Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's vacation time!




                With no Screenshot of the Week posted last Sunday I was hinting that I’m taking a break. It’s extremely hot in Bucharest, more than 40 degrees Celsius every day, so it’s not the best time for writing and neither the most comfortable time for playing video games. I decided to take some time off from blogging (2-3 weeks tops), but I will come back in August with more articles.


See you soon!




Nodrim

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Screenshot of the Week #47: Duping?!




                I finished Kholat and it was an interesting experience with many heart racing moments. After playing it I realized that I still enjoy horror games, even if I got more intense as a person over the years.
                I haven’t done anything outside the usual, other than playing Kholat. I’m sharing my gaming time between Path of Exile (got my first good item this week!), Skyforge (grind, grind, grind) and Heroes of the Storm. The rest of July is probably going to be quiet, but things will start to speed up in August when Satellite Reign and hopefully Shadowrun: Hong Kong are going to be released. September is going to be a full month as well with MGS V: Phantom Pain and the long awaited Act of Aggression.
I’m going to play all these games and I’m going to try covering them in my articles in a way or another.
Thicket Bow, anyone?!


                I’m not sure what my articles will be about in the upcoming weeks. Maybe I’ll take a look over some of my unreleased pieces and finish them or take a short break.

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Thanks!!!

Kholat Review!




                Silent Hill 2 has taught me that games are capable of inducing fear and from that moment onward I kept that in mind, feeling the fear and enjoying it when playing video games. But it has been a long time since I’ve last played an actual horror title and I was wondering why. Playing Kholat revealed the answer to that.
                Kholat is an adventure horror game developed by the Polish independent studio IMGN.PRO and powered by the now free to use Unreal Engine 4. Probably the most important thing to know about Kholat, before starting to play it, is the fact that the game is inspired by real life events.
                The Dyatlov Pass incident is a controversial event that took place on the night of February 2 1959 in the Ural region on the eastern side of Khoat Syakhl (Dead Mountain) in which nine young hikers died. The group was supposed to send a telegram as soon as the 12th of the month, but on February 20 the family asked for a rescue mission. Students and teachers volunteered to go search for the missing hikers and were later joined by the army and militia. After they had found the first bodies, more than one kilometer away from their camping spot, an investigation took place which determined that the skiers torn apart their tent from inside in order to escape what seemed like an imminent threat. Some of them fled barefooted through the snow, proof of their rush and fear. Most of the bodies were recovered in February, but the last four were found two months later and their autopsy indicated severe trauma without any exterior wounds. The oddest thing was that some of the victim’s clothes had inexplicably high doses of radiation.
The event is shrouded in mystery and the little information that the investigation provided doesn’t make much sense. Many theories have been formulated over the years, including a possible avalanche, a hostile encounter with extraterrestrial life forms and military weapon experiments. The Dyatlov Pass was named after Igor Alekseievich Dyatlov, the leader of the hikers group, and this incident has served as material for numerous books and documentaries.
                Kholat follows in the footsteps of the real story as its unnamed protagonist goes to the site of the incident to investigate the area and search for clues that might bring more light onto this case. As there is no real explanation for what had happened to the hikers, the game abandons the rational in favour of a more supernatural and conspiracy approach.
Paranormal activities, living anomalies, Russian experiments on people and tribal signs are part of story. It seems like the writers have mixed together the most known theories about the incident presenting them to the players in such a way that no actual answer is given. The story is confusing and doesn’t explain itself very well in the end, leaving everything to one’s imagination, but many interesting theories can be formulated around it.
It starts so peacefully.
I'm seeing things!
Ok, that's just wrong...


