Review

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

  • First Released Jun 23, 2015
    released
  • PS4

Only as good as the world allows it to be.

$7.99 on Walmart
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"A clean shot to the head," drones the villain known as Arkham Knight. "That's all it will take." At every opportunity, the Knight speaks of the horrific deeds he might perform, doing his best to drive fear into Batman's heart throughout the open-world adventure game that features his name. Scarecrow similarly trades on Batman's doubts, attempting to convince the troubled hero of his own impotence at every turn. "All eyes, all hopes upon a man who fails his friends," calls out Scarecrow through Gotham's public networks, reminding Bruce Wayne that he, too, bears responsibility for the losses his loved ones endure.

Batman is a troubled hero, and past Arkham games haven't shied away from exploring his dark side. Arkham Knight is no exception: the caped crusader growls his way through one confrontation after another in which he must question his role in Gotham's current crisis. We've seen these themes before, many times over, and Batman: Arkham Knight's villains repeat them ad nauseum, as if you weren't already choking on heavy-handed metaphors at every turn. It's fortunate, then, that Arkham Knight, for all its ham-fisted storytelling and frequent returns to well-trod ground, features the qualities developer Rocksteady has infused its previous games with: superb production values, hard-hitting combat, and a wonderful sense of freedom as you soar above the skies of Gotham.

Hey, it's the Batmobile! Over and over!
Hey, it's the Batmobile! Over and over!

Scarecrow, Arkham Knight, and the legacy of the now-dead Joker loom large over this freedom. There is another, more surprising obstacle which you must overcome if you wish to retain your ownership of Gotham's skies, however: the Batmobile. For the first time in this series, you can leap into the iconic vehicle and zoom down the streets, drifting around tight turns and pursuing key vehicles as they speed away. The driving itself is slick and satisfying, as long as you can overlook Rocksteady's tendency to wrest away camera control to show you some dramatic sight or another. Yet there's no beating the incredible rush of using your line launcher to fling yourself through the sky--and it's worth mentioning that taking to the air is usually faster than settling behind the wheel. As a result, Arkham Knight is constantly trying to justify the Batmobile's presence, forcing it upon you at nearly every opportunity.

Particularly in the latter third of the story, you're frequently forced to take part in vehicular battles against remotely manned drones. When you first engage in this kind of combat, which turns the Batmobile into an agile tank, it's a delight. You strafe from side to side, sliding the vehicle into safe areas between the visible lines that indicate the path of incoming enemy rockets. All the while, you fire your cannons at the drones and use small fire to eliminate missiles fired upon you; the dark sky lights up during these battles, giving vehicular combat an initial spark, and making you the director of a spectacularly violent fireworks display.

Gameplay utilizes Batman's excellent detective skills. His orphan skills go underutilized, however.
Gameplay utilizes Batman's excellent detective skills. His orphan skills go underutilized, however.

But in spite of the upgrades the Batmobile earns over time--EMP blasts, the ability to hack enemy drones, and so forth--the Batmobile battles never become more interesting, just more monotonous, as they seem to go on forever. The story's final hours succumb to a series of same-ish battles that play out more or less like the last, lending an air of tedium to what should be the game's most poignant surprises. The Batmobile is also the centerpiece of a number of mediocre boss encounters, all manner of puzzles, boring cat-and-mouse games with superpowered tanks, and even some of the Riddler's many optional challenges scattered across the city. Don't be surprised should you end up muttering to yourself, "Too. Much. Batmobile."

Arkham Knight is at its best when you are given the freedom of movement you both need and deserve. What a treat it is to look down upon this beautiful and derelict city as you glide through the thick, black air. Gotham has been deserted by most citizenry due to Scarecrow's most recent threat to release a hallucinogenic toxin into the streets, making the clouded heavens and the stoic statues all the more imposing. The bat-symbol cuts an impressive silhouette in the sky, drawing you towards your next mission objective--and the objective itself may be a structure like the grandiose Panessa Movie Studios, where climbing ivy and guardian statues warn you of potential danger.

Arkham Knight is constantly trying to justify the Batmobile's presence, forcing it upon you at nearly every opportunity.

