Thursday, 25 August 2016

Now Playing: Mirror’s Edge - Catalyst

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst isn’t quite the Mirror’s Edge sequel we were hoping for. In fact, it’s not a sequel at all, but a complete reboot. That may disappoint some, but honestly, the narrative elements of the original game were rather threadbare to begin with, so I’m not opposed to Catalyst wiping the slate clean and providing a new take on the world and characters of Mirror’s Edge.

That’s not to say Catalyst doesn’t echo many elements of the original in terms of characters, world, story and themes. It does, but it provides a new twist, fleshing out many of these elements in a way the original never did. Well … sort of.

The story of Catalyst (now told through game engine cut-scenes as opposed to the animated scenes of the original) feels oddly incomplete. It sees Faith tangling with the powerful KrugerSec Corporation, and a nefarious plot to wrestle away the free-will of the unwitting ‘employs’ of the City of Glass.

There’s a lot going on, and it’s clear a lot of work went into fleshing out the world of Catalyst. Unfortunately, very little of this work is evident through playing the core story. No, if you want to better understand the world and the motivations of its characters, you really need to dig into the collectible audio and document logs.

The story is all there – at least in the sense that all the ‘key’ moments play out as you’d expect, taking the story neatly from A to B to C. But it’s the moments between those key scenes – moments that would serve to flesh out the world, situation and characters – that are missing. Many times throughout the game, scenes would end abruptly, as if they were cut short.

Many times, I found myself feeling that chunks of the story had simply been cut. This is particularly evident at the very end of the game, when (mild spoiler) Faith finally regains her iconic tattoo. It’s something that’s noted a couple of previous times throughout the story, something that seems to hold great significance to Faith and (I think) her Mother – yet it’s never expanded upon or explained.

In addition to this, there’s the matter of Faith’s alias and a mysterious runner sign – both of which are mentioned once yet promptly forgotten. The story, particularly during the early stages, sets up multiple potential plot points which then disappear entirely.

And this feeling of being incomplete persisted throughout the game, not just in terms of story. The background scenery feels hastily put together, lacking the quality and polish of the rest of the game. The various inhabitants of the City of Glass seem to possess no more than three idle animations and are excessively cloned throughout.

The opening level/tutorial segment, in a neat contrast to the original game, is set during a rainy night, yet it’s the only time you’ll see rain in the entire game. There’s a couple of side missions which set up the ‘hunter’ drones that patrol the rooftops as a potential threat (and you even have an ability in your skill tree to disable them) yet they don’t feature in the game at all.

There’s just so much stuff like this littered throughout Catalyst that feels cut short. And this is particularly true of the supporting cast. The supporting cast of Catalyst is interesting, but the game does very little with them. You meet a character called Birdman early in the game who you assume will play a role within the core story. But instead, he vanishes entirely after a couple of early training missions. Another runner, Nomad, who you also feel will play a role, also vanishes without a trace.

Your mentor and father figure Noah seems like an interesting guy, but barely has enough scenes to establish his relationship with Faith. And then we have Dogen, a crime boss who deserves far more than the limited scenes and missions he has. This is also true of Thane, leader of the Black November terrorist group, who does play a key role in the story, but also fades out of sight towards its conclusion. Thankfully, the adorable hacker Plastic (and her pet robot) get a little more attention.

It’s frustrating to see such potentially interesting characters simply vanish from the story or barely play a role. I can’t help but feel there was far more planned for this story and these characters that had to be cut, either due to budget or time constraints. And this feeling is reinforced by those aspects of the world that either lack polish, or are never expanded upon or used as it seems they were intended.

I don’t know what happened during the development of Catalyst, but it really does feel like a lot of stuff was cut, forcing the developers to stitch the story together as best they could in a way that still made sense. It’s so frustrating when you take the time to delve into the audio and document logs and see how much thought went into building this world and characters … and how so much of it feels wasted.

When I reviewed Mirror’s Edge a while ago, I mentioned how I’d like to see a more open-world in a potential sequel. And that’s exactly what Catalyst delivers. As you progress through the story you’ll unlock new areas of the City of Glass. It’s a large playground, though it somewhat lacks variation. Each area does have its own unique ‘look’ to it, but it’s not quite as pronounced as I would have liked.

That said, traversing this open city is an amazing rush, and exactly the kind of expansion on the original game I was hoping for. And though the core story and missions may feel incomplete, the developers seem to have tried to make up for it with an abundance of open world side content.

