REVIEW: Gotham Knights isn't perfect but it is a hell of a lot of fun
One of the biggest games of 2022 has finally arrived!
Arkham Aslyum and Arkham City are not just two of the best superhero games ever made, but two of the best games of any genre ever made. To glide into that terrain and not be compared to those is impossible, so let us get that big stuff out of the way first.
Gotham Knights is not a sequel to Arkham Knight, despite the fact that this begins with the death of Batman, which also happens to be how that previous game ended. The fighting mechanics are also built from the same system that made those Arkham games so brilliantly simple to play.
But that is pretty much where the comparisons end.
Instead, this new action RPG sees you choosing between four of Bruce Wayne's proteges - Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Robin - in an attempt to solve his murder, while also trying to maintain peace in Gotham, since all of the supervillains have rushed back in to make the most of the power vacuum left behind by Batman's absence.
You can play solo or online with another player, which will increase the difficulty of the characters you fight around the city. Each of the characters have slightly different strengths in terms of brawling, ranged weapons, stealth and so on, with all four capable of upgrades via mods, new gear and entire costume changes.
The level of customisation and pure depth of options available is truly staggering, and fans of making their avatars feel truly their own will find a dizzying amount to get lost in here.
In terms of gameplay, travelling around the absolutely HUGE and detailed Gotham is tremendous fun, be it either via the well-timed duo of grappling hooks and jumping, or by high-powered motorbike or personalised air-transport system (Batgirl can glide, Robin can teleport short distances, etc.).
You barely have to go 100 meters before you find a criminal gang up to no good, or a brand new side quest that will need completing, or some timed challenges that range from very fun (stop the bad guys before timed explosives go off) to a little bit grind'y (find all of the flying drones so you can safely fly through different sections of Gotham).
And that is all without the main plot, which dives deep into the Court of Owls, a relatively recent addition to the Batman lore that made an immediate impact with fans of the comics. Their involvement in Gotham and specifically with Bruce Wayne is then surrounded by some stellar B-plot arcs involving Harley Quinn, The Penguin and Mister Freeze.
Graphically, it all looks mostly great - even with the 30fps cap on console - with the only real noticeable frame rate drop appearing during co-op, when both characters were on their bikes, speedily tearing across the map. Gotham is highly detailed and expectantly grim, with the sound design and score set to match that moody tone.
And DC fans will be left salivating over the sheer wealth of nods, hints and easter eggs towards the larger universe surrounding this one story, so expect to see new finds over the next days, weeks and months to come.
Not every aspect of the game lands well, though. There are some detective quests which amount to little more than a matching game, which more often than not are deduced entirely through guesswork. A lot of the main missions find you heading out into the night, doing one tiny thing, and then being told to return back to HQ to get your next clue. And for all of the mystery behind the main plot, you'll likely figure out The Big Reveal waaaaayyyyyy before the game expects you to.
But these are all minor niggles, mostly forgotten about when you're glide-kicking Mr. Freeze to the face in an exploding lab, before hoping on your bike and burning rubber all the way to your next mission.
Gotham Knights is available on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC from Friday, 21 October.