Batman is dead. Those who have played Arkham Knight might not be surprised by this news but strangely, Gotham Knights doesn’t follow on from the acclaimed Arkham series of games, it kills this new Batman off before we even get to know him.
Yet for all the deviating from the Arkham games in storyline, WB Games Montréal have pretty much lifted a lot of what made their own Arkham Origins and the other mainline games so good and have tried to fit them in Gotham Knights rather splintered universe.
With Batman dead, Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing and Red Hood take on the task of finding the killer and also keeping Gotham free of crime (good luck with that!). It’s as if the developers had taken the dead Batman and torn him into four pieces, though, because each of the characters feels more like Batman with a third of his abilities and tricks taken away from him. You can level each of the characters up but even this has been more fragmented and there are a hundred things to do for each character to even get a little nearer to what made the Batman character so fun to play as in the previous games.
The world is still a decent open world playground with many rooftops, bridges, underground lairs and neon lit alleys to either perch over or romp through. It never feels quite as accomplished as Arkham Knight, the pinacle of the Arkham series, but that’s not to say it isn’t fun to play around in. The issue comes from the fractures missions that have you needlessly running all over the place to complete and the even more time consuming levelling you’ll need to do in order to face off against some of the overwhelming boss fights. In co-op, which is what this game seems to be pushing for, it’s not so bad but as a single player stuck up against punishing opponents it was a little bit of a slog.
The action was hampered by a terrible case of frame dipping on PC, it would all be going smoothly at 60fps (1440p) then drop down to around 20-30fps when you hit a busier area. As of the last update (April) thankfully this has now been mostly smoothed over and the game runs a lot better. Checking the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions, this seems to have been the same for those, though both are running at more like 30fps standard.
I still enjoyed my time with Gotham Knights, its just that the Arkham games did things better and with less hassle, they just got on with the simple task of levelling up the one character you got to play as and allowing you to play through the story. The system here just feels like it’s trying to get in the way of the story in order to make the game last longer.