TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — TUSCON, Ariz. (KGUN) — “Gotham Knights” gives some love to the Batman Nation B-team. Set in Gotham City in which Batman has been taken out of the picture, his underlings Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl and Red Hood team up to solve his murder and keep the Gotham streets safe.
You can select any of the four characters to head out into the city and take on various missions. Geared toward co-op play, the action-adventure seeks to maintain the level of quality delivered in the Batman “Arkham” trilogy.
Phil Villarreal: I came into the game with reservations, reading that the launch was buggy and laggy, but I’m assuming that those wrinkles have been ironed out, because the game looked and played smooth and polished to me.
I got a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” style of enjoyment, switching among the characters and appreciating their varied attack and defense styles. I enjoyed the sense of community and camaraderie among the Bat-family, which shoots the breeze in a hideout in between missions. Although the story is wince-inducing and telegraphed — I don’t buy antihero Red Hood as someone willing to join such a team — and the game falls short of the “Arkham” benchmark, but I have had a ton of fun with this game in both solo and co-op modes.
Sean, what’s your take?
Sean Newgent: I was actively excited about this game and found myself hating darn near every moment I played. “Gotham Knights” will be compared to the “Arkham” series because comparisons are the easiest means of review but this is a different world, a different studio, and a new take on the caped crusader so let’s get that out of the way. But I immediately knew something was off when I watched the opening cutscene, where Bruce Wayne heroically sacrifices himself in an overlong battle and leaves behind the remnants of his arsenal to his young wards.
As a comic book fan, I kind of liked that I got the chance to play as and see these unique personalities work together in a new medium. I immediately went for Batgirl as I have always loved her character and think she’s the least annoying of the four. Immediately I regretted that as I was forced to hear some of the worst voice acting in recent Triple-A gaming memory. I say the voice acting is bad, Phil, as we are playing “Star Ocean”. That’s pretty bad.
The game looks fine but is locked at 30 FPS on consoles. Gotham, though, feels hollow. A successful city-based open-world game needs to city to be a character itself. It needs to live and breathe and feel organic. But this Gotham is bland and only serves as background to get from point A to repetitive point B.
How did you feel about the gameplay Phil?
Phil Villarreal: I enjoyed grappling from spot to spot. This supersized version of Gotham is filled with vertical architecture and hidden crannies to explore. You may have found it lacking, but I found plenty to do as I grappled from one skyscraper to the next and tore up the roads with the Batcycle.
I agree that the voice acting — particularly that of Batgirl — is beyond grating. I did, though, enjoy the majority of the writing. In particular, the banter among the four wannabe Bat-folk is funny in a “Robot Chicken” sort of way. There may not be many missions, but what we get are jam-packed with some fascinating choices from Batman’s rogues gallery.
The combat is thoroughly satisfying. Dispatching groups of armed enemies with a series of parries, finishes and grapples felt exhilarating. I also appreciated the light detective puzzles, which were just challenging enough to make me feel as though I put the clues together myself rather than button-mashed my way to solutions.
To me, this is a great father-son, sibling or roommate game. Final thoughts, Sean?
Sean Newgent: I disagree. I found the combat repetitive and frustrating. Enemies quickly become sponges, some enemies require only certain attacks to break their shields or blocks and executing those attacks while being assaulted by multiple enemies can be near impossible.
For me, the combat is terrible and even basic movement feels janky. And when that combat is a constant in repetitive events necessary to earn the status needed to unlock basic traversal methods and upgrade your kit — it makes you want to turn off the game after just ten minutes. Even if the story is vaguely interesting and the script isn’t bad, there’s so much auxiliary pad and fluff that kills any forward momentum or enjoyment I might have had. Add to that a bizarre crafting system, Riddler-level quizzical loot collecting and inventory management, and a main story that can be beat in anywhere between 12 and 15 hours.
It’s a weak showing from WB and a depressing introduction of some beloved Batman characters to the gaming world. It’s not a technically bad game, just dull on all fronts. I found little to no enjoyment in playing this game and kept drifting to other titles that are a lot more engaging and interesting.
“Gotham Knights” tried — but anything good about it died with Batman.
Publisher provided codes. Phil played on Xbox Series X. Sean played on PS5.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of “Phil on Film” seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Sean Newgent has been with KGUN9 since January of 2020 and is Good Morning Tucson’s executive producer. He graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He is a critic and cultural commentator. Share your story ideas and important issues with Sean by emailing [email protected].