What began in the asylum, spread to the city and now ends with the darkest of knights. Six years after Rocksteady proved that a superhero game could be both fun and groundbreaking, comes the final chapter in their storied development on the Batman Arkham series.
And this caped crusader is ready to save Gotham one more time, no matter the cost.
With the Joker out of action after the events of Batman: Arkham City, a new menace has emerged to terrorise Gotham. Having survived the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Scarecrow has returned, turning Gotham into a City of Fear thanks to his collection of toxins and the assistance of the Arkham Knight and his militia.
Where does he get those wonderful toys?
The Arkham Knight is the latest adversary to face the Batman, but one who is thoroughly prepared and has assembled an army that is trained in counter-techniques that will push the dark knight to his limits.
And that’s where the game shines. After three Arkham titles, Batman: Arkham Knight throws a bat-spanner into the mix with Arkham Knight militia forces who mix up the usual flow of combat and stalking.
Grates are checked and firebombed, medics revive fallen soldiers, heavy soldiers electrify themselves in order to disrupt combos and enemies use their own selection of gadgets to hunt down the Batman.
This new balance of power creates new obstacles for veteran players to work their around, giving Arkham Knight a certain freshness that propels the series forward.
Even with these new obstacles, the Batman is capable of taking out any foe in front of him. But he’s also evolved, bringing a whole new set of tricks and gadgets to the party.
One of the big new features come from Fear takedowns, a series of chained attacks that allow players to knockout multiple enemies in succession. It requires some careful timing and application, but when mastered, it’s a deadly new technique. There’s a host of other new abilities in the game as well. Faster grappels, new combos, the ability to pick up enemy weapons, environmental takedowns and tons more. Riddler challenges that run the gauntlet of new techniques, dual-team combat missions that has you switching between vigilantes.
The list just goes on, with every aspect of the Batman having been tweaked, re-tuned and overhauled.
That alone helps create a better Batman. But the game has one other massive new addition. Something that fans have been asking for, ever since Arkham Asylum first burst onto the scene: The Batmobile.
Chicks dig the car
The Batmobile is more than a car. It’s a crucial pillar of gameplay in Batman: Arkham Knight, the caped crusader on four wheels. It may handle like a whale with an eating disorder, but it’s got speed and power.
It’s got gadgets and attitude, resulting in a crime-fighting tank that has criminals running for their lives whenever they see it. It’s also deeply integrated into the core gameplay of Batman: Arkham Knight, a decision which could be polarising in the long run.
On its own, the Batmobile is a joy to use when driving around Gotham and dealing with the Arkham Knight’s drone tanks when switched to battle mode. It’s a beautiful piece of gameplay and technology, that roars when taking a corner. It’s got it’s own upgrade tree, with players able to strengthen the armour and weapons of the Batmobile, while also focusing on making it a quicker and adaptable behemoth.
But there are occasions where the integration of Batmobile and game can feel forced at times. None of this truly detracts from Batman: Arkham Knight, but it may be jarring for some players. Likewise with the story, which drifts into some strange places at times, resulting in some baffling scenarios, before picking itself up again for a thrilling conclusion.
There’s more than one ending however, and you’ll need to properly secure Gotham before you see a certain protocol that the Batman activates that closes the book on Rocksteady’s legendary trilogy of games.
But beyond those small speed-bumps, Batman: Arkham Knight is a triumph in every other way possible. There’s a noticeable shift in creating a better Batman, and fully capturing that sensation of being a predator with numerous gadgets and skills that can handle any fight thrown at a player. It’s undeniably the coolest of Batman games, with the Batmobile a mere tap of the shoulder button away and the action always ending on a slow motion explosion of pain and poor life choices on the face of a thug whose life may have just flashed before his eyes.
Batman: Arkham Knight is also easily the prettiest of games on consoles today, with various visual effects helping to make it look more beautiful than a near-mint condition copy of Detective Comics #27.
I am vengeance, I am the night! I am Batman!
Gotham may not be the biggest map in open-world games, but it does happen to be a layered and detailed playground to apply some hard justice in. It’s also the game that just keeps on giving, with shocks around every corner and Augmented Reality challenges to take part in so that would-be Batmen can sharpen their skills.
Challenging and engaging, Batman: Arkham Knight delivers where it counts: Tight gameplay, evolved challenges and new ideas, all wrapped up in a dark story that takes the Batman to some darker places as it attempts to push him over the edge.
While Warner Bros most likely does have plans for more Batman games in the future, it’s Rocksteady who have cemented their legacy with not only a solid trilogy of games, but the definitive Batman game to date.
They’ve taken Batman out of the shadows of myth and forged a legend, with a series that is often imitated but never successfully duplicated. A grand game with impossibly-gorgeous visuals and a deep love for the franchise that spawned it, Batman: Arkham Knight is also the best comic book video game ever made.
Last Updated: July 1, 2015