                Kholat’s gameplay is a simple mix of multiple genres focusing mostly on exploration and the sense of discovery with a permanent feeling of impending doom. 
Although the game is an adventure, it is not about solving puzzles, as the only puzzle is the story itself. The action concentrates on putting together pieces of evidences by finding journals and exploring the strange area guided by paranormal activities and using a map, a compass and gut feeling.
                Considering how the game plays, it is important that the players have a sense of exploration not only to reach their destination, but also survive, since getting lost can be fatal. Despite the fact that the map does not act as a GPS, it is a great tool to keep track of the current position. It might be hard at times because of the serpentine mountain passes and winding caves, but even so, the map is a vital tool in order to reach the game’s conclusion.
There are several areas to explore, each having its motifs and a story which is told through what seem to be hallucinations showing the past and by making connections with what is written in various diaries and publications. The world is riddled with notes which can be found through exploration with the help of coordinates scratched in the landscape and sounds that alert the player of their nearby presence. The notes are from various characters, including some of the hikers and they expand the story and give some context to it by explaining, to some degree, what others have experienced in these God forsaken mountains (gathering all the notes changes the ending of the game).
My trusty equipment!


                There is death in this game caused by various reasons and the checkpoint saving system can be tricky at times. The game is saved when discovering a safe camp, which also serves as means for fast travelling to other discovered camps, but it is also saved when recovering a lost note. Many notes are placed on the tracking path to a major objective so that the player’s actions are saved on the way there and while this is a good idea it can also cause problems. Exploring just a part of an area before leaving it means that some of the saving points have been activated and cannot be used again, therefore, when returning to that area to explore it completely, there will be a huge gap without any saving points and a lot of things can happen in between (like falling through textures).
                For a game that has the feeling of exploration at the core of its gameplay, Kholat does a pretty good job with a few exceptions. The collision problems with the game’s geometry made me wish that jumping should have been added as a movement mechanic. The limitations of the paths can be off-putting because there are a lot of them and they feel forced on the players in order to guide them in certain directions. But this game is not only about storytelling and exploring the scenery.
No way governments do experiments on people!!!


                As a horror game, Kholat does an extremely good job at keeping the player on edge. The story sinks into a twisted supernatural realm and has the players facing the existence of some otherworldly entities, which in a game without combat means serious business. There are certain areas that are haunted by these entities and the only option is to move through them without being detected, but this is easier said than done. The character’s stamina is extremely limited and he can barely run a few meters before getting dizzy. This leaves stealth as the only optimal option, even though its mechanics are quite basic. The difficulty comes from the AI’s unpredictability and its ability to teleport around, so feeling safe at times doesn’t necessarily mean that the area is safe (when spotted, try not to run into a dead end).
It's coming!!!
Even I have more stamina than this guy...


                The game can get intense and the atmosphere is tense even without being chased by undying monsters. The never ending night, the ever-changing weather and the utterly terrifying setting are a great combination and the only thing at your disposal is a flashlight which is more of a tease than a helpful tool as it can attract “wild life”. Never before have I had such a hard time finding my way out through some labyrinthine caves which felt picked from my nightmares and the few scripted moments, even if clichés, succeeded to startle me. The only thing missing from this game was an eldritch monster to make the atmosphere unbearable for me (IMGN.PRO, how about making a Mountains of Madness game?!).
Do you see what I see?!?!


                Kholat doesn’t have much to show in terms of landscapes and the world design, while decent, is filled with many narrow areas for the sake of the atmosphere. But with the power of Unreal Engine 4, this small open world comes to life in a creepy and mysterious way and builds on the tension that this title tries to keep up for the entirety of the gameplay.
                The graphics are unquestionably good. The quality of the textures is quite high with a few very small mishaps and the snowy landscape engulfed in the darkness of the night is beautiful in its own way. The continuous motion of the world is subjected to physics, with trees bending under the effect of heavy wind and snow flying in all directions. These add a tone of realism by recreating the harsh meteorological conditions of a Russian winter. The particle effects contribute to this by adding dynamism and creating a feeling of terrible cold through constant blizzards and heavy snow falls.
The lighting comes to top the immersion and together with the shadows effects does a rather creepy play that can trick the mind of the player into fearing something even if there’s nothing there to be afraid off.
                Kholat is not an AAA title by any stretch of the imagination, but Unreal Engine 4 does make it feel like one and it is pleasing to see this, especially knowing that more and more indie developers will be using this graphical engine in the future.
Why don't all the games have this?!
Moody!