No Caption Provided

Batman is beautifully animated and an absolute joy to control. To soar towards Man-Bat and tackle the shrieking beast in one of the game's many side missions, and to zip to higher vantage points only to descend onto a rioter and deliver a hard kick, are the moments that represent Arkham Knight at its very best. Every mechanical edge is oiled to maximum slickness: Batman glides through Gotham with the confidence of an experienced predator, and exhibits the exact right amount of stickiness as he approaches surfaces. There is an astounding amount of flavor voiceover; Batman comments on the task at hand should you try to leave the area you are confined to, enemies remark on the number of fallen comrades they have counted during stealth encounters, and the annoyingly chatty thugs swarming the streets have more speaking lines than any number of film scripts. Few games are this rich in audiovisual details.

Don't forget: Batman isn't killing anyone in his rampage against Gotham's enemies, though he delights just enough in breaking bones that it's hard not to nod your head along to the Arkham Knight's insistence that Batman is just as responsible for Gotham's dereliction as anyone else. The storytelling gymnastics the game performs to remind you that Bruce Wayne is not a murderer are ridiculous. The Batmobile is using nonlethal rounds, you are told, and when you run over criminals, a little zap lets you know that you're not squishing them under your tires, just giving them an electrical jolt as you pass. I could dismiss this mounting nonsense easily as forgivable video game logic if the narrative didn't devote so much time explaining (and re-explaining, and re-re-explaining) that Batman lives by a non-killing code. Rocksteady tries to have it both ways, representing this code as an emotional conflict that figures heavily into the story, then letting you plow through crowds of bad guys without consequence. Even in the oft-illogical world of video games, the dissonance is striking.

No Caption Provided
Everyone loves a good crane-moving puzzle.
Everyone loves a good crane-moving puzzle.

Then again, this is a story about a billionaire in a bat suit, so perhaps there is only so much plausibility to be expected. It might be hard to believe Batman isn't sending men to the morgue during Arkham Knight's melee battles, but the series' rhythmic hand-to-hand combat continues to set the bar high. Batman is a frightening, almost otherworldly creature as he tumbles and slides from one target to another, and his fists exhibit the raw power of any hammer or club. Stealth combat sequences, which offer astounding flexibility in how you approach enemies, are as good as ever. Slinking through vents, taking down a goon, and zipping away is as rewarding as it is to sabotage your armed foes with your disruptor rifle, causing their weapons to malfunction and leaving their owners open to attack. Smart level design and a large array of gadgets--a remote electrical charge, a machine that emulates villains' voices, a hacking device, and so forth--keep each predator room as interesting as the last.

Batman's many talents give rise to a terrific amount of variety. He is a scientist and a detective in addition to being Gotham's scowling savior; he has a computer that knows the answers to every imaginable question (except the ones that drive the plot, of course); and he possesses the memory of an elephant rather than a bat--a nice skill to have when solving the murder mystery that serves as one of the game's better side plots. Arkham Knight finds great ways of incorporating these talents into gameplay. For instance, you re-create a kidnapping by activating the returning bat-vision mode and scouring the street for clues. The crime's events are then depicted on screen, allowing you to forward and reverse through them at will in your search for answers.

Poison Ivy is dressed for success, and like almost every one of Arkham Knight's female characters, is in need of rescue.
Poison Ivy is dressed for success, and like almost every one of Arkham Knight's female characters, is in need of rescue.

Puzzles like this are clever, and the related tasks, such as scanning a corpse's tissue to find anomalies, make you feel like an active participant in a real forensic analysis. The game constantly digresses, asking you to team up with comrades like Nightwing and Robin to deliver cooperative beatdowns, and to perform all number of secondary missions, which incorporate villains like Penguin, Two-Face, and Firefly. Some set pieces, such as one in which you defuse a set of bombs as a villain stands on a rotating platform, are particularly noteworthy for smart use of camera angles, and for the way the gameplay assists in characterization, teaching you about the miscreants at hand not just through dialogue and plotting, but through the way you interact with them.

Arkham Knight is loaded with villains, actually, including the one that gives the game its name: Arkham Knight himself. His identity is meant to be the game's greatest mystery, but conspicuous foreshadowing, and a reliance on age-old storytelling cliches, make every reveal as surprising as the time The Mighty Ducks won that big hockey game. There are some tense story beats and moving events, but your two primary goals--to stop Scarecrow's evil toxin plot, and to confront and unmask the Arkham Knight--are too predictable to be compelling.

Pow! Crunch! Whiff! Harumph!
Pow! Crunch! Whiff! Harumph!