There’s nothing particularly complex about the side content in Catalyst, with nearly all of it consisting of a race between A and B. The bulk of this is the delivery jobs and the ‘rush’ race challenges. But there’s also a couple of more combat oriented side jobs, as well as some fun platform puzzle style missions.

If all you want to do is run then Mirror’s Edge has you covered, with plenty to keep you busy during and beyond the core story. It may be rather basic and repetitive content, but it remains true to the heart of Mirror’s Edge – to run, pure and simple. And this is something that’s also nicely tied into its revamped combat system, which I’ll talk about in a moment. But first, I do need to say that the core story missions of Catalyst – the scripted, crafted missions outside of the open world – aren’t anywhere near as good as those in the original.

There are flashes of brilliance, moments when they do hit those dizzy heights (sometimes quite literally). But on the whole, the missions, whilst still good, lack the clever design and engaging moments of the original. They’re not as elaborate, they lack variation in terms of environments, and they don’t offer a comparable rush.

Also missing from the original is the use of guns. I know I’m in the minority when I say I actually liked the gunplay of the original game. There was something very satisfying about kicking a shotgun out of the hands of an enemy, flipping it into the air, catching it on its way down, and then blasting the f**ker in the face.

The limited ammo meant you couldn’t treat the game like a typical shooter. Instead, you stayed on the move, grabbing a gun and taking a shot, before discarding it and continuing on, all in one fluid motion. But Catalyst does away with guns entirely, at least in terms of player use.

The combat system has been overhauled, with a strong focus on persistent movement. Keeping a running ‘flow’ going builds a focus ‘shield’ that effectively makes Faith bulletproof and immune to damage. But slowing down, stopping or taking hits will deplete that shield rapidly.

And though Faith can’t use guns, certain enemies can, meaning it’s important to stay on the move, using your mixture of light (fists) and heavy (feet) attacks to take them out, one at a time, in one continuous motion. I actually feel the game would have benefited by not having guns at all, for either Faith or your enemies. The gun toting enemies aren’t at all interesting to fight, and the game really needed a greater variety of melee based foes with different attack styles and weapons.

The introduction of third person ‘finishing’ moves was a concern for some but honestly, you’ll barely see them at all. The combat feels like it has an appropriate weight to it, and when you do chain together your attacks as you traverse the environment it’s – just as it was in the original – an absolutely fantastic feeling. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed the combat in Catalyst more than in the original.

Catalyst also introduces a new method for traversing the environment – a magnetic grapple. It’s a fun addition, but can only be used at very specific points, and I don’t think the game really needed it at all. Oh, and don’t be worried by the skill tree system. You can obtain all of Faith’s original moves within about twenty minutes of play, so it’s really not an issue. But in terms of overall movement, I think the original still offers the superior experience. Movement in Catalyst feels more ‘loose’ and forgiving, whereas the original required greater precision.

Graphically, Catalyst employs the similar stark, colourful style of the original. Technically, the game is solid, with a constant 60FPS, but it does suffer from some blurry textures and backgrounds, meaning the game never appears quite as sharp or as vivid as the original.

Overall, despite all of my complaints, I still enjoyed the f**k out of Catalyst. I never thought we’d see another Mirror’s Edge game and though Catalyst may be far from perfect, it was great to step back into Faith’s stylish shoes. I don’t know if we’ll get another game. I hope so.

And I hope if we do, the developers have the time and budget to craft the definitive Mirror’s Edge experience – a perfect blend of the elaborate, diverse and cleverly crafted levels of the original, and the expansive open world of the reboot. Not to mention a story that does justice to its world and characters in a way that neither title quite managed to achieve.

There’s still a lot for me to see and do in Catalyst, and it’s a game I see myself playing for some time as I hunt down the last of the collectibles and try to beat all of the various side challenges. It’s also made me want to play through the original again.

Oh, and I don’t know why they changed Faith’s face. It was a little weird at first, but I soon adjusted. I guess it’s not really a big deal or anything. If you’re a fan of the original, you really need to play Catalyst. It’s not just more of the same. Though it may somewhat lack the crafted quality of the original, it offers so much more in terms of world, characters and extra content. Despite its flaws, I highly recommend checking it out.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Titanfall 2: Technical Test

‘Get Hype! The Titanfall 2 Tech Test is coming!’

