Batman is inherently a character that requires a tremendous suspension of disbelief. A rich guy dressing up in a bat costume, taking on crime, and refusing to kill?
Oh, and no one can tell who he is under all that leather and armour, despite the fact that half of his face is exposed and he speaks in his normal voice. Sure.
All of that — and the myriad other preposterous characters and plot elements of the Batman series — I can deal with.
What I can’t deal with is the latest Batman game’s ridiculous notion of the Batmobile. This is what the Batmobile looked like in the 1960s television series:
This is Batman’s jet-powered, armoured bulletcar in Batman’s latest game, “Batman: Arkham Knight”:
See how it’s got a massive 60mm cannon mounted on top? See how it’s a crazy Transformers-esque mishmash of tank and sports car?
It’s got more in common with Christopher Nolan’s Batman than anything else. This fella right here:
Even this — Batman piloting a damn tank — isn’t what I have a problem with. The issue is how “Arkham Knight” uses the Batmobile’s tank-like ability to make a Batman game into a tank battle simulator.
After getting through the initial story setup and first major area (Ace Chemicals), you’re told by the game’s antagonist (the titular “Arkham Knight”) that unmanned tanks have been stationed all over Gotham City’s three islands. In practice, this means that everywhere Batman goes, he’s fighting a roaming army of tanks.
You know, typical Batman stuff, fighting tanks with his Bat-tank.
The first island I went to had just under 60 tanks. Sixty! I know that because the game outright tells you. All 60 (or so) of those tanks proceeded to come right at me… er, at Batman. Just Batman’s tank against 60 other tanks.
It’s also more than a little ridiculous to watch Batman’s foes stand next to MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS caused by the Batmobile’s cannons, apparently unaffected by the blast radius:
And honestly, none of this would be such a problem if the first five hours of the game weren’t loaded with required Batmobile sequences. Ever had the urge to solve puzzles using a car? Me neither, but “Arkham Knight” is rife with this kind of nonsense.
What’s truly unfortunate is that much of the rest of the game is just as good — or better — than previous Batman games. Flying around Gotham City as the Dark Knight is a delight, as is anything involving Batman’s detective skills. In one scene, I used Batman’s forensic examination skills to determine where a captured friend had rolled out of a vehicle, carefully re-creating the scene piece by piece. It’s moments like this that really stand out, and remind me how good Batman games can be at their best.
Unfortunately, the laser focus of the entire game around Batman’s car turns “Arkham Knight” into a lacklustre car game instead of the fitting send-off the Dark Knight game series deserves.
One of my colleagues took some video of this Batmobile in action in the new game, you can check it out below:
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