                In order to achieve total player immersion and build fear in him, horror games require an exceptional sound design, even more so than other types of games. Kholat does more with its sound design than many games manage to do with all the technological elements combined. Maybe because it has been a long time since I had last played a more horror oriented game, but the sound effects in this game drove me out of my mind. The trees creeks, the ominous winds, the whispers and even the sound of my character’s own breath all come together in order to create a terrifying impression of ever present danger that made my heart beat like it was doing it for the last time. The tension cannot go away even when things calm down, because the moments of almost complete silence are the worst.
The sound effects and music can creep into your mind and soul, making you lose track of your rational thoughts that used to tell you that Kholat is only a video game and you needn’t be afraid.
To top off their work, the developers at IMGN.PRO hired Sean Bean to narrate some of the important parts in the game and he does a great performance as always.


One of the more relaxing places in the game.
No sane person would go in there. I'm going in!
Dead Mountain...


                Kholat is an interesting mix of Cryostasis, Amnesia and Dear Esther, combining rather well the setting, the atmosphere and the exploration in a short and nerve wrecking horror experience.
The story doesn’t rise up to the expectations and it doesn’t do justice to the sad event that took place more than 50 years ago, but the game makes up for it through intense atmosphere supported by a surprisingly well executed tech part.
                The Horror genre is nowhere near close to dying and with titles like Amnesia, Alien: Isolation, The Forest or Outlast being released in the last years it still has something to show for (and the indie developers are always coming with new ideas). Playing Kholat made me realize why I subconsciously avoid horror games. It is a preemptive fear for the things that I could feel while playing such games that prevents me from trying them out. Yet, fear is an emotion and as any emotion its intensity is subjective to each person. I can’t say how terrifying the atmosphere in this game is going to be for others, but speaking from my perspective, it made me want the feeling of fear again. Horror games, brace yourselves! I’m coming!


(This article is based on a press copy of the game provided by the developer.)


Pros:
+ Good graphics
+ Excellent sound design
+ Great music
+ Atmospheric and scary
+ Some intense scripted moments

Cons:
- The story is a gathering of clichés and the ending is messy
- Short
- The save system
- The character can barely sprint
- Getting constantly stuck in the game’s geometry





Nodrim

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Screenshot of the Week #46: Bad idea!




                Busy end of the week, Skyforge Early Access to the Open Beta started on Thursday and the expansion for Path of Exile was released on Friday.
                I bought into the Early Access for Skyforge after I played in the Stress Test. At first I thought the game leveling system would be more complex and the alternation between small to medium sized open world areas and small dungeons is going to work great. But the game places barriers on progression forcing the players in loop, replaying over and over again the unlocked content in order to move further. Repetition and grinding in an MMO are common features, but nowadays it's important for a game of this genre to mask these features well so they don’t push the players away. After so many grinding MMOs I don’t think there are too many players out there who are willing to grind one more time in a different game. Every map has the same objectives as the previous one and these objectives aren’t even too varied being mostly about killing monsters, looting stuff and interacting with objects.
It’s sad that the progression system is so dull because the skill system is interesting and most of the classes are absolutely amazing (some of the best I’ve seen in an MMORPG). I will grant the game some more time in order to reach the endgame content (if I can withstand the grind) and see what that is about and maybe even write a review about it.
                Path of Exile: The Awakening was the motivation I was waiting for in order to start playing again and the features this expansion brings are going to revitalize the game. The divination cards, the passive skill tree sockets and changes, the huge amount of everything (monsters, abilities, items, bosses) and most importantly the fix for the desync are great additions to an already great game. Yet, I’m a little disappointed with Grinding Gear Games. After such a long wait, the Act IV is released just to offer a few hours of gameplay. I was expecting a longer story and bigger areas to explore and I was a little shocked when I finished it in less than four hours.
Even so, for the hardcore fans of Path of Exile this expansion comes as great news and the number of those playing this game on Steam has increased tremendously.
                Finally, time to talk a little about Kholat. I started playing the game and the first thing that hit me was the quality of the graphics. Unreal Engine 4 shows its potential in this small indie game through atmospheric and detailed areas that will seduce snow lovers and not only them.
The game can be quite terrifying and gets straight to the point in the first hour of gameplay. The sound effects and the music contribute greatly to the creepy atmosphere and using my headset was bad for my health as I felt my heart going crazy at times because of sound design.
                I haven’t played an actual horror game in a very long time so this title is most welcomed by me. I do feel that the exploration could be better as the game has some weird limitations to prevent reaching some areas straight away. I also feel that the interaction with the environment should have played a much bigger role so it keeps the players concentrated. Other than these problems I think the game does a pretty good job for what it wants to be and does it so by combining elements from popular games of this genre that were released in the latest years.
It is so obvious I shouldn't go in there!