Unless you’re on PC, in which case you’re f**ked. After months of teasing the upcoming Beta, it was suddenly announced that the PC platform would not be supported. As someone who bought the original Titanfall on release purely on the strength of its Beta, this is extremely disappointing.

Titanfall 2 is one of the few games I am genuinely excited for this year. I loved the mechanics of the original, particularly in terms of movement. I was also impressed by the balance between infantry and Titan combat, and the inclusion of AI grunts which I felt added a degree of spectacle to the various maps and modes.

But the game lacked content on release. It lacked variety. It lacked customisation and personalisation options. It did address some of these issues post-release with new maps, modes and a new ranking system. But by the time these updates rolled out, the player base had already been split by the DLC map packs, and player numbers dwindled to the point where it was hard to find a fully populated match.

But the core of the game was great, which is why I had (have?) such high hopes for Titanfall 2. It was just a question of if they could refine the existing mechanics, whilst building upon everything the original did right.

The announcement of a full single player story campaign in TF2 was fantastic news. Titanfall suffered for its lacklustre ‘campaign’. I really hope the campaign of Titanfall 2 expands and delves into the Titanfall world in a way the original never did. Although I do hope it doesn’t reduce the Militia and the IMC to a simplistic ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ situation.

Of course, the bulk of our time with TF2 will be in multiplayer, and as soon as the sign up for beta announcements appeared, I was first in line. But instead, only days before the beta was due to go live, those of us playing on PC were unexpectedly shafted.

And that worries me. Perhaps it shouldn’t – Titanfall had a pretty decent release on PC in terms of performance, but still … it’s planted a seed of doubt in my mind. The ‘explanation’ of why they’ve excluded PC also seems a little odd –

We also haven’t done enough work to fully support our ‘Min Spec’ on PC yet. So, currently the PC game isn’t as easy to throw out for testing as the console is, because of the additional variables and configurations that we need to support.

So … two months prior to release and the game isn’t even supported on a ‘min spec’ PC? Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I find that rather troubling. At least Origin has a decent refund policy, so if it does release in a shitty state, I can get my money back.

So I can’t play in this ‘Tech Test’ and that really f**king sucks. But I can watch a lot of videos of it and form various impressions which I can then rant about here!

It does appear that the core movement mechanics of the original have survived more or less intact, although it does appear slightly slower, but this may simply be an issue of the video. The new grappling hook ability seems like a nice addition to further boost map traversal, but I am concerned by the maps currently on show.

They don’t seem to offer the same complexity as those in the original game, and the more open layouts doesn’t lend itself to wall running. I loved bouncing from one wall to the next in TF and I’d go entire matches without ever touching the ground. But that doesn’t seem possible in any of the TF2 maps yet revealed.

I’m also concerned by the lack of AI. I don’t know if we’ll see a return of a traditional Attrition mode in TF2, but I hope we do. The new Bounty Hunt appears to be a neat twist on that formula, but I hope that’s not all there is in terms of AI inclusion. They were a part of what made TF unique and it would be a shame to see them relegated to a single mode. On that note, I hope Frontier Defence returns – a horde style co-op mode of Players versus bots.

Also of concern is the removal of the ‘burn card’ system in favour of skill based perks. These added various fun little twists to every match, that anyone could utilise. I’m not convinced this new, apparently more limited system will be half as much fun.

They’ve also removed the Titan timer, so not everyone is guaranteed to get a Titan during a match. Instead, like the perk system, it’s tied to player skill. My concern is that this will create a ‘rich get richer’ style system, whereby any initial lead will quickly compound and become unassailable.

My only other concern, based on what I’ve seen, is how streamlined the class and weapon customisation appears to have become. I’ve heard that Pilot abilities determine visual appearance, and this also applies to the new Titan models, which each pack their own unique weapons almost like a selection of ‘Hero’ classes.

I’d have much preferred a separate cosmetic, weapon and skill system that allowed me to fully customise both my Pilot and Titan without various abilities or weapons being tied to specific models.

Okay, so what did I see that I actually liked? The new weapons look pretty neat, and it seems that there’s a lot more to come. I liked the look of the new abilities, each of which seems like it would be very useful depending on the mode or map.

The new game modes seem to offer a diverse range of experiences, which is something the original lacked. And although I’m not entirely enamoured with what we’ve seen of player/class customisation it’s still better than what we had in the original.

