Developer: WB Games Montreal, QLOC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: Xbox Series X/S, PC
Release Date: 21/10/2022
Price: $89 - Amazon
If you're like me, then you've been pretty excited about Gotham Knights for quite a while. The game is one of the most hyped games of the last couple of years, and for good reason. Its the spiritual successor to the Arkham series of Batman Games, only this time, the player does not control the Dark Knight himself. Instead Gotham Knights is centered around Batman's 4 sidekicks, Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and Red Hood. Each with different styles and abilities and each with certain advantages in different situations making strategy an important factor.
I'll be honest, after about half an hour of playing Gotham Knights I was pretty much over it, the gameplay felt clunky, the combat was reminiscent of the recent Spiderman games and the story was sort of slow to get going while also throwing you right into a story mission from the get go. However once the game opens up a little and becomes less linear, I found it much more enjoyable despite its clear and obvious flaws.
There's no doubt that the most talked about aspect of this game has been the recent news that the game will run at a capped 30fps on console, and while that might be a big issue for some, it honestly isn't as noticeable as I expected it to be. The graphics are good without being spectacular, and I genuinely think that the developers have relied far too much on things like fog and smoke to kind of hide the fact that the graphics aren't that great. Having said that, like I said before the game looks good, just not anything groundbreaking which for a game that skips the last gen, you sort of expect it to be.
One thing that superhero games usually excel at is their storytelling. Both the recent Batman games and the Spiderman franchise both have really told a good story and while Gotham Knights tries really hard to do the same, I feel it falls sort of flat of reaching the same levels. I recently read a story that the game is limited to 2 person co-op due to the fact it wants to tell a good, consistent story, and while it does, it's once again just good and not great. I found myself kinda interested in what was going to happen next and kinda just wanting to get out on the streets and kick some ass.
The gameplay loop is a weird one. It's sort of both boring and enjoyable at the same time. I mean it's repetitive, don't get me wrong. I mean it's repetitive, don't get me wrong. I mean it’s repetitive, don't get me wrong…. See what I did there?... Well that's sort of how the gameplay loop feels after a while. Each night you go out and beat up the same bad guys committing the same crimes, but somehow, you have fun doing it. Now I know, the same could be said for a lot of games. Spider-Man for example, is largely the same, however the traversal is much more enjoyable and the story packs a much greater punch to carry the repetitiveness along. Gotham Knights just sorta feels like a rinse and repeat with the odd story mission thrown in.
Let's talk about the traversal then. No matter which character you are, this is the aspect of the game that is exactly the same. You sort of zip line around the city in a kind of Spider Man kinda' way (but much less enjoyable). It's sort of clunky and you spend a lot of time fixing up your missed landings etc. One aspect of the traversal that I really like is the Batcycle, the way it pops into view and the ease in which you get on is actually really satisfying and immersive, and everytime you do it you feel just a little bit more badass
Much, like a lot of games, Gotham Knights has its share of hidden collectibles and secrets. There's the hidden Batarangs, the secret caches with special loot and a few other little easter eggs to find along the way. These offer an extra dimension to the gameplay, and give you yet another thing to do aside from the repetitive gameplay loop. Each one requires a little bit of exploration and a little bit of trial and error.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the suit and weapon crafting and the transmog feature. A lot of the time in games of this ilk, you regularly have to trade off looking good for good stats. I mean there's nothing worse than when you play (for instance) a game like The Division which is another action RPG you often have to trade the aesthetic of your character for stats. Well Gotham Knights addresses this really well and allows you to transmog any outfit with any stats to look exactly the way you want it to.
Now, it wouldn't be a DC game without the appearance of Harley Quinn and honestly, she is pretty much the glue that holds everything together. She's not super menacing, but she is integral to the storytelling, especially early on despite her relatively subdued demeanor.
I’ve had a lot of fun with Gotham Knights, especially in co-op, but that doesn't mean the game does have its share of issues. I had multiple instances of my games audio dropping out, and I had to relaunch the game to fix the problem. I've already talked about the visuals and how the game overuses effects like fog and speed lines to make the game seem visually better than it is while really allowing the game to render less. My other biggest issue comes in the form of loading times. For a game that is exclusively on next gen consoles and PC, the loading times are pretty poor. I often waited upward of 30 seconds for the game to load a simple transition from in the games headquarters to Gotham City. Something that similar games, and in fact better looking games do almost instantly. (Spiderman, we're looking at you).
Overall, Gotham Knights is fun, fun without being anything groundbreaking or showing off the power of next gen. Whatever the reason for this, it just ends up being a bit meh. Enjoyable but repetitive and kind of boring in a lot of ways… If you're a massive DC fan and invested in the stories of the characters a lot more than I am then you'll probably disagree, but for the average consumer. The game is a solid 7/10. It has some interesting elements, but it also has some real downsides.