Knights, where sometimes, the environment textures loaded too slowly, and the quality of the cutscenes wasn’t that good, just fair. If only the voice acting was strong, but even that can’t be said. Even here, the performance is average at best.
Gotham Knights doesn’t deserve more than a six out of ten. The superhero gameplay is mostly good, but that’s about it. It can’t do much more than that, it might be more enjoyable playing with someone else. The story is fair, the graphics are forgettable, the sounds are average, the gameplay is annoying in the long run, and the atmosphere isn’t quite right. WB Games Montréal’s previous game launched nine years ago. Warner should get its act together, because in addition to NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombats and Injustice, it’s now lucky that the free-to-play Super Smash Bros. clone MultiVerse is making a killing, but it won’t be surprising if Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a flop. Because Gotham Knights failed.
+ The story isn’t that flashy
+ Several of the characters can be likable
+ Some quests
– It gets boring
– Gotham is lifeless… and so is the game itself
– Unreasonable 30 FPS on console and Denuvo PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal
Style: Action RPG
Release: October 21, 2022.