The new rodeo mechanic looks interesting, as it’s not simply about dealing damage and can actually allow you to boost or repair friendly Titans – which may encourage a degree of team play. And, of course, there’s likely a lot more not yet revealed, so maybe I’m worrying for nothing.

Overall though, I do like what I’ve seen of Titanfall 2 and I still plan to pick it up on release. But I do hope we get a beta of some form on PC to put people’s minds at ease and to drum up interest in the title. I don’t want to see the PC version shat out with little concern for its long term player base. The fact they’re not doing map packs is a great sign, but whether we’ll see any kind of DLC or, dare I say it – microtransactions – remains to be seen. Hey, this is EA we’re talking about.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

No Man’s Space Engine

No Man’s Sky has just released to a somewhat mixed reception. It’s a game I’ve kept an eye on since its impressive reveal during an E3 stage demo back in 2014. The ability to seamlessly travel from surface to space, with an emphasis on exploration and discovery in a galaxy full of strange alien worlds and life.

Based on what I’ve seen in various gameplay streams, No Man’s Sky appears to deliver on that promise – you travel from one star system to the next, exploring new worlds, cataloguing new life, with the ultimate goal to reach the centre of the galaxy. Which is fairly in line with my impression of the game from the early videos and information.

I say ‘impression’ because specific information on many aspects of No Man’s Sky was, and still is, rather vague. I quite liked the mystery that surrounded the project prior to release, but with little information to go on, hype for the game rose based on player expectation, not on solid fact.

Even now, post-release, there are still aspects to the game that remain unclear, particularly with regard to its multiplayer aspect. Clarity is required. Personally, I’ve remained rather wary of No Man’s Sky. The core aspects of exploration and discovery appealed to me, but they depended heavily upon the complexity of the procedural generation system.

Would No Man’s Sky truly offer a diverse range of worlds, environments and life as we saw in the limited glimpses of the pre-release videos? Or would we see an obvious mechanical system at work, compiling worlds and creatures from a limited range of assets? Unfortunately, based on what I’ve seen, it appears to be the latter.

It still looks like it might be fun, but not exactly £39.99 fun based on the clearly limited content and the extremely basic systems of trade, combat and alien interaction. There’s also a far more heavy focus on ‘survival’ and inventory management than I was expecting, and not what I was hoping for – at least not to this degree.

No Man’s Sky isn’t quite what many were expecting and many are disappointed. To make the release situation worse, the game has serious technical issues. The console version of the game seems plagued by random crashes, and the PC version is very much f**ked for a lot of people.

That said, I’m still going to keep an eye on the game, on its progress, its patches and future content. And maybe I’ll even pick it up in a future sale if it’s reduced to a price I feel is more appropriate for what’s on offer. But in the meantime, if I want to scratch that space exploration itch, what better way than by returning to Space Engine.

I first wrote about Space Engine in August 2012, but it’s undergone quite an overhaul since then, most notably in terms of UI. The engine itself is also far more stable and easy on performance than I recall. If No Man’s Sky has disappointed you or if, like me, you’re waiting to see if/when it improves, then I highly recommend checking out Space Engine. If No Man’s Sky thinks it’s big and ambitious, it’s got nothing on this.

And it’s free, so you’ve really no excuse not to give it a spin.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Now Playing: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. That was a solid and enjoyable – if somewhat forgettable – title that didn’t quite hit the mark. But it was a fresh beginning for a new take on an old series, one which I hoped would be built upon and improved. And I’m pleased to say that Rise of the Tomb Raider (or ROTR for short) does just that. Mostly.

I enjoyed ROTR quite a bit, but I also came away a little disappointed. I’d rate it as a better game than its predecessor, but it’s not quite the step up I was hoping for. It gets a lot right though, and actually addresses my key complaints about TR2013.

There’s far more focus on exploration and puzzle solving in ROTR. There’s actual tombs to raid, believe it or not. Combat returns, but aside from a misguided final mission, the combat segments are kept fairly short and sharp, with far greater emphasis on stealth.

ROTR features an enjoyable core campaign offering a nice variety of locations and objectives. This is accompanied by several excellent ‘challenge’ tombs. Combined, these components provide a satisfying and fun experience from start to finish. My only real complaint about the core campaign is the somewhat lacklustre story and supporting cast.

Although I enjoyed seeing the story through, I do wish the developers would realise that we don’t always need an ‘epic’ emotionally driven adventure. Can’t we just have Lara going into tombs to steal shit because it’s fun? And I really wish they’d stop trying to force a main ‘villain’ for Lara to tangle with. But if you really feel you must, at least try to make them interesting.