What Batman: Arkham Knight does well, however, it does really well. Gotham is a dazzling playground where neon lights pierce through the rain and mist; all it takes is a single glimpse to tell you that this is a city in need. Moreover, many individual elements are so carefully constructed, and presented with such flair, that appreciation is the only reasonable reaction. Yet most of these elements--excellent acting, wonderful animations, moody soundtrack--are ones that Batman: Arkham City also excelled in, making Arkham Knight's missteps all the more noticeable. Rather than escape the pull of the games that spawned it, The Bat's newest adventure refines the fundamentals; it is a safe but satisfying return to the world's most tormented megalopolis.

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Now Playing: Batman: Arkham Knight - Video Review

Back To Top
The Good
Soaring above Gotham is a consistent treat
Smart crime-solving sequences
Lots of mission variety
Imaginative stealth and combat encounters
Impressive audiovisual details
The Bad
Forced use of the Batmobile puts a damper on fun and freedom
Ham-fisted dialogue and predictable reveals damage the story
Monotonous encounters and mediocre boss fights hurt the second half
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin is now well into a new-game plus in Batman: Arkham Knight, and has spent about 30 hours with the game in all. He played the PlayStation 4 version provided by WB Games on a debug console. He welcomes debate on whether Arkham City or Arkham Asylum is the better game, but scoffs at anyone who thinks it's Arkham Origins.
2987 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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KillBill2151

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IGN put an 9,2/10.....Metacritic a 89/10.....many other critics and gamers put almost 10/10 and you 7 out of 10?Come on!!Do you want from us to take your review into consideration?Those people behind the game worked like crazy to make it.And the funny thing is that this site put an 10/10 to bayonetta 2-a game,which is really good but not for 10/10, and only 7,not even a 7,5 or 8, to new Batman game.I am not a fan of the Batman series but when someone decreases the value of something that's highly praised,well i am getting furious!

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Diegoh1212

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@KillBill2151: "Those people behind the game worked like crazy to make it."

So the people behind destiny did not work like crazy? I see you rated destiny with a 7.

The rating system does not focus on the "developer sweat" to consider if a game is "only 7".

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KillBill2151

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Edited By KillBill2151

@Diegoh1212: Destiny deserved a 7.My point is when a game ,which is loved by people,gets not so good reviews by critics, I think it's unfair for the work that they have done.Gamers loved Arkham Knight and it's hard to see such game getting this rate.Of course and we should not focusing on "developers sweat".Neither Arkham Knight is masterpiece nor Destiny but do not compare those two game.Both they work like crazy,but the result matters.

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KGBinUSA

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@KillBill2151: By your logic, the more hype and love for the game, the better the score. Gameplay, technical issues, etc should not matter then.

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uxtull

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@KillBill2151: Yeah, and the critic rated the result 7/10.

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HeyItsAdam

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I've been playing for 2 days now... I just want to park the damn Batmobile and be done with it. I miss the predator fights and stealth component. This is literally a game of high tech "Combat" for the Atari 2600 (I just dated myself, but that's what I was thinking when I was shooting drones).

However, it is still Batman and they get some points back for that.... but has anyone noticed that the rendering of Commissioner Gordon makes him look like Walter White from BREAKING BAD?????

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Greyfox-101

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I played this for like 30 minutes last night, and the Batmobile is one of the most frustrating things to handle.

Also, why did they have to have so much rain all the time? I hope it's not pouring the whole game because the framerate dips while in the batmobile are incredibly annoying.

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deathblow3

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i actually like the batmobile

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triniserge868

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LOL this is such a hipster game site. I'm a few hours into the game and I personally love it. Where some say the Batmobile is forced down our throats, I more feel like it's an extension of Batman that has taken the gameplay to a far more fun and interesting level as compared to its predecessors. Compared to the previous games where I found gameplay incredibly monotonous and got bored very very quickly (hang in the rafters in a room and pick off enemies one by one, repeat, repeat or battle with hordes of enemies, square, triangle, repeat, repeat) with this game I keep wanting more. I enjoy how the Batmobile adds a new layer to missions. Or beyond that I love free roaming through the streets and ending up in a fight with the random foot soldiers only to call in the Batmobile to come blazing in and even the odds really quickly. I won't say it's GOTY, but it is damn sure one of the best games I've played.

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crix01

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@triniserge868: @kutmulc: And what a layer it is. You enter the batmobile and shoot, shoot, shoot. Because that's not monotonous at all...

