Published on November 3rd, 2016 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
Batman: Return to Arkham Review
Developer: Rocksteady Studios (Remastered by Virtuos)
Platform: PlayStation (Reviewed), Xbox One
Editor’s note: A review code was provided for the purpose of this review
There are a few games from last generation that continues to stand out as outstanding games. Two of these games are Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City have an excellent combination of great gameplay and visuals. You can read our full reviews here and here for those who have not played the game, but in short, these are amazing games that everybody needs to play. Virtuos has recently remastered both Batman: Arkham Ayslum and Batman: Arkham City in one collection.
The gameplay is as I remember it. There is nothing more satisfying than picking off inmates one by one making the other inmates terrified. Well playing the game, I did not notice any graphical difference. This is just a testament to the gameplay. For being a seven year old game, the gameplay does not seem dated. Fights and stealth mechanics are intense and satisfying when going up against a group of inmates. The levels are perfectly designed for both hand to hand combat or silent takedowns.
I have some issues about remastering last generation games to current generation. The graphical jump from last generation to this generation is not significant compared to the PlayStation 2 (Xbox) to PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360). As I mentioned before, I did not see any graphical difference of the game. Going back to play my original version on my PC, I started to notice interesting differences.
From the start, the game is notably brighter. The dark and grittiness of the game is lost due to the extra brightness.
Having the game brighter simply makes the game characters and texture flatter. Virtuos states the game is “fully remastered and [have] updated visuals.” However, making the game brighter shows more visual flaws. Having the game brightness levels darker tends to hide flaws such as flatten textures, texture popins, and depth of field.
Comparing the visuals from the PC version to PS4 version, I noticed a number of the visual upgrades were on the environment and non interactive characters. Textures are flat, details are lost, and interacting character models such as Batman and Joker look like plastic models. An excellent example is the Joker.
From the capture above, there are some very noticeable differences. The game is brighter and a great amount of detail is lost on the PlayStation 4 version. This is very noticeable on Joker’s suit, face, and hair. I noticed the difference on his hair right away. On the PC version, max settings, you can see the natural tattered look of the hair well on the PlayStation 4 the hair simply looks like a hard-shell plastic toy. Other details lost are the wrinkles on the face, fabric texture, and depth of field on the background. However, looking at the environment and non interacting characters is a different story.
Looking at the capture above of Killer Croc, there is a noticeable improvements in almost all aspects of the PlayStation 4 version. The textures of the skin is better, there is improvement of the ambient lighting, the character model seems to be rebuilt using an updated engine. There is significant improvements on the PlayStation 4.
The Final Truth: From comparing the PC version to the remastered PlayStation 4 version there are clear examples of improvement and clear examples of no improvement at all. The saving grace, for me, about this collection is the gameplay. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are fun games even on multiple play throughs. The “hit and miss” aspects of the updated visuals does not hinder the fact that these are excellent games. I am glad these games are available for current generation consoles. It seems the updated visuals rely on the GPU of the console in which it is played on without affecting frame rate, screen tearing, or other aspects of the gameplay.
On Steam, Arkham Asylum GOTY edition and Arkham City GOTY edition are listed as $20 USD individually. Listing this collection at $50 puts a $5 increase on each game for these visual updates. If you do not have a decent gaming PC and only experience these games on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, this collection is worth every penny. If you do have a gaming PC, the question you will have to ask yourself is rather the price is worth playing these games on a console, especially when these games go on sale often for $10 or cheaper for the PC.