                No new article this week, because I was quite tired due to my work shift and I didn’t have anything to write about. I’m currently working on my Kholat review and with the newer games released I have more material to work with.

In the meantime, please share my articles and follow me on Steam, Twitter and on Facebook!!

Thanks!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Screenshot of the Week #45: Feel the fear!




                I’ve finished Batman: Arkham Knight and I think it was a great action game and in spite of all its problems it's a real contender for the Game of the Year 2015 title. The way Joker was reintroduced in the story after his death in Arkham City was brilliant and his role is amazingly written. Batman: Arkham Knight stands as a testimony that action games can combine story with gameplay in a great way, but also that horrible ports are not welcomed by the PC community.
You scared?!?!


                With the review posted, the Batman chapter is over and it is time to move on to something else. The next game on my list is Kholat which I postponed long enough. It shouldn’t take too much time for me to finish it but writing the review is another thing because adventure games are not really my specialty.

In the meantime, please share my articles and follow me on Steam, Twitter and on Facebook!!


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Batman: Arkham Knight Review!




                I have to be honest, a few years back materials with superheroes were not really my thing. But after watching The Dark Knight I gave this culture another shot and surrendered to my friend’s pressure to play Batman: Arkham Asylum. Surprisingly enough for me, the game was extremely good and it stood out in a market without many good action games on PC.
Rocksteady Studios’ series continued with Arkham City and a prequel made by Warner Bros. depicting Batman’s beginning as a hero while the main studio worked on the final act of the story.

                Nine months after Joker’s cremation (spam space to incinerate the Joker for increased immersion!) things are about to get crazy one last time. A shocking opening scene reveals Scarecrow, still obsessed with humiliating Batman and threatening Gotham City with a new version of his powerful hallucinogenic gas. Over six million people are evacuated and in less than twenty-four hours the city is out of the officials’ control leaving the streets of Gotham to thugs, criminals and the insane villains. Only Batman & Co stand in their way with little help from the overpowered yet still courageous GCPD with Commissioner Gordon as their leader.
Scarecrow might be behind this madness but a new mysterious villain has made an appearance in Gotham City and he is set on doing one thing: kill the Dark Knight. Arkham Knight knows Batman’s moves and tactics and has brought with him an army of heavily equipped mercenaries and drones to aid Scarecrow with his plan and eventually see his wish fulfilled.
With the streets flooded in criminal chaos, many villains take this opportunity to continue their dirty jobs unhindered. Penguin and Two-Face are set on making money and the Riddler which is as annoying as ever has filled the city with hundreds of challenges for Batman to complete (243). But the Dark Knight isn’t alone. Nightwing has come from Blüdhaven to aid with the situation, Robin is around doing an important job, Oracle is on support duty together with Alfred and Mister Lucius Fox has some toys prepared to tip the scale in Batman’s favor during this long night.
                After the first few missions the story evolves in an unexpected way that brings to the surface the best of the Arkham series. The ghosts of the past haunt Batman and his inner fight can be seen everywhere creating a feeling of unpredictability towards the hero’s actions. Friends and even foes are brought together by the madness engulfing the city in order to aid Batman.
As the situation spins out of control everyone is on the edge and things becomes harder to deal with leaving Batman in an almost hopeless situation where he has to face his fear in order to protect the ones he cares about and fight one last battle that will mark the end of the Arkham series.
                The story was great from the beginning to the very end. There weren’t many moments when I was disappointed about what happened and the events unfolding always intrigued me to see more.
I will stop you!
Batman's tech puts everything to shame!
Tonight we dine in hell!


