Gotham Knights has always made me feel a little anxious. It kind of seems like a better thing on paper than it does in practice. We’ve had a lot of great Batman games in the last 15 years, so while I understand the temptation to go from Batman to the broader Bat family… we’ve had a lot of great Batman games in the last 15 years. We haven’t had many great Red Hood games – in fact, his only appearance came as a pre-order bonus in Batman: Arkham Knight. Batman isn’t really dead of course (it’s the story of Court of Owls, which sees Batman fake his own death), but we wouldn’t play like him. Instead, we’ll choose between Red Hood, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Robin. While it seems like it was made for it, couch collaboration won’t be there, which seems like further evidence of the ways games are turning their back on the past.
All missions can be played through online co-op, and each character can play them in turn. You’ll make your choice at the start of the mission (and if you’re playing online, so will the other person), and then you’ll kick, punch and crash your way to glory. Each character has a different approach, so assuming missions can be replayed, it’s kind of like four missions in one, at a time. This is a neat trick, but it probably won’t make up for the fact that you’re Robin and not Batman. Nobody wants to be Robin.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be experimenting with new ideas, especially in the often risk-sensitive superhero space, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that Gotham Knights total less than one Batman. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is completely different. Captain Boomerang may need a squad around him, but he at least offers something different about the burdensome virtues of honor and justice that the Four Horsemen represent, while Deadshot, Harley, and King Shark are all interesting enough to continue the game. Their own. In their case, a team is more than just the sum of its parts, but in the case of the Gotham Knights, it feels like once in one in one equals one. They are a bit alike and lack any sense of depth of character.
This is perhaps the best written version of each character, and being restricted to characters who are usually cast in supporting roles may bring out their best. I’m apprehensive, but I’m optimistic. I also expect the late game to bring a visibly undead Batman into battle anyway. It can be wonderful. My whole argument is that I think it’s good on paper but won’t be in practice, and I can’t tell for sure until I actually practice it.
But the couch collaboration had to be a lock on this thing. Robin may not be as good as Batman, but having a few friends sitting on the couch drinking cola/wine/beer (omit it depending on tastes and age you dictate), beating up villains like different Robins, without a fight over who becomes Batman seems like the perfect way to elevate this The game is above any flaws it has. One of my fondest gaming memories is the pass-and-play session of Sonic Forces, and this game is awesome.
It feels like couch collaboration is a relic of a bygone era, and while the addition of online co-op is clearly one of the best developments that have come from updating and digitizing games, there is something classic and analog that we’ve been missing. Couch co-op is the rustle of a vinyl player, the colorful tinge of movie stock, and the smell of an old book. It may be outdated, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep it. If a four-player game about team-making and kicking ass doesn’t have couch co-op, what hope is there for the rest of the industry?
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