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Batman: Arkham Knight - Not Fit For Purpose Or Purchase

By KenpoJuJitsu325-06-2015

Yo jurors! As you might have heard one the biggest gaming releases of the year, Batman: Arkam Knight, came out a few days ago. Nearly every professional game critic agrees it's the best game to come out in a long time...as long as you're playing it on a console. PC players? Well...better luck next game?

Sigh, here we go this again. Once again, a big budget game is released and the treatment of its PC version is downright insulting. For Arkham Knight, it's been especially terrible. Let's run down the list of problems, bullet point style:

Arkham Knight is set to launch, no PC game reviewers are given access to review code prior to launch.
The minimum requirements for the game are raised a few hours before launch.

Pre-order bonuses were removed, at the last minute, from copies of the game people received with the purchase of high end Nvidia graphics cards before the game's launch.

The game launches and is met with thousands of negative reviews on Steam. 33% positive, 67% negative out of over 9000 reviews at the time of this writing.

The publisher, Warner Bros. issues a statement telling people to lower their settings if they want the game to run properly and implying that the issues are coming from people having subpar PC's and not using SSDs. Blame was also thrown at Nvidia's Geforce Experience and AMD's Gaming Evolved tools.

It's discovered that graphical features present in the console versions are inferior or completely absent from the PC version. Ambient occlusion and rain textures/shaders are completely missing on PC and several textures appear lower in quality. Some textures refuse to load at all.

The PC version has a 30fps cap that the game still dips below, even on high end hardware.

Finally, after all of this foolishness, the game is removed from sale, with refunds being offered. GreenManGaming has gone as far as to expand their normal refund policy solely for this game.

It's been a wild ride to put it mildly...and it never should have happened. There are two trends at play here. One, is the propensity of several publishers to just push out PC versions of their titles without adequately testing that they actually work first. The other trend is simply Warner Bros. I love Warner Bros. gaming IP's. As a reviewer, if a review copy of a new title from them should ever land on my desk again, or an updated version of Arkham Knight for review, I'll be the first person to give them a fair shake and a fair honest review. BUT, as a consumer, I'm done spending my own money buying games day one from them. Let's run down the list.

Arkham Knight had major issues at launch and needed to be pulled from sale.

Arkham Origins had major issues at launch including bugs that stopped player progression.

Arkham City had major performance issues at launch. DX11 barely worked at all and the game caused save files to be corrupted.

Mortal Kombat X just flat out didn't work at launch. Blame was placed on a new streaming install feature but even after that was resolved the game still didn't work correctly.

Mortal Kombat 9 had major issues at launch.

Injustice: Gods Among Us had major issues at launch.

Shadow of Mordor had issues at launch, including just flat out not working for many people.

The list continues, but you get the idea. Their track record on PC is fairly clear, release games on PC whether or not they are in good working order. I can't help but think that the only reason they pulled a title from sale this time is because Steam now has a refund policy that benefits consumers. Before that new refund policy, if a publisher released a game that was hilariously broken players were left with no recourse. They had your money and you just had to wait. Now, they at least need to fool you for two hours that the game runs fine before you are no longer eligible for a refund. Arkham Knight, mercifully, is happy to show you that it runs horribly in as little as 5 minutes of play time.

Now, as is always the case, there will be those that defend the game as though their life depends on it. I've been observing several forums where people are posting their specs and claiming that the game runs perfectly for them and that people just need to upgrade their subpar PCs and quit whining. I haven't, so far, run into a single person making these claims who has specs that out do what I review games on for Pixel Judge, so I thought I'd do my duty and see first hand if it's simply a matter of not having powerful enough hardware. My review machine is as follows:

i7 4770K overclocked to 4.3Ghz
16GB 1600Mhz Kingston RAM
Two EVGA GTX 980 Ti Superclocked ACX cards, both overclocked to 1405Mhz
Arkham Knight installed on Western Digital Caviar Black 7200rpm 2TB HDD.

This review machine is significantly above what most PC gamers currently play on. So how does Arkham Knight run on what my editor refers to as "the caged monster"? It runs horribly jurors, plain and simple. Stutters, hitches, frame drops and textures failing to load everywhere while the utilization on the CPU cores and GPUs doesn't even approach the limit. I made some videos so you jurors could watch and judge for yourself.

Arkham Knight played at 4K resolution: here, and here.

For those who think 4K is the reason for this performance, Arkham Knight at 1080p with the framerate unlocked to 60fps: here, here, and here.

And finally, for those spreading the rumor that unlocking the frame rate cap is the cause of the issues, Arkham Knight at 1080p with the 30fps cap intact: here, and here.

Simply put, Arkham Knight on PC needed to be removed from sale as it was not a fit product that any company should want to put in front of customers or have representing its shareholders. One thing I can't understand is why publishers continually cut corners handing PC ports to studios that frankly don't do them and have proven that they don't do them well when there are several companies out there that have a stellar track record. This shoddy port is not the game that anyone needs or deserves right now.

Anyway, what say you jurors? Has the dismal launch state of Arkham Knight rained on your parade? Or did the missing reviews and news just prior to launch let you know this title was going to come out less than...rock steady? Let us know in the comments.

For more news on this and other games, keep coming back to Pixel Judge. This news is adjourned.

Comments (2)
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Posts: 3290

That's the problem, more developers are thinking precisely that. Being more like PCs does not make them PCs. And even if it did, they're closed systems that have only one architecture to account for. Whereas every PC is, effectively, a unique system. Even two rigs with the exact same components will not be the exact same machine, because there will be different programs with different drivers, making optimising perfectly for every PC impossible.

Having said that, some devs don't optimise for any PCs because they're fucking artards who, in the past, have relied on the inability for customers to get their money back as a way of guaranteeing their earnings. But now, that ain't happening anymore, and it's coming back to bite them in the arse

Posts: 120

I thought consoles were becoming more like PC's in hardware and architecture. Forgive my ignorance, but shouldn't this sort of thing be a thing of the past? Maybe that's what the devs were thinking when they made the port and didn't test it properly.