                To distract the players from the main missions and provide some extra activities the world is filled with secondary missions and challenges. Most of the secondary missions are designed as a loop with multiple stages of progressions which are basically doing the same thing in different locations. The secondary missions are far from the quality of the main story but do stand out through their introduction of other villains and heroes than the ones involved directly in the main story adding an additional reason to complete them.  After destroying like four or five weapon caches in what seemed like a banal mission chain, something happened which made everything worthwhile.
I completed almost all these secondary missions and not only because I’m a completist but because I was curious to discover what interesting facets they added to the story. I skipped Riddler’s challenges, for which the last part of his mission is more obnoxious than actually listening to his constant self-gratification.
                The secondary missions are disappointing even if I enjoyed them. More complexity and a better connection with the game’s premise would have made the entire action feel as part of the main story (imagine how great would have been).
                For those who enjoy arcade missions, there are tones of challenges which put the players in timed situations where they have to complete various tasks. The AR challenges use everything that Batman has at his disposal. Batmobile races or overwhelming fights against drones, taking down enemies or stopping bank robberies are just some of the examples. Every challenge has a score rating and even some rewards for high scores and the performance is registered on a ladder where the players compete against their friends.
While these types of missions were never my style, I did have some fun with some the challenges and tried to turn the score upside down.
Sick bastard!
You are such a pussy!
E-peen!


                The gameplay has remained for the most part faithful to the series. As the game is set in an open world environment, Batman can take full advantage of his gliding cape to hover over large parts of the city. There is a wide variety of gadgets at Batman’s disposal each more versatile than the others. The batarang, batclaw, explosive gel and the now legendary detective mode make a return accompanied by many others, old and new. Some of the gadgets are unlocked progressively and together with them more content becomes available for completion. The world might be open and big, but not everything can be accessed at once and a balance should be found between advancing into the main story and completing secondary missions in order to enjoy the content properly and not hit roadblocks.
                Compared to the previous titles, the gameplay has an induced cinematic feeling which I can’t say I liked as it stopped me from doing what I wanted and kept slowing me down. Communicating with other characters by using the Batsuit incorporated screen stops almost every action aside of moving slowly until the dialogue is over. There are moments when hacking through systems locks out every other option in the game including exiting that activity which I found extremely bizarre. All these things felt like bad design choices as they took out my liberty and forced me to do or watch things unwillingly.
Somehow I don't fear the heights in this game!


