With their sense of freedom and loving grasp of the Dark Knight's comic universe, 2009â€™s Batman: Arkham Asylum and its 2011 sequel, Batman: Arkham City, are two of the best superhero games ever made. its brings both games - and all their DLC - to the current generation of consoles, but an unremarkable graphical upgrade doesnâ€™t do them justice.
Thatâ€™s not to say itâ€™s not noticeable. Textures in Return to Arkham are much sharper: Batmanâ€™s suit, for example, looks much more detailed. His cape in particular stands out beautifully, pebbled, catching the light. Virtous, the studio thatâ€™s upgraded Rocksteadyâ€™s original games, has ported both games to Unreal Engine 4 from Unreal Engine 3, making for a much brighter aesthetic overall.
But in many instances, â€کbrighterâ€™ does not mean â€کbetterâ€™. The original Arkham games were dark for two reasons: one, because deep blacks add to the atmosphere and two, to disguise the graphical shortcomings of 2009-era consoles. Here, every PS3 plant, rock and puddle of water is thrown into stark relief, and as a result Gotham often feels quite blocky and theme park-esque, which breaks the romantic illusion.
More, some of the detail in faces has been smoothed out in this much lighter version, and some of the intricacies of expression are lost as a result. This isnâ€™t a deal-breaker - characters can still emote - but to remove such nuances is another example of illumination where itâ€™s simply not needed.