The main villain in ROTR is a guy named Konstantin. Because he obviously couldn’t just be called Jeff. But aside from his cool name, he’s another generic, lame ass villain that’s just evil for the sake of evil and for the sake of a dumb as f**k ‘boss’ battle where Lara fights an attack helicopter. STOP IT. Seriously. STOP IT. But I did enjoy the story, overall. Honest.

Whereas Lara in TR2013 was more reactive, Lara in ROTR is the one calling the shots and making shit happen. It’s good to see her evolving and learning from her experiences. I just hope the developers will focus more on her simply having fun in what she’s doing, without getting too bogged down in conspiracy bullshit. They seem to be pushing for this ancient order ‘Trinity’ to be future bad guys – which is fine – but hopefully it won’t become the entire focus of Lara’s next adventure.

The gameplay of ROTR is pretty much the same as it was in TR2013. A mixture of third person platform and puzzle solving, combined with a slightly improved cover based combat system. There’s far more variety to combat thanks to the selection of weapons and ammo types, plus the addition of one-shot craftable items such as smoke and explosive grenades, or proximity mines.

The stealth system has also seen a bit of an overhaul, with a variety of silent takedown animations. It’s still easy as fuck, but at least it’s fun and offers a varied range of options in terms of how you can approach the combat encounters. And, like I said, ROTR is far more restrained with its combat (although the final mission gets a bit over the top). It really does feel that they got the balance between combat and exploration right this time.

So where else does the game stumble? They’ve continued with an experience/skill system which doesn’t really bother me, but all the crafting/collectible nonsense was way too much. It essentially turns the open hub areas into little more than collectathon marathons, as you scramble from one resource node to the next, trying to scrape enough components together to upgrade your gear. They really need to tone that shit down.

The game also pads out its content with a series of mostly dumb and pointless ‘challenges’ – such as tossing chickens into a pen. Seriously. STOP IT. There’s also a few extra narrative driven side missions, but these aren’t much better. In fact, none of the additional side content outside of the main challenge tombs are worth bothering with unless you really want to hit that achievement happy 100% completion. If you can ignore that, and just focus on the core content, you’ll probably have a much better time.

Outside of the main game, there’s a new Expeditions mode which replaces the silly multiplayer of TR2013. It’s essentially a challenge mode with objectives and scoreboards, with a points based card system providing various modifiers. It’s a neat addition, offering extended play beyond the core game. There’s also some DLC content which includes a couple of okay story based missions, one of which actually has a more interesting boss fight than the core game. There’s also a ‘survival’ mode (sort of) called Endurance. It’s a cool idea, but rather undercooked. I’d be interested to see it return in the future in an improved, expanded form.

Graphically, ROTR is a great looking title with fantastic scenery and attention to detail, although they seem to have lost the visual progression Lara suffered in TR2013 – I suppose as a result of being able to switch outfits as you please. Performance is solid, so no complaints there.

So yeah, this is a step up from TR2013, but it still doesn’t quite hit that mark and become something I’d rate as essential. They get more right than wrong, but there’s still too much dragging it back down. The lame villain and predictable story. The generic and dull side missions. The padded out crafting and upgrade system.

I probably sound a bit irritated by Rise of the Tomb Raider. And I guess I am, in way, despite rather enjoying it. It is a step up from TR2013, but only a small step. It still feels like the series is being constrained by what’s ‘expected’ of it. As if it has to provide this ‘epic’ adventure worthy of the Tomb Raider name and character. But it doesn’t.

Just give us tombs. Give us cool, interesting and clever environmental puzzles. Let Lara explore shit and delve into ancient ruins just because she loves it. Because we love it too. I don’t even need a f**king story. Lara raids tombs. Because she’s the f**king Tomb Raider. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Now Playing: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight is a sadly disappointing conclusion to the Arkham series. But though it may not be as good as Asylum or City, Knight is still a pretty fun game, and certainly worth playing if you’re a fan.

That’s the real problem with Knight. Everything it does, Asylum and City simply did better. Be it story, missions, or side content, what’s here isn’t bad at all – it’s just not as good. The gameplay sees arguably a slight improvement, with several small tweaks and additions to combat – but it doesn’t play substantially differently to City.