                Rocksteady Studios has always played it safe after the big success of Arkham Asylum and the games to come have followed the same recipe with usually one major feature to improve over the predecessor. Arkham City has received the open world now carried on to Arkham Knight which in return got a controllable Batmobile as its new feature.
                The Batmobile is a versatile vehicle which allows Batman to travel extremely fast in the now bigger world and it gives Batman the strength to fight the paramilitary organization that is taking over the city. In its normal mode the Batmobile can be used to cruise around the city using its high speed, decent maneuverability and speed booster. The Batmobile tank like structure makes many obstacles obsolete as it can smash them into pieces. But driving is every car’s role so the Batmobile had to bring something more than that. With a simple touch of a button the Batmobile switches to Battle Mode which transforms it into an actual tank equipped with non-lethal weapons including a machinegun, a 60mm canon and a rocket launcher with more weapons added later on in the game. It’s quite hard to understand how a 60mm canon can be non-lethal or how driving with this enormous car over pedestrians doesn’t kill them and somehow electrocutes them out of the way, but Batman doesn’t kill and this applies to his car as well.
The Batmobile control defies the laws of physics. The switch between the two modes happens in an instant and the Battle Mode stops the car from cruising at a high speed in an instant with no momentum to it making this the best way to take a steer at high speed without any risks of losing control.
                Rocksteady has created something great with the Batmobile but they went too far. The world feels designed around the car and not the other way around and at times this is causing gameplay problems. There is more driving in Arkham Knight than some would expect and this comes with a price. The time spent with the Batmobile is time not spend as the actual Batman. Having to solve lots of the Riddler’s puzzles with the car shows how forced in this feature is. But the biggest problem comes from the fact that most of the boss battles in the game are fought with the Batmobile. I was expecting epic battles between the Dark Knight and the menaces of Gotham City like the fight with Poison Ivy, Bane or Joker in Arkham Asylum. Instead all I got were some tank battles that are nowhere near as challenging and fun as a hand to hand fight would have been.
                I actually loved the Batmobile. The versatility combined with the game’s physics and particle effects were a feast for the eyes and a pleasure to control even if the controls were arcady (I don’t think anyone was expecting a simulator). But sometimes it felt like the car was more important than the hero itself and it was taking away from the expected gameplay experience.
ABS!
Hmmm


                The combat system in the Arkham series was never my cup of tea. The two buttons spamming for attacks and counters with combos and finishers left room for more complexity. But to my surprise this time I enjoyed the combat more than I did in the previous games. Maybe because I’m coming after The Witcher 3 where the combat experience was extremely glitchy and the problems of Arkham Knight are light compared to it. Or it actually improved over the previous games but it has been such a long time since I played an Arkham title that I can’t notice the changes. But enjoying something doesn’t mean it's perfect.
                The first thing that comes to mind about the game’s combat system is the control scheme. The PC controls use multifunctional keys and various combinations of multiple keys in order to get things done. Multifunctional keys make no sense as this game is not a complex simulator and doesn’t require an entire keyboard for its control scheme so I don’t see the point of subjecting one key to multiple tasks.
The combinations of multiple keys shouldn’t be a nuisance if done properly, but the way they are used makes them so. The game requires the press of two keys to go down a vent tunnel or to open a hatch door (really?!) and the same goes for using a gadget in combat and perform many other actions in or out of combat. The combinations sometimes overlap and in the heat of battle doing one thing might result in doing another. This problem feels like laziness in properly adjusting a rather simple game to the mouse and keyboard controls.
                 Aside of the annoying controls another problem that I have with the combat comes from the highlighted animations of Batman’s powerful hits. These animations are completely out of place in a game that takes itself more seriously. They might have worked if the artistic style was different and the game used onomatopoeias and other comic books related themes, but it doesn’t go along with the current imagining of the Gotham City. I think better body physics would have been a greater way to make Batman’s devastating hits more visible on his targets than coloring around his punches and kicks.
                The last but not least of Arkham Knight’s combat problems stands in the difficulty. The AI isn’t the greatest and the lack of serious boss fights diminishes greatly the level of enjoyment. The only real challenge stands in the uneven odds that Batman has to fight. At first the groups of enemies are small enough to defeat easily, but as the game progresses they grow in size and receive numerous abilities and weapons to stop Batman making things more complicated. The space is not always in Batman’s favor and sometimes these battles turn out into an everlasting hit and run scenario until most of the easy enemies are knocked out so there is enough space to deal with the stronger guys.
                In spite of its problems the combat system in Arkham Knight has to offer more than most of the latest 3rd person games do. The play style can be easily adjusted by the player as Batman always has options.
Going rampage on a group of enemies and kicking them until they are down can be one of the ways to solve things for almost every situation in the game even if most of the times it’s the hardest way.
Taking a more tactical approach by disabling the enemy’s guns, hacking into their security system and laying some traps crippling the enemy forces before the fight begins it’s another way to do things.
Even stealth is an option with the help of detective mode and some of the gadgets. By taking advantage of the great level design which allows for multiple pathways, Batman can sneak around and take the enemies down one by one.
                The styles can be combined and adjusted on the fly resulting in spectacular improvised moments that feel great to pull off.  And when things go crazy and even Batman isn’t enough, Catwoman, Nightwing or Robin might lend a hand if they are around. The fights with the help of other heroes are extremely fun as the game allows switching from one hero to another and executing dual takedowns on enemies. The only downside is that these duet moments aren’t seen very often in the game.
Blurry combat!
Acrobatics!
Let's see what happens if I detonate this here!


