Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Barring maybe inFamous and Bioshock, the Batman Arkham series has been my favorite game franchise of the current console era. Roacksteady just did such a great job of fully realizing a world for people to play in as well as making them feel like Batman. When I heard that a prequel was being developed for the series I was happy, but when I heard that Rocksteady wouldn't be involved I grew slightly worried. Having played the game I guess the ultimate question is were my worries justified?
Unfortunately it's not a straight yes or no. God damn it.
I'll start on the positives. The developer has smartly kept the combat system mostly untouched. For fans of the original game then it's easy enough to just pick up the control and play. There have been a few new thugs added to the game that must be handled with a different strategy, but not enough to feel out of place.
Story wise we have a relatively strong comic inspired plot of Batman having to deal with 8 assassins hired to kill him on Christmas Eve. There are some twists and turns, nothing truly inspiring, but it's very solid and will hold the attention. It's also nice to see a younger Batman make some mistakes in the early goings. However it's in some of the side missions and stories that we begin to see the first flaw.
There seems to be a want to be other Arkham games and throw in enemies because the other games had them. I can somewhat understand a young Edward Nigma (before he became The Riddler) being hired to help with computer security, but why is Mad Hatter in this game? Both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were nut houses crammed with Gotham's worst. There was a reason for them being there. Having all these bat villains appear on the same day is a little stupid, compounded by the fact that they all seem to be having their origins at the same time. It's a sign that Warner Bros Games Montreal wanted to copy rather than create their own thing.
Visually the game fits right in with the previous two games, but this in turn can be pointed out as a lazy. All sections of the city are reused from Arkham City and nothing done to them to really wow. Still copying what Rocksteady did means that it's at least solid if not creative, and honestly I kind of dug the design for Bane. Normal looking Bane is so much better than over the top Liefeld Bane (please note i'm not saying Liefeld drew Bane, I just refer to the over muscled version of Bane as this).
Still the lack of creativity isn't a major problem as the core of the game is still fun and the story was good enough for me. I've read far worse Batman stories in the comics so i'm grateful when a story not only makes sense, but gives a decent portrayal of Gordon (also Harvey Bullock is in this game briefly which made me smile). But truly the game breaker of the...well...um...game, are the sheer amount of glitches and bugs.
While I didn't have as many problems as some people have been reporting. Here's a quick list:
- Fast travel not working properly.
- Game freezing at least twice on me.
- Framerate drop.
- Inability to interrogate vital characters. (I needed to reload the game to fix this)
- Sound dropping out.
- Non responsive controls. (This sucked during combat)
- Some graphics not loading.
- Auto save not saving properly.
Besides this, while combat was similar to what I've experienced with the games before, it just didn't feel as responsive as before. Also grappling was annoying as it seemed I was blocked from some places just because the game didn't want me to do that. Most notable was when you are trying to get into the radio towers. For these faults then I feel players have every right to dump crap on this game.
Despite all these troubles I still had a ball playing the game. The story was still intriguing and I had a lot of fun, however if I was to recommend this game then it would only be as a rental. That's if you still live in an area with a shop that does game rentals. If I had to put it on a scale then I would say that this game is just above average and mainly because of the solid foundation that Rocksteady created before hand.
Let me put it this way. If Rocksteady was to announce a new Batman game for 2014 I would be lining up to play it, if it was anyone else I would just wait and see.