The Remastered Knight.
The Arkham games are sort of a big deal for me. The Dark Knight is easily my favorite comic series, and for years games based on the franchise had been truly hit and miss (not to mention the movies.) So when Arkham Asylum came along, it was truly memorable for me. It was one of those games I spent 15 hours straight playing from start to finish in one day. I adored it. Now Warner Bros. has decided to remaster the first two games in the trilogy and bring them into this console generation, and it is definitely a tale of two bats.
Return to Arkham packages Arkham Asylum and Arkham City (sadly omitting Arkham Origins) into one neat package. This is not just a quick upscale though, the team has actually gone back and re-done the game in Unreal Engine 4, giving it sharper textures and more detail in both games. It also includes all the DLC from both games so Joker challenges from Asylum and classic costumes from Arkham City are all here. It is a nice package, and when it is of two of the best games of last generation, it is hard to say this is not a great deal for anyone who never played these titles.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), XB1
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
The move from Unreal 3 to Unreal 4 has brought both blessings and curses along with it. For starters the game is much brighter now. While I don’t mind being able to see more of the world, the original games were dark for a reason. Both as a visual style choice, and to hide some of the technical limitations of the older consoles. Seeing more detail is rarely a bad thing, but when it comes at the cost of seeing how low resolution the original assets were can be jarring.
This is further enforced when the updated visuals shine. For example, Batman’s cape is glorious. The shine and texture work stands out amongst almost everything else in the game. It is weird to praise something as irrelevant as a cape, but it really does look amazing. Character models look great, but they already did, and the worlds of these two games are still artistically brilliant.
It is also worth noting that my time with both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions showed frequent bouts of frame rate issues. Neither game runs at 60fps, and instead aims for constant 30fps; sadly neither game hits a locked frame rate on either console. It never hinders game play, most noteworthy in the combat portions, but it is still a nagging annoyance more often than not.
Batman: Return to Arkham is a package of two stellar games and impossible not to recommend to anyone who hasn’t played them yet. Asylum is one of the best games of last generation, and City is certainly no slouch (if not a bit too big for its own good), but for those that have beaten these games to death such as myself, this collection is definitely not a must-have in season full of stellar new IPs and sequels.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.