Batman is a complicated guy. Several times over Batman’s storied history, writers have talked about the emotional and psychological toll his actions have. Is Batman the cause of all of the problems that Gotham currently faces? Has he, as a shining symbol of justice, inadvertently caused the rise of a new kind of super-criminal? Is one man truly capable of protecting Gotham from itself? These and other questions have been fodder for some of his greatest stories, including the ones that developers Rocksteady have imbued the previous Arkham games with. In Arkham Knight, we revisit the Dark Knight’s greatest fears. The result – a magnificent, rollicking ride that features the who’s who of the Batman rogue gallery and good guys.
If it the last game of the series, this is a spectacular way to go out. Through the Arkham series, they’ve given gamers not just the best Batman games, but the best superhero games. Period. Arkham Knight builds on the markers that characterized Arkham City – a sprawling open world, a wide variety of action situations and puzzles and several engaging storylines. But, it also gives us one more thing. The Batmobile.
Arkham Knight dives deep into Batman’s history and examines the relationship between him, Commissioner Gordon and Barbara Gordon. The big mystery of Arkham Knight’s identity isn’t really a mystery at all. Fans will be able to guess who it is way before the reveal, but it doesn’t really matter. There are sinister happenings afoot in Gotham. The Scarecrow, voiced by John Noble, has threatened to douse the streets of the city with his neurotoxins. Mark Hamill is back too, for some crackling Joker lines from beyond the grave. And of course, we have the one and only Kevin Conroy as Batman.
Graphics & Presentation:
Arkham Knight’s world is the biggest in the franchise till date. There are three separate islands that you can explore, and each of them has its own set of missions and enemy types. There are several landmark locations such as Wayne Tower and the Chinatown district. The graphics are fantastic, and all of the locations look appropriately detailed, grimy and lived in. Batman himself looks quite stunning, with the reflections off his cape, sparkling under the night sky. This time around, there are way more thugs populating the streets. As a result, you have many more fights and car-chases to break up. And this time around, you don’t have to make your way back to the Batcave.
The Addition of the Batmobile:
With a bigger city comes better means of getting around. You can now upgrade your grapnel to make it so that you can zip around a lot faster. But of course, we have to talk about the Batmobile. The Batmobile handles slickly, like you’d expect Wayne technology to, and it is also a bonafide weapon of mass destruction. When you hold down the left trigger, the Batmobile turns into the world’s most agile tank – you can strafe, shoot missiles and blow things up. While this goes against the normal Batman ethos of doing things on the sly, you won’t mind when you’re zipping through the streets of Gotham mowing down thugs and blowing up drones in slow-motion. (Side note: I know Batman doesn’t kill, but there’s no way humans can survive being run over and shot with missiles. But, I digress.)
There’s also a cool mechanic where you can call the Batmobile to you anytime you’re outside, triggering a fantastic animation of Batman gliding into the driver’s seat. The Batmobile is also controllable remotely, turning it into a secondary aid while solving some environmental puzzles. The tank sections are a lot of fun, at least the first few times, and offer a nice change of pace from the usual sneaking around or punching people in the face. The Batmobile-based puzzles are where you’ll struggle to feel much love for it. While it’s rugged enough to twist and turn around the streets, driving it up and across narrow ramps can be frustrating.
The hand-to-hand combat and predator sections, which were the signature elements of the previous games, are better than ever here. There are loads of new moves, takedown types and several different enemy types for you to fight against. Now you can pick up those baseball bats baddies wield and use them to hit a few enemy home runs. You also have a new multi-takedown move, which lets you eliminate up to five enemies at once. There’s a new voice synthesizer you can use to draw enemies to their doom. While some of these might seem a little imbalanced at first, Arkham Knight ramps up both the number and the variety of enemies you’ll have to encounter. There’s the medic, who can revive comrades with electricity and brutes who wield massive guns. Several enemies now use the environment more intelligently, deploying mines, bombing vents and even controlling drones to smoke you out of hiding.
Some missions let you fight side-by-side with Nightwing, Robin or Catwoman. These missions usually culminate in some sort of epic combo takedown that annihilates enemies. These setpieces don’t change up combat too much, but they’re tremendously fun to watch unfolding. In addition, they fix one huge problem some of the previous games had – weak boss fights. By completely doing away with any mano-a-mano boss fights, Arkham Knight errs on the side of caution.
There are a lot of things you can do when you aren’t pursuing the main plot. Two Face, Penguin and returning favorite The Riddler are up to no good as usual. Their side-quests have different characteristics unique to the villain involved. Riddler quests have you solving puzzles and racing the Batmobile, while the Two-Face sections involve a lot of predator gameplay. Any single part of the game might wear out its welcome if you’re doing it for too long, but this is the beauty of Arkham Knight – you can switch between different things so you’re never bored. You also have new challenge maps, which feature tank fights and Batmobile racing.
Overall, Arkham Knight is a solid, fun Batman game. There’s a much larger world to explore, a deeper combat system and more quests and enemy types to face. Some of the additions to the game may not be as realistic as we are use to (ie. Bullets), but if this is truly Rocksteady’s Batman finale, it’s a tremendously fitting one.