Review: Batman: Return to Arkham (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Batman: Return to Arkham
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN Arkham Asylum (25.28 GB) Arkham City (36.88 GB)
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Virtuos / Rocksteady Studios
Original MSRP: $49.99
ESRB Rating: T
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Re-releases are always tricky to review, just because of their nature. In the case of Batman: Return to Arkham the original titles are so strong that a fresh coat of paint does wonders. Considering both have been originally reviewed by the PS Nation crew, I will be focusing on the basics, and what’s new in the PS4 version.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
This is the title that started it all, and arguably the game from which the fighting style became quickly “borrowed” in several titles. Also, this is the game that broke the cycle of bad Batman games that hasn’t been broken yet. Arkham Asylum has been very good to the Bat family.

The game opens up bringing Joker to the facility after a half-hearted attempt on Gotham’s Mayor. From here on it’s a tour de force of the Batman Universe that still stands tall today. It was good going through the story again, almost like seeing an old friend, which is one reason these remakes make sense in some ways.

It was good to go through the story again as it still stands as one of the greatest Bat stories told in any form. Even after many years it still holds its own. And this series is a no brainer to bring back in a collection.

A highlight of the Arkham games is Detective Mode which also has been subsequently “borrowed” by several games. This time around though I didn’t need to use it as much as my first playthrough. I was able to enjoy my surroundings with the improved graphics.

The combat is where I found my first problem, but not for the reasons you might think. I have been playing the series since it first debuted and I recently played through Arkham Knight.

… the conversion to the PlayStation 4 is pretty good …
I was so used to the advanced controls, I repeatedly had to remind myself not think about the control scheme and the moves I did not have yet. One of the staples of the series is the combat and how deep it gets. But since this is just the beginning, Rocksteady wasn’t quite there yet.

Still fun and a great game mechanic is the inclusion of the Riddler Trophies. While this makes up for most of the gameplay experience, they are as just as fun as the Riddler Trophies in other Arkham games. It is my belief that they are best in this first game. This is mainly because of the originality but also because they weren’t as overly complicated as they became in the rest of the series.

As it goes, the conversion to the PlayStation 4 is pretty good. While not perfect, it does a very good job. Switching from the Unreal Engine 3 to the Unreal Engine 4 cannot be easy, but this move seems to have worked. Running at high frames and at 1080P, Arkham Asylum plays smooth and fast.

Batman: Arkham City
This is the follow-up to the hugely successful first game. And this is where Rocksteady, for better or worse turned the dial to 11. Everything is bigger, the story, the area, the villains, and even the Batman himself.

The story follows Batman’s foray into Arkham City, which, after the closure of the Asylum, was taken over by the Arkham inmates. The story as with the first game is excellent and it’s even bigger than its predecessor. With more villains and more at stake, Arkham City does not feel like more of the same, it’s an improvement and something to be built upon.

Rocksteady noticed from the previous game that players stayed in Detective Mode almost the entire time. It feels like with this sequel they were trying for less of that and they certainly succeeded. Detective Mode feels more like a tool than a crutch.

Combat is refined upon and improved on. I felt more comfortable with in Arkham City more than I did with the previous title. There is definitely a progression and it is seen easily in this collection.

Side Quests or events were a new addition to the series, which paid off in spades. With events like stopping Zasz, or helping Bane with Titan Canisters, they definitely add to the gameplay and it was nice to see.

… play any DLC you have may have missed …
Arkham City made a bunch of other updates like playing as Catwoman, more moves and tools for Batman, expanded Riddler trophies, and so much more. Return to Arkham allows you to play any DLC you have may have missed. Be it Harley’s Side Story or playing dress up with Batman in one of his many Bat Suits.

Overall Arkham City is the same as Arkham Asylum in this collection, an awesome game that is made better. At the time the game felt like it was pushing the PlayStation 3’s hardware to the limits. With this update, Batman’s second adventure in the series has new life and it’s a great reason to play this title again.

Visuals:
This will come as a surprise to no one, but the visual portion of Return to Arkham is the biggest improvement. Not only do we have both games running at a high framerate, but also in stunning 1080p. The engine change has greatly approved both titles.

Gotham and the Asylum are both beautiful and creepy in their own right. The shadows feel heavy and the lights are a beacon of hope. Both games are crisp and clean and run almost perfectly. I had some slowdown in Arkham Asylum very rarely but did not see any of that in Arkham City.

… the perfect way to play them and get the best experience …
Audio:
I truly believe the audio in the Arkham games is a character in itself. The series has excellent voice acting with all the characters big or small, not to mention the standouts of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill at the Joker.

The music in both titles is moody and suspenseful when needed. There are themes but no music is repeated enough to make me notice. Overall sound design from both titles is extremely well done.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
You definitely get your money’s worth out of Batman: Return to Arkham. Both titles are beautifully improved upon in all ways. Two of the greatest looking games of the PlayStation 3 generation have gotten better looking. All of the DLC released for both titles are here as well, which is a bonus. My only gripe is the lack of more bonuses like a Making Of or Behind The Scenes extras.

You’re getting two of the highest rated games from the previous console generation. This title is a no-brainer for fans who have played these game before. And if for some reason you missed these titles, this is the perfect way to play them and get the best experience.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 3, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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