As another game plagued by release issues and delays, Gotham Knights has had enough time to fix itself and present a complete experience. However, 7 months on from release, has it managed to do so?
It’s worth noting that I am a big fan of the ‘Arkham’ series of games. I loved ‘Origins’, ‘City’, ‘Asylum’ and even really enjoyed the more maligned ‘Knight’. So I was a bit surprised leaping into ‘Gotham Knights’, assuming the same studio would keep it within the same wheelhouse and storyline, to find it was a wholly separate entity.
I was curious to see how the ending of ‘Knight’ was addressed in this newest offering, only to have it immediately taken away, ending in some frantic Googling to make sure I hadn’t missed an instalment whilst I was waiting for its release – seeing as it fell victim to a year’s delay like so many nowadays. However, with this new story within a somewhat familiar world, Batman is very much alive, at least for a very short while.
Don’t read this line and start getting upset about spoilers either – it happens FAST and it’s arguably not even THAT important to the loose story other than serving as an initial plot device. After this Batman’s demise alongside one of his archenemies, a group of his successors (yep, you guessed it) the Gotham Knights rise to take up the mantle of the caped crusader – only it takes four of them.
Faced with both new and old adversaries, the quartet fight across Gotham to establish peace. Well, at least the one you’re playing as does. Unless you’re playing the decent online co-op mode, you’ll be playing much like the actual Arkham series; alone, the hero this city needs, not necessarily the one it – I’ll stop…
Although Rocksteady haven’t had a direct hand in the engineering of this game, there’s a good use of a similar combat system, alongside the fancier PS5 controller (as the PS4 version was canned before release), punches and kicks feel satisfyingly crunchy as you land some devastating combos.
Each Knight has some individual tricks and tactics that can affect both traversal, such as Robin’s ability to *checks notes* teleport. OK it’s only when using Justice League points but still. The differences in combat also feel nicely nuanced between characters, such as Nightwing’s dual sticks and Red Hood’s non-lethal *ahem* guns, but without being difficult when switching between characters to try and remember a move-set or controls.
The open world feels about as satisfying as previous entries, there’s enough to keep you occupied and enough roving bands of thugs and a variety of enemies to simply roam around dispensing justice with your fists and other violent accoutrements – with or without a friend. With plenty of side quests that actually feel like they’re progressing your calming of the city as opposed to just tacked on, the game should feel like an excellent superhero experience. So why doesn’t it?
Sometimes, it’s hard to pin down the exact reason. It’s a AAA studio release, with excellent previous work to draw on, and even a delay that should have had it ready to run, not stumble on release – especially with the fact that older consoles were cut out of the platforms for release.
Despite all this though, the game just feels rushed. The story is your standard comic book fare, but without the depth people want these days. This can at times feel like a gritty remake of the Adam West days – minus the BAM! and POW! bubbles, and the inexplicable dancing. Strange metaphor aside, there’s just not enough substance for this to feel like a fully fledged game, but it’s nowhere near enough to stand on its own as a solely multiplayer experience either.
Ultimately, the game exemplifies that well known analogy: If it walks like a half-baked duck, and quacks like a half-baked duck – it’s Gotham Knights, but at least it will always be better than the ‘Marvel Avengers’ game cash grab…
Author: Tom, Cardiff Store