                Almost everything that Batman can use is subject to upgrades. There is a leveling system based on the experience gained through fights or missions awarding Wayne points which can be spent on various upgrades. Batman’s combat moves can be enhanced with new combos and finishers enhancing the existing ones. The Batsuit can receive numerous upgrades to sustain more damage from both melee weapons and firearms and other combat enhancements and the same way goes for the Batmobile. Even the gadgets can be heavily upgraded increasing not only their utility in the world, but also their combat usefulness.
The leveling system is nothing too complex, but opens up more options for different play styles and adds greater value to completing secondary missions and challenges.
I need to grind more!



                All things put together, Arkham Knight might not have the best combat and it doesn't lack problems, but has enough options to it to make it enjoyable for the entire duration of the game. The Carmageddon style car chases and the tank battles from which the game switches easily to violent and dynamic hand to hand combat or stealth sections create an action cocktail that has to be at least slightly tasteful for anyone.

                So far so good, the game has its ups and downs but everything is rounded in a positive way, but apparently Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. couldn’t keep this tone until the very end. There have been AAA games that messed up badly in the past like Watch Dogs or Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but these games messed with no discrimination and had problems on all the platforms, but such is not the case for Arkham Knight. While the game runs smoothly and without problems on consoles, on the PC things are more of a slideshow than an actual game (you know… cinematic experience).
                The game is unplayable for the most players and having a powerful rig hardly makes any difference. The fps is locked at 30 (because what PC gamer doesn’t want that, right?!?!) and has problems even staying at 30 with constant freezes and fps drops. A violent motion blur is slapped on to cover for this without any way to remove it or tune it down from the graphics options menu. Because of the amount of blur it was impossible for me to take a proper combat screenshot, but things get even worse. The game has such memory leak problems on a scale I've never seen before, there are reports of the game taking up to 12gb of RAM memory causing even more performance problems.
The graphics options menu looks like more like a commercial to Nvidia than what a graphics menu for a AAA title should look in 2015 (or you can pick any year since pixel shader 2.0) with the Nvidia GameWorks settings being as many as the standard settings (to be more precise: four). There are no options for high quality textures (because parity!) and the textures themselves have problems loading up in-game. The ambient occlusion and enhanced lighting are nowhere to be found in the options or in game (some of the features can be disabled or adjusted from the game's .ini).
                Basically, Batman: Arkham Knight PC version received little attention and was released together with the other version of the game in disregard to its state (it is absolutely impossible for the publisher and the developer of this game not to be aware about the situation of the PC version). The PC customers sank the game in bad reviews and Warner Bros. first response was to increase the price on Steam from 50 to 55 (…).  As a result to the huge number of complaints and the pilling stacks of refund tickets the game was retracted from most authorized stores (long live the first protecting law for the consumers of digital products!!!).
                I feel sorry for the fate of this game, it deserved much more than a simple port and the same goes for its fans (ironically enough aside of the optimization problems the game is bugs free). The quality of Arkham Knight surpasses that of most of the action games released on PC in the past years and I’d be lying if I said that the game doesn’t look good despite its lack of common graphical effects and high resolution textures.
                A night in Gotham City has never looked better, but also never symbolized as much as it does now. The rainy night combined with the dark tone of the graphics create a shady atmosphere that intensifies the intrigue of the story and the fact that this is the last game in the series.
The world design is amazing and the game’s verticality plays right into Batman’s hand allowing him to use the gadgets as he pleases. The attention to graphic details is high and there seems to be nothing out of place in the world.
Something is clearly not right!
That smoke!