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triniserge868

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@crix01: Never said it was perfect, that's why I also said I won't say it's GOTY worthy...but compared to its predecessors, it's fun to go from predator mode to utilizing the Batmobile to escape or access a new area, etc. So yea it's a good additional layer...but to each is own.

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kutmulc

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Edited By kutmulc

@triniserge868: Let me get this straight. You've played the previous two games, found them monotonous and 'very very' boring, and yet still come back for the third one??

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triniserge868

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Edited By triniserge868

@kutmulc: Yea I borrowed the previous games from a friend who had all and yes I found them monotonous and boring to the point I didn't even complete them, but I did like AC and I am a batman fan. So I was monitoring the promotion of AK and it intrigued me enough to make the purchase, and for me so far it was worth the purchase.

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kutmulc

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@triniserge868: Fair enough.

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volcomstoner180

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Edited By volcomstoner180

I have only played about 2 hours and already sick of the Batmobile. Its just the way they force it down your throat, not cool...batmobile should be fun, and I hate that they take away the ability to roam Gotham like before.

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deathblow3

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@volcomstoner180: huh what do you mean you can roam gotham? i seem to be able to go where i want when i want.

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volcomstoner180

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@deathblow3: You can roam like previous, but seems like my exploring so far has been cut short by trying a mission, and realizing its a tank battle and forced to drive. Still love the city, and feel, but just feels different than the other 2 so far.

The other games I barely ever came down to street level, was all about watching and attacking from above.

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QUREBEL

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@volcomstoner180: you can still do that. I love the batmobile once you change the buttons to toggle its so much easier and enjoyable. At first before I changed it i as like yikes! But i only really travel in it from mission to mission if they are really far otherwise I stick to gliding when i exploe or want to beat up random goons. Its really up to you how you play. I will say it does force you into it in alot of the main missions secondary ones not so much.

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off3nc3

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Edited By off3nc3

These game developers never learn , UBISOFT did this with Unity just one recent example . The PC community should close their wallets for a year or so might collapse the redinkulous prices we pay for new GPU's every 6 months so we can get these abysmal games to run at zero performance. Goddamn you consoles

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Greyfox-101

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@off3nc3: The whole gaming community needs to do that. Stop the broken releases, the overpriced DLC, withholding content for future DLC (I'm looking at you Destiny), and making people wait 6 months after release for a game to actually work (Master Chief Collection).

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alexngwl

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Edited By alexngwl

Many hates Kevin because of low scores. But to me, he is one of the best reviewer of all time. Don't ever compare Witcher 3 with Batman. Witcher 3 really surpassed all classic RPG's like Baldur's Gate, Torment. Certainly GOTY for me.

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srichard5_basic

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I've only played 6 hours and I am sick of the batmobile already. It feels so completely out of place and forced. The batmobile platforming elements are so silly that they break immersion. The tank battles are already getting repetitive. The controls while plain driving are not responsive enough. The rest of the game is awesome, but the forced batmobile parts are really dragging this game down.

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Ggarzona

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I love how ppl bitch in Gamespot, bc Arkham Knight got an average review, saying it is a GREAT game and the reviewer knows shit about gaming (though he´s a PROFESSIONAL reviewer) and on IGN ppl are bitching cause the game got a 9.2 and everyone bashes the game over there. I seriously don´t get gamers!!!! It´s a matter of perspective, you might not want to base the quality of a game just from 1 review, you gotta look at the whole spectrum, watch a lot of reviews to inform yourself (or to sum up, go to metacritic) and most important, you gotta PLAY THE DAMN GAME in order to speak for yourself. Reviewers won´t always match your opinion. I personally like the game, since I like the Arkham series, but wouldn´t give it more than an 8, since it doesn´t innovate much (already played a big chunk of the game). Still a pretty fun game.

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88MIKElll

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@Ggarzona: professional reviewer my a$$, he is just some chunky dude who works at an office building who has played games as long as most other people.

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ScottOakley

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@88mikelll: I think you don't understand what the word professional means. It's when a person earns money form a specified activity. Since the reviewer is earning money from this, he is a professional.

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88MIKElll

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@ScottOakley: He is a journalist, and if you happen to believe he is a professional, then you are wrong. Subjectively, he is a critic, if that.

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ScottOakley

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@88mikelll: "He is a journalist, and if you happen to believe he is a professional, then you are wrong."

