I knew we’d get a good game when I first heard developer Rocksteady was coming back to make the finale in the mega-popular Arkham series. I may consider Arkham Origins vastly underrated, but it really doesn’t have anything against the main Arkham trilogy. After being delayed for several months, Arkham Knight finally dropped in June 2015. I managed to get my hands on a copy right before New Years, 2016, and I’ve loved it.
Arkham Knight had a huge amount of hype leading up to release, and rightfully so. You finally get to drive the Batmobile, actually fly around Gotham City (or at least, about a fifth of it), and get even more combat opportunities. Gameplay is pretty much the same, save for new fear multi-takedowns and the car.
Here’s how the Batmobile handles: like a tank with a rocket attached on its back. Yes, the car does take some time getting used to, but once I did I found I could move around the city easier than before. Of course, the car isn’t just for movement; it’s also a fully upgradable tank. The tank battles are lengthly, stressful, and depending on the number of tanks not as fun as you’d expect, especially the Cobra tank battles. Other than that, the Batmobile looks and sounds wonderful, and has some powerful guns.
Knight’s story was something I was intrigued by, especially after learning that Paul Dini would not be returning for this installment. I mean, come on. Does the Scarecrow even have the credibility to be top villain in this game, I asked myself. Yes, yes he does. I take that back- he’s a good co-top villain, alongside the Arkham Knight, the only person in the franchise who can feasibly test Batman in hand-to-hand combat.
The story is winding, full of plot twists and surprises. It is the only videogame story where I’ve actually opened my mouth in shock and become scared by. I won’t give anything away, except you may want to read up on your Batman villains if you’re not well versed with all of them, because a few new ones make appearances. Numerous references to other Batman comics appear too. Side missions are even more numerous than before, and each one is different, providing great variety within the game.
Sound design is, of course, wonderful. Everything sounds authentic and even more realistic than previous games, as Rocksteady nails Gotham City’s atmosphere. Voice acting is at its high water mark, as Kevin Conroy proves he’s still one of the best Batman voices ever, using a surprising amount of range throughout the campaign. Scarecrow and Gordon both sound excellent, the former now a quieter, whispery version of his Asylum takes, and Gordon sounds older and gravelly.
Musically, Nick Adrundel returns along with newcomer David Buckley to provide a decent score, except it’s a little too quiet at points. I’m not really sure if you need the score in the game, because the atmosphere is so good there’s really no need for music.
Despite all the positives, the game has a few minor problems. The Batmobile sections, like I mentioned earlier, can be repetitive and are sometimes stressful. Some of the new fighting techniques take a while to master and glitches can occur. A couple of times the game lagged on me, but only for a couple seconds. And then there was that 12 GB update that took around half a day to download for some reason!
Now what am I leaving out? Oh, yes, graphics and DLC. Rocksteady apparently used a custom-built version of Unreal Engine 3, and the result is a terrific-looking game, one of 2015’s best. Cutscenes and gameplay shift seamlessly, as it’s sometimes difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins (that’s how detailed the in-game graphics are). Batman’s new suits look fantastic, as does everyone else.
As for DLC, you can either buy the season pass or buy items separately, as in the previous games. All the DLC’s been released as of this writing, which includes two mini-campaigns, four additional missions, seven challenge packs, and over two dozen skins for Batman, the car, Robin, Nightwing, and Catwoman. All the skins look wonderful, however the highlights for me would be the fan-requested Dark Knight suit and the Tumbler, Batman V Superman suit plus car, the New 52 skins (much improved from Arkham Origins), and of course, the much-requested Batman 1989 suit and car. All look excellent in-game.
Arkham Knight was a blast. The characters, gameplay, numerous missions, and Batmobile driving taking place all in between a long, twisting story met my expectations. Although the over-reliance on the car takes away some of the atmosphere, the story is so good that it nearly makes up for the problems! Is this the game we’ve deserved? I’d personally say yes.
BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
SYSTEMS: PS4, XBOX ONE, PC