And despite these additions, Knight has very few, if any, memorable fights or encounters. In fact, none of it is particularly memorable at all. Too much of the content in Knight is forgettable. Too much of it feels like unnecessary padding.

The main story, aside from a couple of notable moments, isn’t very engaging. Neither Scarecrow or the mysterious Arkham Knight make for particularly effective villains. You hardly see or encounter Scarecrow throughout the entire game, and the Knight spends the majority of his time having a tantrum over the radio like an angry toddler. There’s very little sense of menace.

The best aspect to the main story is something I can’t talk about without spoiling it. So I won’t. It involves the return of a familiar face. And without them, the narrative aspects would have fallen entirely flat.

Considering this was the final entry in the series, I expected more from its narrative, especially in terms of classic characters who either don’t feature in the game at all, or don’t feature nearly as much as they should. Catwoman, for example, was a great addition to City, but in Knight she barely features (she’s not a part of the core story at all) and simply f**ks off until the very end (and only if you bother collecting all of the Riddler trophies).

I expected Knight to bring together all of the heroes and villains we’ve fought with and against throughout the series. But even those who do feature are largely relegated to the disappointing side content. Penguin and Two-Face, for example, do return, but the missions involving their capture are short, repetitive and wholly unsatisfying. There’s a few extra narrative driven side missions, but nothing that stands out.

The bulk of the side content is focused on the fight against the Arkham Knight’s militia – taking down enemy watchtowers, road blocks and disabling bombs. Some of these provide a neat fight, but they still get pretty tedious and repetitive towards the end.

The concept of all of Batman’s villains teaming up to stop him makes for a (potentially) great final act, and a chance for an epic final showdown involving all the good and bad guys we know and love. Instead, many characters who you might expect to see don’t appear at all, and many who do are severely underused.

As with the previous Arkham games, the open world is host to many Riddler puzzles. But even these feel less enjoyable. With over 200 riddles to solve, there’s clearly a case of quantity over quality. I’d have preferred far less trophies but with more elaborate challenges to collect them.

And what’s really frustrating, is that in order to get the ‘true’ ending, you need to collect them all. I did, but honestly, the pay off really isn’t worth it. Even the full ‘true’ ending to Arkham Knight is a short, unsatisfying end to the series that’s met with more of a shrug than a cheer.

So much of the content in Knight feels uninspired and by the numbers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of it. It’s just too bland and forgettable. But if I had to pick the ‘worst’ aspect of Arkham Knight, I’d have to go with the drone ‘tank battles’ which are far more tedious than challenging.

I suppose the question is, given that in just about every area, Knight is inferior to both Asylum and City, what does it offer that those games can’t? The answer – the Batmobile. I actually liked the way the Batmobile is integrated into the gameplay and open world of Arkham Knight. It serves not simply as a form of transport, but another gadget you will employ to advance through missions or solve puzzles.

Irritating tank battles aside, the Batmobile is a neat addition to the game, and tearing through Gotham in the vehicle is a lot of fun, even if you have to suspend your disbelief somewhat at the ‘non-lethal’ damage – I’m pretty sure smashing into someone at 90mph and electrocuting them isn’t just going to give them a nasty headache.

But the Batmobile isn’t as integrated as much as I would have liked. Aside from a main mission early on that involves some clever gameplay both in and out of the Batmobile (or by operating it remotely) very few missions really take advantage of the vehicle or its capabilities.

As in the previous Arkham games, Knight has an extensive selection of bonus content in the form of character and Batmobile skins, short extra missions and a range of challenge maps. There’s plenty here to keep you busy, and I actually quite enjoyed the ‘race’ challenges a lot.

I don’t really have much more to say about Arkham Knight. I could have probably just written ‘it’s like City, but not as good’ if I was feeling particularly lazy. Because that’s really all it is. It’s a solid and enjoyable game, but a game that’s unfortunately preceded by two far superior titles.

Knight doesn’t really build upon or combine the best of Asylum or City. It plays it too safe, treads old ground and doesn’t fully commit to new ideas or gameplay. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the story provided a satisfying conclusion to the series. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do this either, with a lacklustre plot, ineffective villains and extremely poor use of a great supporting cast.

Though an enjoyable title when judged on it own merits, Knight is a disappointing end to a fantastic series. But if you’re a fan of Asylum or City, I’d still recommend checking it out. The PC version seems to be pretty much fixed now (aside from the occasional framerate drop) so don’t be afraid to pick it up on sale.