It's nice to see that your accusations are backed up with an argument.

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88MIKElll

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@ScottOakley: Wow, you must be dense if you cannot even remember what you said to begin with..."(though he´s a PROFESSIONAL reviewer)"

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ScottOakley

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@88mikelll: If I'm that dense, then why can't you even remember that it was not me who said, "(though he´s a PROFESSIONAL reviewer)" but the guy before me Ggarzona. You don't even have to remember that, you could just scroll up and see it for your self. I mean, how stupid can you be. It's right there.

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88MIKElll

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Edited By 88MIKElll

@ScottOakley: THAT IS THE WHOLE ARGUMENT, IT DOES NOT MATTER WHO SAID IT. THE POINT IS THAT HE IS NOT A 'PROFESSIONAL' REVIEWER. HECK, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PROFESSIONAL REVIEWER. YOU ARE DEFENDING THE FACT THAT HE IS A PROFESSIONAL REVIEWER, HHEEE ISSS NOTT A FFFFING PROFESSSIONAL REVIEWER, GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL, BYEBYE NOW SONNY BOYYYYYYYYY

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ScottOakley

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@88mikelll: Look up the definition argument before claiming what an argument is. You give the 'statement' that he is not a professional reviewer. And if you want to persuade someone in to believing he is not a professional you should back that statement up with an argument. Like this: He is not a professional reviewer because, "place here your argument". You are getting all angry over nothing, you just fail to persuade me believing your statement since you are not giving any arguments.

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88MIKElll

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Edited By 88MIKElll

@ScottOakley: you sir, are actually an idiot. This is an argument I said "that is the whole argument" as in between you and I genius, an argument is "an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one." I swear to God some people, like yourself, need to take a reality pill and accept that it is okay to be wrong. No matter what you start to say, or whatever subject you try to reflect to, will not change the FACT, that he is NOT a "professional review", GTFOver yourself. Tell you what, you either give me a source where it says there is a such thing as a "professional reviewer" or you show me this JOURNALIST'S credentials that lists "professional reviewer", or you just stfu. And I am not angry, I just feel like I am talking to a wall, someone who thinks he is a dictionary but is obviously a moron.

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deactivated-58ce94803a170

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Here was one of my fav reviews from Xbox One owner.

Anastasi, Jun 23, 2015

"is it the BATMAN game or need for speed? why 70% of time i HAVE to use this machine? no challange in figts at all. graphics is the same as the last version. no good music."

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deactivated-58b0b257815cf

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Aaaaand as it turns out, Kevin is right. Rehashed ideas infest this game. Fetch quest central, hardly any innovation, the Batmobile is lame and the writing is terrible.

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Mosannam9696

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I'm sorry but this makes zero sense to me. This is the best game I've ever played. I don't think I've ever seen so much care taken into something before, and as for the batmobile, it's just as fun as controlling Batman and so far it's been about 80-20% with the ratio of control and I don't think that's bad at all. I love this game. I love everything about it.

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Fallout25

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@Mosannam9696: I am just guessing by your "best game ever" comment but, I do not think you play many games do you?

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JDlok

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@fallout25: He is a harcore casual. That's who these games speak too really. I'm not putting him down, but if this is the best game he's ever played, than this is just the truth. Batman is so casual it's not funny. It's for most gamers who don't like a challenge.

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noobsighbot

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Edited By noobsighbot

@fallout25: I've played hundreds of games and this is one of the best I've ever played as well. The main complaint people have is the batmobile but I personally like its inclusion since it adds variety to the game. Arkham City was also one of my favorite games ever, and since this improves upon it in every way I can think of I don't think it's an unreasonable statement to make

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kutmulc

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@noobsighbot: lol

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Batman: Arkham Knight More Info

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  • First Released Jun 23, 2015
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Batman faces the ultimate threat against the city he is sworn to protect. The Scarecrow returns to unite an impressive roster of super villains, including Penguin, Two-Face and Harley Quinn, to destroy The Dark Knight forever. The game introduces Rocksteady's uniquely designed version of the Batmobile---drivable for the first time in the franchise. Batman: Arkham Knight offers gamers the ultimate and complete Batman experience as they tear through the streets and soar across the skyline of the entirety of Gotham City.
    8.1
    Average Rating796 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Iron Galaxy Studios, Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montreal
    Published by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros.
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence