My column this week is a linkbait-ish list of 10 reasons why the Batmobile in Arkham Knight sucks. Sometimes a numbered list is the right tool for the job.
I thought of a bunch more since I finished the column, so here are ANOTHER ten reasons the Batmobile sucks and makes me mad:
11. The entire premise of the tank fights is ludicrous!
This is Batman we’re talking about. His go-to skills are: Stealth, gadgets, and brawling. It’s absurd to imagine he would try to stop the tanks by driving around the city and engaging them in open combat. Batman would track down the source of their remote pilot using his gadgets, sneak up on it using his stealth, and PUNCH THE PILOT IN THE FACE using his Bat-fist.
That’s not just what Batman would do, that’s what any sane person would do when faced with an army of remote controlled tanks.
And if Batman was this dumb? Then the villains are dumb, too. Because they could effortlessly stop the Bat-tank if they wanted to.
The whole idea is a clumsy device for Rocksteady to be able to make yet another game about shooting shit.
12. Burnout: Batman
Sometimes you have to chase down a half dozen or so APC’s and destroy them. You can “disable” the vehicle with a “disruptor missile” (which works exactly like a “regular missile”, including the FIREBALL EXPLOSION) or you can slam them into a wall at speed. To use the missile, you have to keep the target vehicle in the center of the screen so the lock-on thingy can work. This takes several seconds, and the process can easily get interrupted during the twists and turns of the chase.
The real problem here is that if you’re homing in on the APC (which is your real target) and trying to hold off the various escort vehicles. If you slam an escort vehicle into the wall, the game does the Burnout-style thing of dropping into slow-mo and swinging the camera over to admire the carnage. While that’s awesome in the Burnout games, it’s completely inappropriate here. It breaks your missile lock-on, which makes it feel like Batman is this bloodthirsty madman who can’t control himself and has to rubberneck and watch the destruction he’s causing instead of keeping his mind focused on ending the chase as quickly as possible.
13. Challenge brawls
My favorite thing in Arkham City was the challenge rooms. These were preset brawls that you could jump into quickly and perfect your technique. At the end you’re given a medal based on your performance. I spent HOURS on these challenges. I started out barely able to score bronze on the easy fights, and practiced until I was scoring gold medals on the “extreme” difficulty brawls.
In some you were just trying to survive as long as possible. Some were this side-scrolling beat-em-up thing. Some were against a fixed number of foes and your goal was to try to get a high score by playing as flawlessly as possible: Don’t get hit, don’t break your combo, use as many moves and gadgets as your can. There were 16 total brawls, in a variety of locations and scenarios, with different groups of foes. Even better, you could play each of these 16 scenarios as one of four characters: Batman, Robin, Catwoman, and Nightwing. Each character had their own feel and special abilities to make their brawls feel a little different. It was like having 64 different challenges.
In Arkham Knight we get FOUR. Four stupid brawls. And you can’t choose your character.
There are FIFTEEN different challenges for the stupid Batmobile, spread across three categories of “Racing”, “Combat”, and “Racing with Combat”. Maybe it’s not fair to hold this against the Batmobile. Too bad. I think it was unfair to strip my favorite feature down to nothing in order to cram EVEN MORE BATMOBILE into this game.
14. Gas and gun are on the same trigger.
“Oh man, I’ve been spotted by a super-tank. I have to switch out of tank mode and drive away in the Batmobile!” So I let go of the “Be The Tankman” button and hit the gas. Except, the gas pedal is the same button as “shoot your cannon” button, depending on which mode you’re in. The Batmobile hasn’t finished putting it’s
dick gun away, so instead of driving away at high speed I end up blasting some random scenery and maybe alerting even more foes.
This sounds minor – and it is – but it gets really annoying after a while. The gameplay is designed to put you into these situations, and then the controls are designed to do this stupid annoying thing, when it should be very clear that what I’m really trying to do is MOVE FORWARD YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP.
15. The stupid Batmobile scanner.
The Batmobile has this scan-pulse thing that’s kind of like detective mode. You turn it on, and it reveals hidden stuff. But it’s designed to reveal a trail of stuff, and the entire system in senseless and buggy.
You’re supposed to track down this vehicle based on its tire tracks. So you scan it, and follow the glowing tire tracks as the scanner reveals them. But the scanner “forgets” the tracks behind you, and you must uncover them linearly. And sometimes it’s really picky about revealing the next section and you can’t tell if you’re doing something wrong.
Then later it’s the same gameplay, but now you’re revealing Riddler question marks instead of tire tracks.
What am I doing wrong? Why is the next bit not being revealed? Does it matter which way I’m facing? Do I just need to wait? What if I turn the scanner off and on again? I lost one of the marks right in the middle of the patch. Do I need to back up and start over? The terrain forces me to leave the trail and come back at a higher location. Won’t that cause the whole trail to vanish and the entire “puzzle” to be reset? WHAT ARE THE RULES THIS IS REALLY FRUSTRATING AND EVEN IF IT WORKED IT WOULD BE POINTLESS AND BORING.
16. The streets are filled with people.
In my article I complained about the fact that it looks ridiculous to have the Batmobile “non lethally” run someone over by shocking them during the impact. If you haven’t played the game, you might say, “Shamus, this is clearly just the developers giving you a break so you don’t get a game over when you mess up. Stay off the sidewalk and this won’t happen.”
Except, pedestrians aren’t on the sidewalks. There’s a riot in the city, and the streets are filled with people, thus maximizing the opportunities to do a hit-n-run. Given the way mooks bunch up in little clusters, it feels like the developers thought we’d want to drive around, running people over in the Batmobile.
17. Cars explode when you smash into them.
It would be so much easier to humor this game’s preposterous notion that Batman is just “disabling” vehicles if it didn’t cause a Michael Bay style gasoline fireball when you hit one. (And there’s even an upgrade to make it easier to do this.)
18. “Car Takedowns”.
If you happen to get in a brawl near the car, the game helpfully prompts you that you can press X+A to toss the guy up in the air and the Batmobile with shoot him with its “take a nap, no seriously this isn’t lethal” cannon. It’s like this stupid Batmobile is sitting there like, “Bruh, BRUH! Tag me in, dude!”
Apparently the developers were worried that there might be some tiny corner of the gameplay where you didn’t get to use the damn car.
19. That engine-revving minigame.
Hold down the accelerator, but not too much! Oops, too much power start over. Oops, not enough power, now you’ve over-compensated. Start over.
Seriously, screw that game.
There’s one part of the game where you need to get your car on the roof of a building. There’s some electrical doodad on the roof that needs power, and Batman decides to get his car up there and play the engine-revving minigame to power it up.
Rather than calling his magical hover-plane, Batman decides to parkour all over the neighborhood… while inside the car. In some places he uses the winch to tear up the roof of the building and turn it into a ramp to jump between buildings. This is the most impractical and destructive way of solving this problem. All he needs is some electricity! Does this require rooftop driving parkour and destroying all this property? Do we not have enough Batmobile gameplay in here already?
And one last bonus complaint:
21. This achievement:
“The seduction of the gun”? Really developers? Guns are not seductive in a Batman game, and certainly not while being used by Batman himself. Ass.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
The Game That Ruined Me
Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.
A horrible, railroading, stupid, contrived, and painfully ill-conceived roleplaying campaign. All in good fun.
So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.