Fans have been awaiting Batman's latest video game adventure since its announcement in March 2014, and it doesn't look like they'll be too disappointed. Batman: Arkham Knight launched for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC today (June 23), and the reviews range from the good to the excellent.
While a number of outlets are still waiting on their copies, the early reports seem promising: Batman: Arkham Knight features thrilling combat, a satisfying open world and enough new features to keep returning fans on their toes. The main story, however, isn't all that it could be. Our full review of Arkham Knight is still in the works, but in the meantime, here's what the critics are saying.
Editor's Note: While Batman: Arkham Knight is receiving glowing reviews, players are reporting serious issues with the PC version of the game, including random crashes and a locked 30 fps framerate. Developer Rocksteady said that it is working on a fix, but we'd hold off on that version for now.
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Sam Roberts from GamesRadar awarded Arkham Knight four out of five stars in his review, praising the game's open world, combat and stealth. However, he wasn't too impressed with the Batmobile battles, arguably the game's biggest addition, nor did the game's plot wow him.
"Arkham’s straightforward stealth and crunchy melee combat are still world-class. There’s no reinvention here, just tweaks to give players new strategies and things to learn."
"I can see players just dipping in and out of this world forever, jumping in the Batmobile to chase down some criminals, visiting the villains in the lock-up at GCPD, gliding from an airship onto the LexCorp building; just being Batman in this worthy depiction of his universe."
"I really dislike these [Batmobile combat] sequences, and I feel they require the luck of not being trapped in a corner by their line of fire more than actual skill."
At GameSpot, Kevin VanOrd gave Arkham Knight seven points out of 10, indicating that he thought the game was pretty good, but with enough problems to hold the game back to a noticeable degree. While VanOrd liked the combat, stealth and mission variety, he also didn't think much of the Batmobile or the storyline.
"Arkham Knight is at its best when you are given the freedom of movement you both need and deserve. What a treat it is to look down upon this beautiful and derelict city as you glide through the thick, black air."
"Some set pieces, such as one in which you defuse a set of bombs as a villain stands on a rotating platform, are particularly noteworthy for smart use of camera angles, and for the way the gameplay assists in characterization, teaching you about the miscreants at hand not just through dialogue and plotting, but through the way you interact with them."
"There are some tense story beats and moving events, but your two primary goals--to stop Scarecrow's evil toxin plot, and to confront and unmask the Arkham Knight--are too predictable to be compelling."
Game Informer, the magazine associated with GameStop, gave Arkham Knight one of its most glowing reviews, courtesy of Andrew Reiner. Reiner loved the combat and stealth, same as the other reviewers, but he also gave the story high marks. His only real criticism was that the "true" ending takes too much time to unlock.
"Gotham is a beautifully realized playground for Batman, ranging from a borough filled with century-old architecture to another glowing with a bombardment of Times Square-like advertisements and light."
"We see Rocksteady at the height of its game for visual and aural storytelling, going to great lengths to find the best perspective for a shot, whether it’s from first-person, third, panned, or through the eyes of a different character."
"To see the real, real ending, you need to complete all of the side content, including every Riddler challenge – which, if you’ve done this in previous games, is a serious time commitment. Most people will probably retreat to YouTube to view the final act."
Dan Stapleton took Arkham Knight review duties for IGN, and loved the game, giving it 9.2 points out of a possible ten. He praised the slick, gadget-heavy combat system and detailed stealth encounters, but found the Batmobile combat to be tonally strange (although he still enjoyed it).
"Not only can you cape-glide much faster thanks to an upgradable grapnel, but we’ve also got the rocket-powered, transforming Batmobile, which is to the streets of Gotham City as the Kool-Aid Man is to brick walls."
"Meanwhile, Batman’s signature strike-and-counter brawling and stealthy predator fights feel better and smoother than ever, and of course they’ve been upgraded with dozens of powerful and interesting new mechanics and subtle tweaks that give us more to experiment with and master."
"The addition of tank combat thematically clashes with everything Batman stands for."
Like many gamers, Justin McElroy was skeptical that the world really needed another Batman game. By the second paragraph of his Arkham Knight review, he'd eaten his words, ultimately giving the game a perfect 10. The story, world and gameplay all felt seamless to him.
"The feeling of having to intellectually engage with your environment and abilities makes for the most satisfying simulation of Batman yet."
"I'm purposely avoiding talking about the story, which is packed with so many stellar, memorable moments and reaches an unbelievably dark conclusion that fits Batman like a titanium-dipped tri-weave glove."
McElroy does not appear to list any negatives in his review.