                The thing that impressed me the most about this game’s technical part and that doesn’t get used enough in other games is the physics. Gotham City could easily be a map for a Carmageddon match as the amount of destructible environment is impressive. In the Batmobile there are hardly any obstacles. Cars, gates, supporting pillars and so many other things can be destroyed. Batman runs through everything in his way in order to save Gotham City one last time and probably causes millions of dollars worth of property damage, but who cares when it’s so much fun (!!!). Almost everything that seems destructible is destructible with few exceptions and I had a blast using the Batmobile’s power to wreak havoc in the city. Arkham Knight stands as a great example of how important physics is in a video game and how underrated and ignored this technology is right now and proves once again its valor in a game’s feeling and enjoyment.
Fireworks!


                On the audio part I have nothing to reproach. The sound effects are top notch quality and the music is in tone with the series. Yet the technical part doesn’t stand out as much as the voice acting does.  With Kevin Conroy back to reprise his role as Batman and many of the previous voice actors coming back for the last part of the series, the voice acting is excellent and the actors do a great job to enter in the mind of some of the insane characters and bring them to life through their work.


Apparently I can't get rid of you.
Batman & Co.
There's something wrong with your face!
Superman confirmed?!?!


                I liked this game a lot (this is quite clear from the fact that I continued to play it in the current state), but the terrible quality of the port cannot be ignored and the publisher has to be condemned for outsourcing the PC version to a small studio of twelve people for a game with a price tag of 50 euros (55?! Plus DLCs). It shows a lack of respect for the PC market and its customers and they probably would have gotten away and sold millions (just like Watch Dogs did) if there wasn’t the option for refunds. Let this be a lesson to any publisher that tries to screw up the PC gamers, as we are vocal and we made ourselves heard, through refunds and overwhelmingly negative scores that are not necessarily justifiable to the game’s quality but reflect our frustration towards this treachery.
But is the problematic port making Batman: Arkham Knight a bad game? Nowhere near close to that. It is a true and true action game, without selectable dialogues or moral choices just for the sake of it as this is not a role playing but rather a very interactive experience as Batman following his rules and his unchangeable story. The story is flawlessly written and plays out in an unpredictable way putting an end to a six years long series that has done to superheroes video games what the Dark Knight series has done with superheroes movies (Can I get a Green Lantern series like these ones?!).
                I can’t say that the game is worth buying now as its technical state is still a mess and playing at 30fps with heavily forced in motion blur is tiring. But in a few weeks or months when most of the problems are fixed it might be a title that should not be missed by fans of the genre and Batman alike.


Pros:
+ Excellent story
+ Great world design
+ Good graphics and physics
+ High quality voice acting
+ Lots of villains and heroes from the Batman universe
+ Addictive gameplay
+ Batmobile
+ 40+ hours of gameplay
+ Puzzles
+ Completist’s heaven

Cons:
- Horrible performance problems
- Locked at 30fps (even if it's unlocked from .ini it is still unstable)
- Lacks important graphics features and options
- Multifunctional keys
- Secondary missions can be repetitive
- No serious boss fights
- Batmobile is overused




Nodrim